Former British and Irish Lions captain Gareth Thomas delivered a heartwarming message to his husband and stepdaughter after winning the Game Changer Award at the Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards 2019.
During the awards ceremony, Thomas spoke through tears about how his husband and stepdaughter have supported him throughout the “fear of being rejected, of being turned away, and not being supported,” as he said. He further acknowledged their support by saying, “As much as I may be deemed a game-changer, I’m only that because I stood by two game changers and they made my life possible.”
Bringing his acceptance speech to a close, Thomas ended with the powerful statement, “I just want to say I have HIV, but HIV doesn’t f***king have me.”
Terence Higgins Trust, a charity campaigning for and providing services relating to HIV and sexual health, congratulated Thomas for his win on Twitter: “Congratulations @gareththomas14 on your Attitude Game Changer Award! The incredible impact Gareth’s made on people’s perceptions of HIV means he’s the perfect choice! And he’s just getting started…”
In 2009, Gareth Thomas came out as gay and recently, he publicly shared that he is living with HIV, believed to be the first UK sportsman to have done so. His decision to go public was spurred on by being “put through hell” by blackmailers who threatened to reveal his status.
Thomas revealed his status in a video posted to his Twitter, in which 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.”
On Sunday, September 15, Thomas completed the 140-mile Ironman Triathlon, twenty-four hours after publicly sharing his status. After going through the race, he ran into the arms of his husband at the end.
Further honouring those who continue to push for representation and understanding around sexual health, AIDs activist Ruth Coker Burks was presented the Hero Award at this year’s Attitude Awards.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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