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The Courage of a Real Man: Defy StereoTypes

This past week, HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” featured Welsh rugby legend, Gareth Thomas, the world’s first openly gay male athlete who’s actively playing in a professional team sport.

Gareth talks about how he desperately wanted to “look straight” and act tough — from flirting with hot girls to getting excited over an arrest for fighting. In addition to thoughts of suicide, he also goes on to explain how being closeted helped propel his rugby career:

“I was a demon on the field. People to me were just objects that I could take my frustration out on. If somebody gave me the ball I’d say, run over this guy. I had so much built up anger, so much built up frustration inside of me that, you know, I would have killed a guy if I could have. And that’s why my career went [up] so quick.”

Towards the end of the interview, Thomas says that if an American gay athlete would come out, he would leave a legacy far beyond his accomplishments of that sport.

Perhaps his story will encourage other professional athletes to kick open that closet door while they’re actively playing the sport.

You have to admit, Thomas has ‘balls’ — so to speak.

What he’s done in coming out to the world is really the ultimate test of a man. It’s what every MAN (gay, straight, or WHATEVER) must take note of: He looked fear dead in the eye and turned it into unwavering faith in himself and in his abilities as an athlete.

And by doing this, he’s opened the door for others to follow. Currently, no male athlete in a professional team sport within the United States has had the nerve to admit that he’s gay.

Thomas is a brave, true athlete who stands up for what he believes in. He’s an authentic representative of equal rights for all — not because he’s a gay rugby player, but because he has the courage to come out, while playing the sport.

What’s the reward? He receives his life back — there’s a sense of rebirth, a renewal.

Thomas is the definition of a real man — a man who would risk his entire career (or perhaps his life) and make a powerful step forward to be an example for others.

Thank you Gareth Thomas for refusing to hide… and choosing to live — truthfully.

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