Rugby Player Claims He Turned Gay and Became Hairdresser After Suffering Stroke

Chris Birch, a Welsh former rugby player, says that after breaking his neck during practice while doing a backflip, and then suffering a stroke, he woke up gay and decided to become a hairdresser.

BirchIt's a rather bizarre story from the UK's Daily Mail:

Before the accident Chris was planning on settling down with his girlfriend, although they were having a break from each other at the time of his accident. He worked in a bank and spent his weekends watching sport and drinking beer with his rugby friends. But after the stroke he found he was no longer interested in sport and had little in common with his old friends. He quit his job to become a hairdresser and started dating a man he met at a club night.

Birch says his neurologist told him the stroke may have opened a new area of his brain.

Said Birch: "It sounds strange but when I came round I immediately felt different. I wasn't interested in women any more. I was definitely gay. I had never been attracted to a man before – I'd never even had any gay friends. But I didn't care about who I was before, I had to be true to my feelings…Suddenly, I hated everything about my old life. I didn't get on with my friends, I hated sport and found my job boring. I started to take more pride in my appearance, bleached my hair and started working out. I went from a 19st skinhead to a 11st preened man. People I used to know barely recognised me and with my new look I became even more confident.'


  1. says

    *massive eye-roll*

    yeah. ok. or maybe a big health scare caused him to rethink his priorities in life and realize that living a lie is a waste, especially when this precious life can be taken away from you in an instant.

    i’m sure we’ve all heard similar stories from guys who come out and can’t handle the “guilt” of admitting to having lived a lie who say “oh, wow, no, i mean this is just as much of a surprise to ME, i had NEVER though about guys in a sexual way before EVER and suddenly, you know, i like totally do. it’s a NEW thing”

    or it’s an old way to avoid feeling guilty or admitting to having lied. we get it – coming out is hard. but pretending you werent’ gay before isn’t exactly a noble way to go about it.

    is his story possible? i suppose. but it’s unlikely. he’s saying the same things a lot of us stopped saying when were were 18.

  2. Aedan says

    Uh okay . . . . Not quite sure what this is trying to say.

    Is this just a “huh, fancy that” article? Or is this something more pro/anti-gay? Seriously, I’m having trouble understanding the point this article is trying to make.

    On top of this- there must be ABSOLUTELY no reason for this guy to fudge his true feelings before the stroke *sarcasm*. While I’m certainly not averse to the idea that a stroke can completely change a person (I’ve seen plenty of documentaries that showed how an emotional artist would have a stroke and suddenly became a cold, unfeeling scientist or some such) I do have to say there felt like a few red flags in this story that leads me to believe his claims of complete straight-ness may not be entirely accurate. But whatever. If he’s happy and now living his life the way he truly wants then more power to him.

  3. Married in MA says

    I read this story some time ago and was skeptical. However, I have personally known several people who have had serious head injuries and it can definitely alter one’s personality, sometimes dramatically… so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Happy ending in any case.

  4. Steve says

    Radical personality changes are hardly uncommon after massive brain injuries. Especially after damage to the prefrontal cortex. That has been well documented back in the 19th century already.

    There are other studies that show difference in brain structures and functions between straight and gay people. This certainly sounds weird, but it’s not implausible

  5. anon says

    For those of us who thought we’d heard everything! Of course, he still didn’t choose to be gay, so it’s neither one thing nor another politically. I don’t see him switching back with medication or anything either. Of course, we’ll be called brain damaged now by the far right.

  6. Robert says

    My first instinct is to jump on this and call him a liar. But looking at all the stories of brain damage, stroke, and other brain disorders, there is still so much about the brain and the nature of homosexuality that we still don’t understand fully. Could he be lying? Yes, but could he be also telling the truth? Absolutely. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean we have to be antagonistic about it. *side eye to all you gays out there*

  7. Jesus says

    Maybe that injury just ruptured the part of his brain he was using to stay in the closet.

    The implications of this article are just… ugh. Can we not go here, please?

  8. Keith says

    Um, why do I feel like this is the groundwork for a strange explanation as to why he went on to star in adult films for Blake Mason and English Lads?

  9. Kim says

    Why is this suprising most gays say they didn’t choose to be gay so there fore there must be a biological/hormonal factor. Maybe the part of the brain that was affected by the stroke has something to do with sexual orientation.There are differences in male and female brains so there may be differences in hetero/homosexual people’s brains.

  10. Brent says

    So…if everything happens according to God’s will (as the Christianists tell us), then it must have been God’s will that Chris suffered a brain injury that changed his sexual orientation. Therefore, it must be God’s will that Chris is gay. Ergo, God actually does create gay people, He doesn’t hate them, and being gay isn’t an abominable sin.

  11. says

    i think it’s irritating because it’s simply on more variation on the whole world of “i’m as surprised as you are to find out that i’m gay!” excuses that many of us told when were first Coming Out.

