Shropshire Star comment: Gareth is a shining example
The courage and honesty of rugby star Gareth Thomas can provide lessons to us all.
In recent years, he showed immense fortitude and resilience in becoming one of the highest profile British sporting stars to openly declare his homosexuality.
It is a peculiar and endemically homophobic world in which we live where such acts are news. We long since ought to have moved to a place of equality and acceptance where such matters were commonplace.
Thomas, however, has spent a life fighting battles; many of which he ought not to have faced. By bringing his story into the public domain, he is helping countless others from the trauma and loneliness that comes with feeling like an outsider.
Now he has shared his experience of living with HIV. While the universal outpouring of warmth, affection and empathy for Mr Thomas is one in the eye for bigots and puritanical zealots, it has a rather more important purpose. He is leading by example, showing others in his position that it is possible to lead a full and rewarding life despite his condition.
- Why HIV no longer means a death sentence
- Strong support after Gareth Thomas reveals HIV positive status
Medical science has advanced to the extent that HIV is no longer a death sentence, as once it was. With the correct medication, people can lead normal lives and avoid the sort of risks that once caused havoc and devastation among the lesbian and gay community. It reminds us all – straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual – of the need to practice safe sex and avoid unnecessary risks.
Moreover, Mr Thomas’s raw and powerful account of the emotional fallout from his diagnosis helps us all. It provides encouragement for people in a similar position, who have to live with a life-changing diagnosis. Some of those might also have been told they must live out their lives with HIV. Others will have been told they have cancer or heart disease, dementia or another life-changing condition.
Such news affects every family and every community in our region. Mr Thomas shows what is possible. His example is one that shines brightly. It not only provides immense relief and light for people who find themselves in a similar position, it also assists others to be brave and fight with valour.
Society has much to learn from the courageous Mr Thomas.