Gareth Thomas, a highly accomplished Welsh rugby player, publicly announced yesterday that he is gay. The Daily Mail interviewed Thomas, who spoke about the challenge of hiding his secret. "You don't want anyone to see your face, because you think that if people look at you, they will know," he told the paper. He says that "keeping this secret was driving me crazy."
Thomas felt so conflicted that his thoughts became suicidal at times. "Sometimes I'd think: 'I don't want to be like this. I want to kill myself.'" His marriage to a high school sweetheart ended in 2006.
According to the Times of London, "the news was regarded as a trifling" and the team's director of rugby downplayed the admission: "I am surprised that in 2009 there are people who think this is a big deal. To us it is no deal."
Among the small number of openly gay professional athletes in the US is John Amaechi, who in 2007 became the first NBA player to come out when he published his book, Man in the Middle. Two former MLB players, Glenn Burke and Billy Bean, came out in the 1990s. David Kopay, Roy Simmons and Esera Tuaolo are three NFL players who have acknowledged that they are gay. All of these players came out after their professional careers ended, however, which makes Thomas particularly unusual.