He stands 6’3, weighs 220, is missing his front teeth (no word on his gag reflex but that’s an auspicious start), and is one of the world’s top 10 highest-scorers in rugby. Gareth Thomas’s profile in this month’s issue of Sports Illustrated is a touching read in more ways than one.
Here’s an excerpt in which Gareth, nicknamed Alfie, tells a teammate that he and his wife had split:
"Jemma and me have split," he murmured.
"Look, it’s one of two things," said Johnno. "Do you want me to make it easier on you, Alf? Do you want me to say it for you?"
Alf nodded. "Either you cheated on her with another woman, which I don’t think you have…."
"Does it have something to do with your sexuality, mate?"
Tears filled Alf’s eyes. "You knew all the time," he said.
"So … you’re still Alf, right? We love you. This doesn’t change anything about you as a person or how the boys feel about you…. But you’ll need support, mate. You can’t hold this alone. I’m going to speak to a few of the boys. They need to know."
Alf shuddered, hung his head and nodded, then went to a bar in the team hotel and waited in terror for two hours. Johnno checked into a room there, invited in two of the most senior and respected members of the team, Martyn Williams and Stephen Jones, opened a bottle of red and poured out the truth.
The two players finally entered the bar. Williams put a hand on Alf’s back. "Hey, mate," he said, "no big deal. We don’t care. Cheers for getting it out. Why didn’t you tell us before?"
Gareth Thomas … The Only Openly Gay Male Athlete (Sports Illustrated)
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