Irish senator opens up: I cried for weeks when my son came out

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

An Irish senator has opened up about his own struggle accepting his son’s sexuality – in a bid to convince people to support same-sex marriage.

The Republic of Ireland is set to vote on same-sex marriage on May 22.

All major political parties are backing a yes vote, but the Catholic Church is opposed – and polling found that nearly a quarter of people are still undecided on the measure.

Ahead of the vote, Fine Gael senator Eamonn Coghlan opened up about his own struggle to embrace his gay son.

The world champion athlete-turned-politician told a party LGBT meeting: “When I discovered my son, Michael was gay I was devastated. I cried for weeks. The hopes and dreams I had for my son were shattered. I felt guilty, almost as if I was to blame for him being gay.

“I tried to cover up my disappointment. While I hugged him, told him I loved him, I had to come to terms that, it was not about me but, about him and his life ahead.

“The big breakthrough for me was when some of Michael’s gay friends joined us on a family holiday in Spain. I got to know them and see how happy he was with his mates.

He added: “It is clear to me as a parent of a gay child that the marriage equality referendum is about voting for real people and their lives.

“It is not about politics or about voting for a particular party. It is about equality, removing rejection, removing exclusion, removing the guilt, shame and fear that gay people experience.

“We have to think of the person, their dignity, their validation, their human freedom to love and to live life to the full.

“I was lucky enough to marry the woman of my dreams. Who are we as a nation to deny our sons and daughters the basic right of marrying the person they love?”