Former British Lions Captain Gareth Thomas, the most capped Welsh rugby player in history, has revealed that he is gay in a deeply personal Interview with the Daily Mail newspaper.
Thirty five year old Thomas, who was captain of both the Welsh national team and the British Lions in 2005, is known as one of the most aggressive players on the field.
He told the Daily Mail that he had struggled to hide his sexuality for most of his life, including marrying his now ex-wife Jemma, making up stories of sexual conquest, flirting with women and becoming violent with anyone who claimed he was gay.
“I was like a ticking bomb. I thought I could suppress it, keep it locked away in some dark corner of myself, but I couldn’t. It was who I was, and I just couldn’t ignore it anymore,” he told the newspaper.
The rugby hero, who admitted that he even considered suicide, said that he first came out to his wife and coach as his marriage crumbled in 2006 and was then able to tell a few of his teammates, whom, he said, completely supported him.
“I’m not going on a crusade, but I’m proud of who I am. I feel I have achieved everything I could ever possibly have hoped to achieve out of rugby, and I did it being gay,” said Thomas.
He told the newspaper that he kept his sexuality secret because he feared not being able to achieve in the game if it was know that he is gay.
“It is the toughest, most macho of male sports, and with that comes an image. 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,” he said.
Thomas is the only openly gay professional rugby player still playing the game in the UK, and possibly in the world.
Meanwhile, Max Clifford, one of the top PR consultants in the UK, has told The Independent on Sunday that he had two gay clients who were high-profile Premier League footballers during the past five years. He said that he advised them to stay in the closet because football “remains in the dark ages, steeped in homophobia.”
“Do I think that’s right? Of course not,” he explained. “It’s a very sad state of affairs. But it’s a fact that homophobia in football is as strong now as it was 10 years ago.”