When Lyndon Bray addressed the New Zealand Rugby General Assembly last month to nominate Wayne Young on the board, Rugby CEO Tasman was to tell his professional and personal story from the referee.
Bray wanted to talk about Young’s rugby affection and acumen, but he also wanted to share how Young unequivocally supported him in Tasman’s work and welcomed him and husband Maic Camil to the Nelson region.
“I think it was interesting at AGM that we wanted board members and rugby people who were actively able to support the direction the game needed to go,” Bray said. Things. “And the reason I spoke to my experience for Tasman was because Wayne Young was incredibly supportive.”
“I actually asked Steve [Tew] Question: ‘Is Tasman Rugby ready to become CEO?’ and he said, ‘Well, we’ll find out. But I’ll just talk about the positives about how Wayne and the management, staff and rugby clubs supported me. “
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Bray came out in the late 1980s and remains grateful for the support he received. Former New Zealand rugby CEO Tew and former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen may not be the idea of progressive liberals for everyone, but Bray says the pair and former NZ Rugby referee manager Keith Lawrence were key supporters.
However, he seldom talked about his sexuality on the public stage. Now the world is changing and NZ Rugby is changing with it. Bray acknowledges this support, but knows there is still a long way to go.
He would like to “imagine” a day when a young male rugby player could realistically enjoy a career in the game without feeling the need to hide his sexuality.
“I don’t think we’re at that point yet,” Bray said. “Actually, I know we’re not at the point where we can say we won the battle.”
“If I asked you how many gays are currently playing in Super Rugby and All Blacks, you could name – you would probably say zero.
“But I guarantee there are some.” So we are not at a point where it is easy to be in this space. “
NZ Rugby President Max Spence is determined to get the unions there, and so they accept Pridge Pledge, a commitment to promoting diversity in the workplace.
“We have to play fair,” Spence said Things. “And it’s not just playing fair in the park.”
“We have to play fair in the community and we have to be welcome.”
Bray became national first, as a referee and then as a Sanzaar manager.
Now, in his mid-50s, Bray feels comfortable in his own skin. He is proud gay and just as proud of his husband.
In 2005, he met Maico, an international artist, and they married in 2019 in Wellington, when Bray’s mother was dying of cancer.
But as he gets older, he says he’s also realized that real acceptance in rugby is still lacking – it’s only given to those who fit into the traditional “rugby type,” but not to others.
“I have a lot of rugby players who accept me very easily,” he said. “The comment I sometimes get is, ‘But you’re just a rugby boy.'”
“The problem with that, of course, is that it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m really embracing who I am.” And I think that’s an area where, certainly for my generation, we’re not at a point where our sport is completely open and accommodating. “
Bray’s generation, gender, and ethnicity still largely control the game. When he looked around the NZ Rugby AGM, he saw a lot of people who looked like him.
He doesn’t want to demonize this group, but he wants to have an honest conversation about rugby taking people as they are.
“The important thing is that you can do it in a really respectful and open way where you can have a dialogue,” he said. “I’m thinking of a lot of rugby players who have really talked to me about my experiences and in a way have become much more accepted people in this world, because we really had that conversation. I think it’s exciting. “