Top English rugby referee comes out as gay

A leading English referee has spoken for the first time about coming out as gay and the inspiration he drew from Welshman Nigel Owens in declaring his sexuality.

Maxwell-Keys, who has also taken charge of European and international games, eventually decided the time was right to reveal his sexuality to colleagues at Twickenham as well as his local club, Lichfield RFC.

“You could say it’s modern day,” said the 29-year-old, speaking to the BBC’s LGBT Sports Podcast. “I sent a WhatsApp message at 6am before I was due to go on a family holiday to Greece.

“I then turned the phone off and didn’t turn it on again for a good couple of hours. Then after a few too many wines in Greece, I read the messages back.

“It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but all the messages were really positive and supportive.

“When I got a contract offer from Twickenham, I hadn’t fully accepted my sexuality myself. It was another two years working in rugby that opened my eyes to the fact that everyone is really supportive.

“It’s just an extension of my family and my support network, and the guys at Twickenham made it really simple for me to come out. The limiting factor was me and whether I was ready.”

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