Brian Dowling says homophobia on his surrogacy journey is from 'uneducated' people
Brian Dowling says the hate and homophobia he has received while on his surrogacy journey comes from people who are 'not educated enough'.
The two times-Big Brother winner also still battles feeling 'ashamed' of himself for wanting a family as a gay man, having been made to feel wrong for who he loves.
The presenter and his husband, dancer Arthur Gourounlian, are expecting their first child through Dowling's sister as a surrogate, and Dowling opened up about the process to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time.
He spoke about not only hate on social media but also fertility clinics and adoption agencies in Ireland having 'no interest' in talking to them once they realised they were a gay couple.
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"The amount of homophobia that we have received and been experiencing through the pregnancy announcement has been — all the hate we've been getting — it's just un-educated, religious homophobia," he said.
WATCH: Brian Dowling on Big Brother legends, same sex surrogacy and coming out in the early 00s
He said when a heterosexual couple went through the process there was no such 'agenda' because: "Straight people are allowed have children."
But he realised he needed to 'calm down' and that the online abuse 'meant nothing' when someone sent him a direct message on Twitter which said: "The day that [you] chose to be gay, is the day [you] give up the right to be parents."
Dowling said: "When I read that I went: 'Okay, so they still think it's a choice.' There's no point in engaging with someone who is not educated enough.
"So that's when I went okay, this is actually funny. You don't choose to be gay... 'It was 1985...'
"It's like shut the f**k up. That's not how it works, you fool. You can't have a conversation with people like that."
He and Thornton agreed there was a 'bit of a bubble' in the entertainment industry for gay men, which wasn't reflected elsewhere.
"It's applauded and we're loved for it," he said.
Listen to the full episode to hear Brian talk about winning Big Brother and what it meant for his relationship with his parents
Dowling explained in the same episode how he had convinced TV execs to let him dance in a same-sex couple and make history on Ireland's Dancing with the Stars in 2020.
But calling a hospital in Ireland to ask about his sister delivering their baby there he said he still had the feeling he was going to be told 'no, bye' when they realised he was gay.
He was told by the hospital they were 'all about family' and Dowling said he didn't know why, even at 43, he still felt like people could turn around and say 'no' on such an issue.
"You don't feel welcome," he explained. "Sometimes you feel like what you're doing is wrong, and you should be ashamed of yourself for wanting what straight people want.
"Because we're not allowed to, because we're gay. It's a feeling that is inside of you, and it never leaves you no matter what you do.
"Or it's just a thing that is in you, because you're made to feel wrong."
Explaining that his younger sister had offered early on in their conversations on starting a family, Dowling described her as having put her 'whole life on hold for them'.
He described her as 'absolutely incredible' but said he and Gourounlian had been lucky in where they had gone for the process because their nurse spoke fluent French, as does his husband so they could communicate quite well.
At the moment there is no specific legislation in Ireland covering surrogacy.
"I think what makes people from my community vulnerable is having to go to different countries where the regulations are really lax when it comes to surrogacy and pregnancy," he said.
On calling a fertility clinic in Ireland, which came on a recommendation from a friend, and therefore made him feel 'safe' he said, 'they had no interest'.
He explained: "As soon as they realised who I was, and I'm gay, they did not want to advise me on surrogacy in Ireland, and I felt really angry because I'm like, you're Irish.
"This is your thing. I'm Irish. I live here. Advise me where to go."
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He reeled off a list of all the things he wouldn't have been able to do had he not had such a close relationship with his surrogate.
"I would not have been able to rest with not being able to see the surrogate," he said. "Spend time with the surrogate, go shopping with the surrogate, feel the surrogate's stomach, I can do that my sister.
"We go for massages together, we go shopping together. She's living with us at the moment, because she's so bad, her legs and her back are so sore. She's off work. So she's been recuperating here.
"So I'm so lucky and so blessed we can do that."
While the couple have not revealed which of them is the biological father, they used a donor egg for the surrogacy.
Of his sister, Dowling said: "She's not in a relationship, she wasn't drinking, she was 32 [when the process started].
"She put her whole life on hold for us, for absolutely nothing. For just wanting to do it for love. It's absolutely incredible."
WATCH: Brian Dowling on how Big Brother helped him come out to his parent