Series 2 - Gareth Thomas - Coming Out

Gareth Thomas

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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...

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Comments (42)

  • Luke

    22 days ago

    Luke

    This is such a great programme and I would like to show come of the clips to my class as I discuss homosexuality. There are some sporty boys who are hard to get through to and I feel if they could see this it would make them think twice about passing judgement. Is there anywhere I can get this programme? Your help you be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  • PS

    1 year ago

    PS

    Really important viewing. However, the player consistently froze and I did not quite make it to the end. I would not recommend this player to anyone.

  • David Tinton

    1 year ago

    David Tinton

    Fair play Gareth still a top bloke and one of Wales best and I'm English!!!!

  • A Dell

    over 1 year ago

    A Dell

    Once again a problem trying to us the Player, please try and improve this service as plenty of good programmes on Channel 5!

  • val

    over 1 year ago

    val

    missed this programme when it was first televised, just watched on demand 5. Congratulations Gareth, your parents, family and friends must be so proud of you. Good Luck with Dancing on Ice im a big fan!!

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  • rob

    over 1 year ago

    rob

    I am having the same problem as Rhian - programme keeps stalling, everytime you restart it you have to suffer the adverts all over again - which seem to work fine but not the programme itself :-(

  • Rhian

    over 1 year ago

    Rhian

    Why is channel 5's demand service so useless? Don't think I've ever managed to watch a programme without it cutting off a million times. So disappointing. It really should be better.

  • jason

    over 1 year ago

    jason

    I agree with TC and the partner issue as I am sure Gareth does. However there is some way to go before men can be personally 'truthful' about their sexuality in relation to high earning & international sports roles. Personal truth is very difficult when we create 'defence' mechanisms in order to sustain denial of a situation, what would have been a very threatening for Gareth. I get the feeling from the programme that Gareth tried everything - to ensure he loved a woman.

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  • jason webb

    over 1 year ago

    jason webb

    Hi, great show from Gareth and Co. Brought a tear to my eye when I compared my own struggle with that of Gareth and Co. Well done C5. i Hope that Gareth becomes the 'Ian Roberts' of the UK (an Australian rugby star that 'came out' over ten 15 years ago!)

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  • Dan

    over 1 year ago

    Dan

    This was a great show, thanks Gareth and everyone who helped make it. Young people might find it hard to come to terms with being gay; know that there are people (like Childline in the programme) that will help. I volunteer for a project in Dorset helping LGBT under 25s, its called Space Youth Project. Feel free to get in touch if you want to find out more or come to a group!

  • TC

    over 1 year ago

    TC

    Fine for Gareth coming into his own but no thought has been given to the wives of these men who are looked to to 'cure' them of their sexuality - which of couse can't happen and then are eventually cast aside heartbroken while the man goes off to live his exciting new life. In many cases these are exceptionally long running marriages with children involved too. So - if you have any doubts about your sexuality please don't get married but do your soul searching as a single person. The hurt caused by marriage to an unsuspecting straight wife is all too real.

  • darren

    over 1 year ago

    darren

    fantastic - this video should be brought out for people to buy- im a HR professional and certainly i would promote it. i am 44 and did not come out to my family until 2 years ago when my mom died. i did not want to tell her and hurt her but now have to live the fact i lied to her for so many years- now i can just be me

  • drew

    over 1 year ago

    drew

    great stuff Gareth. wish there were more people like you in the world. keep it up ;-)

  • PCJ

    over 1 year ago

    PCJ

    What an amazing and inspirational programme. Good work Gareth and Channel 5 - simply fantastic! I hope your story helps and supports others :-)

  • Maria

    over 1 year ago

    Maria

    Well done Gareth for making such a brave and honest documentary

  • Yorkiebear

    over 1 year ago

    Yorkiebear

    Brilliant and I wish he had been around thirty years ago. Great programme and great to see Gareth helping the young. Ultimately the best line you can say to a young person is the line from Toast 'It will be alright!'

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  • Martin Cursue

    over 1 year ago

    Martin Cursue

    I'm afraid I missed the programme and can't get it to work on the internet. Why was it on so late? This needs viewing by kids. (Am I old fashioned by thinking they go to bed early?) Kids need to see this to know the aren't the only gay in the village. Otherwise they will continue to be bullied, self-harm, etc. It was hard coming out 35 years ago. Surely it must be easier now.

