'Unhelpful' | 

Ireland’s first openly gay referee slams Conor McGregor for using homophobic language

“Words matter when they come from someone like him and this all centres around a lack of education among those who don’t know the effect their words can have"
Referee David Gough came out in 2015

Referee David Gough came out in 2015

Kevin Palmer

Ireland’s first openly gay GAA referee David Gough has said homophobic language used by Conor McGregor during a TV interview, for which he later apologised, “is not helpful to what we are trying to achieve”.

Dublin UFC star McGregor was forced to issue a very public apology on The Late Late Show in 2017 for his use of an ‘f’ word.

The Crumlin man has since shown his support for the LGBTQ+ community and shared photos on Instagram over the weekend of his Black Forge pub draped in pride flags. But Gough reckons more can and should be done to hasten the evolution of opinion across a wider Irish society around the subject of homosexuality.

When you have a person in the public eye like Conor, using language like that, it’s just not helpful to what we are trying to achieve,” said David in exclusive interview with the Sunday World as part of the SuperValu #CommunityIncludesEveryone campaign.

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor

“Words matter when they come from someone like him and this all centres around a lack of education among those who don’t know the effect their words can have.

“Sometimes in a GAA dressing room, I will hear words like f**got, gay or queer and while those saying it might think it’s funny, they don’t realise the impact it can have.

“How can I exist in this sport if this is what they find funny? It chips away at my confidence and when the lads making these comments see that I’m uncomfortable, they get it straight away and check themselves.

“Homophobic language like that is learned and that means it can also be unlearned and that is what we want to try and do.”

David said that before going public with his sexuality in 2015, even using the word ‘gay’ was a step too far as he struggled to come to terms with his own reality.

“When I realised I was gay, I grappled for maybe four to six years with my sexuality before being able to tell my parents that I was gay. Even when I told them, I wasn’t able to say the words; I am gay... I just told my family: ‘I have a partner and his name is...’

“That’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation to be in. Nobody else ever has to come out and do that and discuss their sexuality...It’s a very difficult experience to go through.

“Then you roll it forward to 2015 and the Marriage Equality referendum is happening, Leo Varadkar is coming out on the radio and even though I was openly gay with my family, I wasn’t within my sport.

“I wanted to take this step and I felt the environment was safe and right and it was much easier to feel that way in Ireland in 2015 than it would have done a few years earlier.”


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