Gareth Thomas: 'In most forms of work you could come out. But not in football'

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The former Wales and Lions rugby captain talks about living with HIV, facing a rising tide of prejudice and homophobia in sport

‘I don’t have a job, I have a purpose,” Gareth Thomas says intently as we move into the second hour of a conversation about prejudice and ignorance, hate and fear. These are dark themes but Thomas’s cackle and roar spools from my laptop as he confronts them with defiant humour. I don’t think I have laughed like this for a long time even though the subject is often bleak.

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Thomas is a profane force whether talking about Aids in the 1980s or It’s a Sin, the recent Channel 4 series written with such exuberance and sobriety by Russell T Davies about that very subject. He is even more powerful when confronting homophobia in sport, especially in football, or the barely concealed discrimination he sees all around him. Thomas is a former Wales and British Lions rugby captain who came out and then switched codes to play rugby league as a gay man. He is now living with HIV and facing a rising tide of prejudice he feels is even worse than when he announced the truth of his sexuality in 2009.

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