Manchester Storm's Zach Sullivan reveals bisexuality 'to help others'

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media captionManchester Storm's Zach Sullivan, 25, is believed to be the first professional ice hockey player to come out as bisexual

An ice hockey player has spoken out for the first time about his sexuality to mark the sport's first Pride weekend.

Manchester Storm's Zach Sullivan, 25, is believed to be the first professional ice hockey player to come out as bisexual.

He hopes his decision "will give other hockey players around the country the same confidence to do the same".

A club spokesperson described the defenceman as "a role model for so many people, young and old".

In his statement on Twitter, Mr Sullivan, from Redhill, Surrey, said he had "battled with mental health problems" but made the decision to go public "with the support, understanding and acceptance" of his family, friends and teammates.

"I'm not doing this in the hope of any publicity. I've always been a very private guy, but I realise that I have a unique opportunity to do some good," he said.

"If I can be open and honest about my sexuality, then hopefully that will give other hockey players around the country the same confidence to do the same."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

His statement coincided with Elite Ice Hockey League's first Pride weekend to celebrate inclusivity and diversity within ice hockey.

It was met with widespread support from many, including Manchester Storm's captain Dallas Ehrhardt.

"We couldn't be happier for our teammate and we 100% have his back," said Mr Ehrhardt.

"The hockey world is a tight-knit supportive community and when something as important like this happens, the whole sport gets better."

image copyrightManchester Storm
image captionManchester Storm players wore Pride jerseys during their game against Dundee Stars on Sunday

Head coach Ryan Finnerty said it was a "historic moment" as Mr Sullivan is believed to be the first professional ice hockey player to go public while still playing the sport.

"His strength and courage will inspire the youth of tomorrow," he added.

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