Wednesday 24 May 2017

Talk to family, GAA star tells gay youngsters

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The first openly gay GAA star, Donal Og Cusack, has urged youngsters confused about their sexual identities to confide in their families.

The hurling star stressed that telling his family and friends that he was gay was one of the best decisions he ever made.

Cusack (33) -- speaking to 600 schoolchildren and teachers at a Cork Mental Health Foundation event at the weekend -- said he was taken aback by the incredible support shown to him.

Last year, Cusack confirmed he was gay in his best-selling sports memoir. Now, the GAA star has urged any youngster uncertain about their sexuality to confide in their family.

"If I am honest, I hadn't always been comfortable with my sexuality -- in the early days I was worried about what people would think. I was worried in case it became an issue.

"But I will say this to anyone who is confused -- do not worry about it. Because everything will work out in the end.

"Talk to people -- because I was afraid to talk to people in the early days. But I can guarantee, and this is the truth, that there were no adverse reactions from any of the friends that I talked to."

Cusack acknowledged he had been the target of homophobic abuse from fans during some matches -- but he said he dismissed it the way he dismissed previous abuse he was subjected to from the terraces.

He said the staunch support of his Cork hurling teammates made all the difference in confirming he was gay.

Last year, Cusack revealed he refused to take the "easier way" of hiding his sexuality for fear of public criticism and the possible reaction of conservative elements in the GAA world.

Concern

The goalkeeper said he was never willing to accept it was "easier to go the other way" of having a wife and children, despite knowing he was gay.

Instead, he insisted on telling his Cork teammates the truth -- and was deeply moved by how they rallied to support him.

The Cork goalkeeper said that, as news of his sexuality emerged, he received tremendous support from the Cork hurlers, his friends and neighbours.

He said his biggest concern was that his teammates and friends heard the story from him -- and not via a tabloid newspaper.

Irish Independent

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