Manchester Storm defenceman Zach Sullivan has opened up about what he calls ‘the most momentous week of his life’ as he reflected on his announcement that triggered widespread support across the country.
The 25-year-old revealed in a social media post on Sunday that he had come out as bisexual, coinciding with the Elite League’s first ever Pride Weekend.
And he spoke of the conflict he had, not only within himself about his sexual orientation, but about the post, which had been retweeted nearly a thousand times at the time of writing.
“It’s probably been the most momentous week of my life, to be honest,” he said. “I’d got a point last week where I was in place where I was comfortable enough to put my message out there.
“Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one for the spotlight and don’t like being at the centre of attention. The intention of this was never to get any fame from this.
“I’ve been battling with this internally for around nine years and if me doing this now helps anyone and helps them on their journey, then I’ve done something good.
— Zach Sullivan (@ZachSully11) January 26, 2020
“My team-mates at Manchester, as well as the coaches Ryan Finnerty and Mike Moran, have all known for a couple of months, which was when I admitted to myself.
“I spoke to a couple of my best friends as well, Josh Grieveson and Craig Peacock, up in Glasgow and told them what I was going to do and that there wouldn’t be a better time.
“So, it was last Wednesday I decided I would do this and haven’t really slept since, but the guys really helped with wording and how to get my message across and I hope it can help people in a similar situation.
“It was never an intention to call out other people. This is a journey every one has to take at their own pace and, of course, that’s absolutely fine.
“It’s not a case of me wanting everyone else to do it. Now that I’ve done it, maybe the next person will look at and see it’s maybe not as bad as they think.”
The reaction has seen a tidal wave of support for the former Glasgow Clan defenceman and as a consequence, has seen him doing the media rounds as well.
Appearances on BBC Manchester, BBC North West and ITV’s Granada Reports saw him get more limelight that he would like, by his own admission.
But he said it wouldn’t have felt right to post his message and not answer the questions that have come with it.
He added: “The reaction has been so overwhelming and positive since I put my posts out there. On the morning of it, I sat with my room-mates and said to them that this could go either way. It could go well, horribly wrong or even be completely ignored.
“It’s a living walking nightmare with all the attention it’s got for someone who would prefer to be in the background. It’s certainly a world away from struggling with a 30-second interview for Glasgow Clan when I first went there.
“One of my room-mates came with me for moral support as I went to the BBC and ITV studios and it would have been irresponsible of me not to do what I’d done and not be a vocal advocate for it as well.
“I didn’t know it (the attention) was coming, but I had a feeling it might so I feel I have to step up to the plate and answer the questions.”
Sullivan also reckons his announcement has strengthened the bond between him and his Manchester Storm team-mates and in particularly, with head coach Ryan Finnerty, with whom he’s worked with on and off since 2014 when Finnerty signed him for what was Braehead Clan.
And he revealed that when he told the team on Saturday night what he was planning to do on Sunday, he received a very unexpected response.
He said: “There’s a saying where your team is like a second family and I completely believe that. Everyone I’ve told on my team has been great. They’ve told me as long as I’m happy, they are.
“The biggest response for me came on Saturday night after we played in Sheffield and I stood up and told the room what I was going to do on Sunday, telling them I’d rather they heard it from me than finding out on social media.
“They gave me a standing ovation. I just couldn’t believe it and it certainly wasn’t what I expected at all.
“When we turned up for the game on Sunday, it was business as usual. Nothing had changed and there was no preferential treatment and that was the way I wanted it.
“If anything, this whole situation with me has helped my relationship with ‘Finner’ tremendously and to say he’s been great doesn’t do it any justice at all.
“I’ve worked with him for a long time, having been with him in Glasgow and now in Manchester and before, I would say our relationship was a typical player-coach one and at times, we haven’t seen eye to eye on certain things.
“It’s different now and he’s become a father figure in many ways since I spoke to about this and what I was going to do and his support, along with the rest of the team, has blown me away.”