It’s just a few months since Welsh rugger Gareth Thomas announced he was gay, shortly on the heels of Irish hurler Donal Og Cusack. The decision was a tough one. Thomas’ marriage had already broken down. In the macho world of rugby, homosexuality is taboo, and he was the first-ever rugby player in Britain to publicly come out.
But on Thursday, Thomas, who captained the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005 held a glamorous party at a London club, Movida – a venue whose walls are decorated bright pink.
"Everybody here tonight is celebrating that the world is changing," Thomas said, according to the Independent. "We are here to send the message that it's OK to be a sportsman and it is also OK to be gay."
In a show of solidarity, Thomas’ rugby teammates and supporters joined him at the party. Stars like Will Young and Graham Norton were also present.
British gay activist Peter Tatchell praised Thomas and said he hoped other sportsmen would follow his example. "If more top-class professional sportspeople came out as Gareth has done they would win huge amounts of public respect for their honesty and courage," he said.
Tatchell continued, "It would boost their public standing and provide a very powerful and positive role model for young lesbian, gay and bisexual people who are coming to terms with their sexuality for the first time."
Coming out has certainly not done Thomas any harm. He’s had an overwhelmingly positive reaction, and the public response has encouraged him to start campaigning for gay rights.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore