Heath Davis Has Become The First Male New Zealander Cricketer To Come Out As Gay - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Heath Davis Has Become The First Male New Zealander Cricketer To Come Out As Gay

Former Test bowler, Heath Davis, has come forward to reveal his sexuality for the first time in the hope that younger generations of sporting enthusiasts and fans alike will feel encouraged to speak their own truth.

While the world of sport presents a unique opportunity for athletes from all over the world to share new perspectives and be united in sporting codes that are universal in their appeal, the fact remains that when it comes to inclusivity, there is still much to be desired. It’s an issue that is particularly apparent in men’s sport, where stereotypes of masculinity and stoicism have continued to be pervade locker room conversations and competition alike. But in recent years, more and more athletes have come forward to share their truth when it comes to sexuality, challenging such stereotypes and showing younger generations that there is acceptance to be found out on the sporting field. 

Now, adding his name to an ever-growing list, is that of former New Zealand Test player Heath Davis, who has become the country’s first male international cricketer to speak publicly about being gay. Now aged 50, many will know Davis for his intimidating pace out on the pitch, as he played five Tests and 11 one-day internationals for the Black Caps between 1994 and 1997 as a bowler. 

In an episode of the documentary series, Scratched: Aotearoa’s Lost Sporting Legends, Davis publicly revealed his sexuality for the first time, joining the likes of former England wicketkeeper Steven Davies who became the first international male cricketer to come out publicly back in 2011. 

As Davis told The Spinoff, it was during his first tour to England in 1994 that he started to discover himself, despite having already told his mother that he was gay at an early age. “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. 

But as Davis expressed, he left that part of his life solely to international competitions and didn’t let it follow him back home as the fear of judgment presented a burden on his shoulders. “There was a lot of that, keeping your personal life separate,” he added. 

Davis guessed that some of his teammates suspected he as gay before he came out to them in 1997, but he states that none ever questioned him over it, nor made him feel anything but accepted and a valued member of the team. It was when Davis entered his first relationship at 27 and received a contract from Auckland that he made the move away from Wellington and came out to his new team manager, who passed it onto his team members. As he recalls, it “didn’t seem to be that big an issue.”

According to an international study on homophobia in sport, New Zealand gay and bisexual men are the most likely to keep their sexuality secret both in youth and adult sports. According to the report, which was published in May of 2022, these men credit such decisions to fears of bullying from teammates and discrimination from coaches and officials. As The Guardian reports, more than half of all participants in the study believed team sport is more homophobic than the rest of New Zealand society, while gay men are much more likely to believe this than anyone else, at 69 per cent. 

As The Spinoff’s editor and producer, Madeleine Chapman, suggests, despite tides of change in society at large, homophobic attitudes in sport are still rampant. However, as more athletes like Davis come forward to share their story, it’s hoped that others will be encouraged to do the same and a more accepting culture of sport will prevail. 

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