Thursday 27 October 2016

Anna Nolan: Few things are as stressful as coming out as a gay person - I even lost my hair

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa and his boyfriend Eduard (AP)
Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa and his boyfriend Eduard (AP)
Still from the RSA ad
Michael Fassbender
Ireland v Italy

Why would a man in his mid 40s come out as being gay? Why would he risk his job, his reputation and possibly many of his relationships? What would he gain?

What possessed Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa to tell the world that he was gay and that he had a boyfriend - the day before the biggest gathering of Vatican officials in Rome?

Shakespeare wrote "To thine own self be true". Authenticity is something we have to constantly reassess throughout our lives. When we are not 'being true to ourselves' the effect can be extremely harmful.

Some believe that holding onto secrets will causes people to have difficulty with memory and learning. And the excess release of cortisol as a result of the stress will cause a host of other ailments.

I remember when I went through the coming-out process when I was a novice nun. The complex feelings had a huge effect on my health. While I was grappling with faith, vocation, sexuality and the future...my hair began to fall out. My teeth also became very weak and two fell out.

It was a very frightening period because I had mapped out a life for myself and it was all thrown into the air.

It is amazing that even though we might think we are managing to get through an anxious time in our lives our bodies let us know that all is not right. If we don't listen to what is going on inside, our brain takes over and tells us to cop on by giving us signs on the outside.

So after I left the convent and took time to explore my sexuality my hair stopped falling out and I became genuinely happy. I told family and friends and they were all supportive. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

I have huge admiration for Monsignor Charamsa. He has taken on the might of the biggest institution of the world - the Catholic Church.

He has been authentic, true to himself and as a result has been sacked.

No doubt the man knew that this would happen but he has sacrificed his career and, in a way, his life as he knows it for speaking out.

You would do the same, wouldn't you? If you knew that there were hundreds of gay men and women in religious life who are also living a lie, you'd surely speak up. If you knew that the Catholic Church condemns homosexuality (don't ever buy that 'love the sinner hate the sin' rubbish) you would leave, right? Or would you keep your head in the sand, continue life as half a person and not upset the apple cart?

Coming out, acknowledging who you really are, is tough. Even after all that we have gone through in this country it's still difficult to tell family and friends that you are gay.

But it's worth the trouble. I guarantee that if you asked Monsignor Charamsa if he regretted what he has done, he would say no. He would feel that a huge weight has lifted and he can tell the world that he is being true to himself.


They're horrific and haunting, but we cannot turn away from car crash ads


There is a very good ad on the television at the moment. It deals with a subject that can make us turn away from the screen - dangerous driving.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) ad, called 'Anatomy of a Split Second', shows lots of moments that take just one second.

We see a child dropping an ice cream onto grass. We see a hedge being clipped. We see a burger being flipped on a BBQ.

Then we see a driver looking down for one second as he texts - and the results are catastrophic.

Dangerous driving ads over the years have been tough to watch. It is a skill to be able to balance making the audience sit up and take note, but not upsetting them too much. I will never forget the ad some years back which showed a car flipping over and landing in a garden where children are playing. The father lifts his child, who has been struck by the car, and screams.


There was also the ad which left a girl paralysed after a car smashed into her and boyfriend. The song used in the ad, 'I Can't Take My Eyes Off You' was horrendously haunting.

But the best dangerous driving ad I ever saw was made in New Zealand. It also focused on time as a way of getting the message across.

In this ad a father is about to pull out of a road and a car comes speeding towards him. He has a child in the back and a crash is about to happen.

Then time stops and the driver gets out of the car to talk to the driver of the speeding car. He tells him his child is in the back. The other driver tells him he is sorry but he cannot do anything to change what is about to happen.

It's heartbreaking, as the two drivers return to their cars, time returns to normal and the crash happens.

The RSA have done great work over the years to encourage safer driving. And they have done an amazing job with 'The Anatomy of a Split Second'.

Time for second bite at Apple movie


So we're about to have a Steve Jobs-off. Ashton Kutcher (inset) played the Apple boss a couple of years ago in a movie and seemingly it wasn't great.

Now we have a polo-necked, roundy-glassed Michael Fassbender (left) taking on the role - but will he be any better? I feel we have been Jobbed-out, over-Jobbed, whatever. Do we need any more information on this man?

The trailer is exciting, but then all trailers are these days - a low thundering soundtrack, lots of fading to black, tonnes of strops being thrown building up to a crescendo of ear-busting noise.

Will it be worth it? We'll just have to see - but I won't hold my breath for a cinema classic.


At least the set was worth watching


I'm LOVING the TV3 coverage of the Rugby World Cup. I think Matt and the panel are doing an incredible job. And I love the set. 

It was designed by a pal, Anita Barrett, who has designed many of the sets you see on Irish television. It's smart and pretty, but in a rugby sort of way.

Now I know that some folk are not happy with the amount of advertising between the matches, but this is a small price to pay for some fresh, enthusiastic sports punditry.

As for Ireland's match against Italy last weekend, we'll ignore for a moment that they produced the lowest-winning score of the tournament so far. Onwards and upwards lads, bring on the French!

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