AE: What did you first think when he came out?
NY: I don’t actually remember hearing, “What about that guy coming out?” at the time and if I did would have thought “good on him.” I only found out he was gay when it was rumored he was coming to the club, and naturally because I have done gay magazines before, the boys were saying he was coming because he saw me on the front cover and this and that.
What he has done is so admirable and a decision I know now he is so glad he made. He is such a good guy and everyone in our squad loves having him here with us!
Gareth Thomas (left) and Youngquest
AE: Is he the first gay player you knew?
NY: To be fair there are always rumors, but yeah, he is the first guy I have played with or against that is [openly] gay. There was Ian Roberts in our sport in Australia who came out, but I was fairly young back then! I’m pretty sure Gareth is the only gay person who is out still currently playing in their chosen sport and that’s a massive thing for him and the world in general. He is such a good role model to the world.
AE: Are you aware how important the fact your friendship with him is so public? That it’s groundbreaking, in fact? You are really showing the world that a straight athlete can be mates with a gay one and it’s no big deal.
NY: In the big picture I do, but to me Alfie is a mate of mine, not because he is gay or anything else. He is such a good guy and since he arrived here he has done nothing but go over and above for everyone. He is so down to earth. I am happy that people can see that in sport being gay or straight or whatever doesn’t matter.
The world is such a fickle place sometimes and I am glad that myself and also Alfie are in a sport where our environment discriminates against nobody and that’s the honest truth. Although the jokes become very very funny at times!
AE: You seem incredibly cool with gay guys and very pro-gay. Where did you come by that attitude from?
NY: Yeah, for sure I have no problems with it at all. I have a lot of friends that are gay and have never been different! My ex was a dancer and she had lots of gay friends and it was always something I enjoyed about our relationship that we have friends from all different walks of life.
My family also shaped me so I guess it stems from there also. Not that mum or dad said always be nice to gay people or whatever, but just to [be nice to] people in general so I take people for who they are. That’s a trait I am glad the instilled in me, that’s for sure.
AE: I’m assuming you support gay marriage?
NY: I have never even thought about whether I do or don’t to be fair, so that has to be a yes. I don’t see any reason why two people who are in love can’t exchange vows and rings just as any other couple in the world. It’s not about being gay or straight when it comes to that. It’s about two people loving each other in my opinion!
AE: Even before Jason Akermanis spoke up, we knew not all athletes are gay supportive. Do other players ever give you a hard time about your attitudes?
NY: No, not at all. I would have to say that there is obviously a very small minority of athletes who think like that and I feel very sorry for the ones that do. Most athletes have a mutual respect for each other, so it’s never been a problem. I obviously get given some stick about having been on gay mags before and all that, but that’s all in good fun, I can assure you that.
AE: What would you say to Jason about his recent comments if you were having a pint with him?
NY: It’s one of those things he is speaking his opinion which is such a small percentage of the sport. He is so opinionated about everything so it doesn’t surprise me one bit the stuff he said. To be fair, the guy has blond peroxided hair with a dark goatee, so he clearly has no idea.
And if we were in Australia, we wouldn’t be having a pint, it would be a schooner and I would never be having one with such a small-minded person anyway, so I’m safe there!