Rugby

Leinster Player Jack Dunne Speaks Openly About Being Bisexual

Leinster Player Jack Dunne Speaks Openly About Being Bisexual

Leinster's Jack Dunne has spoken openly for the first time about being bisexual.

The 22-year-old spoke to the BBC's LGBT Sport Podcast on Saturday ahead of Leinster Rugby's Pride Panel - at which he was also a guest speaker.

The second-row from Dublin made it clear, though, that his sexuality is no secret to his teammates, and that he is not "coming out", but rather speaking openly about it for the first time.

I've been out as bisexual for four or five years now, but probably not out in the media.

So I thought, you know, this [the Leinster pride panel] would be a cool way to do it. It's also a good opportunity to discuss inclusivity and things people can do to help.

The conversation then moved towards discussing how Dunne had come to understand his own sexuality, and the Leinster lock also remembered the atmosphere in his school - St Michael's - where ignorant comments from other students could sometimes made it difficult for him to come to terms with his sexuality.

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I kind of realised when I was maybe sixteen or so, maybe fifteen or sixteen, but you're in a school full of teenage boys.

I think a lot of them were saying things that they weren't even thinking about - if they actually stopped and had a thought about what they'd said, they'd probably think "I shouldn't be saying that." They're probably doing it out of ignorance.

Hearing that, subconsciously you're like "you probably just keep this to yourself". When you're bisexual, it's almost like a blessing and a curse. You can hide it easier, you can still go out with the lads on Saturday night and do all that stuff, but then at the same time it's easier to hide it and easier not to be true to yourself.

Eventually, I think I was in sixth year and I told one or two people. They took it really well, so I was like "you know what, I'll just tell everyone." It went pretty well - there were one or two people who said 'you're not bisexual, you're just gay' - but largely it was overwhelmingly positive.

We believe Dunne is the only male Irish sportsperson currently active to publicly identify as bisexual.

To hear an active Irish sportsperson like Jack Dunne acknowledging his struggle with coming out as bisexual will hopefully be a powerful message of support to any young people in Ireland - particularly sportspeople - struggling with their own sexuality or identity.

The discussion came only days after openly gay Gaelic football referee David Gough pondered whether players at the highest level in Ireland feel comfortable coming out publicly. Gough, who refereed the 2019 All-Ireland final, questioned what the barriers stopping players from openly discussing their sexuality were.

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Dunne himself acknowledged those concerns raised by Gough, saying that he understood why people would feel apprehensive about coming out. He did, though, say that his sexuality has never caused any issues among his teammates at Leinster.

There's Sam Stanley, Levi Davies is another guy, but he's only quite recently as well. You're kind of thinking, like, is it not the best environment?

Even though you wouldn't really hear anything against it, it's just more like 'why has no one done it?'

Leinster's Pride Panel - which took place on Saturday afternoon - took in contributions from people working at all levels across the club, and Dunne said that he was proud of his club for leading the charge on LGBTQ+ rights in sport.

Jack Dunne bisexual

The host and Dunne were determined, though, to once again drive home that this is not a "coming out" story.

Jack Dunne has been openly bisexual for years, but has decided that now is the time to speak openly about it for the first time, in the hope of becoming a "role model" for any young players in Ireland grappling with their sexuality.

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He said that he hoped to "smash" the conception of a stereotypical representation of LGBT.

Dunne has been regularly contributing to ShoutOut Ireland, an organisation that organises workshops for schools across Ireland on LGBT rights.

Dunne has won 15 caps for Leinster and signed his first professional contract with the club at the start of the 2020/21 season.

Speaking to Jack Murley on the BBC's LGBT Sport podcast, he said that the season had been "eery" and that having fans in for the last game of the season against the Dragons was a welcome step towards normality.

On the weekend of Pride, Jack Dunne's discussion about his experience of being bisexual is a powerful statement for inclusion in sport. We only hope that it is the beginning of a new era of acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community at the highest level of sport in Ireland.

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Eoin Harrington

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