News Round-Up: November 5, 2019

The Chippendales (photo: Kip Canyon)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: So, apparently the world-famous Chippendales (above) work out…a lot. #dang

• Politico: Sen. Elizabeth Warren has pledged that her first step as president would be to overturn President Donald Trump’s decision to prohibit transgender troops in the military.

Men’s Health: Rugby legend Gareth Thomas, who recently came out as HIV-positive, covers this month’s issue of Men’s Health UK. “It’s a sign of where we are that a man LIVING with HIV is on the cover of Men’s Health,” wrote the 45-year-old athlete on social media.

Fox News: A new poll from Fox News shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump in a hypothetical 2020 head-to-head matchup – and she’s not even running.

OUT: A daycare center in Switzerland has come under fire for turning away a pair of twin boys because they have gay parents. The family was informed the boys would not be welcome in the playgroup because their parents’ relationship is “neither normal nor natural.”

Campaign Ad: Mayor Pete Buttigieg, currently landing in 3rd place in Iowa polls, has a new campaign spot out in Iowa that highlights national unity. Titled “Sun Comes Up,” the ad asks voters to imagine the first day when Trump is no longer president, as Buttigieg promises to pick up the pieces of our divided nation.

Gareth Thomas & Prince Harry Will Team Up To Combat HIV Stigma

After coming out as HIV-positive this weekend via a video message on Twitter, rugby legend Gareth Thomas has received an outpouring of support from not only fans but the royal family.

In the video, Thomas shared that had been diagnosed with HIV some years ago but was coming out now after an unnamed tabloid threatened to ‘blackmail’ him about his status.

The 45-year-old athlete feared “people would treat me like a leper because of a lack of knowledge,” he told the Sunday Mirror. The rugby icon said by coming out as HIV-positive, he hopes to educate others and break the stigma associated with being positive.

He’s already received encouragement from both Princes Harry and William, who shared their support via social media.

On the Instagram account for SussexRoyal, Prince Harry shared Thomas’ HIV message and praised the athlete for his strength, resiliency, and courage.

“Gareth, you are an absolute legend!,” read the post which was signed ‘H’ for Harry. “In sharing your story of being HIV+, you are saving lives and shattering stigma, by showing you can be strong and resilient while living with HIV. We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you.”

Prince William responded on the KensingtonRoyal Instagram account with the message, “Courageous as ever – legend on the pitch and legend off it. You have our support Gareth.” The missive was signed ‘W’ for Prince William.

The former Celebrity Big Brother star has now announced that he will collaborate with Prince Harry to address the stigma associated with HIV.

“Like me, Prince Harry wants to break the stigma around HIV and he has already done a lot of great work,” Thomas told the Sunday Mirror. “We are planning to work together now.”

He added, “To do something with him will be really powerful.”

Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was a trailblazer during the early days of the HIV epidemic promoting awareness on the condition. She was credited with changing people’s attitudes about the disease when she was photographed shaking hands with a patient during a visit to the UK’s first AIDS clinic.

“Quite often I look at that photo of Diana at the clinic next to those frail-looking men and then I look at a photo of myself out on my bike and it motivates me because I can see how things have changed and advanced,” Thomas told the Mirror.

He added, “It also makes me realise how lucky I am because I see what it was like for them and I know 30 years ago that could have been me.”

Thomas also shared he’s received calls from other UK luminaries like Elton John.

The rugby star said he had to pull off the road when he got the call from the music legend.

“He said, ‘What you are doing is a brilliant thing,’” said Thomas. “It’s really brave of you. I’ll support you all the way.”

Others expressing their support include actress Samantha Womack and Andy Bell, lead singer of Erasure.

Demonstrating the strength of his health (Thomas shared in his message that his viral load is undetectable), the ITV sportscaster followed his coming out by participating in an Iron Man event in Tenby just hours after his announcement.

He finished the grueling athletic event in 12 hours, 18 minutes and 29 seconds, coming in 413th out of 2,039 participants.

