I really don’t follow sports news all that much so it’s only now that I’ve learned of the story of how professional Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas came out as gay to the public last December. While he came out to his teammates and wife (!) back in 2006 and they were supportive, he decided to come out to the international public to serve as inspiration to gay and bisexual men everywhere.
His story is a really big deal. While he’s not the first rugby player to come out as gay, he is the first international rugby player and a top-level player to do so. Being a playing gay sportsman in an ultra-macho and very violent game like rugby (Gareth has missing front teeth to show for it) and being one of the most-capped rugby players in the world, Gareth and his tale helps to shatter the stereotype that gay men are sissies. But more importantly, his sad experience living as a closeted gay man shows that society really needs to be more accepting and supportive of LGBT people. Gareth knew that he was gay since he was 16 or 17 but kept it hidden in order to be successful at rugby and even married his teenage sweetheart in the hope that it will help him repress his sexuality. He ended up cheating on his wife by secretly meeting other men and the guilt and the pressure had him contemplating suicide several times.
I heartily suggest that you read his coming-out news article. It’s a really good read and hopefully will help those of us in the future who decide to come out of the closet.