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Thread: Ex-British Lion Thomas reveals he is gay

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    Saturday's Night Main Event Ex-British Lion Thomas reveals he is gay

    Quote Originally Posted by BBC
    Former Wales and Lions captain Gareth Thomas has broken one of the major taboos that surround sport by revealing he is gay.

    The 35-year-old joins stars like basketball's John Amaechi and hurling's Donal Og Cusack who have come out.

    "Just because you are gay, it doesn't mean you fancy every man who walks the planet," Thomas told the Daily Mail.

    "I don't want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player first and foremost. I am a man."

    Cardiff Blues utility back Thomas said he had been through "all sorts of emotions" over the issue, since first knowing he was gay in his late teens.

    He revealed that he was "anxious about people's reactions" to him being gay and that he felt he could not have come out earlier in his rugby career.

    "It is the toughest, most macho of male sports, and with that comes an image," Thomas said. In many ways, it is barbaric, and I could never have come out without first establishing myself and earning respect as a player. Rugby was my passion, my whole life, and I wasn't prepared to risk losing everything I loved."

    Thomas went on to win 100 caps for Wales and three for the Lions, and has played for Bridgend and Cardiff and spent three years in France with Toulouse, before returning to south Wales in 2007.
    He feels attitudes have changed and the time is right for sport to start accepting openly gay people in the same way other professions have in recent years.

    "I just happen to be gay," he added. "It's irrelevant. What I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby. It's pretty tough for me being the only international rugby player prepared to break the taboo. Statistically I can't be the only one, but I'm not aware of any other gay player still in the game. I'd love for it, in 10 years' time, not to even be an issue in sport, and for people to say: 'So what?'"

    Thomas retired from international duty after captaining Wales' exit from the 2007 World Cup.

    But he admitted it was on Wales duty at an earlier time when he first broke the news to former Wales caretaker coach Scott Johnson over his sexuality and the break-up of his marriage to his wife Jemma.

    "My life seemed to be falling apart," he added. "Jemma and I were splitting up, and I was scared of the future and being single again as a gay man.

    "Somehow, the coach had guessed," said Thomas. "He took me out of the team room to the medical room, locked the door and I told him everything. After keeping it secret for so long, I felt a huge rush of relief.”

    "Scott said: 'Right, I've got to speak now to three or four players in the Welsh team because you need the boys to surround you and support you. You can't cope with this on your own,' and he was right.

    "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."

    But Thomas said one of his lowest points was cheating on Jemma, which drove him to the edge.

    "Sometimes I felt so alone and depressed," he added.

    "I used to go to the cliffs overlooking the beach near our cottage in St Brides Major and just think about jumping off and ending it all."

    Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens, who came out in 2007, told BBC Radio 5 live that he thought Thomas would receive a positive reaction from the public.

    "There's still a bit of stigma from some people but as far as the rugby community goes as a whole, I'm sure he'll be very pleasantly surprised like I was," he said.

    "You'll get some issues from some individuals but that's the same across society as a whole. I think people will respect him as a person and as a player - he's a person just like anybody else, who just happens to be one of the great players Wales have had over the years and who just happens to be gay."
    This is not really a shock to me, it’s been a well kept secret since about 1999, but it’s never affected the way the public has supported him.

    I have a huge amount of respect for him for coming out publicly. Of course there is no need for him to ‘come out’ but by doing so he can be an inspiration youngsters who may think they can not be a successful sportsman in they are gay.

    Although I respect those who do wish to keep these things private, maybe this announcement will lead to other sportsmen ‘coming out’ and not being forced to keep it a secret. They should not feel that just because they are sportsmen that supporters will treat them any differently just because they are homosexual.

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    Re: Ex-British Lion Thomas reveals he is gay

    Of course, absolutely everyone reserves the right to "come out" whenever they choose in public.

    I'm as pleased that Thomas has been able to do this as I am for anyone that is able to admit to who they are.

    However, as a retired player that chose not to do this until he was out of the public limelight, I don't really see how he provides any "inspiration" for future sportsmen or women Aled.

    Surely he's just shown them that they should hide their sexuality (as he did) until they're retired too? Hasn't he just shown them that it is something to hide?

    Like I say, I'm happy for him to have found his true self, but I struggle to see his revelation as some kind of inspirational act.
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    Re: Ex-British Lion Thomas reveals he is gay

    However, as a retired player that chose not to do this until he was out of the public limelight, I don't really see how he provides any "inspiration" for future sportsmen or women Aled.
    Although the best years of his career are behind him he's still playing for the Cardiff Blues. He's still very much in the limelight here in Wales - but yes, his stock was higher in the rest of Europe when he was captaining Wales and the Lions.

    The timing can be questioned as to why he made the decision at the end of his career, but I don't think it was his aim to say hide your sexuality until you've finished playing. He's obviously faced some difficult times during his career, and he feels the time is probably right now to reveal his sexuality. Over the last few years he's been a controversiol figure in Welsh rugby, and I just think he'd posponed announcing this earlier as it would be viewed as looking for sympathy from the media. There was a time in 2005 when he was at the height of his career that he was public enemy number 1 in Wales.

    I had to laugh though, Gareth Thomas' first match for Cardiff since coming out was against Toulose this weekend, were they wore pink shirts. The PR men must have had it all worked out!

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    Re: Ex-British Lion Thomas reveals he is gay

    Quote Originally Posted by The Phantom View Post
    Although the best years of his career are behind him he's still playing for the Cardiff Blues. He's still very much in the limelight here in Wales - but yes, his stock was higher in the rest of Europe when he was captaining Wales and the Lions.

    The timing can be questioned as to why he made the decision at the end of his career, but I don't think it was his aim to say hide your sexuality until you've finished playing. He's obviously faced some difficult times during his career, and he feels the time is probably right now to reveal his sexuality. Over the last few years he's been a controversiol figure in Welsh rugby, and I just think he'd posponed announcing this earlier as it would be viewed as looking for sympathy from the media. There was a time in 2005 when he was at the height of his career that he was public enemy number 1 in Wales.

    I had to laugh though, Gareth Thomas' first match for Cardiff since coming out was against Toulose this weekend, were they wore pink shirts. The PR men must have had it all worked out!
    Honestly. I thought he was fully retired and not even playing club rugby, so my point isn't so valid now. Albeit he no longer plays at anywhere near the level he did.

    Like I said, he can come out himself whenever he chooses, that's not my decision to pass judgement on. My only query was how he can be seen as an inspiration if he was retired, but if you say he's still pretty well featured there in Wales, then so be it!!

    Oh way too many jokes about him being up against Toulose first up. 606 has comments all over it from fans saying they hope people get behind him. Maybe a pun?
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    Re: Ex-British Lion Thomas reveals he is gay

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyler Durden View Post
    Like I said, he can come out himself whenever he chooses, that's not my decision to pass judgement on. My only query was how he can be seen as an inspiration if he was retired, but if you say he's still pretty well featured there in Wales, then so be it!!

    Oh way too many jokes about him being up against Toulose first up. 606 has comments all over it from fans saying they hope people get behind him. Maybe a pun?
    I was speaking to someone this afternoon, and they said he's got some rugby schools for kids, not sure if that's true i'd have to look into it, so it's not as if he's saying "I'm gay" and then leaving the sport altogether. Let's face it, he's never going to be a pundit!!

    One of the sports journalists I follow on twitter said he was interviewing Gareth Thomas today for TV, so I guess we may get some more incite on his decision to come out.

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    Re: Ex-British Lion Thomas reveals he is gay

    It's not a particularly well kept secret. He bought a house with another fella in Porthcawl, so I've been told.

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