Proud: My Autobiography
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Gareth Thomas had it all. He was a national hero and a sports icon. He was a leader of men, the captain of Wales and the British Lions. To him, rugby was an expression of cultural identity, a sacred code. It was no mere ball game. It gave him everything, except the freedom to be himself. This is the story of a man with a secret that was slowly killing him; a secret that might devastate not only his own life but the lives of his wife, family, friends, and teammates. The only place where he could find any refuge from the pain and guilt of the lie he was living was on the pitch, playing the sport he loved. But all his success didn’t make the strain of hiding who he really was go away. His fear that telling the truth about his sexuality would lose him everything he loved almost sent him over the edge. The deceit ended when Gareth became the world’s most prominent athlete to come out as a gay man. His gesture has strengthened strangers, and given him a fresh perspective. Gareth’s inspiring and moving story transcends the world of sports to tell a universal truth about feeling like an outsider, and facing up to who you really are. Proud was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2014.
more of my sport, and the people in it, than to believe that such things would go unchallenged, but testing that belief was beyond me, for so many years. I had to wait for my time to come. Waiting wasn’t easy. I tried to shut some of my component parts down. I didn’t think about girls, although I had, by now, started a relationship with Jemma. And I didn’t think about boys. I didn’t think about anything but rugby. The secret trainer put in overtime – I worked on my skills and analysed my game.
then, you can do so subtly and legally. When a ruck is formed and somebody has their back to you, the trick is to run in as hard as possible and plant a shoulder into their ribs or kidneys. You can also wrestle the wind out of a victim on the ground and tackle into the solar plexus to achieve the same effect. I went through the card that afternoon. My intention was to demoralise him. It was the first and only time a player has used a homosexual reference to wind me up. It was cheap, and I was
I haven’t really got time to talk about the royal wedding. Let’s talk about the game.’ Chapter Ten ON THE EDGE The third and final miscarriage endured by Jemma followed one of the most frightening, farcical and commonly misunderstood sequences of my life. It involved sustained stress, me suffering a stroke, and the sort of tragi-comic nonsense that tends to define Welsh rugby in moments of crisis. I had returned to Cardiff from Toulouse to find myself being accused of leading a players’
that sort of rejection do to your self-esteem? All the old certainties are gone. One day you have everyone’s undivided attention, the telephone never stops ringing and you are nestled comfortably at the centre of the universe. The next day you are an afterthought; no one calls, and you are left to fend for yourself. You have to swallow your pride and get out there, knocking on people’s doors. Your value was as a professional athlete, not an institutionalised individual in early middle age. It is
believe everybody is capable of being a leader. They just need to be presented with a certain scenario to discover those qualities, deep within. You’ve got them although, like any teenager, you’re too self-absorbed to know, or care, at the moment. In time you will learn, through self-preservation as much as anything else, to study how people interact. You will be able to spot the bully, the cheat, the dreamer or the alpha male who wants everything his own way. The hard bit is working out into