a documentary by James Bainbridge
2013 | 45 mins | UK
›› Gareth Thomas - Coming Out: My Secret Past
a testament to the relief of coming out of the sexual closet.
Gareth Thomas - Coming Out: My Secret Past by James Bainbridge
Official Synopsis:-

Listed 12th in the world on the international list of leading Rugby Union test try scorers and the first Welshman to win 100 international caps, Gareth Thomas was a leading player in one of the most masculine of sports between 1995 and 2007. However, for 20 years, he hid the fact that he is gay from supporters, fellow players and his family.

In this insightful documentary, Gareth goes back to his roots to discover what effect his refusal to admit that he is gay had on others, to explain why he behaved as he did and to encourage other people to be open about their sexuality.
Gareth Thomas - Coming Out: My Secret Past by James Bainbridge
Dave Says:-

Reflecting on his former self, that of an angry young man whose inner self-hatred saw him take his aggression out on the opposition, in many ways it's not difficult to understand the reasons behind a life spent all too long in the sexual closet, given the macho world of sport and the hard man image of rugby in particular. Only that was then. Roll on the years and in this emotional rollercoaster we witness a man coming full circle, in the process making a pensive journey home to discuss the making of the documentary with his parents and how and in spite of their unconditional love, certain aspects of his sexuality mark a subject, seldom discussed.

Then again and in spite of a legion of openly out media stars and gay characters in seemingly every soap opera going, is it really any easier to come out now, than it was in times gone by? The answer of which is provided in a discussion between Gareth and seventeen-year-old Olly, who tragically found himself bullied at his secondary school solely on account of his sexuality, the torment of which lead to self-harm and thoughts of suicide, that is before by coming out to his loving family, his life began anew. Little surprise then that Childline receives more than 8,000 calls a year from the youth of today still living in fear of their sexuality, a fact that counsellor Alanna, herself gay, is all too aware of.

Intercut with interviews with Gareth's family and former rugby associates, what comes through time and time again is the sheer relief that one and all found in coming out; that of no longer having to lie about your sexuality, be it to yourself, or to friends and family. That Gareth is clearly embarrassed by past deeds and holds deep regrets about not being sexually honest to those around him and in particular to Gemma, the girl he would come to marry, only to confess five years later the homosexual truth, is a poignant testament to the hurt that living a lie can bring, let alone the damage that denying your true sexuality can have not just on you, but on those close to you. Not that this is to say that coming out is an easy road to take, when faced with the polar opposites of the rejection / acceptance scenarios. But it is a route best discussed with someone.

Only back then Gareth was forever playing the straight man, a heterosexual façade that would eventually shatter by way of a disastrous performance on the pitch that forced him to finally come clean to his teammates, before outing himself publicly in December 2009. Yet whilst there's no denying the major sporting accomplishments of the man himself, perhaps Gareth's greatest achievement in having come out as the first professional gay rugby union player, is the support and encouragement he now gives to others walking the coming out path. An apt way to end the show, as Gareth is seen discussing the coming out experience with a young man about to out himself to his best friend, in addition to taking part in a schools workshop run by the good folk at Diversity Role Models; tackling homophobia through education.

All of which makes for a commendable documentary from Channel 5. But given its key subject and target audience, why on earth was it screened so late in the evening?

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - none. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 
HELPLINE AND SUPPORT: www.childline.org.uk - 0800 11 11 / UK.
a Channel 5 premiere: Thursday.17.January.2013 / 22:00 to 23:00.
featuring Gareth Thomas,
alongside interviews with friends, family and former
teammates, together with those gloriously Out and Proud.
Copyright 2013 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #2013007
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