Brendan Courtney: 'A Yes vote would make all the grief worthwhile'
Presenter-turned-entrepreneur Brendan Courtney has revealed a 'Yes' vote would mean "everything" to him personally and professionally.
As the country turns out to vote in one of the most controversial referendums in Irish history today, the broadcaster urged voters to say 'Yes' to marriage equality.
"A 'Yes' vote would mean everything for me - it would mean everything I've had to put up with over the years would be worth it," Brendan told the Herald.
"I was the first openly gay presenter in Ireland and I was only able to do that because I'm very lucky to have a very loving family who made me feel safe and assured me that it was okay to be who I am."
The former Off the Rails presenter now runs fashion label Lennon Courtney and style site Frockadvisor with his former co-host Sonya Lennon and said that a 'Yes' vote in today's election would be good for business in Ireland.
"My job at the moment is to grow a business internationally and for Irish people to vote 'Yes' to equality would send such a positive message to other countries, and build confidence and stability in how Ireland is viewed," the style guru explained.
"We have the chance to come across as a forward-thinking, modern European country that is worth doing business with, and that means a lot."
While he's in a long term relationship, Brendan admitted he's not sure if he will wed, but still wants the option to make the decision himself.
"It's a personal choice to get married, and I suppose maybe one day I might consider it. But that's not the point - the point is that we should at least have the choice".
The fashion designer has been actively campaigning for the 'Yes' side and was recently targeted by cruel bullies who posted hate mail to his business.
After suffering years of abuse, Brendan hopes that the referendum being passed will help to eliminate bullying among both children and adults.
"It's about sending a message to Irish children that although everyone is different, that doesn't make some more valuable to Irish society than others," he said.
"It would mean that something would come from all the bulls**t and abuse that I have taken over the years."