Former Aussie Rugby Star Dan Palmer Comes Out as Gay

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday November 1, 2020

Dan Palmer
Dan Palmer  (Source:Alan Porritt/AAP Images via AP)

Dan Palmer, a former Australian rugby player, has come out as gay, The Guardian reports. Aside from out Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, Palmer is the only Australian rugby player to have come out so far.

The former Wallabies player penned an emotional column for the Sydney Morning Herald in which he confides that hiding his sexual orientation while playing rugby led to a downward spiral consuming "a heavy cocktail of opioids."

Contending it should have been a happy time, as he traveled the world playing rugby with his close friends, he was "incredibly frustrated, angry and desperately sad" being closeted. "I despised myself and the life I was living. I was trapped in a false narrative and could see no way out." Palmer dreamt of "disappearing, changing my name and starting my life all over again" and even that "death felt preferable to anybody discovering I was gay."

Leaving Australia for France led Palmer through a series of difficult realizations, namely that his self-destructive behaviors were in response to remaining closeted and hindering a need for self-acceptance. Palmer flew to London and came out to a friend at age 25. Confiding in his column that he wasn't so much afraid of rejection by family and friends for being gay, Palmer was more afraid that "they would feel like I had deceived them, that I was somehow untrustworthy."

Palmer explains that writing this column was prompted in part by Israel Folau, a former rugby player who was fired for posting homophobic statements on social media. While Palmer states that, in rugby, "views like Israel's are the exception, not the rule," he believes that if homophobic players such as Folau could see the impact on their gay fans, they might think twice about speaking hateful sentiments.

In response to the column, Palmer has received support from his colleagues in rugby:

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

Comments on Facebook