herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Aodhan opens up on gay slurs bullying ordeal

Aodhan O Riordain
Aodhan O Riordain

MINISTER of state Aodhan O Riordain has opened up about suffering from bullying while he was at school.

The Labour Party politician said that he had suffered from homophobic taunts while he was growing up and that his height made him a target for bullying behaviour.

"I suppose, like a lot of people going through the school system, I would have been at the end of receiving some bullying behaviour, particularly in primary school and secondary school," he said.

taller

"I suppose I used to be kind of taller than most people in my year so that kind of set you out as being somebody who sticks out."

Speaking RTE radio, Mr O Riordain said he was currently in Brussels talking on homophobic discrimination which reminded him of his tormentors.

Mr O Riodrain is married to journalist Aine Kerr and has a history of campaigning for marriage equality.

"Some of the stuff I would have gotten would have been homophobic taunts and the fact that my name is Aodhan O Riordain, I used to be called 'Gaydon O Queerdon'. And this sort of stuff would be constantly said at you and taunted at you.

"I used to have a paper round delivering the Northside People and I used to absolutely dread it because whenever I went around with my paper bag there'd be a number of people who'd follow you going door to door.

"You couldn't wait for the paper round to be finished.

"I used to put earphones in my ears to try and drown out the taunts that you would get and inevitably the batteries would run out," he added.

"This was back in the late 80s, early 90s, when everything was done by batteries and Walkmen. You'd pretend you couldn't hear.

"It was a difficult thing to go through. I think a lot of people went through it. I don't think I was alone," he added.

Mr O'Riordain said that he would get advice from family and friends to ignore the abuse or stand up for himself.

He would do both and the odd time he would lash out getting him into trouble.

Bullying

"When you're tall and seen to be taller than the people who are tormenting you, it doesn't look well when you're involved in altercations with someone who is of a smaller stature than you are," he said.

Mr O'Riordan has a junior ministership with responsibility for equality, new communities and culture, at the Department of Justice.

At a conference on tackling sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, Mr O Riordain called for a roadmap to achieve full equality for LGBTI people in the European Union and promised Ireland's support in such an initiative.

hnews@herald.ie

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