It’s nearly 40 years ago but Joni Crone still remembers the “whoosh” of the studio lights seeking her out and her stomach churning fear as she waited for Gay Byrne to tell her relatives, neighbours, work colleagues – and the nation – that she was a lesbian. A sympathetic member of the Late Late Show team had given her a double vodka when she wondered if she was about to be the first person to faint on live TV. “He held my hand and said ‘trust me’. He told me I’d be grand, to just look Gay in the eye and to forget about everything else”.
It was 1980, two years before Declan Flynn, a gay man, was beaten to death in Fairview Park in Dublin. Homosexuality would be regarded as a crime for another 13 years. Crone was there to talk about the need for law reform and to give an insight into the horror stories she regularly heard on the helpline Lesbian Line, where she had once listened in as a whispering caller was interrupted and beaten in her own home. That caller rang back from a hospital corridor days later. Crone wanted to give out the telephone number of the helpline on the show so people like her would have somewhere to turn.
Continue reading at: Being gay she was asked if her parents thought she was “mentally deficient” (Source)