Kevin Sharkey has entered his bid for the Irish Presidency, and if he is successful he would make history as Ireland’s first openly bisexual black President.
Sharkey, who was adopted, spent the entirety of his youth as the only black person in 1960’s Killybegs. Almost overnight he was propelled into television stardom as he became a presenter for RTE’s 1980s show, Mega Mix, but not before he posed nude for a gay magazine. Sharkey told GI Magazine in 2002 that “A little voice inside me said, ‘You might regret this in years to come,’ but at the time, I hadn’t anywhere to live. I made a resolution: I was stint, so I had to do it, but I wasn’t going to regret it.’
The photos were picked up by the Irish tabloids, but the whole affair soon blew over with minimal impact on Sharkey’s career. Sharkey stuck with Mega Mix for two years it, before he found himself on the other side of the lens as a celebrity photographer capturing the likes of, Seal and Boy George. He then tried his hand at painting and counts Kanye West among his many celebrity clients.
During his early days of TV stardom, Sharkey kept his sexuality private but later came out as openly bisexual having had long-term relationships with both men and women. In 2010 he was engaged to Italian art dealer Carmen Sant Angelo before he told the Independent that they “decided they made better friends than lovers”.
Fast forward to 2018 and Sharkey’s career took an unlikely turn when he entered his bid for the Irish Presidency in March. He told councillors that electing a black president would send a message to racists after he revealed that he was the victim of a racial slur at a Kilkenny Council meeting. He described racism as “one of the most awful things you could experience” adding that “To nominate a black president in Ireland by the people, I can think of no better message to send, not only to the racists, but the people coming here looking for a better life”.
While Sharkey’s rhetoric seems to point to an end of racism, his vision of Ireland is one that is “predominantly white”. He has expressed anti-immigrant sentiment, saying he believes in one policy – “Ireland first” and declaring that Ireland should “wake up” to “the threat of immigration”.
Another feature of Sharkey’s vision for Ireland involves mini famine villages popping up all over the country, featuring “red-haired girls playing the harp in the corner of every village, someone cooking cabbage, or someone burying someone outside like they used to in the old days”. Sharkey called his famine-themed villages a “gold nugget”.
Sharkey is also a Trump supporter, admiring the US President for not killing “as many people as the rest of them (previous American presidents)”. Sharkey admires Trump’s work ethic, crediting Trump for giving up “that beautiful wife and those games of golf to come in and put in a few hours”.
Sharkey and the other presidential hopefuls now have less than 28 days to secure 20 signatures from TDs and Senators, or to gain the support of four county councils.
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.