World News – UA – Huge support for former Wallabies player who turned out to be gay


Former Australian rugby union player Dan Palmer: « The longer the [Israel] Folau saga dragged on, the more responsible I felt for saying something » Photograph: Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

There was a surge of support for former Australian rugby union player Dan Palmer after he became the first Wallabies player and just the second men’s international to go gay

In a powerful column published Friday by the Sydney Morning Herald, Palmer revealed the difficulties he has faced throughout his career, during which he considered ending his life rather than revealing his sexuality

Palmer, a prop who played a test for the Wallabies in 2012 and nationally for the Waratahs and Brumbies between 2008 and 2015, joins Welshman Gareth Thomas as the only other male professional rugby player to come out

Palmer, who hung up his playing shoes in 2015 and is currently a PhD candidate at ANU, has been widely praised for his courage. His former Brumbies teammate David Pocock led the applause, saying he was  » one of the best men « he knew

« I believe sport is at its best when it challenges society to be more inclusive, » said Pocock « A good reminder of how much work remains to be done »

Michael Hooper, the current Wallabies captain, said: « I feel really happy for Dan He’s a great guy, he’s a great Wallaby His words speak loudly in the article »

Palmer detailed the mental health and drug issues he encountered in coming to terms with his sexuality, although he said he never felt discriminated against during his gambling days

But the lengthy Israel Folau saga, which resulted in the winger’s sacking by Rugby Australia after posting on social media that gays were ‘hell awaits’, contributed to his decision to write the column

“Although that was not the main motivation for me to do this, the longer the Folau saga dragged on, the more I felt responsible for saying something,” he writes “For me, what is more important than the damage he caused to rugby is the profound impact he has undoubtedly had on the children who admired him and who struggle every day to understand their sexuality

« He will never see the impact he had on these youngsters, but if he could, I doubt he could live with himself Fortunately, in my experience in rugby, opinions like those of Israel are the exception, not the rule « 

Former Wales captain Thomas revealed he was gay in 2009, while still actively playing Many more have done so in the women’s game, with much less fanfare

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Erik Denison, a researcher in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University who has conducted studies on homophobia and homophobic behavior in rugby, said the similarities between Palmer and Thomas’ stories highlighted evidence of the lack of progress on the issue in sports environments

« There has been a dramatic improvement in public attitudes towards homosexuals in society at large, but we have not seen the same changes in sport where the constant use of homophobic language creates a culture in which homosexuals feel unwelcome, « said Denison

« I hope members of the rugby community recognize the similarity between the stories and understand the urgent need to address the culture that makes gays feel badly welcome and have to hide their sexuality for to be accepted into rugby « 

The rugby union has made a lot of progress in recent years, including a formal agreement between Rugby Australia and LGBTQ and inclusive teams to fight discrimination

But without openly gay active male players, Michael Smith of International Gay Rugby said there is a lot more work to be done to create sporting environments where men feel comfortable being themselves – same

“Dan’s story has been very difficult for many of us to read as it reflects our experiences in sport,” said Smith “Despite all the progress we’ve made on gay rights in society, gay athletes always feel they have to hide their sexuality

« Australian rugby and the rugby teams Dan has played for have been incredibly supportive of the need to tackle homophobia

« Dan’s courageous decision to share his story highlights the work that needs to be done to make the game truly inclusive We need to bridge the gap between everyone’s desire to be inclusive and the actual experiences of gay gamers

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Monday – Sunday October 26 – November 1

Australian National Rugby Union Team Dan Palmer, Wallaby, Player, Brumbies

World News – UA – Huge support for former Wallabies player who revealed gay
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