(Reuters) – One-test Australia prop Dan Palmer said he was humbled by the support he had received after becoming the first Wallabies player to come out as gay.
Palmer, in a column for the Sydney Morning Herald last month, wrote of mental health issues and drug problems while coming to terms with his sexuality, triggering an outpouring of support.
“I have had hundreds of emails and messages from people right across the globe,” Palmer told the Guardian.
“Many have been incredibly open about their personal experiences or those of their loved ones,” he said. “It is very humbling to think that my story has touched so many people. I hope that it has helped in some way.”
The 32-year-old, who made his only test appearance for the Wallabies at tighthead prop against Scotland in 2012, said the decision to come out was fuelled by a desire to break down stereotypes.
“I think it is important to challenge the idea of what it means to be a ‘rugby player’ or a ‘gay person’,” he added. “It can certainly be difficult, particularly for younger people, to integrate such seemingly contradictory views of themselves.
“By breaking down these stereotypes we might be lucky enough to normalise a level of diversity in rugby and make it easier for people to be themselves.”
Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas is the only other rugby union international to come out.
-Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru