i'm a gay!

Gareth Thomas’ Coming Out Is Sure to Shock European Rugby. American Sports Fans? Not a Clue

Gareth-Thomas-001

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.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #comingout #gareththomas #rugby stories and more

41 Comments

  • terrwill

    You think American jocks are going to know about Rugby?
    American jocks still don’t get the concept of
    “football” actually being played with the foot… : P

  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    Clue to Queerty: Gay American sports fans are all smiles (and quite a lot of boners, too)!

  • Erick

    @ terrwill: That is so true.

  • Alex

    I realise that Queerty is a American blog but has it ever occurred to this blog’s editors that perhaps people outside of the US of A read their stuff? Anything Euro-related (like Prince Harry’s escapades for example) are treated such that it makes one wonder if the writer has ever been to Europe (which for their benefit I should add is not one country but several) or if they really do believe that we are quaint liberals dancing around the yule-tree???? Seriously…

  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    Hey guys, I just went back and clicked on the link to the profile printed in the UK’s Daily Mail. It is an amazing story, additional pics, and 95+% positive comments from the over 350 readers who wrote in. A couple of days ago Joe.My.God. had more pictures, shirtless, and wow!

    This is a heart warmer, and needed it today as its only 20 degrees here in Asheville, NC.

    Cheers.

  • SteveO

    Um, Alex?

    Perhaps that smug little bitchy attitude is what earned yours the nickname Euro-trash.

    That, and the fact that a lot of you are smelly.

    Good day.

  • Tami

    Finally. A famous gay man coming out, who is hot. I thought this would never happen.

  • Fitz

    I have nothing but praise for a celeb who comes out without the benefit of being arrested in the park, or their xtube video going public.

  • Alexa

    My British rugby loving ex-gf is all over this right now. It’s a really big deal, while openly gay entertainers abound there, there are very few openly gay sports stars. And rugby is very much a macho sport apparently, far more so than soccer or cricket.

  • Jersey

    His ex-wife put out an amazing statement of understanding and acceptance. She’s obviously a wonderful person.

  • Steve

    I cannot emphasis enough how bigger a deal this is. It would be like if David Beckham came out. Across the Rugby loving world (UK, Western Europe, NZ, Australia, South Africa etc)…this is a really big deal.

    If only UK premiership footballers could be encouraged to come out. Though I have blogged about the terrible time any footballer even connected to homosexuality receives (http://stevehynd.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/the-only-gay-in-the-premiership/). I strongly recommend reading Grahame Le Saux’s UK Times article which is linked off the blog page. He received a truly terrible time, not for being gay, but for reading the Guardian and being university educated (in the backwards world of premiership football this is the same as being gay).

  • Steve

    I should have said that the premiership has no openly gay stars (nor do any of the lower divisions of professional football in the UK). That’s over 500 heterosexual footballers (unlikely to say the least). The one British footballer who came out in the 90’s later committed suicide.

  • romeo

    Great story. And could this guy be anymore hot-butch? He’ll have the pick of the litter. LOL

  • badlydrawnbear

    Steve is right, Gareth is not just a pro-rugby player he is a Rugby superstar. This is as if Brett Favre came out. I know this won’t get a ton of play in the US but this story is huge in the rest of the sports world. Everyone should email ESPN and all the US talk shows and see if we can get the story more play in the US.

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    @ Alex

    SteveO is a real cutey! WTF?? Chiiil Mr Patriot.

    I agree completely but that’s always being Americans for you. They even think they invented Jesus….noooo, he came from Israel dudes! All you did was found some new land like 4/5 centuries ago that was inhabited by someonelse, took over and well, took over the world!

    My bro who’s a real jock was shocked. Not cause he’s gay but to come out whilst your STILL playing!

    Someone was gonna get caught…but glad he did it with style…

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    @ Steve

    Did you know he was gay? Seems like all the Welsh fans maybe/kinda did but was reading on forums and the French ones plus the rest are stumped. Plus us English too!

  • AlwaysGay

    I couldn’t be happier for him. I always like when gay people acknowledge their sexuality. It’s too bad many don’t because it leaves the impression that gay people are more rare than we actually are.

  • romeo

    Hear, Hear! AlwaysGay #17. Like I keep saying, if the straights only knew. LOL

  • Thom

    @ John England

    Did you mean to come off of as that ignorant? because you gave me quite a laugh. You’re obivously historically illiterate if you think the US “took over the world”, its really funny considering YOU’RE FROM FUCKING ENGLAND. The British had more to do with the creation of Israel than the Americans. Speaking of certain medias treating other people stereotypically you should look to your own which paints Americans as stupid degenerates. You and Alex might want to back up your smug intellectual attitudes with actual knowledge. good day

  • tavdy79

    @ Alexa: “And rugby is very much a macho sport apparently, far more so than soccer or cricket.”

    From what I’ve observed, rugby is far more popular than soccer amongst gay guys – loads of my gay friends enjoy rugby, both playing and watching, but I don’t know many gay football fans. I think being such a macho sport insulates rugby players & fans against accusations of weakness if they’re gay, while the opposite is true of cricket and (especially) soccer – just look at the Pitch Primadonna stereotype of English premier-league football!

