Ursula Halligan : 'I have been in a prison since the age of 17'

Journalist Ursula Halligan's honest article in today's Irish Times has got everyone talking this morning.

In the piece, Halligan talks about growing up in 1970s Ireland and hiding the fact she was a lesbian.

"I loved a girl and I knew that wasn’t right; my mind was constantly plagued with the fear that I was a lesbian. I hated myself. I felt useless and worthless and very small and stupid. I had one option, and only one option. I would be “normal”, and that meant locking myself in the closet and throwing away the key."

She then goes on to describe the emotional toll it took on her.

"Emotionally, I have been in a prison since the age of 17; a prison where I lived a half-life, repressing an essential part of my humanity, the expression of my deepest self; my instinct to love."

She says the marriage referendum spurred her on to come out and support the Yes campaign, describing it as 'a game-changer'. This meant that she could no longer cover the referendum for her employer, TV3.

"If Ireland votes Yes, it will be about much more than marriage. It will end institutional homophobia. It will say to gay people that they belong, that it’s safe to surface and live fully human, loving lives.

"If it’s true that 10 per cent of any population are gay, then there could be 400,000 gay people out there; many of them still living in emotional prisons. Any of them could be your son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father or best friend. Set them free. Allow them live full lives."

She spoke to Anton Savage on Today FM this morning about why she wrote the piece.

The passionate piece has received widespread praise on Twitter, with many applauding her honesty.

By Ciara Flaherty

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