Wallabies star Dan Palmer reveals hiding his biggest secret almost killed him – and the harrowing pill overdose that forced him to confront it at 25
- Former Wallaby Dan Palmer opened up about his battle being gay sports star
- Uncompromising front-rower penned a groundbreaking article about struggles
- He admits to hitting rock bottom while living in France, waking in pool of vomit
- At height of career he would often cry himself to sleep feeling ‘desperately sad
Former Wallabies star Dan Palmer (pictured) has stepped out as one of Australia’s first openly gay professional rugby players and shared how hiding his sexuality almost destroyed him
Former Wallabies star Dan Palmer has stepped out as one of Australia’s first openly gay professional rugby players and shared how hiding his sexuality almost destroyed him.
In 2012, the uncompromising front-rower was living the dream, having vice-captained the ACT Brumbies during the Super Rugby season, he was ready to make his debut with the Wallabies.
The 23-year-old was at the top of the world, being paid to play the sport he loved and travelling the world with some of his best mates.
But boiling away was a deep secret that almost drove him to suicide.
In a groundbreaking article with the Sydney Morning Herald, Palmer admitted that his battle with his sexuality left him feeling ‘incredibly frustrated, angry, and desperately sad’.
He said it was Israel Folau’s homophobia scandal last year, which saw the star dramatically sacked by the code, that prompted him to finally speak out publicly.
The 23-year-old (centre) was at the top of the world, being paid to play the sport he loved and travelling the world with some of his best mates. But boiling away was a deep secret that almost drove him to suicide
The controversial rugby star had his contract torn up after posting on Instagram: ‘Warning. Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters. Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.’
Palmer, 32, slammed the former star for damaging the sport and causing a deep impact to kids who looked up to him.
‘He will never see the impact he has had on these young people, but if he could, I doubt he could live with himself,’ he said.
At the height of his career Palmer said he would often cry himself to sleep because of the pain he was feeling.
He admitted to dreaming about leaving it all behind to start a new life with a whole new identity.
‘It is not an exaggeration to say my own death felt preferable to anybody discovering I was gay,’ he said.
His darkest days were in 2013, while he living in France playing for FC Grenoble.
Unable to speak the language and living away from friends and family, his self-destructive behaviour took hold.
He was forced to seek help after waking up in a pool of his own vomit having overdosed on painkillers.
After hours of contemplating his future, he decided to book a flight to London to seek help from a friend.
At the height of his career he would often cry himself to sleep because of the pain he was feeling. ‘It is not an exaggeration to say my own death felt preferable to anybody discovering I was gay,’ he said
Anxiety flooded over him as he prepared for the painful conversation he was about to have.
During the short flight he penned message which he gave to his mate when he arrived in London, finally confessing he was gay.
In his 25 years of life, Palmer had never told anyone this secret, but once he finally did a weight was lifted.
‘I hadn’t realised until then, but this was the first time in my life I had truly felt free,’ he said.
A short time later he made the difficult decision to stop playing rugby and begin the next chapter of his life.
He said his passion for rugby had been waning for a few years and he had a heavy feeling that he was wasting the best years of my life pretending to be something he wasn’t.
Rugby Australia slammed Israel Folau (right, with wife Maria left) for his homophobic social media post last year
Folau shared a ‘warning’ to ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters’ to Instagram on Wednesday (pictured), saying ‘hell awaits’ them
Palmer began studying science and psychology at The Australian National University in Canberra in mid-2014.
He is now halfway through his PhD in cellular mechanisms of brain function.
He said that while he never feared his friends and family would judge him for being gay, he did worry that others would judge him.
He said he did not want those judgments to stop him from achieving his dreams of being a professional rugby player.
Palmer is now part of a handful of players who have admitted to being gay.
The most high profile being Gareth Thomas, one of the greatest Welsh rugby players of all time, who came out in 2009.
Palmer said he hopes by speaking out he will help create a change and perhaps help others facing their own battles around sexuality.
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