A former rugby player who "woke up gay" after suffering a stroke has spoken out about the life-changing ordeal in his first television interview.

Chris Birch from South Wales claims that his sexuality was dramatically altered after a freak accident at the gym caused him to have a stroke.

"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," he said.

The once 19-stone rugby player, who was engaged to be married at the time, said that when he regained consciousness, he found his sexuality had completely altered.

"The Chris I knew had gone and a new Chris came along," he said. "I came to the realisation that the stroke had turned me gay."

Opening up in the BBC documentary Totally Different Me, Birch described his transition from heterosexual to homosexual as "weird and scary".

"It was a lonely time. It was a time I was afraid to tell anybody because that I wasn't who I used to be, so it shouldn't be who I am now."

The 27-year-old hairdresser said he was attempting to rebuild his life and make sense of the months following the accident.

He has lost weight, changed his looks and his job and has even found love again with his new boyfriend and fiancé, Jak Powell.

"It's like looking at somebody else but with my face only younger. In all fairness, if I met myself I'd probably carry on walking.

"I suppose I dealt with it by moving out of my family home and having to realise who I was all over again," he added.

His story raised questions over whether stokes could change a person's sexual orientation.

As part of the BBC programme, Birch took part in computer-based tests by Dr Qazi Rahman, an expert in human sexual orientation, of Queen Mary, University of London, to find out if he had been "born gay".

Rahman suggested that Birch's homosexual feelings may have lain dormant but been brought to the surface by the stroke.

he said: "The bulk of the evidence in the biological sciences, in genetics and psychology, suggest that sexuality is something you are born with and develops later on through life."