Rugby star Gareth Thomas' Saturday
revelation that he is gay will test the sports world, John Amaechi
warned Sunday, the BBC reported.
The former Wales rugby captain broke
his silence on a lifetime of heartbreak and pain living inside the
professional athlete closet over the weekend, telling
the UK's Daily
Mail: “I don't know if my life is going to be easier
because I'm out, but if it helps someone else, if it makes one young
lad pick up the phone to ChildLine [a GLBT teen suicide line], then
it will have been worth it.”
“I want to send a positive message to
other gay people that they can do it, too.”
Thomas told the paper of his first male
sexual encounter at the age of 18, the marriage he hoped would alter
his orientation and the moment in 2006 when he first told teammates.
“A coach named Scott Johnson, a great
man, came up to me in the dressing room after the game for a chat and
I just broke down in tears,” Thomas said.
Thomas told the coach that he was
divorcing his childhood sweetheart, Jemma Thomas, who in a separate
interview told the paper he was “the perfect husband in every other
“He took me out of the team room to
the medical room, locked the door and I told him everything. After
keeping it secret for so long, I felt a huge rush of relief.”
The coach advised he tell his closest
teammates, who fully accepted Thomas.
“I felt everyone was protecting me
and closing in tight around me. No one distanced themselves from me,
not one single person,” the thirty-five-year-old added.
On Sunday, former NBA player John
Amaechi, who in 2007 revealed he was gay after his retirement from
basketball, warned that Thomas' coming out would test the sports
“Sport still needs to grow up in
certain areas,” Amaechi told the news service. “As much as
society has moved on, sport is still dragging behind.”
“When people learn you are gay, often
that can squash your definition so all the good stuff goes and you
just become 'some gay rugby player', which is quite difficult for
many athletes to deal with,” he added.