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Australia Former test prop Palmer becomes first Wallaby to come out as gay

03:56  30 october  2020
03:56  30 october  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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The Block's Darren Palmer reveals his internal conflict with being gay and how he used to wish he wasn't one of 'those' people. He might come across as supremely confident on The Block. But there was a time when Darren Palmer was conflicted about his sexuality.

The Wallabies star refused to apologise but admitted that he was 'disrespectful'. Folau, a devout Christian, has been under fire for social media comments saying gay people would go to 'hell unless they repent of their sins and 'At what point does corporate sponsorship become social engineering?'

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - One-test Australia prop Dan Palmer has become the first Wallabies player to come out as gay, writing in a newspaper column on Friday of mental health issues and drug problems while coming to terms with his sexuality.

The 32-year-old wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald of the anguish of "living the dream" as an elite athlete while being trapped in a "false narrative".

"I was incredibly frustrated, angry and desperately sad. I despised myself and the life I was living," wrote Palmer, a former vice-captain of Super Rugby side ACT Brumbies.

"Most nights, I cried myself to sleep and routinely numbed myself with a heavy cocktail of opioids.

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“They came from my own homophobia and narrow-mindedness. I am truly sorry for those flaws and the harm they have surely caused some people. Matheson said that by the time he began studying therapy, he had become consumed by the ideology that being gay is a sin. “Even though it was a

"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."

Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas is the only other rugby union international to come out. After going public in 2009, Thomas also revealed struggles with personal demons while concealing his sexuality.

Palmer, who played tighthead prop for Australia against Scotland in 2012, said he had overdosed on painkillers while in France and woken up in a "pool of the previous day's food".

The moment was transformative, and he flew to London to share his secret for the first time with a friend.

While he said he had never felt discriminated against in the rugby environment, Palmer was motivated to come out after former Wallabies fullback Israel Folau posted on social media that hell awaits "homosexuals" who do not repent.

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Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, had his Wallabies contract torn up by Rugby Australia last year.

"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," he said.

"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."

Only a handful of elite rugby union players have come out.

Sam Stanley, who played rugby sevens for England, became the first English professional rugby union player to come out in 2015.

Welsh international rugby union referee Nigel Owens, one of the game's most popular and recognisable officials, came out in 2007 and long championed inclusion for gay sportsmen and women.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Michael Perry)

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