Ireland’s first openly gay strongman saw his first Pride in Northern Ireland.
The BBC released a documentary series titled My First Pride. The interview and documentary series followed several people as they experienced Belfast Pride for the first time. And one of those people happened to be Chris “Big Bear” McNaghten.
McNaghten is the first openly gay strongman to come out in the UK and Ireland. “Possibly even Europe,” as he notes.
But as he told the Irish Sun and BBC, he’d rather be known as a confident and competent strongman who also happens to be gay.
“I want to be Ireland’s strongest man,” he explains. “I don’t want to be Ireland’s strongest gay man.”
“The shock that people have that you’re gay — I don’t think it’s something that matters to me. I generally just think it’s gossip.”
Now, McNaghten is not only openly gay, but he’s also engaged. And he decided to visit his home country of Northern Ireland, where marriage equality is still illegal, with his fiancé.
Being an openly gay athlete in an interracial relationship, McNaghten is used to receiving pain and pushback. But seeing Pride for the first time, especially in Northern Ireland, touched McNaghten in more ways than he could have imagined. In fact, it reminded him of the relief and joy he felt after coming out to close ones.
“There was one person who was a coach to me and had been a best friend for a long time and it was important for me that he was okay with it and he accepted it,” he explains.
“I was just as nervous about telling him about it as I was about my dad. It was a wee bit emotional, that was just a massive weight off my back.”
If you want to watch the BBC video, you can click this link here.