TV host and Big Brother legend Brian Dowling talks to Kate about how his first appearance on the reality show in 2001 helped him embrace his sexuality and come out to his Irish parents.
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BRIAN DOWLING: I remember being afraid to tell my parents that I was gay for fear of them disowning me. I think it's an insecurity in anyone that is coming to terms with their sexuality, and I feel there was two versions of Brian Dowling, the one that was working at Stansted Airport and Ryanair that was fully out, and the one that would come home to my mom, my dad, and my six sisters in rural Ireland, an hour from Dublin, in the country, where we had no idea what gay was. We had no idea what homosexuality was, and I remember my sister told my parents two days before. And I rang her the next day and asked, her how did they take it?
And Michelle said, oh, they were fine about it. And I went, really? And I rang them from the crew room at Ryanair, and I said, I'm gay. And my mom asked me, was I trying to be fashionable? And I thought, no?
I spoke to her one more time the morning I was going into the house, and that was it. And then those nine and a half weeks played out the way they did. Looking back on it now, I go, I was lucky I was so accepted by the voting public in England and in Ireland. Because I then thought, well, my parents have to be OK with it. Because if this is a popularity contest, and people think I'm great, and they're voting for me to win, my parents will accept me.
I remember leaving that house. I don't remember the fireworks, people, things going off, and then I remember embracing my mom and dad. And that was the first real embrace of who I really was as their son. I get goose pimples now. I was like, this is who I am. You've witnessed who I am, and that hug to me meant so much. Because it was genuine.
There was no more hiding Kate. We never, ever had a conversation apart from that one time on the phone about my sexuality. It was never, ever brought up, again, because I was totally embraced.