(lead images via GarethThomasOfficial and SussexRoyal Instagram accounts)

Rugby Legend Gareth Thomas Comes Out As HIV+

In a candid video message shared via social media, rugby legend Gareth Thomas (above) has revealed that he is HIV-positive.

Thomas, who came out publicly as gay in 2009 and retired from the sport in 2011, made the announcement Saturday in a video posted on Twitter. As part of his message, he shared he was making the announcement now because he was ‘being blackmailed’ over his status.

“I want to share my secret with you,” the former Wales rugby star shares in the video message. “Why? Because it’s mine to tell you. Not the evils that make my life hell by threatening to tell you before I do. And because I believe in you and I trust you.”

After pausing for a moment, the 45-year-old athlete continued, “I’m living with HIV.”

“Now you have that information, that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak,” he added. “Now, even though I’ve been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight to educate and break the stigma around this subject. And that begins today.”

“Everyone lives in fear of people’s reactions and opinions to something about them, but that doesn’t mean we should have to hide,” concluded the rugby icon. “But to do this I really, really need your support.”

The former Celebrity Big Brother star told the Sunday Mirror that even though he’d been living with his secret for years, he made the decision to come out as HIV+ now because “I was being blackmailed, and in my mind you only get blackmailed for something really bad, which compounded the feeling of shame.”

Thomas didn’t name the outlet threatening to out his status.

Explaining that living with the secret has worn heavily on him, he shared his concerns that “people would judge me and treat me like a leper because of a lack of knowledge.”

“I was in a dark place, feeling suicidal,” he added. “I  thought about driving off a cliff.”

Thomas gives credit to a strong support system around him, including his husband who he married in 2016 after discovering he was HIV-positive.

After years of taking antiretroviral medications, he says his viral load is undetectable, making the possibility of passing on the virus to others practically zero.

“Many people live in fear and shame of having HIV, but I refuse to be one of them now,” Thomas says. “We need to break the stigma once and for all. I’m speaking out because I want to help others and make a difference.”

Today, Thomas works as an ITV pundit for the Rugby World Cup, and is planning on competing today in the Wales Ironman event. “I’m fitter now than when I played rugby and I didn’t have HIV then,” he says. “I’m not just all right, I’m better than all right.”

In November 2018, Thomas was the victim of a gay-bashing incident in his hometown. In lieu of pressing charges, the sports icon instead asked for an apology.

The reaction on social media has been overwhelmingly positive, including a message from Prince William via the Kensington Palace Twitter account.

Video: “Gareth Thomas: Never Alone” By Guinness

A new web campaign by Guinness Beer, “Made of More,” features rugby champ Gareth Thomas as he recounts the chapter in his life when he faced coming out, moving from darkness to light.

The theme of the campaign is centered on the idea that “the choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.”

Clip description:

Gareth Thomas: Never Alone tells the story of how the former Wales captain’s greatest fear wasn’t the opposition he faced on the pitch, but the fear of rejection from everything he had known, because of his sexuality.

The film celebrates the courage of Gareth, and most importantly, the empathy shown by his teammates when he came out, showing that even when he felt he was on his own and at his lowest point, he was always part of a team.

There’s also a one minute version of the spot.

In 2013, Guinness famously released a video for the “Made of More” campaign featuring six men playing basketball in wheelchairs. Only at the end of the game does the viewer realize only one man is confined to his chair – his five friends used the wheelchairs to even the playing field, so he could be included. Pretty powerful. You can view that clip here.

Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage – Gareth Thomas Watches His Life Unfold Onstage

Out rugby legend Gareth Thomas sees his life onstage in new play Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage

A new play based on the life of out Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas opened last night, produced by National Theatre Wales in Cardiff, Wales.

Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage tells the story of former captain “Alfie,” who won 100 caps for Wales before coming out as gay.

