January 19, 2015

“I want to be an equal citizen in my own country.”

A photograph of Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Minister for Health, and the quote "The only worry I have is that people see me differently or treat me differently. I hope they don’t. I am still the same person. To me it is not a big deal, I hope it is not a big deal for people."

Ireland’s Minister For Health: "I’m Gay"


Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Minister for Health, and member of Parliament representing the Dublin West constituency, came out as a gay man, on RTÉ Radio 1. He is the first member of a government in Ireland to disclose that he is gay. “I want to be an equal citizen in my own country.”

Leo made his announcement almost five months before a national referendum in Ireland to give gay marriages equal status under their laws. He is 36, and a medical doctor by training.

Leo said that being gay isn’t “something that defines me. I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose.”

Miriam Lord, a columnist for The Irish Times newspaper, wrote a touchingly funny piece about Leo’s radio interview with Miriam O’Callaghan.
Leo Varadkar was a teenager when he came out as openly Fine Gael.
The early signs were there. His mother now understands why, at the tender age of seven, young Leo confided that he wanted to be the Minister for Health. 
At the time “she was mortified”. 
Minister for Health Varadkar is still saying things that stop people in their tracks. 
Some see it as his biggest failing – he’s too straight sometimes for our nod and wink political culture. 
Yesterday morning, he shocked the political establishment by telling RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan that “a politician should trust people with the truth”. 
Then he shocked the nation by revealing that he is still only 36 years old. 
It was his birthday. 
Doing anything on the big day? 
“Not doing anything special.” 
Nothing? 
Nothing, apart from becoming the first Irish Cabinet Minister to publicly come out as gay. 
It came as news to a lot of people, including some from his own parliamentary party.
Henry McDonald, the Ireland correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, wrote that Leo has been tipped as a future party leader, and possible Prime Minister. [Note: The Taoiseach is the head of government or Prime Minister of Ireland.]
Tipped as a possible future prime minister, Leo Varadkar told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday morning: “I am a gay man. It’s not a secret.” 
He said that he had briefed the Irish taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who is his party leader, that he was going to out himself live on radio this morning. “He [Kenny] said it was my private life, it’s a private issue, and none of this was his concern,” Varadkar said. 
Varadkar said the taoiseach even asked him if he had visited one of Dublin’s most famous gay bars. “He actually asked me if I had ever been to the PantiBar, and I told him ‘no, I haven’t,’ and he said ‘there you go Varadkar, I’m ahead of you already’.” 
He told the programme: “The only worry I have is that people see me differently or treat me differently. I hope they don’t. I am still the same person. To me it is not a big deal, I hope it is not a big deal for people. 
The Roman Catholic Church dominated Irish politics until the 1980s and the country legalised homosexual acts in 1993, but Ireland has become much more liberal in recent years as the Church’s public influence waned in the wake of a string of child sex abuse scandals.
Three gay cheers for Leo Varadkar! It is a big deal Leo, and we thank you for it.


Jive in the [415]     straight talk in a queer world.

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