If you Google the term ‘gay cricketer’ it will take less a fraction of a second for you to be delivered the result: James Faulkner.
There’s just one significant problem.
James Faulkner is not gay.
But for one night, at the end of April, 2019, a lot of people thought he was.
He made history. Right before he… didn’t.
An Instagram post shared to Faulkner’s 340,000 followers at around 9pm on Wednesday pictured the 29-year-old , who plays for Tasmania, sitting alongside his mother and another friend.
The caption read, “Birthday dinner with the boyfriend and my mother,” and was followed by the hashtag #togetherfor5years.
Overnight, the post attracted more than 18,000 likes and hundreds of comments, most congratulating Faulkner on his bravery.
“Happy birthday mate! Great courage,” fellow cricketer Glenn Maxwell commented, with AFL player Dale Thomas adding, “Well done brother, so happy for you both.”
One word and a hashtag were enough for the media to run with it – perhaps proving our desperation to print the headline in the first place.
The only international cricketer to openly identify as gay during his career is England’s Steven Davies, a decision that was considered “groundbreaking” and “courageous” in 2011.
In Australia, you could count on one hand professional sportsmen who are openly gay. Ian Roberts was the first high-profile Australian sports person to ‘come out’ to the public as gay in 1995, and the first rugby footballer in the world.
It was only last year that French footballer Olivier Giroud said, “It’s impossible to be openly homosexual in football,” with only two openly gay professional players in world soccer.