Saturday, December 19, 2009

Imagine if Michael Phelps or Lance Armstrong came out of the closet...

"Imagine if Michael Phelps or Lance Armstrong came out of the closet," writes Cyd Zeigler jr, editor for As Cyd points out, the Welsh version of those sports legends, Gareth Thomas, has come out as a gay man and that has sent shock waves throughout the international sporting world. Below are just some of the headlines from around the world about Thomas's coming out story.

British Lions Rugby Legend Gareth Thomas: 'It's ended my marriage and nearly driven me to suicide. Now it's time to tell the world the truth - I'm gay'

UK Daily Mail reports:
Gareth Thomas is a sporting legend. He captained Wales in 2005 to their first Grand Slam victory since 1978. The same year he captained the British Lions tour of New Zealand. With 100 caps to his name - more than any other player in Welsh history - he has one of the fiercest reputations on the field, and a row of missing front teeth to prove it. At 6ft 3in of pure muscle, his masculinity has always been an absolute given. 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. READ MORE

Rugby Star Thomas Acknowledges Being Gay

CNN reports:
A former international rugby star has shocked the sports world by revealing that he is gay. Gareth Thomas, Wales' most-capped player after appearing in 100 Tests, made the surprise announcement in an interview with British newspaper The Daily Mail. The 35-year-old retired from internationals after the 2007 World Cup, but still plays for Welsh provincial side Cardiff Blues. "I could never accept it because I knew I would never be accepted as a gay man and still achieve what I wanted to achieve in the game," Thomas said. "I became a master of disguise and could play the straight man down to a tee, sometimes over-compensating by getting into fights or being overly aggressive because I didn't want the real me to be found out. But when you withdraw into yourself you start to feel lonely, upset, ashamed."

While homosexuality in a macho code such as rugby is rarely acknowledged, top-level tennis players such as Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Amelie Mauresmo have openly admitted to being lesbian. Former NBA basketball star John Amaechi confessed to being gay in his memoir in 2007 a couple of years after his retirement, while Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis was candid about his sexuality and tested positive for HIV in 1988. READ MORE

Rugby Star Thomas Reveals He Is Gay

Sky News reports:
Rugby star Gareth Thomas has said he hopes coming out publicly will "send a positive message" to the sport. The 35-year-old wants young gay people, particularly those with aspirations in sport, to be reassured after he became the first high-profile player to announce he is gay. The former British and Irish Lions and Wales captain, a supporter of the children's charity NSPCC, said: "If it makes one young lad pick up the phone to ChildLine, then it will have been worth it."

Thomas said he became aware of his sexual orientation at the age of 16 or 17 but could not accept it and feared it would affect his playing career. He told the Daily Mail he was "anxious about people's reactions" but "just couldn't ignore it any more". The rugby star, Wales's most-capped player, said he realised in summer 2006 that he could no longer live a lie. READ MORE

Ex-Lion Gareth Thomas Reveals He is Gay

BBC Sports reports:
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."

Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens, who came out in 2007, told BBC Radio 5 live that he thought Thomas would receive a positive reaction from the public. "There's still a bit of stigma from some people but as far as the rugby community goes as a whole, I'm sure he'll be very pleasantly surprised like I was," he said. "You'll get some issues from some individuals but that's the same across society as a whole. "I think people will respect him as a person and as a player - he's a person just like anybody else, who just happens to be one of the great players Wales have had over the years and who just happens to be gay." READ MORE

Wales Rugby Great Gareth Thomas Says He's Gay

Sports Illustrated reports:
Wales rugby great Gareth Thomas publicly announced he's gay on Saturday. Thomas, who retired from international rugby two years ago but still plays for Cardiff Blues, told the Daily Mail. "I've been through all sorts of emotions with this, tears, anger and absolute despair,'' the 35-year-old Thomas said. "I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to let people know and, to be honest, I feel anxious about people's reactions and the effect it might have on my family. Thomas said he knew he was gay when he was 16 or 17 but didn't accept it. READ MORE

Out Gay Rugby Star Gareth Thomas: A Photo Retrospective

My buddies over at have put together a Gareth Thomas career photo gallery; check it out here.