MADONNA has sent a message of support to gay equality campaigner Rory O’Neill as his impassioned speech about gay rights continues to gather worldwide attention.
Mr O’Neill claimed that the international star sent him an email after watching his oration, which he performed as drag act Panti at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
He tweeted: “Yoghurt for breakfast. Wrote some e mails. Message from Madonna about my speech. Walked the dog. WAIT WHAT?”
Broadcasters Dara O’Briain and Stephen Fry have also commended Panti, whose video has been watched hundeds of thousands of times.
Wicklow-born comedian O’Briain told his more than 1.6m Twitter followers: “Ireland is currently ‘enjoying’ a gay marriage debate. By some distance, drag queen Panti has the most eloquent take”.
Broadcaster and writer Stephen Fry informed his massive 6.5m followers about the 10-minute oration, congratulating Panti.
Scottish ‘The Good Wife’ actor Alan Cumming urged his 170,000 followers to watch the video, and thanked Panti for “being so erudite”.
Closer to home, Irish broadcaster Brendan Courtney and comedian Deirdre O’ Kane have also tweeted their support, while journalist Fintan O’Toole likened the speech to those of former Irish leader Daniel O’Connell, tweeting: “The most eloquent Irish speech since Daniel O’Connell was in his prime”.
Mr O’Neill was invited to give the speech after a controversy which arose when RTE publicly apologised and paid €85,000 in damages to some members of the Iona Institute, and journalists Breda O’Brien and John Waters for comments he made during an interview on ‘The Saturday Night Show’ on January 11, presented by Brendan O’Connor.
In a letter sent to RTE staff, managing director of RTE television Glenn Killane defended its decision to award the damages, stating: “I want to reassure you that RTÉ explored every option available to it, including right of reply. Legal advice was sought and all avenues were explored, including an offer to make a donation to a neutral charity.”