Gareth Thomas wants to tackle tired gay stereotypes on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins

Gareth Thomas wears a grey sweatshirt and folds his arms in the promo photo for Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins.

Former Wales rugby union captain and HIV activist Gareth Thomas has revealed he’s taking part in Channel 4’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins to counter tired stereotypes about the gay community. 

The 49-year-old sportsman turned TV personality, who came out publicly as gay in 2009, is one of sixteen celebrities being put through their paces on the military training show.

The new series of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins sees sixteen stars have their mental and physical capabilities put to the test, as they endure gruelling challenges that replicate actual tasks set as part of the Special Forces selection process.

The new series began yesterday (September 26), and saw Thomas join the brutal course alongside celebrities including former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Pop Idol finalist Gareth Gates, Liberty X star Michelle Heaton and comedian Zoe Lyons

Speaking ahead of the series premiere, Thomas revealed that while he didn’t feel he had anything to prove by going on the show, he did want to use it as an opportunity to show that LGBTQ+ people are “capable of attempting” anything.

“I feel I had something to represent, because I think people have personal reasons to do it,” he told Channel 4.

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“I represent the community of people, whether it’d be with my HIV status, or whether it would be with my sexuality, that have maybe stereotypically assumed not to go down this kind of pathway.”

Gareth Thomas in a still from Channel 4's Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.
Gareth Thomas on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins. (Channel 4)

Gareth Thomas decided to publicly share his positive HIV status in 2019 in order to help “break the stigma” that still surrounds the virus. 

He added that while the Special Forces are “deemed to be very much a more alpha, macho environment,” he thinks gay men are more than able to take on the same challenges. 

“The pressure came from me to want to show that whatever characteristic you are, you are capable of attempting, you are capable of achieving something that maybe society deems is not within the realms of achievement for you.”

While Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins is full of savage tests, ex-rugby star Thomas has experience of physically demanding tasks. Earlier this year, he took on the ‘Three Peaks Challenge’, which saw him scale the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales: Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis, and Snowdon.

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas raised nearly £4,000 for the Terrence Higgins Trust by completing the three-peaks challenge. (Getty Images)

Speaking exclusively to PinkNews about the challenge at the time, he likened it to his ongoing HIV journey.

“It seemed like a really great metaphor for people to understand what living with HIV is like… Due to the stigma that is around the virus, that mountain can sometimes seem impossible to climb,” he explained.

“Standing at the bottom of the mountain, looking at the top thinking to yourself, ‘how are you ever going to get to the top of that?’ And then getting to the top of the mountain and having a completely different perspective looking down and actually feeling quite empowered, feeling a sense of achievement.”

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins is on Channel 4 every Sunday from 1 October.