Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Easier to be gay than Protestant

Comic tells of agony growing up in Ireland

Popular comedian Graham Norton has said that growing up gay in Ireland was easier than being Protestant because he was constantly made to feel different because of his religion.

Popular comedian Graham Norton has said that growing up gay in Ireland was easier than being Protestant because he was constantly made to feel different because of his religion.

The 41-year-old presenter has lifted the lid on his private life for the first time in an autobiography to be published later this month.

In the life story, So Me, Norton said he was aware of his sexuality early on and didn't fit in with other boys at Bandon Grammar School in Cork because of it.

"I donned rugby costumes and clattered down the pitch with the rest of them," he wrote.

"But I was fooling no-one. They were like a pack of animals who smelled blood. It made me feel very excluded and lonely - it's very hard to understand how alienating it is for a boy who can't do what boys are meant to do."

But it appears his religion was more of a stigma.

"I was sent to Protestant schools, so I never knew the neighbourhood kids, who were Catholic. But before I started school the other kids didn't know I was a freak Protestant boy and happily played with me."

Norton went on to University College Cork where he earned an arts degree. Shortly afterwards, he left Ireland and headed for drama school in London.

"My overall impression of my time in Ireland is just waiting to leave. The life I was living - this life of marriages, funerals and the price of land - was not my beautiful life," he states.

Norton is now regarded as one of the most popular entertainment presenters on British television and has his own waxwork image in Madame Tussauds.

His weekly show, So Graham Norton, went nightly last year, becoming V Graham Norton, and pulled in an audience of three million viewers a night.

He is currently planning a new show to air on BBC and is working on a project for the US channel, Comedy Central. He ends his book in philosophical mode.

"There is not a single certainty in my future, yet I feel very calm," he said.

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