Ulster TV legend reveals he was spat at after coming out

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Northern Ireland TV presenter Julian Simmons has revealed he has been a victim of homophobic abuse.

In an interview with the Sunday Life, he said that he had been spat at in the street just days after coming out last summer.

Mr Simmons, one of the best-known TV personaliltites in the province, has been a continuty announcer on ITV channel Ulster Television for decades.

He told the paper:

“I was standing at traffic lights and a van went past and a guy shouted out of it ‘There’s that gay fella from UTV’, and spat at me.

“It didn’t land on me – it landed on the woman beside me – which was pretty inconvenient.

“It’s horrible but you just have to say ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ because I could have that attitude.”

Simmons, who has been working at UTV for more than 25 years, added that he had developed a thick skin to deal with such situations.

However, he admitted:

“There is a bit of me that is easily hurt. These days though, you learn not to let that come to the front.”

Although currently single, the popular presenter revealed he had had his heart broken many times, saying:

“I’m not cynical but I just accept the fact that nothing lasts forever and I just enjoy the first flush of it when it hits as it doesn’t get any better than that.

“I’ve had my heart broken umpteen times and I do lose my heart easily, but these days I have learnt. It hasn’t happened in a brave few years.”

Simmons came out last July, telling the Belfast Telegraph:

“I’m gay, everyone knows I’m gay and they don’t care. It’s not what defines me, it’s just part of who I am.”

However, he admitted he had never told his mother Pearl, who died on Christmas Eve in 2006, about his sexuality although he said she had possibly guessed the truth.