Hours after revealing he is HIV Positive, Rugby star Gareth Thomas ran into the arms of his husband’s after completing the Ironman Triathlon in Tenby, Wales, which is known as the “toughest Ironman in the world”.
Thomas said he was determined to complete the Ironman event to help combat the stigma some still attach to HIV.
Gareth Thomas, who is the former captain of the Welsh rugby team, spoke about breaking the stigma surrounding HIV in a video he posted online on Saturday, September 14.
Less than 24 hours after he released the video, Thomas completed the 140-mile Ironman Triathlon on Sunday, September 15.
Crowds cheered him on around the significant swim, bike ride and road race which he finished in just over 12 hours.
As he reached the finish line, the 45 year-old Ironman ran into the arms of his husband, Stephen, after completing the race.
— ITV News (@itvnews) September 15, 2019
Thomas, who is a former British and Irish Lions captain, came out as gay in 2009, is believed to be the first UK sportsman to go public about being HIV Positive.
In a video posted on his Twitter page, he said: “I am living with HIV.
“Now you have that information that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak. Even though I have been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject.
“And that begins today when I take on the toughest Ironman in the world in Tenby, and I push myself physically to the limit.”
— Gareth Thomas (@gareththomas14) September 14, 2019
Thomas said he decided to go public about living with HIV after being “put through hell” by blackmailers who threatened to expose his secret.
In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, Thomas said: “I’ve been living with this secret for years.
“I’ve felt shame and keeping such a big secret has taken its toll. I was in a dark place, feeling suicidal. I thought about driving off a cliff.
“To me, wanting to die was just a natural thought and felt like the easier way out, but you have to confront things.”
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
For 30 years GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBT+ community. We want to go on providing this community hub in print and online, helping countless individuals across the country, but the revenue from advertising across the media is falling.
GCN needs your support. If you value having an independent LGBT+ media in Ireland, you can help from only €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBT+ media.