This weekend, former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas announced in a video posted on Twitter that he is HIV positive.
In an interview with morning show BBC Breakfast on Wednesday, Thomas, who became the first openly gay professional rugby union player in 2009, said a journalist spoke to his parents about his HIV status before he could tell them in 2017:
I can never take that moment back. That person came and took that moment away from me. My parents will say that they’re fine because that’s my parents. But I can’t really tell you how they felt because I can’t imagine how they would feel. [...] Do you have children? Can you imagine someone coming to your door and saying something so personal and so intrusive to you about the person that you would love and protect through anything? Can you imagine how that would feel? I can’t.
Thomas didn’t identify the journalist or paper, but told the morning show’s hosts “everybody” would know it, “especially of late.” The interview came a day after a story about an English cricket player’s decades-old family trauma ran in The Sun, a Murdoch-owned tabloid known for such hits as “MEGHAN MADE KATE CRY: Bride’s strict demands over Charlotte’s dress reduced her to tears” and “EXCLUSIVE: SHOCK POLL. 1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis.”
In the Twitter announcement, Thomas suggested he had been blackmailed into sharing this before he was ready to, referencing “evils that have made my life hell threatening to tell you before I do.”
Thomas told BBC Radio Wales Wednesday that he would “absolutely not” have shared his HIV diagnosis publicly had the paper not threatened to publish it. “I would love to sit here and say yes, but I’d be a hypocrite if I did,” he said.