  12. Rich F. says

    It’s an article from the “Daily Fail”… I’d believe something from the “Weekly World News” before buying anything they print.

  13. at says

    @Little Kiwi, People use “I’m as surprised as you are to find out that I’m gay!” as an excuse?

    Huh. I have never heard that before.

  14. Rin says

    This reminds me of a girl in college who got hit by a car and then “became” not only a lesbian, but a shaved head, nose ring lesbian who then ran for office of the GLB org.

    I spoke to her and she seemed VERY sincere that she wasn’t before.

    Now, if the studies about same sex attraction and “scents” are correct maybe the brain injury was in the part of the brain that governs scent or something? It’s not insulting that someone has a brain injury and is gay if he’s also happy and well-adjusted afterwards, is it?

    I’d think this is wonderful scientific fodder to explain that is it naturally-occurring and in the very makeup of the central nervous system…yeh?

    Or “neh”?

  15. Bryant in Houston says

    I believe him because every it’s a known fact that every straight rugby player does backflips during practice.

  16. Elsewhere says

    C’mon people, it’s the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail. Listen to Dan and Dan’s Daily Mail song.

  17. vwdavy says

    it’s not as surprising or as fallible as many would think. severe brain trauma results in many unusual changes, like people regaining conciousness and who now possess the ability to speak a heretofore foreign language. perhaps his trauma released his long suppressed and/or denied sexual reality rather than the one he chose.

    also, we should probably all remember that this is the same newspaper that last month reported that the midget porn star doppelganger of the annoying loudmouth English chef (oxymoron?) had been killed and partially consumed by a badger.

    and aren’t all Englishmen gay anyhow? just look at Prince Hot Ginge for proof.

  18. artsenyc says

    Honey no. no …. no …. ok …just. no.

    in all seriousness he seems like someone desperately looking for a away out, and this is what he found … little ridicules, but at least he is happy now. Enjoy your life, Chris.

  19. mike says

    Hmmm odd, I had a stroke 2 years ago at the age of 21 and I didn’t wake up straight, though would have been strange if I did. No side effects so to speak- but have never heard of this happening before.

  20. terence says

    “A good way to come out: for Halloween go as a gay guy and then just keep being gay forever.”


  21. Michaelandfred says

    Wow….same thing happened to me! I used to “date” girls, then when I was working in Japan at age 19 I went to a club and met this beautiful French boy, drank a lot, went home with him and woke up GAY! French models, Japan and alcohol causes homosexuality. I still like sports though…maybe I needed to bump my head harder on the headboard…

  22. Stefan says

    I’m befuddled by those who are antagonistic about this. First, traumatic brain injury/stroke/etc. can cause dramatic changes, and I’m not sure where you think the difference between hetero- and homosexuality originates if not in the brain. When we describe being gay as how we are wired or who we are, we’re describing brain function. Second, who uses the “I’m as shocked as you are!” excuse when coming out? I’ve known hundreds of gays and coming out stories and never heard this variation. Third, many groups think we’re brain damaged anyways, so I don’t see this as adding fuel to their fire; they’re inherently unreasonable anyways.

  23. Johnny says

    Funny, I had a friend in high school who “turned” gay after a car accident, I was in an accident too but failed to “turn” str8…WTH!!

  24. Paul R says

    @Jamal49: perfection. One of the funniest things I’ve read on Towleroad.

    As for the “I’m as surprised as you are!” comment, I’ve never heard it either. Instead my mother said, “Well, if I had to guess which one of the five boys would be gay, it would be you.”

  25. J. Page says

    Somehow I think age and maturity is a larger factor in this amazing “transformation.” I think he is using his stroke as a convenient excuse for his true feelings. So easy to come out when you can blame it on something you don’t have control over (e.g. stroke, devil, over-bearing mother, etc.)

  26. says

    A lot of you people surprise me. If you truly believe it’s nature over nurture then why couldn’t his story be true? If your sexuality is hard wired in your brain then why couldn’t a stroke change that? Why do you need to comment on a medical condition you know nothing about.

  27. says

    “Second, who uses the “I’m as shocked as you are!” excuse when coming out? I’ve known hundreds of gays and coming out stories and never heard this variation.”

    I’m pretty sure you’ve not been involved in LGBT Outreach the way that I have been for the last decade. The whole “I just woke up one day and suddenly was into guys” thing is used more often than you think – here in the US i’ve heard it from SO many gay Mormons. Especially those who Come Out later in life, in their mid-thirties onward. It’s a way to absolve themselves of guilt or responsibility – which is exactly what this lad in this story is doing. It’s something that a lot of guys say when they’re still grappling with the “guilt” over having lied, and it’s most often tied to those with conservative religious connections.

  28. Nick says

    Well I guess everyone has their own way of coming out, but this guy definitely chose the wrong way.

  29. Jeff K. says

    Bah, who cares? Even if his story is true, I can’t see how it would “de-legitimize” homosexuality at all.