GARETH THOMAS: HIV & ME

Rugby legend Gareth Thomas has been hiding a very dark secret: he’s living with HIV. In an emotional and hard-hitting documentary Gareth reveals how he seriously contemplated taking his own life, but is now seeking to come to terms with his condition.

Rugby legend Gareth Thomas has lived a life of many highs, and quite a few lows. The first Welsh man to win 100 caps playing for his country, he also captained the British Lions, and on his retirement was Wales’ all-time leading try scorer.

In 2009, Gareth made international headlines when he came out. Still playing for Cardiff Blues, he was at the time the world’s only openly gay professional sportsman.

Since retiring, he has gone on to carve out a fulfilling career as a sports commentator, tv personality, and gay rights activist working closely with Prince Harry and The Terrence Higgins Trust. He has travelled the world with work, and had a best-selling autobiography (Pride) which is currently being made into a Hollywood biopic.

But behind all of his success, Gareth Thomas has been hiding a very dark secret – from the world, from his friends and from his family. Gareth is living with HIV.

In this emotional and hard-hitting documentary Gareth reveals for the first time that he feels forced to make his diagnosis public as he is being blackmailed by a prominent British tabloid which is threatening to splash the story on its front pages. After his father was door-stopped by a journalist from the newspaper, and told of his son’s diagnosis before Gareth had the chance to tell his parents himself, he figured he had two choices: to kill himself, or to control the story by going public on his terms.

So Gareth begins to secretly film this doc as he prepares to go public. In front of the cameras he begins the long and painful task of telling friends and family of his diagnosis. He has tearful a heart-to-heart with close friend and actress Sam Womack; and a very moving encounter with fellow rugby legend and buddy Shane Williams. He talks to world experts in the condition to address head-on the myths and misconceptions surrounding HIV. He meets, for the very first time, other people who are also living with HIV – some of them still so afraid of how their friends and acquaintances will react that they have to be filmed anonymously. His father and mother talk about the strain and the pain of watching Gareth go through all of this, and of their own anger at his feeling forced to go public. His husband Stephen talks about his own ignorance of the condition.

And throughout it all, in an effort to dispel the myth that people with HIV are sickly, weak and fragile, Gareth trains to undertake one of the world’s most extreme physical challenges: The Iron Man – a two and a half mile sea swim, followed by a 100 mile cycle ride, followed by a marathon.

The night before he takes part in the Tenby Iron Man, Gareth release a video statement on Twitter announcing he is living with HIV. The following morning, with the story international headline news, he steps out in front of some 100,000 spectators. How will they and the rest of the world react? Will they, as Gareth fears, reject him as a pariah? Or will they celebrate him for his honesty and bravery?

 

DURATION

1 x one hour

BROADCASTER

BBC

YEAR OF PRODUCTION

2019

PRODUCED BY

Wales & Co.

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION

UK

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