Gareth Thomas goes back to his roots to discover what effect his refusal to admit that he was gay had on others, to explain why he behaved as he did and to encourage other people to be open and honest about their sexuality.
Listed 12th in the world on the international list of leading Rugby Union test try scorers and the first Welshman to win 100 international caps, Gareth Thomas was a leading player in one of the most masculine of sports between 1995 and 2007. However, for 20 years, he tried to hide the fact that he was gay from supporters, fellow players and his family.
In 2010, Gareth was voted top of the Pink List of the 101 most influential gay people in the UK and received Stonewall’s Hero of the Year award. Does he regret not coming out sooner? Gareth speaks candidly about his past and his experiences.
Gareth visits his parents, who live near Bridgend, to see how they will react to him making a documentary about his sexuality, a part of his life that they have never really discussed openly. He explains that his position in the public eye means that he has a responsibility to others. He looks at some old momentoes from his rugby playing days, which leads him to Pencoed RFC where he played as a teenager. Watching old videos reminds him of how he was an angry young man who took out his aggression on opposition players so that he would be considered hard.
On a trip to Chichester he meets 17-year-old Olly who has been bullied at his secondary school because of his sexuality. Olly admits to self-harming and feeling suicidal. And it was only when he came out to his family and friends that a weight was lifted from his shoulders and he started his life anew.
Gareth also meets Alanna, a counsellor at Childline, which receives over 8,000 calls a year from youngsters confused about their sexuality. Alanna talks about her own experience of coming out and how it was a relief not to lie about being gay.
Finally Gareth reflects on the biggest event where he wasn’t truthful to himself and those around him: at the age of 27, he married Gemma, a girl he had dated off-and-on since his teens. Returning to the church where the ceremony took place, he faces up to the realisation that he could not force himself to be straight, however hard he tried. After five years of marriage Gareth confessed to Gemma and a few months later she moved out. But even then only the closest members of his family knew the real reason. Following one disastrous performance on the pitch, he faced up to his team mates and came out to some of the senior players…watch the full programme here