Graham Norton: If I’d come out in Ireland I might be dead in a ditch

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Graham Norton on stage with the Special Recognition Award during the National Television Awards at The O2 Arena on January 25, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

Graham Norton has said that if he had come out as gay while he was living in Ireland, he could have died.

The chat show host moved to London from his home in Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, after university to train as an actor at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and said it was just as well he did.

The eight-time BAFTA winner, who revealed last month that he deleted Tinder because his dates were “broken” and “damaged” people, said there was simply no recognition of queer people growing up.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Graham Stuart and Graham Norton at the 21st National Television Awards at The O2 Arena on January 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

“There were no gay people, so you couldn’t be homophobic” (Tristan Fewings/Getty)

“Narrow-minded doesn’t cover it. It was un-minded,” he recalled, according to the Press Association.

“It didn’t exist! Ireland’s a great one for ignoring problems. There were no gay people, so you couldn’t be homophobic.

“It’s like there was no racism because there was no other race. We had to hate Catholics and Protestants because there was no one else to hate!”

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Presenter Graham Norton attends The Fashion Awards 2016 on December 5, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Norton said it would have been impossible for him to reveal his true sexuality in Ireland (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty)

He said that in that climate, it was impossible for him to reveal his true sexuality.

“If I had come out, it would have been more than difficult. I may have been dead in a ditch,” said Norton.

He was thankful that his parents eventually accepted him for who he is, adding that he understood why they were worried when he first came out.

“In my parents’ generation, if you saw a gay person in a drama, the chances are they weren’t that happy,” he said. “They were either the murder victim, a serial killer, or they’d kill themselves.”

Graham Norton presents The Graham Norton Show every week on the BBC (BBC)

Norton has built a hugely successful career since leaving Ireland (BBC)

“They didn’t live next door. They were there for a dark reason. To discover that’s the role your kid has cast themselves in is distressing.

“But what’s great is that my father, before he died, and my mum were both part of my world in London,” Norton continued.

“They met me and my partner at the time and have known my friends all those years. My mother is very much part of my whole world and doesn’t worry about me now.”

As well as no longer being on Tinder, the chat show host said earlier this year that he can’t use Grindr because of who he works for.

He said: “I couldn’t do Grindr, because you know, of what it is, and I work for the BBC.”

In July, it was revealed that Norton’s salary was cut by more than £200,000 this year — from £850,000-£899,999 to £600,000-£609,999 — as the BBC released documents showing that its top 12 highest paid stars were all men.