If you’re going to read something today, it needs to be this.

Former Wallabies player Dan Palmer has come out as gay in a heart-felt essay, published in The Sydney Morning Herald.

At the beginning of the essay, Palmer opens about his internal struggle with his identity and how his “own death felt preferable to anybody knowing I was gay.”

In 2012, Palmer made his Wallabies debut and decided not to come out as gay because he wanted to let his performance speak for itself. However, keeping such a big secret took a deep mental toll on the rugby player.

“I was incredibly frustrated, angry and desperately sad. I despised myself and the life I was living. I was trapped in a false narrative and could see no way out. Most nights, I cried myself to sleep and routinely numbed myself with a heavy cocktail of opioids,” Palmer wrote.

“I fantasised about disappearing, changing my name and starting my life all over again.” he added.

After the controversy surrounding Israel Folau and his outward homophobia, Palmer felt a responsibility to say something.

“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 said.

“He will never see the impact he has had on these young people, but if he could, I doubt he could live with himself.”

For Palmer the battle wasn’t with the Waratahs or Brumbies (other rugby teams he played for), the battle was with himself.

“I never felt directly discriminated against and I was comfortable in the rugby environment. As I have described, the battle for me was primarily with myself rather than with obvious external pressures or discrimination.”

Palmer then goes on to explain that its a feeling of “just being different” that is difficult to pinpoint on just one incident. But wherever the feeling comes from he says it makes someone “less inclined to advertise their differences.”

Palmer ends the essay by calling out society to do better. He doesn’t want anyone to torture themselves, like he did.

You can read the essay here.

Image: Getty Images / Cameron Spencer