Rugby player suffers stroke, wakes up gayThis Week, Around the World Thursday, April 19th, 2012
A Rugby player in the United Kingdom says he suffered a stroke during a freak accident and woke up gay as a result of the catastrophe.
Chris Birch, 26, attempted a forward roll down a hill in 2006 when his brain suffered trauma, causing a stroke which required extensive medical care. When he regained consciousness, he realized that he was gay – despite being engaged to his girlfriend at the time.
“I was doing a forward roll down a grass bank one day and cut off the blood supply to my brain which caused a stroke to happen. It was from there, while I was recovering, that I realised I’d changed,” says Birch, from Caerphilly.
“The Chris I knew had gone and a new Chris sort of came along. I came to the realisation that the stroke had turned me gay,” he said.
During a stroke, certain areas of the brain experience starvation of oxygen leading to brain cell death and some forms of brain damage. However, a stroke can also introduce new neural connections which can lead to new personality, skill, or changes in sexual orientation.
“It was a weird experience,” he said. “You walk into somewhere and you go from liking that girl to liking that boy.”
Upon recovery from the stroke, Birch quit his job at the bank and became a hairdresser, moved out of his childhood home, and began dating men.
“It was quite a scary process. Being with the first guy was a very odd experience. I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said.
Birch is engaged to fiancée Jak Powell, who believes his partner was always gay and that the accident only helped him realize it later.
“People grow up not knowing they are gay and have families and then they realise they are gay, but they don’t have a stroke to realise it,” Powell said. “I think eventually if you hadn’t had the stroke it would have happened anyway.”
Birch explains he is content with his new sexual orientation and glad he came to the realization that he is gay. “I’m happier now that I ever have been, why would I want to change?”
Birch will document his experience in the new series “I Woke Up Gay” which premiered this week April 17 on BBC.
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