  • tarxien

    The response from rugby players, officials, fans, the public and the media has been overwhelmingly positive.

    One fan summed it up:” Where’s the news? Can we get back to the Rugby now?”

    His team mates said, “We don’t care. Why didn’t you tell us before?”

    Robert Norster, chief executive of Gareth’s team, Cardiff Blues commented: “Gareth Thomas is a credit to Cardiff Blues who has truly brought honour to the jersey as a formidable player and a strong leader. His private life is his own concern and we will continue to acknowledge him for the qualities he brings to the squad as a player and as an individual who exemplifies the values of commitment, determination and fair play we expect from our team.”

    One puzzle – why did he tell the Daily Mail, the worst paper in the UK for homophobic bigotry a la Jan Moir? And what was her response?

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    @ Thom

    Stop the HATE.

    The British started it and you took it off and RAN away with it. ESPECIALLY in the 20th century.

    WE ARE ALL BAD.

    Don’t be a prissy, sh*tty, person who is appalled a gay fanous sports person comes out AND you claim that it’s no NEWS to you because he isn’t American.

    Please.

  • Gareth

    This NEWS really wasnt that shocking to many Welsh rugby supporters…..there’s been rumours on Gareth (and a few other players) for years now, ive read it was far more shocking for Aussies when Ian Roberts came out in the mid 90’s!

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    “From The Sunday Times December 21, 2009

    Sport stars who came out
    (John Cassidy)
    Basketball player John Amaechi coaches the London Youth Games Basketball team at Battersea Sports Centre (John Cassidy/The Times)
    Recommend? Gareth Thomas is the highest-profile British sports star to ever speak publicly about his homosexuality and a look through the history of gay athletes only enhances the enormity of his announcement. With 100 Welsh caps and the captaincy of both his country and the Lions to his name, Thomas’ standing in the game dwarves that of any other previous ‘out’ British athletes.

    John Amaechi, the Stockport-born basketball player who made a name for himself with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA, came out in 2007 but the story made more of splash Stateside than it did over here.”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/rugby_union/article6963928.ece

  • Xavier Deron

    Meh.

    Who really cares, he isn’t American. The man is SOOOO HOT but he is Welsh which means he speaks funny and probably smells. The only thing Wales ever gave the world was Shirley Bassey and Richard Burton.

    Just a thought, hon. Just a thought

  • Ten in My Timbz

    @ John

    “I don’t get this ‘in’ joke…”

    Well, you wouldn’t. White people smell like wet dogs when their hair gets wet. The English (and omg Welsh!) even more so. Maybe its their bad dentistry and you are used to smell.

    As Americans we certainly are not.

    Gareth Thomas is very fit and very hygenic. I would give him a go, him and gorgeous Rio Ferdinand.

  • rrr

    Speaking of certain medias treating other people stereotypically you should look to your own which paints Americans as stupid degenerates.

    America’s own media makes Americans look like stupid degenerates even in actual American events like the freaks at tea party protests.

    Americans are on average ignorant about other cultures and America is naval gazing as a country. It causes some amusement and resentment sometimes in the rest of the world, and you are just going to have to accept that for now. Someday some other country will be on top and Americans will be griping with the rest of the world about how the Chinese or whoever dominate the world media with their crappy shows and stuff while acting like Americans and everyone else are inferior, aren’t part of the audience and don’t matter.

  • Steve

    I think it was a common known secret amongst colleagues and friends that he was gay, but not so much amongst the public. It was always going to be from the public (esp in the UK) that he was going to recieve the most abuse! I still think its very brave for him to come out as a still playing professional!

    Is the level of homophobia that can be found in the UK football leagues replicated in any major US sports? (to get an idea of the level see http://stevehynd.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/the-only-gay-in-the-premiership/ and especially read the Times link off the blog!). I know the Italian football league suffers a similiar level of abuse, yet in Spain it seems to be a non-issue (which is an issue in itself).

  • Charles Merrill

    Reminder that it was the Europeans that exploited North America’s population not Americans. The break from British colonialism allowed the formation of the United States. Know your history and don’t rewrite it to make you feel better about your tribe.

  • Gareth

    Note to #26 – Xavier, Tom Jones,Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta Jones are also from Wales, Wales seems to breed stars who then end up in the US btw Shirley Bassey has no allegience to Wales and hasn’t lived here for 40years….your only likely to hear her say she’s from Wales when theres £££ involved……never quite see what the gays see in her……

  • Xavier Deron

    Gareth;

    I stand corrected. I love all of them, esp Sir Anthony and Catherine Zeta Jones. Even tho she married Michael Douglas lol.

    I was being a bit much earlier. This really is great news. He is a top player and seems like an inspiration.

    PS: But the euros do smell..

  • romeo

    @ Xavier: You must be smelling your upper lip. I’ve traveled all over Europe, lived and worked there, and I’ve never noticed any particular difference aroma-wise with the U.S.. They use anti-perspirant over there just like we do. But more to the point, generally, the Europeans are a lot nicer and more rational than us.

