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Rugby referee wanted to be chemically castrated after realizing he was gay

Nigel Owens recalls a dark period.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Rugby referee Nigel Owens with his MBE he received from the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in 2016.
Photo by Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Nigel Owens has refereed rugby’s World Cup and been honored by the British monarchy. But the now openly gay and proud Welshman once wanted to be chemically castrated due self-loathing over his sexual orientation.

"Refereeing that [2015] World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand in front of 85,000 people and the millions of people watching at home, scrutinizing every single decision you make under a huge amount of pressure, was nothing compared to the challenge of accepting who I was,” Owens told BBC Radio.

Owens, 45, said he "would have done anything to be 'normal' in people's eyes".

The referee, who grew up in a village in Carmarthenshire, Wales, developed bulimia and later became hooked on steroids when he started going to the gym.

He described how he went to a doctor and said: "l do not want to be gay. Can I get chemically castrated?"

Fortunately, Owens slowly came to accept who he is and is in a much better place since coming out publicly.

"Unless you are happy with who you are, you cannot excel and be the best you can be at whatever you are doing. You cannot enjoy life if you are not happy within yourself,” Owens said. True words for anyone struggling with their sexual orientation.

You can download the 35-minute Podcast Owens did for the BBC series “Desert Island Discs.”