Belfast Telegraph

'He put his head in his hands...' Trimble's daughter on day she came out as gay to her father

Vicky Trimble (left) and Rosalind Stephens wed in Scotland
Vicky Trimble (left) and Rosalind Stephens wed in Scotland
Vicky Trimble (left) and Rosalind Stephens wed in Scotland
Vicky Trimble and Rosalind Stephens
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

The daughter of former First Minister David Trimble says she feels "lucky" that she was able to make her father re-evaluate his views on same-sex marriage.

Vicky Trimble (35) was recalling the moment she told her dad, who once voted against introducing gay marriage in Northern Ireland, that she was a lesbian.

Last week in the House of Lords the former Ulster Unionist leader spoke of how he was "forced" to change his position on the issue after his daughter married her girlfriend.

Vicky wed her partner Rosalind 'Ros' Stephens (38) at Achnagairn Castle in the Scottish Highlands in November 2017.

Lord Trimble walked his daughter down the aisle.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, she said her father had been "taken aback" and "put his head in his hands" when she told him in 2013 that she was gay.

"We were having a family discussion about equal marriage as the vote was coming up in Parliament to legalise it in England and Wales.

"Because I knew that dad was probably going to vote against it I felt that I needed to say something to try and show him otherwise.

"I wanted my parents to know that I was gay and accept who I was. I didn't like keeping it from them as I have a very good relationship with them both.

"I knew that dad would not be overjoyed or welcome it with open arms. My mum didn't seem surprised and I think maybe she had an inkling.

"I had been putting it off in my own head for a while, but when I told them it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

"A lot of parents have a much worse reaction to their child coming out."

Ros said she first met her future father-in-law while she was wrapped in a duvet and coming out of the bathroom of his London flat, where Vicky was living at the time.

"I came out of the toilet and said to him that I wasn't expecting anyone and he replied: 'Neither was I'," she recalled.

"We get on really well now and he's very supportive. He's always been really lovely and has become a father figure to me," added Ros, whose own dad passed away before she was born.

Originally from Yorkshire, Ros moved to London in 2000 and met her future wife at a burlesque night in the South Bank area of the city in 2013, just three months after Vicky arrived over from Northern Ireland.

"I wasn't feeling very happy in my work in Belfast and felt that there was a lot happening in London both career-wise and socially," Vicky said.

She adds that her sexuality was also a factor in her decision to relocate.

"I think people in London are generally a lot more open and I felt that being gay in Belfast was a bit difficult."

Vicky previously worked in finance but has taken a career break to support Ros in her photography business.

The couple, who live in east London, said they have experienced homophobia on numerous occasions in the city.

Lord Trimble said last week that introducing same-sex marriage and liberalising abortion in Northern Ireland were "delicate matters".

"I have found myself taking a particular position with regard to same-sex marriage," he told peers, "which was forced upon me when my elder daughter got married to her girlfriend.

"I cannot change that, and I cannot now go around saying that I am opposed to it because I acquiesced to it. There we are."

Vicky says she has not yet spoken to her dad since his comments in the Lords but had been "a little surprised" by them since he has always been supportive of her relationship with Ros. The pair said it was "upsetting" that their marriage is not currently recognised in Northern Ireland.

However, that may change with Westminster legislating for same-sex marriage and abortion reform if power-sharing is not restored at Stormont by October 31. Vicky said she would like to see Northern Ireland follow in the footsteps of the Republic, which legalised same-sex marriage in 2015.

"The people's vote there really showed the sweeping change of opinion and I'm hopeful that things will move forward in the same way in Northern Ireland," she added.

"It would be nice to be able to come home to a place that recognised our marriage, which isn't the case at the moment."

Asked if it was fair for Westminster to pass legislation on same-sex marriage instead of Stormont, Vicky added: "Whenever there is no working government in Northern Ireland, and hasn't been for quite some time, then I feel it is Westminster's place to legislate."

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