Five sports stars who came out of the closet
Last week Thomas Hitzlsperger became the most high profile footballer to come out. The former Aston Villa and Everton player revealed to German paper, Die Zeit, that he was gay because he wants "to further the debate about homosexuality among sports professionals".
Following on from Hitzlsperger’s announcement, here are five other prominent sports stars who have come out to the world
The first openly homosexual tennis player, Martina came out in 1981 after gaining US citizenship. The nine times Wimbledon champion was the recipient of the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian activist/lobbying group, in 2000.
The American basketball star came out on the cover of Sports Illustrated in May 2013 saying: “I’m a 34 year old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” The 34 year old is pro basketball’s first openly gay player but, despite his 12 year experience with six different teams, is still without a contract for the new season forcing us to ask: are NBA teams passing on signing Jason Collins the basketball player, or Jason Collins the openly gay athlete?
The popular Olympic diver and Splash star came out of the closet in December 2012 when he revealed – via a YouTube video – that he's in a relationship with another man. Kylie Minogue was one of the first celebs to show her support tweeting that she found Tom “inspiring and brave.”
The former Leeds United player told the world about his sexuality in a statement on his website in February 2013. “"People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay,” he wrote. Rogers retired immediately, before joining LA Galaxy just three months later.
The Welsh rugby legend – Thomas represented his country in both codes of rugby – famously announced he was gay in 2009 and a year later, received Stonewall's Hero of the Year award. Fast forward to 2014 and Gareth – the third most capped Welsh rugby union player, with 100 Test caps and a further three playing for the British & Irish Lions – is set to be portrayed by Hollywood heavyweight Mickey Rourke in a biopic about his decision to come out as gay.