Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

GAA star Donal Og: Gay slurs have driven my mother away from games

Donal Og Cusack

The mother of hurling star Donal Og Cusack has been forced to stop attending his games because of the stress of hearing homophobic abuse shouted at him from the terraces.

The Cork player has revealed that heckling bigots have ruined match days for his mother, who now stays at home.

Donal Og, who spoke publicly about being a gay sportsman this week, has admitted that while he never lets the abuse get to him, he hates what it does to his family and team-mates.

His account of the anti-gay abuse directed at him is the latest revelation to come from his forthcoming autobiography, Come What May. He is due to talk about the book on the Late Late Show on Friday.

Donal Og recalled the moment he was waiting to take a free at a championship game in Semple Stadium, when a man started up a hate-filled chant on a megaphone.

Team-mate Diarmuid O'Sullivan later asked guards to throw the culprit out and Denis Walsh wrote him a letter about it.

"And that's what gets to you," Donal Og said. "Other people. I leaned over the free and took it and struck it well. I have trained for this, but my father is in the back of my mind.

"Yerra though, he's tough, he'll get through it."

But, he then revealed: "My mother doesn't go to games anymore. The stress is too much.

"My sister Treasa has been deeply upset a few times by what she has heard.

"I hate what it does to those around me, especially when it doesn't hurt me at all."

Despite the abuse he has had to endure, he said he got the feeling that "something good" should come of it. He said he accepted it was "human nature" and was not going to change.

He developed a mental strategy for dealing with it -- "trigger points" so that when he hears abuse positive thoughts come into his head instead.

"Mostly it's just the same f***ing thing," he said. "The fellas that want to hurt you will go for the personal stuff. Calling you queer, ingenious stuff like that.

"I can't put my finger on when the abuse about my personal life started, funnily enough. I hear it all the time, though -- Ballygunner in a challenge game this year, Kilkenny this year, when I walked onto the field in Clarecastle for a training session."

But a defiant Donal Og added: "It makes no difference to me if you call me Brokeback... and if there are a hundred or a thousand hurlers or rugby players or camogie players out there in their teens, struggling with the idea of what they are, I hope they'll know that fools with megaphones or runny mouths just don't count."

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