BBC chatshow host Graham Norton has spoken about how the marriage referendum will make life easier for young people who realise they are gay, as well as helping their parents.
Speaking during a sell-out event in Listowel Writers’ Week, attended by some 750 people, the Cork native said when the ‘Yes’ vote was announced the feeling was “incredible”.
“I was in Austria [during Eurovision] watching CNN reporting from Dublin Castle, and it was really moving. It was Ireland, and it was recognisably Ireland and it was all the good stuff about Ireland. All the shit was gone. In that moment it seemed fantastic. Since the referendum it has been quite gracious, because you would worry about the reaction to either result. I think everyone has been quite dignified,” he said during an interview on stage with RTE radio presenter Rick O’Shea.
In terms of the No campaign, he said that rather than being portrayed in some quarters as homophobic, “I think they just weren’t ready, people who were scared of change, and distracted by misinformation.”
As a result of the referendum and more gay role models in society, as well as openly gay Irish politicians, he said “It’s a realisation you can come to much more easily now.
“Back then it wasn’t an easy thing to accept. One of the great things about the marriage referendum is that parents don’t have to worry for their kids in the same way, because society said ‘meh, whatever’.
“It’s not about getting married in the end, I think, for me,” he said, with a laugh.
“It’s about people living in a society that says ‘You’re fine, just get on with your life’. I think that must be a lovely thing for parents, because I remember when I first had that conversation with my mother she said ‘It’s such a lonely life’, and so many of my friends said that’s what their parents feared.
“We were invisible, so of course it seemed like a lonely life, because we didn’t fit into the community at large, and that I think is what’s so special about the marriage referendum,” he said to uproarious applause.
The hugely popular TV presenter was in the north Kerry town to promote his new book The Life and Loves of a He Devil: A Memoir, and he revealed that publishing a novel is one of his long-term ambitions.
It follows on from his 2004 work So Me, and on this occasion he said he didn’t want to write ‘and then this happened’ type of book.
“I didn’t want to write about last eight years, but around the things that I love, and that, I think, makes up your life.”
In addition to sections on his love for his dogs, and New York, there is also the section on his love for Ireland. Speaking in Listowel, he said he always wanted to leave, but fell back in love with Ireland after the death of his father.
“I didn’t just leave, I ran away. I couldn’t wait to get out of the place. I genuinely as a child knew that - that I would leave. I didn’t feel at home, I didn’t feel right here. I didn’t really come back, apart from Christmas.”
However, he started to come back more when his father was ill with Parkinson’s, and thereafter to spend more time with his mother.
Rick O’Shea said of his interviewee “he’s pretty much as you find him on the telly. Lovely, chatty, warm and a total professional. We met about a half hour before the interview and ended up getting on wonderfully - I thought!”