Brian Dowling says his relationship with the gay community has been love-hate and he has been “criticized a lot” for being “so effeminate, so camp, so loud”.
The twice Big brother The winner said he’s even had drinks thrown at him in the past when he’s been out.
He told Kate Thornton about White Wine Question Time“I’ve always said, ‘It’s me.’ I’m not saying all gay people are like me. I’m not saying that. But people were very, very opinionated.”
The 42-year-old, who won the second round of Big brother in 2001 spoke to Thornton about inspiring people to follow in his footsteps to be more comfortable with their sexuality, like singer Will Young who revealed in his 2020 autobiography that seeing Dowling on TV did feel less alone.
Read more: All the latest from Pride Month
But Dowling said he wasn’t always showered with praise.
WATCH: Brian Dowling on the legends of Big Brother, same-sex surrogacy and his exit in the early 2000s
“I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the gay community and the gay press for so long,” he said. “I’ve been criticized a lot by the gay community for being so effeminate, so camped up and so loud.
“At the time, I was going out and drinks were falling on me, it was very strange.”
He said that in the first few weeks after winning Big Brother, after coming out to his parents with the help of his sister just days before moving into the house, he didn’t want to do any of the parties and red carpets than the other contestants were. Do.
Saying he remembered the moment after he walked out of the house “like it was yesterday” and that he always would, because it was “so weird”, he said he just wanted to ” a bit of normalcy.”
With his then-boyfriend, whom he had kept secret during his time on the show, he recalled playing tennis at Clapham Common with the security guards provided by the show acting as ball boys.
Dowling said: “I just wanted to get on the subway. I wanted to go to the movies. I wanted some normalcy. But I remember when I was walking around alone, and obviously people were coming because the show was such a big spectacle.
“It would throw you off because I didn’t know how to deal with people who wanted to say nice things.
“Or going to bars and meeting people who said I was a bad role model for gay people, that not all gay people are effeminate or campers.
“Nothing trains you for that. And sometimes I just didn’t want to come out.”
He also spoke to Thornton about his parents’ acceptance of his homosexuality, having been afraid to tell them before “lest they disown me”.
Prior to appearing on the show, while working as a flight attendant, he said he realized there would be no way he couldn’t be himself in the Big Brother even if it only lasted a week or two.
Read more: ‘Big Brother’ Host Emma Willis Says Show Needs ‘A Little More Rest’ Before Reboot
He said: “I feel like there were two versions of Brian Dowling, the one who worked at Stansted Airport and Ryanair, who was completely out. And the one who would go back to my mum, my dad and my six sisters in rural Ireland, an hour from Dublin in the country, where we had no idea what gay was, we had no idea what homosexuality was.”
After asking his sister to call his parents to tell them he was gay, and that she had reported to them that they were “fine”, he called his parents from the crew room after landing on a flight from Italy.
Along with his mother asking him if he was “trying to be fashionable” and that was just his reasoning in Dowling’s eyes, he said he only spoke to her once, the morning when he entered the house.
“Looking back on it now,” he told Thornton, “I was lucky to have been so well accepted by voters in England and Ireland because I then thought, ‘Well , my parents must be okay with that.
“‘Because if it’s a popularity contest, and people think I’m awesome, and they vote for me to win, my parents will accept me.'”
The presenter, who went on to present TV shows including SM: Live TV and won Ultimate big brother in 2010 said he had forgotten all about the win and the £70,000 prize that changed his life.
Saying he had goosebumps remembering it, he described his first hug with his mum and dad as he left the house.
“That was the first real hug from who I really was as their son. And that was it, gay guy,” he said.
“And that hug to me, meant so much because it was genuine. There was no need to hide Kate anymore, they had seen me from every angle 24 hours a day on e4. Every night on Channel Four. “
He told Thornton that they had never had a conversation about his sexuality since that phone call, although he still had lingering doubts, he joked.
“It was never brought up again,” Dowling explained. “Because I was totally embraced and accepted. I recently said to my husband, ‘If I had left the show first, would my parents have accepted me?’ Who knows?”
WATCH: Brian Dowling on how Big Brother helped him date his parents