Gareth Thomas has won Gaydar Radio's Celebrity of the Year 2012 award, beating out such notables as Lady Gaga and Neil Patrick Harris.

Gaydar Radio listeners also picked Thomas over television personalities Alan Carr and Graham Norton.

The 37-year-old Thomas, who retired from rugby late last year, publicly acknowledged he is gay in 2009, becoming one of only a handful of professional athletes who have come out gay during their careers.

Speaking to Gaydar Radio hosts Neil Sexton and Debbie Ryan, Thomas credited having a strong support system for giving him the strength to come out.

β€œThe only reason I survived with coming out, and the only reason I got to where I am now by coming out, was I had the foundations that I needed. You can't please – especially as a sports person – you can't please everyone all the time. So you have to be honest with the people that support you. Once I had the foundations of my parents, my two brothers and my closest, closest friends I knew that I had the strength to take on anyone then. But a lot of people don't have that support network. And unless they have that support network, then it's a tough thing to go on. So my advice is to find that support network,” Thomas said. (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)