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‘If the lads in school were on about girls, I would just nod'

June 12th, 2016 7:20 AM

By Southern Star Team

‘If the lads in school were on about girls, I would just nod' Image
Mícheál Ó Riordáin is a barman with a strong passion for equality issues. He has been the Cork Regional Co-ordinator with ShoutOut since 2013 and was a committee member of Yes Equality Cork. (Photo: John Minihan)

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Charlie Bird’s new book, A Day In May, tells the true life stories of the Irish people who fought for Marriage Equality in last year’s referendum. Here, Macroom man Mícheál Ó Riordáin describes what it was like coming out to his family and friends in West Cork

I’m twenty-five years old, from Kilnamartyra, west of Macroom. 

It is a nice, little tight-knit community. Growing up there was lovely. 

We had a small farm. I only came out at nineteen after knowing for years and staying in the closet, and never kind of venturing to have any type of relationship for fear someone would find out. It was like having a double life.

If the lads in school were on about girls I would just nod away and smile and go, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah. She’s a fine bird like.’ 

I would play along. 

Nobody would assume I was gay unless I told them. 

The first initial coming out that I did was to two close friends. 

And they were speechless, literally like, jaws almost on the floor. 

It hadn’t even crossed their minds ever. But everything was fine. My worst fears didn’t happen. 

Everyone who I came out to was amazing.

When I said that nobody ever thought I was gay, maybe my mother had an inkling. Mothers always do. 

It was funny, I came out to both my parents in the car. Separately. 

My mother was driving into Macroom, and she kind of said it in a roundabout way. Kind of out of nowhere. 

She brought it up like, saying, ‘whenever you settle down, no matter who it might be, I hope you will be happy.’ 

She said it in a gender neutral way. And I was like, ‘yeah, Mom, if I do settle down it will be with a man.’ 

And she’s like, ‘Oh I was thinking that alright.’

I had initially came out to my sister as being not straight, as being something else. I knew she would be fine. 

She’s got gay friends. And she was like, just go out and figure it out, and come back to me when you want. 

Then over the course of that summer I told my closest friends. 

Then after my mother I was driving out from Macroom with my Dad. 

And he goes, like very seriously, ‘Mike, do you have something to tell me?’ 

He had obviously heard it through the grapevine. And I was like, ‘Oh, eh, yeah, I suppose you have heard that I’m gay.’ 

And he said, ‘there’s been talk of that alright. But it makes no difference, you are still my son and I still love you. And once you’re happy, you are fine.’ 

And I was like, ‘Sound. Fine. That’s sound.’ It was incredibly straightforward.

My mother was having dinner with some of her friends. They have a Come Dine With Me kind of thing, where they go around to each other’s houses. 

And they were talking about their kids, and how they are looking forward to being grandparents. 

And Mom goes, ‘Oh yeah, I can’t wait for Mike to have kids.’ 

And one of the women was like, ‘What? Sure Mike’s gay. He can’t have kids.’ 

And Mom was like, ‘That doesn’t mean he can’t have kids. Like he can adopt, he can surrogate. Gay people have kids now.’ 

And her friends were like, ‘Oh yeah, I suppose. Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ 

It’s about just breaking down these tiny little barriers when they just kind of pop up. My Mom’s amazing at doing that. 

Like at Pride in Cork. I was organising Marriage Equality’s presence at Pride. So I asked her did she want to come and march in Pride. 

And she was like, ‘Yeah, sure. Why not.’ So I had Mom at Pride with me. 


Taken from A Day In May – Real Lives, True Stories by Charlie Bird, Merrion Press, proceeds benefit Console. 

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