Messages of support have been coming in all week for Ballinrobe man Rory O’Neill following his impassioned speech about gay rights and homophobia in the Abbey Theatre last Saturday night.
O’Neill took to the stage in the famous venue as his alter-ego Miss Panti having been invited to make the speech after RTE had publicly apologised and paid €85,000 in damages to some members of the Iona Institute and journalist John Waters following comments made by O’Neill on the Saturday Night Show in January.
The YouTube video of O’Neill’s speech has been viewed more than 250,000 times since it was posted online earlier this week. Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser O’Neill said he has been overwhelmed with the reaction to the video. “It's been absolutely amazing, I've been surprised by it. It's been amazing and fun. The reason I made that was I wasn't going to go back on the Saturday Night Show and discuss the topic. The good people of the Abbey asked me to come along, and I honestly thought that the people who were there would see it and we'd film it and then maybe a few hundred online. I never thought that it would have the worldwide reaction that it got. I literally just wrote the speech on the afternoon before.”
It has been a tough couple of weeks for O’Neill following the fall out from the Saturday Night Show and the revelation that RTE had paid out compensation, as he explained. “It's been great, really because the previous few weeks had been so very hard and stressful, it's good that something good and fun and lively has come from this. It's good that we've got this debate going out there now and even though Iona may have got the settlement from RTE, I think that RTE will be thinking very hard and long now about the debate ahead of the same sex marriage referendum next year. Something good came out of something bad, that we can keep the debate up and out there.”