One of the most high profile gay sportsman to come out of the closet in recent years is Gareth Thomas, former Wales and Lions captain. News began breaking publicly in the early hours of today.
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.”
Source: BBC Sport
Thomas, Wales’ most-capped player, said it had been “really tough” hiding his sexuality, but hoped coming out would help future generations of rugby players.
He said his close family and friends had accepted his decision and would continue to support him. The 35-year-old said he had no plans to launch a “crusade” but wanted to send a “positive message” to other gay people.
Thomas, who has 100 international caps, captained Wales in 2005 to their first Grand Slam victory since 1978 and led the British Lions tour of New Zealand later that year.
Source: Times Online
This is not big news – and it is big news.
It is not big news because there are, literally, millions of gay people – both here in the UK and everywhere else. It’s not a lifestyle choice. Don’t ever fool yourself on that count. It isn’t.
It is big news because high profile sportsmen coming out as gay is still all too rare. Much of this is rooted in the media of the 1950s-80s, where gay men have too often been portrayed as weak, unmanly, girly, etc. Some are. Heck – some perfectly straight men are. But the convenient stereotype was perpetuated by the media and entertainment industries for all it was worth for generations. It was always, ultimately, a negative stereotype – regardless of how much the person made you laugh.
Think back a few thousand years to the Sacred Band of Thebes. I don’t think you’d find them to be weak. But those representations of gay men aren’t as convenient to use as they don’t fit the mould.
Of course he will face homophobia, hate mail and all the rest of it. There are a lot of people out there too mind-numbingly stupid, too lobotomised either by their religion or their hypocrisy-ridden ‘family values’ mindset that will condemn him. But these people are becoming more and more irrelevant. They’re now at the margins. Of course, such people can identify with the backward rulers of Uganda, other parts of Africa and also the Middle East, where homophobia is state endorsed. To those that share their backward, stone age mindset – take a good long look at yourself and the people that identify with your mindset.
Anyway, less vitriol and more celebration. Is good news. And as I was born in Wales (which technically makes me a Welshman??!) I’m doubly pleased. 🙂
A more detailed biopic of Gareth Thomas on the blog Gay for Today.
PS This story also reminds me of the coming out of the army guy I blogged about a while back.