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first gay taoiseach

Leo on coming out: My mum thought I'd get beaten up and my dad was 'really sound'

The health minister also discussed his Fine Gael leadership ambitions.

leo 2 Screengrab / RTÉ Screengrab / RTÉ / RTÉ

LEO VARADKAR HAS spoken about the aftermath of publicly coming out earlier this year.

Back in January, the health minister said he was gay during an interview with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio One.

On the Late Late Show, Varadkar said he was “very grateful” for the positive reaction he received from members of the public.

The minister said he only really came out to himself at the age of 34 – two years before he did publicly.

He said when he was a student, Ireland was quite a different place.

“In the 1990s, it was still something unusual, still something that was stigmatised.”

When I first came out, I had all these anxieties like ‘Can I still go to the gym? What will the guy in Spar say?’

The truth is nobody cares that much, they’re a little bit curious initially and then that’s it.

Varadkar said he has no regrets about coming out, saying it was ”liberating” and “took away the anxieties and the fears”.

He said part of his “dealing mechanism” was throwing himself into his medical studies and later politics.


The health minister only told his parents about his sexuality a couple of months before the public announcement.

Varadkar said his mother was worried about him being beaten up, while his father, whom he described as conservative, was  ”really sound”.

He said he was touched when his dad joined a fathers’ campaign for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, adding it was “kind of validating”.

Varadkar described the passing of the referendum as an “extraordinary day”.

Ryan Tubridy asked him if he wished to get married, to which he responded: “Give me a chance, I’m relatively new to the party.”

Varadkar said he has been dating the same person for about two months, but wants to kept that aspect of his life private.

First gay Taoiseach?

When asked if he would like to lead the Fine Gael party, paving the way to potentially become the country’s first gay Taoiseach, Varadkar stressed that there was no vacancy at present.

Tubridy pushed him on the issue and Varadkar conceded that “of course” he’d be interested in the role.

Read: Fine Gael’s next leader, from most to least likely

Read: Here’s what the world thought of Leo Varadkar saying ‘I’m gay’

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