Gay referee says UFC star Conor McGregor’s use of homophobic language is ‘not helpful’

The GAA’s first openly gay Irish referee, David Gough, said the homophobic language used by Conor McGregor in a TV interview, for which he later apologized, “doesn’t help that we’re trying to ‘accomplish”.

Ublin 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 believes more can and should be done to hasten the shift of opinion in wider Irish society around the subject of homosexuality.

When you have a person in the public eye like Conor using language like that, it just doesn’t help what we’re trying to achieve,” David said in an exclusive interview with the Sunday World in the part of the SuperValu #CommunityIncludesEveryone campaign.

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

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

“How can I exist in this sport if that’s what they find funny? It shakes my confidence and when the guys making these comments see that I’m uncomfortable, they get it right away and check themselves out.

“Homophobic language like that is learned and that means it can also be unlearned and that’s what we want to try to 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 realized I was gay, I struggled for maybe four to six years with my sexuality before I could tell my parents I was gay. Even when I told them, I didn’t couldn’t say the words; I’m gay… I just said to my family, ‘I have a partner and his name is…’

“It’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation. No one else ever needs to come out and do this and discuss their sexuality… It’s a very difficult experience to have.

“Then you move forward to 2015 and the marriage equality referendum happens, Leo Varadkar comes out on the radio and even though I was openly gay with my family, I wasn’t into my sport. .

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

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