A former Wallabies prop has opened up about his experiences of secretly being gay and the struggles that came with hiding his sexuality.
Dan Palmer wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald about his torment before a conversation with a friend managed to save his life.
“I despised myself and the life I was living. I was trapped in a false narrative and could see no way out. Most nights, I cried myself to sleep and routinely numbed myself with a heavy cocktail of opioids,” Palmer wrote.
”I fantasied 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 earned his first and only Wallabies Test cap in 2012, said he hopes sharing his story of coming will help others going through similar problems.
The 32-year-old said his lowest point came while playing in France where he overdosed on painkillers and woke up in a pool of food from the previous day.
“I drove to the airport particularly recklessly, quietly thinking that if I slammed into a tree I wouldn’t have to go through with what I was about to do.”
Thankfully though, Palmer ended up telling a friend in London he was gay which lifted a lot of weight off his shoulders. He retired from rugby soon after.
Palmer added the recent Israel Folau saga wasn’t the main driving factor behind telling his story but it did play a part.
The former Wallaby get his contract terminated by Rugby Australia for multiple religious social media posts that said gay people would go to Hell.
Palmer said Folau’s actions had a deep and harmful impact “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.
“It was encouraging to hear a chorus of prominent voices from rugby players and officials globally that condemned his position and continue to push for a more accepting and inclusive sporting landscape.”
Since retiring, Palmer has gone on to complete a double degree in Science and Psychology at the Australian National University.
He is now halfway through a PhD where he is studying cellular mechanisms of brain function.