Graham Norton has said that if he had of come out while living in Ireland, he may have ended up “dead in a ditch”.
Norton was giving his personal take on a strand in his new novel A Keeper highlighting a mother’s concern that her son might be gay – only to find, to her relief, that he isn’t.
“If you are a parent, you want the simplest life for your child. People face enough dramas in their lives, with finding jobs, relationships, whatever. Even if you’re the most tolerant ‘I love gay people’ sort of parent, it just means your child’s life is a little bit more complicated,” he reasons. “It’s not a homophobic reaction, it’s just a thing where you feel you’re going to have to look out for your kid a bit more than you would have.”
Norton then went on to recall the struggle of growing up in rural Ireland, remembering people’s attitudes toward homosexuality.
“Narrow-minded doesn’t cover it. It was un-minded. It didn’t exist! Ireland’s a great one for ignoring problems. There were no gay people, so you couldn’t be homophobic. It’s like there was no racism because there was no other race. We had to hate Catholics and Protestants because there was no one else to hate!
“If I had come out, it would have been more than difficult. I may have been dead in a ditch.”
When he came out to his parents, he suspected they just worried for him initially. “In my parents’ generation, if you saw a gay person in a drama, the chances are they weren’t that happy. They were either the murder victim, a serial killer, or they’d kill themselves. They didn’t live next door. They were there for a dark reason. To discover that’s the role your kid has cast themselves in is distressing.
“But what’s great is that my father, before he died, and my mum were both parts of my world in London. They met me and my partner at the time and have known my friends all those years. My mother is very much part of my whole world and doesn’t worry about me now,” he adds.
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