Most of us have got used to wearing a mask over the past year, but imagine not being able to take it off for 10 years.
That’s what Pete Byrne says his life felt like until he finally told just four people that he was gay – at the age of 24.
Since then the well-known and highly-respected SDLP Crossmaglen Councillor has become a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, including championing the annual Pride festival. He also married his husband Trevor in 2012, after struggling for years with worries and fears about acceptance in his small rural village.
The pain of inequalities, injustices, and having to mask his sexuality, runs deep however, and Pete, who is quiet by nature, feels compelled to help others and try to prevent them from suffering as he has.
His wounds have been opened many times throughout his life – most recently when having to debate the merits of banning conversion therapy in Northern Ireland. And when Pete spoke to Armagh I for this podcast he implored politicians and the church to look at the damage that abhorrent practice, along with archaic attitudes and hurtful language, causes to the LGBTQ+ community.