Devin Ibañez, a pro rugby player who played with the New England Skipjacks in 2019 and hopes to play in England to be closer to his boyfriend Fergus (pictured above in his arms) according to Outsports, came out as gay on social media in a newly-created Instagram account bearing the handle @thatgayrugger.
Wrote Ibañez: “As 2020 comes to a close I took the time to reflect on my life and what aspects I could control and make positive changes to that would impact my day to day life and happiness. It became clear to me that living my life with more transparency and openly celebrating who I love would have an immediate positive impact on me and those I care about. So I want to start 2021 by celebrating the love of my life and my partner @ferguswade who has been with me through the highs and the (very) lows of the last three years. “
“I am openly gay, Ibañez continued. “This is something that is not a secret to those close to me and even several people not close to me. But I always felt a need to keep it separate from my rugby career. I always came up with a reason why being more vocal would be a distraction, detrimental, or unnecessary.”
As the years went by no level of success was enough to justify potentially losing opportunities within the sport, jeopardizing relationships, or making myself a target on the pitch,” Ibañez continued. “The final goal became ‘Once I sign a pro contract I will be more vocal and become the first openly gay MLR player’. As the day came and went that I signed a contract with the @usmlr , I moved the goalposts even further. This was largely fueled by a narrative I told myself that unless I left no doubt about deserving my spot that I would be viewed as a token and not a true professional. But what I considered as casting a shadow I’ve slowly realized can also act as a beacon. So I have decided to embrace what I once felt embarrassed of and be proudly and shamelessly myself. I have met some incredibly talented LGBTQ rugby players over the years, many of whom were blackballed from playing a high level solely due to being gay.”
“As of now I am the only openly gay rugby player to earn a contract with an MLR side,” Ibañez noted. “I hope that I will meet others Iike myself playing a high level of rugby and hoping to inspire the next generation of proud LGBTQ rugby players. So I will proudly call myself ‘that gay rugger’ in hopes that one day it won’t sound strange in men’s rugby.”