RTE star Aengus: I get hate mail - and it goes straight into the bin
RTE broadcaster Aengus Mac Grianna has told of receiving verbally abusive and homophobic messages from members of the public.
The RTE anchor revealed he has been sent numerous letters over the years while working at the national broadcaster, but tries not to pay them any attention.
Mac Grianna, who will wed his long-term partner Terry Gill this June, said he considers hate mail one of the major down sides to being in the public eye.
“That's the nature of it and you do get odd things coming in from time to time,” Mac Grianna said. “Anything I've ever received has almost gone straight into the bin and forgotten about immediately, so I don't pay any time to it and I move on.”
It comes after the revelations that his newsroom colleague Sharon Ni Bheolain suffered a six-month ordeal at the hands of a stalker, who regularly sent vile emails and letters.
“Normally they're from people who are not very well and you look at it and just say, ‘okay this is a vile rant and they're not well', and leave it at that,” Mac Grianna said.
“There are always going to be people out there who don't like you. For any of us, working in television means you're in people's home and, rightly or wrongly, people feel that they know you. That's the business we're in, so you can't hide.”
He added: “For anybody who's in the public eye, that's one of the downsides – you're exposed and people know who you are.”
Mac Grianna came out about his sexuality after leaving school.
“Homophobia has many levels to it. Wouldn't it be great in a society where you've never had to check yourself, and your energies are going in to who you really are, rather than hiding who you really are?
“I didn't come out until I left school and it was the 80s, [when Ireland was] a very different place,” he said.
“But once you do it, I found that everything else fell into the right slot and I could start to be who I am.
“I came from a religious family and there were certainly concerns, but I didn't have a bad reaction from friends or neighbours.
“I know I'm lucky compared to others the same age as me.”
The Celebrity MasterChef runner-up became an instant internet sensation after footage of him touching up his make-up and fixing his tie was aired accidentally on RTE's digital news channel last year.
Mac Grianna told the Herald that he has experienced fame on another level since the incident.
“It's certainly changed things, there's not doubt about that. There's a higher level of interest in me now, and you just have to acknowledge that,” he said. “There are good and bad sides to it, mostly people just want to say hello and get a photograph. So mostly it's not intrusive.”