Rugby star Gareth Thomas is among the 12 housemates competing on Channel 5's Celebrity Big Brother UK, the UK's Daily Mail reported.

Thomas, who retired from rugby late last year, announced he's gay in 2009. The 37-year-old Welshman's coming out inspired other professional athletes to come out, including English cricketer Steven Michael Davies and Swedish footballer (European soccer) Anton Hysen.

The reality program's ninth season is scheduled to begin airing tonight. (A trailer for the show is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

Also entering the house are Natasha Giggs, Natalie Cassidy, Frankie Cocozza, Nicola McLean, Michael Madsen and Denise Welch.

The celebrities will live together in a stylized ski lodge-themed house where cameras will capture their every move as they plot to avoid being evicted from the Big Brother house to become the last celebrity standing.

Over the summer, Thomas told the Mirror that he had made the right decision to come out gay, saying it gave him “a sense of relief and pride.”

“I'm proud to be recognized for who I am,” he said.