Former rugby league and union player, Gareth Thomas has had an influential career both on and off the pitch. From representing the Welsh national team to being an icon of the LGBT+ community, Gareth has utilised his platform to support greater diversity in sports. The openly gay player continues to make an impact in his retirement, as a speaker on the topics of diversity and inclusion. Armed with first-hand experience of homophobia in a male-dominated environment, Gareth is sought after as a recognisable speaker for corporate clients and industry events.
Starting his professional career with Bridgend, Gareth rose to prominence as a talented and versatile player, regularly seen in the positions of centre, wing and second row. After making an impressive 69 appearances for the side, Gareth moved on to Cardiff RFC, Celtic Warriors and Toulouse, before ending his club career with Cardiff Blues. As an international player, Gareth left an impression on Wales and the Lions, becoming one of the most capped union players for his country with 100 to his name. Throughout his time representing Wales, Gareth competed at Six Nations, the World Cup and on Lions tours, eventually being named Captain for a match in 2007.
Coming out to the public as gay in 2009, Gareth wanted to use his sporting stardom to raise awareness for those suppressing their true identities and in turn, become the first openly gay professional rugby union player. His advocacy work for LGBT+ representation was further heightened when he announced his HIV-positive status in the media. Taking to the spotlight in a documentary titled, Gareth Thomas: HIV & Me, Gareth aimed to tackle the stigma surrounding the disease. Supported by Prince Harry, Gareth has become a role model for increasing diversity in sports, proving that greater inclusion and acceptance improves performance and well-being. Such lessons are expanded on by Gareth at speaking events, relating his experiences to each industry.
Named the Most Influential Gay Person in the UK on The Independent on Sunday’s Pink List in 2010, Gareth’s support of LGBT+ rights has had a long-lasting impact. Recently, Gareth has released his bestselling autobiography, Proud, and has been named Stonewall’s Hero of the Year and honoured with a CBE for services to sport and health. In recognition of his remarkable advocacy whilst campaigning with TackleHIV, Gareth was selected to become a Doctor of Science at the Queen Mary University London.
“I would like to add my personal thanks to Gareth for his openness and for helping to move the dial on D&I in bp considerably. It was an honour to be on the call with him”
“The speech from Gareth went fantastically well and he responded to the questions brilliantly and there were plenty. He is such a lovely and warm person considering his life success and stardom. It was a real pleasure to be able to meet him. Thank you for all your assistance with arranging Gareth’s attendance, it made our conference really special and made all the stress in the preparation worth it.”
“The event was a resounding success and Gareth Thomas was absolutely amazing. Professional, accommodating, attention to detail and incredible fun. It is by far the best event that I have hosted so far. Gareth did not disappoint in any way whatsoever. All my guests are still raving about the event and “Alfie” this morning.”
“It really was an amazing event, you guys and the BRG are amazing, impressive and courageous. Both Kellie and Gareth were so open and honest, we are really privileged to have had them visit the office and share. Thank you so much.”
The event was really well received, with lots of positive comments from colleagues who attended. As I said in my voicemail, Gareth is truly inspirational – so humble and honest. His story was incredibly moving and we really enjoyed being able to speak to him today. We would like to say a big thank you again!
“It was great! Very well received and we got some great feedback… a small selection of comments are below. ‘Very honest and an inspiration’, ‘What an incredible man’, ‘Gareth, this is the second time I have heard you speak. Inspirational’, ‘As an English rugby fan I hated seeing you on the field, as a Lions fan, I loved seeing you on the field. As a human being, you have truly humbled me today. Thank you’, ‘A legend on and off the field. Thanks, Gareth’, ‘Always been impressed with Gareth as a rugby player but this takes it all to a completely new level’ and ‘We should surround ourselves with more Gareths!’. “