Belfast Telegraph

Gay community rallies in support of star Nuala McKeever: Trailblazer, role model and a beacon of diversity... comic hailed for decision to come out

Jeff Dudgeon

Chair and president of Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association

"I think for any group of people there have to be positive role models. The fact that someone feels comfortable to come out about her relationship and how it has given her joy in her life has got to be good. I think it's good in terms of Northern Ireland because it shows another positive role model.

"I think generally people are moving forward, not just in LGBT rights but in terms of all kinds of minority people. We are encouraged to see people comfortable with their own lives and what they are talking about."

Marcus Hunter Neill

Also known as drag queen Lady Portia

“Rather than a sexuality thing, this is more along the lines of love. It just proves that love transcends sexuality. You can’t help who you fall in love with, as the saying goes. It’s so true because when you are gay if you fall in love, you happen to fall in love with another man and that is who you are in love with.

“But what is to say that 20 years down the line that something else doesn’t come along and you find that same love but it happens to be with a woman.

“It doesn’t matter about sexuality as long as people have love in their life.”

Steve Williamson

Director of Cara Friend, LGBT support organisation

"It's so important not only for young people, but for older people who have never come out, to actually see positive LGBT role models in Northern Ireland.

"That is something we are so short of compared to the UK. In Northern Ireland, we face an issue of invisibility where the only role models are from outside.

"You can't overestimate the importance when someone in the public eye comes out saying I'm out, I'm happy, I'm proud and that is such a positive message. We need so much more of that here in Northern Ireland."

Mark Brown

Regional development officer for Gay Lesbian Youth NI at Cara Friend

"In Northern Ireland we never have any positive stories around LGBT issues for young people. I see on a daily basis how that impacts on their mental health and their relationships, even down to their attainment levels in education.

"Even things like the equal marriage campaign being defeated, there were very negative, derogatory tweets from ministers, that's what young people in Northern Ireland are subject to.

"When you see Nuala McKeever saying this is how I feel, it's great for young people."

Andrew Muir

Mayor of North Down

"I think it's important we build a society which accepts everyone regardless of background or sexual orientation.

"To have people in public life who are open in their sexuality helps to build that.

"I have sought to do that and be a mayor who represents everyone across North Down.

"Northern Ireland currently has no openly gay MLAs or MPs and we also have a serious under representation of women within politics in Northern Ireland.

"What we need to do is overcome that and build a society that cherishes diversity and values everyone."

John O'Doherty

Director of the Rainbow Project

"One of the biggest issues impacting on our community is invisibility. People like Nuala being open about their sexual orientation and being proud of who they are will help others accept and celebrate who they are.

"It is great to see another female non-heterosexual role model in Northern Ireland, particularly one as talented and articulate as Nuala McKeever.

"Nuala has been a lifetime supporter and advocate for LGBT issues and through her personal story has demonstrated how love knows no gender. I wish Nuala and her partner every happiness in the future."

Further reading

Actress Nuala McKeever: I've found love with a woman one year on from tragic death of my beloved Mike 

Nuala McKeever: How people here will keep fighting for gay marriage

Nuala McKeever: I've fallen in love with a woman 

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