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Heath Davis becomes first male New Zealand cricketer to come out as gay

Davis said he lived a “lonely" existence closeted at the height of his sporting career.

By Emily Maskell

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: The Spinoff

Former New Zealand Test player Heath Davis has become the first male New Zealand cricketer to publicly come out as gay.

Davis, 50, revealed his sexuality in an episode of the documentary series Scratched: Aotearoa’s Lost Sporting Legends.

The New Zealand cricketer became a cult hero among fans, especially after his first ball in a 1994 Black Caps test vs England is still talked about. 

It was on this 1994 tour to England where Davis reveals he started to discover himself, he tells The Spinoff

“I went to a few bars and things privately, just to see what life was like. You’re on the other side of the world, no one’s going to know you,” he said. “There was a lot of that, keeping your personal life separate.”

He continues: ”Going to saunas and seedy places to get sex because you didn’t want to be seen and that sort of stuff. I had systems and people in place where I could talk about these things but I didn’t feel comfortable.”

“I felt there was this part of my life that I was hiding,” he adds. “It was lonely… I was repressing it, I wasn’t living a gay life.”

After Davis moved to Auckland to continue his cricket career, he told his new team he was gay and remembers it “didn’t seem to be that big an issue”.

Davis is one of very few male New Zealand athletes to publicly speak about their sexuality, he is certainly the most high profile.

“I do think that [Davis’s story] could potentially be an opening for other athletes to share parts of themselves if they’re comfortable with it,” Madeleine Chapman, The Spinoff’s editor and producer of the documentary series has said, according to the Guardian.

“The responses have so far been very positive, she added. “I think other athletes, particularly young athletes being able to see that sort of honesty and vulnerability be warmly accepted by readers and viewers can only be encouraging.”

In May, the international Out on the Fields report into homophobia in sport found that gay male New Zealand athletes were more likely to remain in the closet than in other countries for fear of discrimination. 

In 2011, Former England wicketkeeper Steven Davies became the first male international cricketer to publicly come out as gay.

Just last week (26 July), seven rugby players of Australia’s Manly Sea Eagles team refused to wear the team’s new LGBTQ+ inclusive Pride jersey.

Team coach, Des Hasler, said the lack of consultation with players as well as the LGBTQ community was “a significant mistake”.

The Attitude September/October issue is available to download and order in print now and will be on newsstands from Thursday 4 August.