Comedienne Nuala McKeever said she has been touched by the mostly positive reaction she has received after revealing that she has fallen in love with a woman.
The actress and performer added that she is hopeful her story can help other people who may be afraid or apprehensive about “coming out”.
Having lost her partner Mike Moloney last year suddenly after an accident, Nuala said it has truly been “a huge year”, adding that her newfound love is part of that.
The former Give My Head Peace actress first made public her relationship in a Belfast Telegraph column this week.
She wrote: “To whom it may concern or delight, I have just recently started a relationship with a woman.”
Speaking of the reaction to the column for the first time since its publication on Monday, Nuala told the News Letter she was a little taken aback that it became such big news.
“I have been touched by the reaction,” she said.
“I have had a huge year, and this is part of that. It [falling in love with a woman] did take me by surprise. I am still processing it all.
“I am amused that it [news that someone is gay] excites so much interest. Let’s live and let live.”
In her column, Nuala said she had been supported by many people, including strangers, during a painful 13 months since Mike, one of the founders of Belfast Community Circus School, passed away.
She added: “Now you may be happy that I have found love with another person again. And that’s about the size of it.”
Nuala said: “I am not setting myself up as a representative of anything
“This is all still quite new to me. If it [the column] does anything to help anyone who is sitting worried or scared or apprehensive, then that is fantastic.
“It is a shame that anybody in this day and age still feels what they feel has to be hidden.”
On the day the column was published, Alliance councillor Stephen Donnan, who is gay, tweeted that he had been shocked when someone refused to shake his hand on the campaign trail.
“One resident asked if I agreed with ‘homosexual marriage’,” he said. “Told him I was gay myself and he then took a step back & refused to shake hands. I mean, wow.”
Last month, a motion calling for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland failed. It was the third time in the past 18 months a motion on the matter had been debated and voted down.
In another part of her column this week, Nuala said the latest vote is “just one more depressing example of how out of step we are here with the front ranks of human thinking and experience”.