Ian Roberts’ coming out journey to be adapted to the screen


Australian rugby star Ian Roberts shattered barriers in 1995 when he boldly came out as gay while still an active player, sparking a revolutionary shift in the conversation around homosexuality in sports.

Where homosexuality in major league sport was once a taboo topic that nobody spoke of, the landscape has now changed drastically.

In a powerful symbol of this progress, Roberts is now set to take the center stage in a new documentary about his journey, aptly titled “Light: The Ian Roberts Story“.

“It’s still very much seen as a weakness in men’s sport. That is the perception,” Roberts says in a recent interview, reflecting on his journey so far.

“I think back now and me being gay was the worst-kept secret for five or six years. I used to take my boyfriend, Shane, to functions.

“My thinking of it then was, ‘I shouldn’t have to come out.’ That people should get it around their heads that I’m gay.”

Is it easier to come out now? Ian isn’t so sure

The rugby star also says that he thinks it may have been easier to come out when he did rather than come out now, as everything is more ‘accessible’:

“I honestly think maybe it would be harder to come out now. It’s so much more instant, there’s so much more media and hype on hand, because of everyone having phones,” he says.

“I was going to come out in ’89-90 when I first came to Manly but at the same time Justin Fashanu was an English Premier League guy, the first male in a contact sport to come out in England.

“We didn’t have phones or the internet then, we had to watch the news and read the papers.

“He was brutalised by the English press and the supporters of the game, they were very homophobic. He retired in ’94, the year I came out, and died of suicide in 1998.

“That story, the queer community still has such high percentages of self-harm and dying of suicide. I think, would it be easier now? I don’t know.

“Everything is so much more accessible now.”

Didn’t exactly open the floodgates

In reflecting upon the coming-out of other major-league sports stars Josh Cavallo and Isaac Humphries, Ian Roberts says he’s surprised at how long it’s taken to get here:

“It’s nice that Josh and Isaac [have come out now]. When I came out, I didn’t think it was going to open the floodgates.

“But I didn’t think it would be another 30-odd years before another male in a contact sport would come out.”

The project is being directed by Heath Davis and will be released some time in 2024.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Nate Woodall

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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