Retired rugby player, Gareth Thomas, sits down with rugby union player, James Haskell, and Sportlobster TV for a lively discussion about sports films and homosexuality in sports.
The conversation eventually touches on the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Russia and Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, both have laws against homosexuality. These upcoming events have raised a lot of concern about the safety of gay athletes and whether or not they should even compete.
“If I was part of a squad going to these countries – I would go there as a gay man and be the best at what I was doing and prove that their laws can not stop me at being the best I can be in my sport,” Thomas says. “Athletes can’t have the power to make decisions as to whether to compete in countries where they tolerate homosexuality. They often only have one chance to be the best and they have worked so hard to get there that nothing should hold them back.”
Haskell, who is straight, supports Thomas’ views and added that gay athletes are hiding.
“Statistically there must be gay rugby players out there but I don’t know of a single one,” Haskell says.” I feel bad anyone struggles to be true to who they are, as no one should have to live a lie.”
While he has no problem with Thomas’ sexuality or any other gay player’s, he cautions that there are limits.
“With Gareth - being gay was just a side story, as he was just a brilliant rugby player first and foremost,” Haskell continues. “I don’t think most in rugby could care less whether a teammate was gay – but there are definitely boundaries where some who you call friends and teammates may look at you a different way if you come out.”
What remains to be seen is if more athletes will start coming out as the ‘stigma’ goes away.
Watch the full interview, which also includes a discussion about Thomas’ upcoming biopic and Mickey Rourke, who Thomas wants to portray him on screen.