December 22, 2009

"The High Price of Coming Out For Gay Athletes"


Gareth Thomas is one of the toughest rugby players around, becoming the first Welsh player ever to win 100 international caps. The man withstood a brutal kick to his neck in a 2006 match that led to a suspected stroke after an artery ruptured, and earlier this year had his ribs smashed in a game against Australia that led weeks away from the field and x-rays of rib cartilage.

But those injuries are nothing compared to the next test Thomas will face: being quite possibly the most high profile openly gay athlete in the world.

Thomas came out of the closet this weekend in an interview with the UK's Daily Mail, admitting that hiding his sexual orientation drove him to depression and almost suicide.

"I was like a ticking bomb. I thought I could suppress it, keep it locked away in some dark corner of myself, but I couldn't," said Thomas. "It was who I was, and I just couldn't ignore it any more."

Boom. Cue the closet door opening around the world. That's great news for Thomas (who has been out to teammates for a few years now, but not on a global scale). But what does it mean for his future in professional sports, and how will the world of rugby -- let alone the world of international sports -- react to an openly gay athlete in one of the toughest sports around?

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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