Posted on September 19, 2019
Recently, Gareth Thomas, former Welsh Rugby Captain was forced, because of the “evils” to share with the World that he is living with HIV. I am not going to go into the intrusive reporting of our gutter tabloid press who seek to upset people in the name of “public interest”, but I do want to pick up on a very profound statement that Gareth made in his disclosure. I want to share it, provide my thoughts and show how this resonates for me within our community.
The comment that Gareth Thomas made while explaining his reason for taking to Social Media was simple and yet profound, he said words to the effect of:
“While revealing this to you, makes me vulnerable, it does not make me weak…”
I found this very appropriate to our community, profound in so many ways, but something from which we could all learn.
Gareth Thomas was the first openly gay rugby player and demonstrated amazing strength of character when he came out. He has subsequently been hounded by the gutter press that seem to find pleasure in bullying and harassing people to ensure they retain, amuse and titillate their readership. He referred to them as “evils” and they nearly drove him to suicide. He took a strong stand and shared the news with his fans and followers before they could… it was “[his] secret to tell”. Again, he showed a real strength of character.
As a community, through our military service, we develop strength of character and it is something of which we speak during our training and throughout:
‘It’s character building!” How many times have you heard that??
But character needs to be underpinned with mental resilience and a desire to overcome, succeed and survive. Admitting that he was vulnerable through his revelation is something that we could do with learning as a community.
When a dog rolls over to have their tummy rubbed, as well as being a supplicant action, it is also a sign of trust and to that extent, strength. Have the courage to be able to reveal your underbelly to those you trust is a sign of that strength. If only those of us who have struggled with the Transition to civilian life had the strength and trust in people within the community to be able to reveal their vulnerability, their fear of the unknown, their lack of confidence in striking out to new and different future.
The outstanding counter intuitive follow on statement from Gareth, captures the essence.
“it does not make me weak”
The lesson for us all there is that we can admit to our friends and supporters that we are struggling, seeking help and support is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Being vulnerable and sharing that is a sign of the strength of character of which we are proud.
If you are struggling, if you feel lost or somewhat vulnerable, then reach out to us, your brothers and sisters, and feel confident of the support you will receive. It does not make you weak.