Gogglebox Ireland looks back at the days before decriminalisation in emotional episode

The stars of Gogglebox were shown an episode of Prime Time from 1993 featuring David Norris arguing with homophobes.

A split screen of an older woman, an older man and a younger man, all sitting on different chairs

Last night saw an eye-opening and emotional episode of Gogglebox Ireland, showing just how far the country has come since decriminalisation as it featured an archival episode of Prime Time where panelists gave their views on homosexuality.

As the Gogglebox cast settled down on their sofas for a special edition looking back at television through the years, presenter Olivia O’Leary popped up on their screens all the way from 25 years ago to say, “We’re going to talk tonight about being gay in Ireland.”

In an episode that seemed almost alien when looked at in today’s climate, there then followed an interview from 1993 with a young man speaking about the difficulties of living in a country where it was illegal to be gay. “At times it feels like you’re a second class citizen,” he shared.

Back in the Prime Time studio, David Norris held his own against panelist Brendan McGahon who announced, “I have to say quite bluntly that I believe it to be an abnormality,” while another audience member inevitably brought up Sodom and Gomorrah.

While thankfully all the cast were united in looking at the homophobic panelists as backwards, there were still moments that showed how those views still impact the community to this day.

Gay friends, Daithí and John, were particularly affected, with John saying, “You have to wonder, you know, how much this constant discussion of who we are and who we have the right to be as we were developing as teenagers affected us.”

Daithí replied, “I still have so many anxieties and so many insecurities around being gay based on conversations I heard when I was younger, or throw away comments that people would make about being gay or feminine.”

Daithí continued, “I resent the fact that I had to have a conversation with my parents saying ‘oh I like boys.'” John agreed, saying, “I resent the fact that none of my three brothers ever had to have the conversation that I had to have.”

While most of the cast described the homophobic panelists as dinosaurs and berated their outdated views, cast member Denis Moran admitted that back in 1993, that was the way people had been brought up to think.

“I’ve no doubt when I was growing up, being teenagers, we would have all been homophobic,” he said, “and it’s only being educated on it is how you would change your mind.”

For those who missed it, the episode of Gogglebox Ireland – ‘Looks Back Part 2’ – is available to view on the Virgin Media Player.

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