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Thomas, Gareth (b. 1974)  
 
page: 1  2  3  

The doctors refused to speculate on whether or not Thomas could ever resume playing rugby. They told him to limit his exercise to walking for the next six months.

Shortly after this blow, doctors brought the Thomases more bad news: the fetus that Jemma Thomas was carrying had died. The pregnancy, like her two previous ones, ended in a miscarriage.

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The pressure of Thomas's situation bore so heavily on him that he had suicidal thoughts as he walked along the high cliffs near his home.

"It wasn't that I really wanted to die," he explained to Weathers. "I just wanted everything to be different, for it all to go away."

But he knew it would not and could not.

He decided to come out to his wife, who was shocked but still remained with him when he returned to Toulouse to begin playing again.

"At first, we both felt that we couldn't just walk away from each other," recalled Thomas, but the couple soon realized that the marriage could not survive. They divorced, but without rancor; neither has had anything but good to say of the other.

When Thomas returned to Wales, he was reunited with Johnson, who was not the head coach of the Welsh team but instead at the helm of the squad for their opponent, his native Australia.

Sensing that something was dreadfully wrong emotionally with Thomas, Johnson approached him, revealed his suspicion that Thomas's disquiet was due to his homosexuality, and volunteered to broach the issue with some of Thomas's Welsh teammates, with whom Johnson was, of course, well acquainted.

As good as his word, Johnson returned in a couple of hours—a terrifying interval for Thomas—with Martyn Williams and Stephen Jones, two of the most illustrious members of the team, both of whom expressed support. Williams asked why Thomas had not told them before.

The answer was fear. Internet sites were buzzing with commentary and speculation about the reason for the break-up of the Thomases' marriage, and both of his teams, Wales and Toulouse, had been contacted by tabloid newspapers seeking to out him. Thomas's teammates circled the wagons to let him come out on his own terms.

He quit Toulouse shortly thereafter, thus eliminating one potential source of leaks, and came home to play for the Cardiff Blues.

Thomas came out publicly in December 2009 on the eve of a match between Cardiff and his previous team, Toulouse. When he informed his teammates of the impending announcement, they were supportive, and his parents feted his return home by popping a bottle of champagne to celebrate "the start of the rest of your life."

Glbtq rights activist Peter Tatchell hailed Thomas for acknowledging his homosexuality during his sports career. "It is very positive Gareth has come out while he is still an active player," he stated to Jamie Doward of The Guardian. "Many of the sports people who have declared their homosexuality have tended to do so after their careers were over. . . . Hopefully this will ease the way for other gay and bisexual players to also come out."

Thomas reported to Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated that he had already heard from gay youth who had given up sports but were inspired by his example to return. Other gay men also wrote to tell Thomas how encouraging his decision to come out had been for them. Tens of thousands of fans—both glbtq and allies—joined Facebook and Twitter pages supporting him.

In order to help young Britons who are struggling with issues of sexual orientation, Thomas has become a spokesman for ChildLine, a telephone counseling helpline. The service is not limited to glbtq concerns but is an invaluable resource for youngsters who have few if any other places to turn for confidential help with their questions.

Thomas has also become a patron of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History Month in Great Britain.

For his courage and accomplishments, Thomas was at the top of The Independent's 2010 "pink list," the newspaper's annual roster of leaders in the glbtq community in Great Britain.

In April 2010 Thomas joined the Wrexham Celtic Crusaders, but a groin injury requiring surgery sidelined him in the summer. He has signed a contract for the 2011 season, however, and is optimistic about his future on the field and off.

Linda Rapp

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    Bibliography
   

Davies, Gerald. "Thomas on Fast Track to Green Shirt." The Times (London) (May 29, 1995): Sport.

Doward, Jamie. "Gay Activists Praise Rugby Star Gareth Thomas's Decision to Come Out." The Guardian (December 19, 2009): http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/19/gay-groups-applaud-gareth-thomas.

Hampson, Andy. "New Deal Has Alfie Eyeing 2011 Success." Daily Post (Liverpool) (August 25, 2010): Sport, 38.

"Hansen: You've Got to Carry on Alfie." South Wales Echo (September 27, 2007): 64.

Newman, Paul. "The Exile; He's the Captain of Wales and Lives and Plays in France's Rugby." The Independent (London) (February 5, 2005): Sport.

Smith, Gary. "Gareth Thomas . . . The Only Openly Gay Male Athlete." Sports Illustrated (May 3, 2010): http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1168953/1/index.htm.

"The Pink List 2010." The Independent (London) (August 1, 2010): Features, 2.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Thomas, Gareth  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2010  
    Date Last Updated September 6, 2010  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/thomas_gareth.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2010 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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