• England’s James Haskell appears on the cover of Gay Times magazine
  • The flanker has previously spoken out against homophobia in sport
  • Keegan Hirst recently became the first rugby league player to come out
  • Haskell, who is in a relationship with Chloe Madeley, has spoken of his pride in having a devoted gay following 

Michael Gadd for MailOnline

England flanker James Haskell has tackled homophobia with a photoshoot for Gay Times magazine.

Haskell posed for the cover of the gay and bisexual title for the September issue – out in time for the start of the Rugby World Cup next month.

The 30-year-old, who was named on Thursday in Stuart Lancaster’s final 31-man squad for the World Cup, has often spoken out against homophobia in sport and is notably proud of his gay following.

England flanker James Haskell rips off his shirt for the upcoming issues of Gay Times magazine

Haskell is painted in the rainbow colours of gay pride in the magazine, in which he again speaks out against homophobia in sport
The cover of Gay Times magazine

Haskell is painted in the rainbow colours of gay pride in the magazine, in which he again speaks out against homophobia in sport; and the cover of the magazine which coincides with the Rugby World Cup

Haskell flexes his 114kg frame and appears to roar on the cover shot while in other photos he is ripping off his shirt and paint in the rainbow colours that represent gay pride.

The photo shoot and interview follow the coming out of Championship rugby league star Keegan Hirst, of the Batley Bulldogs, who became the first openly gay professional player in the code. 

Prop Keegan, 27, who has two children with his wife, revealed the relief he felt after opening up.

‘Now I feel like I’m letting out a long breath that I’ve held in for a long time,’ he told the Sunday Mirror.

The first professional rugby union player was former British and Irish Lions player Gareth Thomas, who revealed his sexuality in 2009 just before he finished up playing with the Cardiff Blues. 

England international Haskell is the boyfriend of Chloe Madeley - and is notably proud of his gay following

England international Haskell is the boyfriend of Chloe Madeley – and is notably proud of his gay following

Haskell trains at Pennyhill Park on Wednesday ahead of being named in the final England World Cup squad

Haskell trains at Pennyhill Park on Wednesday ahead of being named in the final England World Cup squad

Haskell (pictured with Madely in March) has often spoken out against homophobia in sport

Haskell (pictured with Madely in March) has often spoken out against homophobia in sport

Haskell, with the bridge of his nose bleeding, takes the ball forward in England's loss to France in Paris

Haskell, with the bridge of his nose bleeding, takes the ball forward in England’s loss to France in Paris

Batley Bulldogs prop Keegan Hirst recently became rugby league's first openly gay player

Batley Bulldogs prop Keegan Hirst recently became rugby league’s first openly gay player

Haskell, who recently appeared in Hello! magazine with his girlfriend Chloe Madeley, has previously posed for Attitude magazine, another leading homosexual title. 

‘I’ve got a big gay following on Twitter,’ he said at the time. ‘I’m surprised that across all sports more people haven’t come out because going by sheer statistics there have to be lots of gay sportsmen, right?

‘I hate the idea of people feeling they can’t just be themselves and personally I wouldn’t give a s**t if any of my team-mates were gay.’

 

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