Former Rugby Union Player Dan Palmer Comes Out as Gay — His Journey to Acceptance

Dan Palmer, 32, is a former Australian professional union rugby player, who played one Test for the Wallabies in 2012 and domestically for the Waratahs and Brumbies between 2008 and 2015.

Along with Welshman Gareth Thomas is the second professional rugby player to go away. In a touching and revealing article, he describes his infighting within rugby to avoid being known to be gay.

It was during a season away from Australia, in which he was playing in France, that he had the opportunity to reflect on who he really was and what he was doing with his life.

Dan Palmer posing during an Australian Wallabies portrait session at Crowne Plaza, Coogee in Sydney, Australia, in May, 2012 . I Image: Getty Images.

Dan Palmer posing during an Australian Wallabies portrait session at Crowne Plaza, Coogee in Sydney, Australia, in May, 2012 . I Image: Getty Images.

Palmer wrote of his motivation: “I don’t think describing my experiences in this way is something I am obliged to do, but rather, I feel like it is something I should do, on the off chance it will help someone who finds themselves in a similar position.”

MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES

Palmer writes that he routinely dozed off on an opioid cocktail during his time as a player. He says the mental health challenges he faced during those years have motivated him to inspire others not to go through what he went through.

He also said that during the season in which he made his international debut, he despised himself and the life he led. During that time he was also vice-captain of the Super Rugby ACT Brumbies.

SUPPORT FROM FORMER PARTNERS

The former player was praised for his bravery by his former teammates, following the article's publication. David Pollock, a former teammate of the Brumbies, was one of the first to express his support and said that Palmer was one of the best men he has ever met.

For his part, the current captain of the Wallabies, Michael Hooper, said that he feels very happy for Palmer, that he considers him a great guy, a great Wallaby, and that the words with which he expresses himself in the article speak very loudly.

PAINFUL LIES

During those 25 years of life Palmer says that he got used to omitting the truth, and although at no time did he openly lied on the subject, he became an expert in omitting the truth and changing the conversation to avoid uncomfortable situations.

After a painful conversation in London, where he told someone he was gay for the first time in his life, Palmer describes feeling a tremendous weight lift off his shoulders. He had hit rock bottom a few days earlier amid painkiller problems.

LIFE CHANGE

After a painful conversation in London, where he told someone he was gay for the first time in his life, Palmer describes feeling a tremendous weight lift off his shoulders. He had hit rock bottom a few days earlier amid painkiller problems. 

That battle he faced during his years as a player was not necessarily imposed by the environment. He made it clear that it was fundamentally a battle with himself. However, he was sure not to be appreciated for his performance if he was honest about his sexuality.

Right now, he is halfway through his Ph.D. in cellular mechanisms of brain function. Palmer has earned a double major in Science and Psychology, since retiring from the game, earning First Class Honors in Neuroscience.
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