From the National Theatre Wales website:

“I was doing something nobody had done before, and if you’re the first to do something, you have to be prepared to take the sh*t for it.”

On the eve of one of the most important games of his career, Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas received a warning: The Sun newspaper was going to “out” him as gay.

This is the story of two Welsh names bruised, but not beaten, by media speculation; Gareth “Alfie” Thomas, 100 caps for Wales, once its captain, now the world’s most prominent gay sportsman; and his hometown, Bridgend.

Working with “Alfie” himself, and young people in Bridgend, two of the UK’s most exciting theatre companies – National Theatre Wales and Out of Joint – have teamed up to tell a great Welsh story about sport, politics, secrets, life and learning to be yourself.

Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage runs at the Sherman Theatre until March 7th before touring in Aberystwyth, Bethesda, Aberdare and Bridgend.

In the clip below, Thomas watches a scene from the play which recreates the moment he told his wife he is gay.

Rugby Legend Gareth Thomas On The Jonathan Ross Show

Gareth Thoms on The Jonathan Ross Show

Gareth Thomas, legendary rugby player who came out in 2009, has written a new autobiography, Proud.

Appearing on the Jonathan Ross Show, Thomas talked on his career and previous struggles with his sexuality.

‘I have won every trophy that I can ever dream of winning but when you affect somebody’s life, in a way that this person is going to have a life that they never thought they could have because of me, stupid old me, because of that they could do that, it’s amazing.

‘I didn’t come out because I wanted to be the first person to do it and I was going to be a trailblazer, I came out because I came to a crossroads of living or dying and that’s why I decided to come out, I wanted to live.’

Asked if marriage were in the near future for him and his partner, Ian Baum, Thomas replied:

‘We’ve known each other for two years and we’ve been living together for a year and I am very much in love with Ian, I’m extremely happy and I’m sure one day down the line [we might get married], we’re settling in but I definitely wouldn’t write it off because I really feel I’ve found my soulmate and the person I can spend the rest of my life with, I really do.’

Just in case I needed to remind you 🙂

(via Gay Star News)

Gareth Thomas covers Attitude Magazine naked in bath with bf Ian Baum

Gareth Thomas (L) and Ian Baum (R)

Retired Rugby Superstar, out and proud Gareth Thomas covers Attitude Magazine this month talking on living with woofy boyfriend Ian Baum:

“We’ve been together about a year now. We moved in together after about a month, a month and a half.

“I know so many people gay, or straight, who have regrets and just wish they’d not missed out on something good. I don’t want to regret something, I wanted to give it a go.

“It did seem pretty quick but we’re better than we ever have been after living together for a year. We thought ‘if it is right to us then bollocks to what anyone else thinks.’ If anyone thought it was too soon we’ve proved them wrong as now we’ve got our own house in Wales, we’re settled and life is good.

“I was 39 and Ian was 50. We’re not teenagers anymore and we live or die by our decisions and not by what other people decide for us.”

Rugby superstar Gareth Thomas poses with boyfriend of one year Ian baum in a bubble bath naked

(via Queerty)

Gareth Thomas back on the field as coach at Gay Rugby Tournament

Retired rugby star Gareth Thomas at Berlin’s “Bash About”

Retired rugby star Gareth Thomas was back on the field this past weekend as a guest coach for the Bash About tournament in Berlin.

Thomas was one of the first high-profile athletes to reveal he was gay when he came out in 2009.

From OUT:

As guest coach, Gareth trained with some of the 150 players from 20 different gay teams as part of an initiative to promote Sportsmen against Stigma. The goal is to push back on stigmas associated with and exclusion of HIV positive athletes.

“It can be a lonely existence as a gay guy or woman and rugby is a way of integrating people into a team environment, ultimately giving them friends and a social life,” Thomas told AFP. “When I heard the concept, I just wanted to get involved.”

“It’s not just about what happens on the pitch, it’s about the socialising after and making life-long friendships,” he continued. “That’s the whole package of rugby.”

More at OUT