    Happy Holidays Everyone !!!

  • jason

    Reading Gareth’s story, I just got the sense that he is a bisexually oriented man predominantly oriented on the homosexual side of the spectrum. Of course, this doesn’t make it any less sad that he was forced by social mores to hide his sexual orientation from the public for so long.

    However, I do feel that too much polarization of male sexuality is occurring in society right now. This gay/straight polar opposites notion is really not a healthy way of looking at male sexuality. It kind of pushes men into strict categories that aren’t truly representative of their orientation. It politicizes a biological emotion.

  • Gaz

    @ Xavier Deron #26

    All I can say, in a manner befitting your comment is; piss off. The Welsh have contributed far more than your xenophobic mindset can obviously handle. Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Ioan Gruffydd, Matthew Rhys et al. Let’s also not forget Roald Dahl (Willy Wonka, James and the Giant Peach), Dylan Thomas, Russel T Davies, Emyr Owen Humphreys et al. The Mabinogion (The only legitimate source of King Arthur and Merlin), all Welsh

    but you know, don’t let your vitriol and hatred cloud your rational judgement will you.

    and no, I don’t smell, pal.

    Diolch yn fawr, dic. ;)

  • Jan Altus

    RRR writes: “Americans are on average ignorant about other cultures and America is naval gazing as a country.”

    I wonder, does “naval gazing” involve contemplating one’s fleet of battleships? Or were you, perhaps, eluding to the practice of omphaloskepsis, which is the contemplation of one’s navel as an aid to meditation.

    RRR should also note that just as Europe is a continent, not an individual country, America is the name of a continent too.

    When I’ve visited the USA I’ve often been impressed by the fact that they are not as Euro-centric as I’d imagined; giving them the open-mindedness to equally enjoy culture from anywhere in the world.

  • Xavier Deron

    @ Gaz:

    How do you translate “Piss off you smelly Welshman?”

    Or better yet,”Sit and spin on your 12″ black dildo whilst singing the entire Shirley Bassey catalogue”

    How does that translate, my smelly Welsh friend? Do tell, doll, DO TELL!

  • Rob Moore

    @SteveO: I guess that bitchy little attitude of yours is why you are considered trailer trash in the U.S., plus you reek of cologne.

  • Rob Moore

    @Ten in My Timbz: On what evidence do you base your very racist and ignorant opinion?

  • Rob Moore

    @Thom: Another proud example of mediocre history education in the U.S. First of all, according to Christian mythology, Jesus was born in the region of the original Israel, which predates, even England by nearly 1500 years. John was wrong about Jesus being born in Israel (meaning the original) since Israel no longer existed. He was born in Judea which was the region that had been northern Israel centuries earlier.

    Secondly, from a cultural and political perspective, America did take over much of the world. When I go to England and France to visit relatives, I see American television and films everywhere. I see American products being sold sometimes under a different name or labeled to use local language such as calling American potato chips as potato crisps or cookies as biscuits.

    But let’s touch on actual history vs. many of the textbooks in America that make it seem that America joined World War II to save Europe. The reality is that America tried hard to ignore the war in Europe. America came into the war at the very end of 1941 only because Japan attacked. Even then, America did not declare war on Germany and Italy until after they declared war on the U.S. as allies of Japan. Approximately 500,000 American soldiers died. Over 1,000,000 Britons died from a population roughly one quarter the size of the U.S. Britain had been fighting Germany for nearly two and a half years. By war’s end, Britain had been fighting total war against Hitler for nearly six years and fought Japan for the same length of time as the U.S.

    I say this as a product of American public education who went onto major in history in an American university. I am also British by birth. My grandfather fought in France, was evacuated from Dunkirk, was then sent to North Africa, then onto Burma. My mother has first hand experience of living through the London blitz as a child as well as the much stiffer rationing in Britain vs. what was used in the U.S. Britain was bombed heavily. Except for the territories of Hawaii and the Philipines, America was not exposed to physical attack or privation. Australia suffered more direct bombing than the U.S. The U.S. had no damage to infrastructure, manufacturing facilities plus maintained a wartime sized military after the war to boot.

    Americans are too prone to think of themselves as the white knight for the world, selflessly rescuing people in distress around the world. Americans have done good things and shown themselves to be quite altruistic, but no more so than many other countries. When it comes down to the basics, America does what it does for its own purposes as do other countries including Britain. It is arrogant and delusional to say otherwise. Europeans don’t stink as some have claimed. I have spent a great deal of time in western Europe. They bathe as frequently as Americans, change clothes as frequently, and for the most part eat similar food. I will grant there is more smoking, but American smokers stink as badly as anyone else.

    The whole claim about poor dental care is such a myth. Unless one is frolicking with addicts and alcoholics, the English and French are just as careful about dental care as Americans. My English mother, now living in France, is almost fanatical about flossing even in her 70s. She has quite lovely teeth.

Comments are closed.