Rugby: Former All Black Campbell Johnstone hopes coming out as gay blazes trail for others

Campbell Johnstone is being celebrated all over the world for being an All Black like no other.

The former prop has become the first openly gay All Black, revealing his sexuality to the public in the hope it will give greater comfort to those struggling.

His decision to publicly come out is being heralded by players past and present, and gives others belief that one day, it won't even be a talking.

Johnstone knew he was taking a big step, he just didn't think it'd be so seismic.

"It's gone global," he told Newshub. "It's gone massive."

Over the past 24 hours, he's fielded calls and messages of celebration from Washington to London... to the Beehive.

"As somebody that grew up playing rugby and dreamed of being an All Black - not that I'd ever have been one - the idea that someone can come out and affirm you can be gay and be an All Black is a really important moment for New Zealand," said Sports Minister Grant Robertson.

A gay man himself, Robertson is among those saluting Johnstone and aware of the impact this could have, as is NZ Rugby boss Mark Robinson, a former teammate of Johnstone.

"I'm really proud of the signal it sends around our sport, and what it means for the growth, understanding and tolerance of our sport," he said.

Before making it completely public, Johnstone chose to share his story with his old side - the Crusaders - where another former teammate, Scott Robertson, is now coach.

"Razor was fantastic," Johnstone told Newshub. "He was his normal, high-energy self and just awesome... just so supportive of the whole thing.

Campbell Johnstone (left) packs down in the Crusaders front row
Campbell Johnstone (left) packs down in the Crusaders front row. Photo credit: Photosport

Other All Blacks are among those hoping it's the first step towards it NOT being a conversation.

"The environment is that supportive in rugby that coming out, do it, but it's not an issue for someone on the other side," said All Blacks and Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor.

"We're all hopeful we get to a place where this is just normal, an everyday thing," said Brad Christensen of NZ Falcons, Auckland's gay rugby team. 

Johnstone agrees.

"Sexuality shouldn't be a boundary," he said. "It should be a part of you and it shouldn't hold you back, and if you pursue your dreams and goals, you're going to achieve them."

Because of that, All Black No.1056 will forever be remembered as a trailblazer OFF the field.