Last week, former Irish government minister Pat Carey came out as gay and urged voters to support same-sex marriage.
Carey, 67, was appointed as parliamentary member and the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs in 1997. He said he decided to announce his sexuality after health minister Leo Varadkar, 36, came out a few months earlier.
“A wave of young manhood would leave one side of the hall and go towards the women and you just grabbed whoever happened to be close to you because if you didn’t, someone else did,” Carey told the Irish Times in a recent interview. “I loved dancing. I loved rock and roll. I loved the fun.”
“I think we’re a more gentle society, we’re more tolerant,” Carey said, adding that the word “gay” wasn’t used when he was growing up in rural Ireland. “Ratifying the marriage equality referendum will help along that road and I frankly don’t think the sky is going to fall in.”
Though homosexuality was legalized in Ireland two decades ago, the Catholic Church still says supporting same-sex marriage would be “a grave injustice.”
“I think this referendum will be won by the mothers of Ireland,” Carey said, saying that he wished he had the confidence and courage to speak up earlier. “Maybe my perspective might be helpful to people my age. I’d say there are lots of men and women of my generation who have the same difficulty that I had in trying to come to terms with how you articulate your gender issues.”