Ireland: Rose of Tralee reveals she is gay

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The new Rose of Tralee has revealed that she is gay.

Maria Walsh, who took the crown in the traditional Irish festival competition last week, came out in an interview with the Irish Sun on Sunday.

Unlike traditional beauty pageants, the Rose of Tralee is meant to be a good role model in addition to “lovely and fair”, as befits the Irish folk song it is named for.

She said: “The Rose of Tralee is about celebrating women’s intelligence, careers, their volunteer work. The question of sexuality never came up. To me, being gay is normal; it’s natural.”

“I’m not ashamed of my sexuality by any means.

“I’m confident in who I am as a person. I told my parents and they were supportive, as I knew they would be.”

The 27-year-old Journalism graduate, of Philadelphia, said that she had recently ended a two-year relationship with another woman.

The festival’s executive chair, Anthony O’Gara, added he expects the revelation to “create some interest, hopefully all positive” for the event.