  • yvonne

    over 1 year ago

    yvonne

    just watched the programme an i just gotta say, alfie uve always bn wonderful an will neva ever change i saw u win the grandslam in 05, wish u all the best and i hope u win dancing on ice xxxx

  • Fred

    over 1 year ago

    Fred

    Thanks very much for doing such a very open and honest program, I am in a difficult situation as well and its touched a few cords. I hope more people can understand the difficulties of coming out when they see how it affects people so much.

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  • Nick

    over 1 year ago

    Nick

    Excellent show about a great role model who is doing good work educating people about homophobia. He should team up with Ben Cohen to double the impact of both of their work!

  • Manxie

    over 1 year ago

    Manxie

    Very moving programme - made me very emotional, as I have a 30 year old relative who has still to come out to his parents, and it makes me understand the fears that he has to face in doing so. I shall e-mail him now and recommend that he watches this programme. Thank you Channel5.

  • Jane

    over 1 year ago

    Jane

    Well done everyone involved. Lovely to see Alanna Hood back on our screens as well :-) wish Diversity Role Models had been around in the 60s/70s when I was at school

  • Emma

    over 1 year ago

    Emma

    What a brilliant program; well-balanced, informative and intelligent. Gareth you are an inspiration.

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  • Alex

    over 1 year ago

    Alex

    he's amazing!!why can'tI meet him in a gym?

  • Craig

    over 1 year ago

    Craig

    What a great programme for young people struggling with their sexuality. I too had a very difficult time at School and dreaded everyday. I also got married hoping it would rid me of my attraction to the same sex, My marraige only lastd two years. I'm 41 now and only came out at the age of 30, it is by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life, but once you do it, your life changes for ever, a massive weight was lifted from my shoulders. My family were everythng I wated them to be, loving and supportive. You'll know when the time is right...... Don't beat yourself up over it. Good work Gareth, top man ;) x

  • patrick moriarty

    over 1 year ago

    patrick moriarty

    Well balanced/realistic programme and very positive about what is for most young gay people a very negative time until "coming out" and the pressure has gone. Gareth is a great guy and role model. Good to see all the hard work that the support services provide to help young people. His ex-trainers and team mates are a great bunch of guys too.

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  • Steve S

    over 1 year ago

    Steve S

    What a powerful & inspirational programme...well done to Channel 5 & Gareth. Be Proud of what you have done :)

  • Jay

    over 1 year ago

    Jay

    Thank you Gareth for telling your story and well done Channel 5 for commissioning an excellent programme. This honest and moving account shows how fears and prejudices can be overcome, and makes an unarguable case for tolerance and understanding. It should be shown in all schools.

  • chris

    over 1 year ago

    chris

    Have been able to watch it ,my heart goes out to this wonderful brave man,may God bless you Gareth.

  • Duncan

    over 1 year ago

    Duncan

    Loved the programme. I only came out at 30 after a carefully planned year to transition. I'm a blokey bloke and was hung up on stereotypes. How could l be gay when I'm so masculine. During the transition I learned to stop loathing myself because I was proud of the gay friends I had and didn't want to lead two life's anymore. I joined a south London gym to help. There on an empty day I ran into Gareth. Proper towering man but down to earth. I never had the guts to say hi. Seeing him there showed me that being gay is more than alright. I can be a bloke and be gay. I dont have to hide, be labelled, pigeon holed or bullied. I came out quicker and I don't hate myself anymore. Thanks Gareth, you're a top bloke

  • PaulFrancis

    over 1 year ago

    PaulFrancis

    Keep up the good work Gareth, really struck some deep cords here mate

  • RW

    over 1 year ago

    RW

    A brilliant programme that I hope will be of help to young people who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality. It also makes people think about the damaging effect homophobia can have. Da iawn Alfie!

  • chrids

    over 1 year ago

    chrids

    I wish I could watch,I am here in Barbados,loved Gareth when he was on CBB,such a nice guy.

  • Bernadette Halpin

    over 1 year ago

    Bernadette Halpin

    Watching this programme, I had to break away to write this and say how moved I am, how much I admire Gareth Thomas, and how much I hope he will find release from the remorse he feels. I loved you when you played rugby. I love you more now.

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