'There are times I wish I wasn't gay' - Priest speaks of his struggle to conceal his sexuality
A gay priest from Northern Ireland has told how his efforts to keep his sexuality a secret left him feeling suicidal.
The priest said he contacted BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan show because he had no one else to talk to about his situation.
An actor’s voice was used during the interview to preserve the priest's anonomity.
At one point during the interview the priest said "I'm actively thinking of killing myself" because of the church and society’s attitude towards his sexuality.
He said he has known he was gay since he was ten years old and recalled that growing up gay in Northern Ireland was “very, very difficult”.
"For someone to say it’s a lifestyle choice is nothing short of a disgusting slur because there are times I wish I wasn’t gay, so that dismisses that whole theory in my view."
The priest said he and other gay people were adversely affected by the use of this argument in the recent same-sex marriage debate in Northern Ireland.
"They do not comprehend what that does to a person psychologically," he said.
Earlier this month a majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members voted in favour of same-sex marriage for the first time, but the Democratic Unionist Party then blocked the motion.
It is now the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is not legal.
The priest said his sexuality “partly” pushed him into the priesthood, adding that many other men have entered the priesthood as a “cover”.
He said he accepted the rules of his profession when he entered the priesthood but has struggled more with it as he has aged.
The priest said he has never had a relationship or sex with anyone, but knows some gay priests who have.
“You come back into an empty house no matter what time of the day, you want to share the high points and the low points of the day.
"You want to have conversation with someone, share intimacy with someone, which is not there, which I find very difficult and I’m sure many priests find difficult.”
He said he had chosen to speak out about his situation in a bid to urge the church to address its attitude towards celibacy and “take a more compassionate view” towards gay people, many of whom are religious.
Anyone affected by the above article can contact: The Samaritans on 116 123