TV3 political editor Ursula Halligan has said that, after going public about her sexuality, she now hopes to be able to meet the right person and get married.
The 54-year-old admitted that, before the referendum on marriage equality was announced, she had been resigned to going to her grave with her sexuality a secret. However, the referendum has spurred her to go public.
“I was surrounded by debate about the issues,” she told Today FM’s Anton Savage Show. “I found myself getting angry listening to debates and I was taking it very personally when I was looking up at the posters. You feel it is directed at you, because it is about my life. The referendum forced me to face the issue head-on. I realised I could not sit on the fence. It was just too personal.”
For almost 40 years, Ms Halligan had, as she put it, tried to lock that side of her away. That was after, in 1977, she found herself falling in love with a girl.
“It caused terrible, internal mental confusion,” she said. “I really felt I could not talk to anyone. I felt there must be something really bad about me, something really wrong with me. I had these lovely feelings but I just knew I could not express them. I repressed it. I thought ‘I just don’t want to be gay, I want to be normal’.”
She said teenagers want to be like everyone else.
“I thought I was the only freak in the world.”
Ms Halligan went public with her sexuality in an opinion piece published in The Irish Times yesterday. She revealed that in 1977, she wrote in her diary. “There have been times when I have even thought about death, of escaping from this world, of sleeping untouched by no-one forever,” she told Anton Savage.
“Before this referendum came along, I suppose I was resigned to going to my grave with that secret.
“I shiver to think there must be so many people who have done that, led incomplete lives and gone to their graves quietly because they were too embarrassed or too ashamed to talk about it.”
She had planned to go public two weeks ago but her brother Aidan died of a heart attack. When she came back to work last Monday, she was thinking about it when she got a text from her brother Peter, with one of Aidan’s favourite quotes from Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
“I had such a visceral reaction to the text that I knew I could not remain silent on this,” she said.
Ms Halligan’s hope is that 17-year-olds now will not find themselves in the position she did in 1977.
“We are facts of nature, we are not freaks of nature,” said Ms Halligan, who says she is a devout Catholic.
She told her siblings recently and that while they were supportive, she did need to make them understand how tough it was. She told them it was too easy to say: “So what, it’s 2015.”
“I said: ‘I know you are showing me love and respect but it is easy for you to say that because the automatic assumption in society is that everyone is heterosexual so hetrosexuals never have to come out, they don’t have to wrestle about this issue — gay people do, especially if they have grown up in the 1970s’,” Ms Halligan told Mr Savage.
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