You could say I'm the pioneer in the way I have changed some people's perception of not only sports people but of gay men in general. It's also important that people also realise that as much as a pioneer I'm also just a normal person. I'm normal but I've done something that's pretty powerful as well.
Gay men are accepted in films, music and politics because people came out and broke the mould and stereotype in those industries. What I am trying to do is break the trend in rugby and sport in general and show any aspiring sportsman, regardless of his age, that the mould has been broken.
I can remember lacing up my boots ahead of my first cap against Japan in the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. I remember the changing room, the smell of the place, every last detail of how I warmed up, walking out onto the pitch, thinking how proud my parents would be. I was doing all I ever wanted to do.
It is the toughest, most macho of male sports, and with that comes an image. In many ways, it is barbaric, and I could never have come out without first establishing myself and earning respect as a player. Rugby was my passion, my whole life, and I wasn't prepared to risk losing everything I loved.
I became a master of disguise and could play the straight man down to a tee, sometimes over-compensating by getting into fights or being overly aggressive because I didn't want the real me to be found out. So I created this alter ego, knowing full well that I was living in my little fantasy bubble, my shell.