Main | Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rugby Star Gareth Thomas Comes Out

Another major sports hero has come out. Yesterday Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas, a national icon and one of the most praised players of the sport, announced that he is gay.
Rugby star Gareth Thomas has said he hopes coming out publicly will "send a positive message" to the sport. The 35-year-old wants young gay people, particularly those with aspirations in sport, to be reassured after he became the first high-profile player to announce he is gay. The former British and Irish Lions and Wales captain, a supporter of the children's charity NSPCC, said: "If it makes one young lad pick up the phone to ChildLine, then it will have been worth it." Thomas said he became aware of his sexual orientation at the age of 16 or 17 but could not accept it and feared it would affect his playing career. He told the Daily Mail he was "anxious about people's reactions" but "just couldn't ignore it any more". The rugby star, Wales's most-capped player, said he realised in summer 2006 that he could no longer live a lie. He told his wife, Jemma, that he was gay and admitted cheating on her with male partners.

Thomas, who plays for Cardiff Blues, said he felt like his life was "falling apart" as his four-year marriage broke down. The star recounted to the paper how he cried in the changing rooms of Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, after representing Wales in November 2006. He later came out to coach Scott Johnson, who advised he speak to a few of his international colleagues for support. Thomas said: "He told two of my team-mates, Stephen Jones and Martyn Williams, and as I sat in the bar waiting for them, I was absolutely terrified, wondering what they were going to say. "But they came in, patted me on the back and said: 'We don't care. Why didn't you tell us before?' Two of my best mates in rugby didn't even blink an eyelid." The Welsh Rugby Union and the Cardiff Blues backed Thomas after his decision to come out.
RELATED: In October, Irish hurling champion Donal Og Cusack came out.

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