As part of a new series of articles, we’ll be profiling six positive, male role models in the public eye. The good guys of the world. From breaking down stigmas about sexuality and toxic masculinity to race, mental health and all the things men face but aren’t deemed socially acceptable to talk about; these guys are doing their best to better the idea of what it means to be a man. This week, we’re looking at Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas.
We’ve already covered how much of a hero Gareth is before, but we decided now would be a better time than ever to introduce this man to you and explain exactly why he should be given a bloody knighthood already.
Firstly, Gareth Thomas is a rugby hall of famer. He represented Wales exactly one hundred times and is one of their top try scorers. Not many players get to play for their country but Gareth has managed to do so in Rugby Union, Rugby League and international Sevens as well.
Aside from rugby, Gareth has just as much impact off the field as he does on it. In 2009, he came out as gay and said that “what I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby” which is pretty bang on, if you ask us. He became one of the first rugby players to do so.
Whenever Gareth has revealed anything in his life to the public, it is always with the hope of making it easier for somebody else to do the same. When he came out, he wanted to make sure that future gay rugby players could just be seen as talented rugby players and that if his story made it easier for just one young man in a similar position then it would all have been worth it. This desire to empower others is incredibly selfless and speaks volumes about the kind of man he is.
He was a victim of a hate crime in 2018. What was truly amazing about the aftermath is that he didn’t want to press charges. The assaulter was a young man and Gareth requested that he apologise and learn to understand the true effect hate crime has on the victims.
A few weekends ago, he did something truly incredible. Just shortly after revealing he is living with HIV in a heartbreaking video, he completed a gruelling 140-mile Ironman triathlon just to prove the idea we have of people living with HIV is outdated. In 2019, HIV and asthma requires about the same amount of medication. Thousands of people now live healthy lives with HIV. He has now pledged to work on breaking the stigma around it and empower those in the same position. In the video, Gareth says that he was being threatened by a tabloid who said they would out this secret. So, in true legendary fashion, he released a video himself to let the world know that this is his story to tell and nobody else’s.
There’s no doubt that Gareth has had a rollercoaster of a ride so far. But his desire to prove that you are not defined by one individual thing along with his work to break down stigmas and empower people by owning his life and his story makes him a huge role model for us and many, many others. By being so selfless and sharing his life with total honesty, not only gives others a voice to speak out but shows that support is out there.
Countless celebrities, role models, as well as thousands of the public have shown their support and admiration for the strength and bravery of Gareth for sharing his story. This is a man who is constantly breaking down barriers and is respected by everyone. Even England rugby fans will give the Welshman a big cheer. Wherever Gareth goes, he is completely respected by those inside and outside of the sporting industry. From Princes Harry and William, to his best rugby mates, to the LGBTQ+ community, Gareth is inspiring so many people and empowering them all to feel comfortable in their own skin. Gareth, we salute you and applaud you, you absolute hero. But mostly, we’re so thankful for the work you do to help make this world a kinder place to live.
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