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Everyone was very positive when I came out – Callan

COMEDIAN Oliver Callan revealed he has had a "very positive" experience in his home county of Monaghan after telling the nation live on television that he was gay. In the wake of TD Aodhan O Riordain's comments that he had encountered "latent homophobia" in Co Monaghan, Mr Callan said many people congratulated him after he spoke openly on RTE television.

"Where I expected to find rampant homophobia when I came out, I found none," said the Monaghan native. "People of all generations congratulated me."

But Brian Finnegan, editor of the 'Gay Community News', said it was not "all sunshine and roses" for people in gay communities throughout the countryside. "There is latent homophobia in small pockets of society," Mr Finnegan said. "Outside urban centres there is still an amount of homophobia and misunderstanding."

Fine Gael TD for Cavan-Monaghan Heather Humphreys said she wholly disagreed with Mr O Riordain's comments.

Mr O Riordain said he frequently visited Monaghan, sometimes "I just scratch my head at some of the . . . latent homophobia".

Ms Humphreys pointed out the county was "forward thinking" with Youth Work Ireland's Monaghan (YWI) branch last week launching a drop in support service for young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people.

Mary Lynch, regional director of the youth work Monaghan branch, said perhaps it was not a "Monaghan issue" so much as there was homophobia throughout the country.

"I wouldn't say it is particularly any worse in Co Monaghan than anywhere else," she said. "One of the hardest parts of being LGBT in Ireland is not feeling included or valued in the wider community. Invisibility is a big issue, especially rurally."

Irish Independent