Saturday 22 October 2016

TV3’s Ursula Halligan: I only told my family I'm gay recently

Ursula Halligan
Ursula Halligan

TV3’s Ursula Halligan has publicly come out as a gay person just a week before the same sex marriage referendum.

The political editor with the  television station has called for a “Yes” vote next Friday and said she has received numerous messages of support since her sexuality emerged this morning.

She first revealed she was gay in an Irish Times article today. Ms Halligan said that over the years, as she watched siblings and friends get engaged and married, she distracted herself by studying or working.

“Emotionally, I have been in a prison since the age of 17; a prison where I lived a half-life, repressing an essential part of my humanity, the expression of my deepest self; my instinct to love,” she said.

Speaking this morning, she told how the upcoming same sex marriage referendum prompted her to reveal her sexuality.

“I was surrounded by debate. The issue was on radio, it was on the television. People were talking about it.

“I found myself sometimes getting angry listening to debates, and I was taking it very personally, when I would look up at posters. You can’t help but take it personally  because, you feel it is directed at you. Because it is about my life.

“The referendum forced me to confront the issue head on. I realised I couldn’t sit on the fence. It was just too personal. It was my life.  I knew this was a big historic moment, and I thought, I cannot remain silent on this issue.

“I had planned to do this about two weeks ago, and my brother Aidan died suddenly of a heart attack and I obviously put everything aside. When I came back to work on Monday, I looked again at what I had written, and I wondered was it too late? Should I bother going ahead,” Ms Halligan said on The Anton Savage Show on Today FM.

“At that point, when I was thinking about it, I got a text from another brother Peter.

“He quoted one of Aidan’s favourite quotes.

“He used to quote Martin Luther King and the quote was: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.’”

“When Peter texted me that, I knew, I had such a visceral reaction to the text, I thought I had no choice. I can’t remain silent on this,” she said.


“I thought if it helped even one 17-year-old girl or boy to cope with any anxiety they were feeling about their sexuality, well then so be it.

“I thought the only way I could do it was to tell the truth, the full truth, because that’s the only way we move on.”

Ms Halligan revealed she had only told some family members in recent days.

“I have only told my brothers and sisters in the last few days. I had told Aidan just before Christmas. I told my mum about a year-and-a-half ago. But then I pretty much went back into the bunker,” she said.

“I did tell a friend some years ago, but I was couching it in terms that ‘I might be, or I could be, or maybe I’m not. Maybe I haven’t met the right man’, because I really didn’t want to believe it myself.

“The hardest thing was accepting it myself.”

Urusla said she had received “beautiful, warm” responses from her family. She added TV3 have been wonderful.

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