Welsh artist finger paints portrait of rugby legend Gareth Thomas to mark Pride week

Welsh artist Nathan Wyburn has finger painted a portrait of rugby legend Gareth Thomas to commemorate Pride Cymru. Credit: Nathan Wyburn

A Welsh artist has painted a special portrait of rugby legend Gareth Thomas to commemorate Pride week.

The former Wales captain has been praised for raising awareness of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people since coming out as gay in 2009.

In 2019, Thomas revealed he is HIV positive in a bid to break the stigma associated with the virus.

Artist Nathan Wyburn, from Ebbw Vale, is also gay and is passionate about supporting and championing LGBTQ+ rights.

He said he was "absolutely delighted" to pay tribute to Thomas, who is also a friend of his.

Gareth Thomas met with Prince Harry to discuss how his HIV diagnosis inspired him to educate others about the virus. Credit: PA Images

Thomas is thought to be the first UK sportsman to go public about living with the virus.

He said he went public with his illness after being put “through hell” by blackmailers who threatened to expose his secret.

The artwork comes as Pride Cymru hosts its first ever online week of events as their annual celebrations had to go virtual this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The charity has joined forces with a range of LGBTQ+ performers, groups and businesses to put on a week full of free events.

Nathan was commissioned to create the artwork by Cardiff and Vale Health Charity as it marks Pride week.

Nathan Wyburn said he used red paint and finger prints to symbolise blood to help break down the stigma around HIV. Credit: Nathan Wyburn

The 30-year-old has worked with the charity throughout the coronavirus pandemic, paying tribute to the NHS with one image made up of hundreds of photographs of health workers.

He has created a number of light hearted portraits of well known faces over the years, including Simon Cowell made out of toast and marmite, and rapper Eminem made out of spaghetti.