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I love it that the Rose of Tralee is gay, and that it's no big deal

I met my mother for lunch on Sunday. We went to a lovely place where she had the soup and I had the roast beef.

We caught up on family news and gossip. From Nicki Minaj to Christmas plans, it was a typical catch up.

I spoke about my recent trip to Edinburgh and we told each other what we had bought for our upcoming trip to Sicily: she, one comfy kaftan. Me, one pair of red jeans.

It was a normal round up of news, with the usual laughs. At dessert, she looked at me and said: "I love that the Rose of Tralee is gay."

And she loved that she hadn't told anyone during the competition - that it all came out afterwards.

equality

I got a text at midnight on Sunday from my pal Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh that said: "I love that the Rose of Tralee is gay."

And I got further messages from people that day saying how they loved that the Rose of Tralee was gay.

There was a lot of love going around.

After that lunch with my mum I attended the march for Marriage Equality.

And it struck me how timely it was that Maria Walsh, the Boston Rose, confidently gave the news that she wasn't like any other Rose before.

This march was hopefully the last one before marriage equality is passed by referendum and I thought of all the people who had worked tirelessly to campaign for equal rights.

From Panti to LGBT Noise, from politicians to parents, there are many heroes who have committed themselves to being vocal and visible in changing the law.

The announcement by Maria Walsh is a tiny little cherry on this campaigning cake - but a significant one.

In a competition that has been the epitome of traditional, old Ireland, the winner this year is a gay woman.

Middle Ireland has had to confront the notion that a lovely lady competition doesn't have to only have the girls who want to marry and have the customary 2.4 children.

It can have lovely gay women who want to marry and have 2.4 children.

bastions

In one way, it's no biggie that the Rose of Tralee is gay.

In another way it's a massive shift in what is often seen as one of the last bastions of old Ireland.

The normality of it all goes to show that there is nothing to fear when Marriage Equality comes in.

Gay men and women will be able to do what everyone else can do, and it will be no more weird than a Rose - gay or straight - doing a jig, reading a poem or singing an Oirish tune.


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