Former prop Dan Palmer, who has become the first Wallabies player to come out as openly gay, says he was motivated to speak up after former Wallabies fullback Israel Folau triggered outrage with controversial posts on social media.
Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Palmer opened up about ‘living the dream’ as an elite athlete while being trapped in a ‘false narrative’.
‘Most nights, I cried myself to sleep and routinely numbed myself with a heavy cocktail of opioids,’ he wrote.
‘I fantasised about disappearing, changing my name and starting my life all over again. It is not an exaggeration to say my own death felt preferable to anybody discovering I was gay.’
Palmer, who made his only Test appearance for the Wallabies as at tighthead prop against Scotland in 2012, also shared his thoughts on the controversial comments made by Folau, which ultimately ended the fullback’s Wallabies career.
‘Although it wasn’t the primary impetus for me doing this, the longer the Folau saga dragged on, the more I felt a responsibility to say something,’ said Palmer.
‘To me, what is more important than the damage he has caused rugby is the deep impact he has undoubtedly had on kids who looked up to him, and who struggle every day with understanding their sexuality.
‘He will never see the impact he has had on these young people, but if he could, I doubt he could live with himself.
‘Thankfully, from my experience in rugby, views like Israel’s are the exception, not the rule.’
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