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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 28 May, 2020

First Dates' Susan tells of the turmoil she endured as a closeted mother-of-two

Susan told Ryan Tubridy about the whirlwind years which saw her come out of the closet and appear on national television.

A MOTHER OF two has opened up about the mental health agony she suffered as she struggled with the fact she was gay.

Susan O’Neill (52) appeared on tonight’s episode of RTÉ’s First Dates and described how the suicide of a close friend was the catalyst she needed to live her life as a proud, lesbian woman.

Speaking to the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTE Radio One, she said:  ”A very good friend who was gay and who was also from a religious background took her own life and it was then I said I’m not doing this anymore. It was in turmoil all the time.”

O’Neill, who is originally from Bray, Wicklow, but who spent most of her life in Canada, said she has not suffered one panic attack since coming out, a health worry which had blighted her formative years.

Despite her marriage ending, the mother-of-two said she found it difficult to tell her children she was gay. That was until one day she decided to tell her son, who was 22-years-old at the time.

“It went very well. He was very accepting of it. He had a friend who was gay and they had long conversations about her being gay and he said, ‘It must be so hard for you’,” she added.

But she couldn’t face telling her younger daughter.

‘Stuck to the floor’

“She was only nine and I didn’t think it was appropriate to tell her about my sexuality. I left it all alone for a year and let them get their heads around it all.”

But two years later, her daughter Abigail walked into her kitchen and exclaimed: “Mum, are you ever going to tell me you’re a lesbian?’”

O’Neill described how she was “stuck to the floor” when she heard her daughter say those words.

Susan described how it has become easier as time went on to acclimatise to her new life. But it was throwing caution to the wind which made her sign up for the dating show, something she doesn’t regret for one moment.

“When I first came out, I discovered a group called Running Amach, Maureen Looney started up this club. I’ve been a member of it for three years and they’ve had thousands of Meet Ups. She sent a blanket email to all of the members. I was at home and my daughter Abigail was at home and I said, ‘Look at this, what do you think of that?’ She said to fill it out for the craic and I said, ‘Okay I will’.”

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