Lee O’Reilly’s coming out happened on Instagram, which sounds very 2020, but, he told Ray D’Arcy, he didn’t do it that way because of Covid:
“The main reason for doing it, well, there were loads of reasons for doing it, but one of the main reasons was I didn’t want to repeat myself so many times to people.”
So it was an efficiency measure, in effect. And although some of Lee’s friends knew he was gay, nobody ever said it, so a short coming out video on Instagram is now there to clear things up. Lee has known he’s gay since he was about 10, he says, but he didn’t want to think about it for a long time and went through the motions when he was in his teens.
“I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to do anything. I just put it off and I went with the normal thing: I went out with girls, I went to the discos, I did all that.”
When he was 18, Lee didn’t get into the College course he wanted and he was really upset about that.
“Anytime I was upset about something, it was like being gay was just another thing on top of that.”
Lee was in a bar in town with a friend of his, having a few drinks, and he just started crying, even though he insists he’s not an emotional person at all. Everything, he told Ray, just hit him at once:
“I told her, I was like, ‘Look, I’ve felt this way for years. I haven’t told anyone.’ And that was the first person I ever told. And I woke up the next day and I was like, ‘Oh my God, why did I tell her?’”
He texted his friend the next morning asking her not to tell anyone what he’d said to her because he reckoned he wasn’t ready to come out at that stage. Now, two years later, at 20, Lee is ready to tell everyone. Well, everyone with an Instagram account.
Ray was intrigued at the notion of Lee keeping his sexuality secret for almost 10 years and asked him if he thought about it every day. The answer was sometimes he thought about it every week and some weeks he thought about it every day. He worried that he wouldn’t be accepted if he came out.
“I always grew up with, like, very, like, straight male mates, like, you know, just lads, like. And I went to a school where it was all boys. I went to a secondary school where it was all boys as well. And like, I don’t know, I just thought people wouldn’t accept me or, just, I’d be looked at differently. It just panicked me to think about it, so I just avoided it.”
Lee came out to his mother and father last month (maybe they’re not on Instagram?) He told them that he liked lads and wondered if it was a surprise to them.
“And they were like, ‘Em, it doesn’t completely surprise us, but I guess we weren’t expecting it or whatever.’ And I was like, ‘Does that change anything?’ And they said, ‘No, it doesn’t change anything.’”
You can hear Ray and Lee’s full chat, including how Lee’s older relations reacted to him coming out and how he made his coming out Instagram video, by going here.
Niall Ó Sioradáin
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