Saturday, 24 October 2009
CORK GAA star Donal Og Cusack, one of the finest and most decorated hurling goalkeepers of his generation, could just have become the unlikely catalyst for change in the attitudes of Irish society.
Donal Og, who has three All-Ireland final winning medals, has come out as gay and is believed to be the first elite male athlete in Europe to do so. He officially did so in his recently released autobiography, Come What May, and it has been the central story for Irish newspapers and phone-in shows all this week.
What's more unusual is that he did so more widely in the book's serialisation in the Irish Daily Mail -I'm not sure the Dacre-helmed British parent paper would do the same.
Rumours had been circulating about Cusack's sexuality for at least three years and indeed Tipperary fans had chanted homophobic songs at him during a championship game three years ago, but the media hoo-ha this week revealed a shift in attitude in the GAA.
The usually conservative top brass have been most favourable in their response to Donal Og's book, while a host of other figures have done the same. (See news digest below)
But, will this be a major signal of shift in opinion in an Ireland which is sthrowing off the yoke of oppressive Catholic theocracy? Perhaps not, homophobia comes from deeper instincts merely a religious root, but here's hoping it's the start. All must salute Donal Og's courage in coming out and facing-up to the eejits taunting him.
Here is a list of the best articles on the matter and below Donal talks about the book on the newly relaunched and reinvigorated Ryan Tubridy-helmed Late Late Show, which brilliantly played him onto a version of David Bowie's 'Rebel Rebel' reflecting Cork's nickname as the rebel county and Donal Og's courage.
David Sharrock in the Times
Mark Simpson at the BBC, (although the player pictured is not Donal Og)
Irish Independent op-ed piece
Tremendous response from the comments section of the Belfast Telegraph
The Herald's largely supportive op-ed