Y’all keep saying how you wish more professional athletes would come out — while still actually playing their sports. Now Welsh British Lions rugby player Gareth Thomas has done just that. Too bad Americans have never heard his name before. Or even what his “caps” record means.
But across the pond, in fancy Europe, it’s a big deal. Because a guy who was celebrated for screwing lots of ladies (and thereby cheating on his wife), and pummeling other guys who dared question his heterosexuality. From a punishingly long Daily Mail profile
As a young man he bonded with rugby mates in the pub over tales of sexual conquests, and flirted with pretty girls eager to bag a sporting hero.
After his marriage in 2002 to teenage sweetheart Jemma – the woman he called his ‘rock’ – he spoke movingly of their desire to become parents and the heartbreak of her suffering three miscarriages.
And if anyone dared to suggest he was anything other than 100 per cent straight, Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas was prepared to make them see the error of their ways. With his fists, if necessary.
But, as he admits in the Daily Mail today, it was all a pretence, a fragile artifice – and one which came crashing down around his ears on November 4, 2006, following a Wales game in Cardiff.
Breaking down in tears in the changing rooms of the Millennium Stadium, Gareth finally realised he could not go on living a lie. Keeping his true sexuality a secret was destroying him.
And because all you’re interested in is the “When did he start screwing around with guys?” storyline:
Gareth’s first gay sexual encounter was with a male, non-rugby-playing friend, when he was 18, a one-off encounter which left him feeling ashamed and frightened.
‘At the time it felt right, but afterwards it felt wrong and I promised myself it would never happen again,’ he says.
‘I just completely denied everything. Everything I wasn’t supposed to think or feel went through a trap door in my mind and was forgotten.
‘I used to hope that I would wake up one morning, all these feelings would be gone and I’d be like the rest of them, be one of the boys without having to pretend.
‘I used to pray constantly and ask God: “You have given me this great talent to play rugby. There must be some kind of answer.” But there wasn’t one.’
And hey, he’s still besties with his wife, so that’s nice.