Michael Londra has been entertaining audiences for many years, be it with his most recent work guesting with Celtic Thunder, collaborating with Riverdance’s Jean Butler and Sharon Browne on Celtic Woman, and producing his own Beyond Celtic show (do I detect a theme here?) for PBS.
He characterizes 2013 as his best year yet, nabbing two Emmy nominations for his newest PBS special and getting to sing with Judy Collins for the Kennedy family at the JFK 50 celebrations last year. As he reflected on this breakthrough year in a message to his fans, he decided to come clean — and come out.
“I share my successes and failures with my family and friends in Ireland but also with my partner, a man I have shared my life with for 15 years,” he wrote.
“He has been here in Ireland visiting our family on this side of the Atlantic. His support and help has brought me success in my career and brought my music to you.
“I haven’t shared this with you before because well, it is my personal life, it’s not that big a deal and he is the shyest person ever. Everyone in my life is supportive and considers him family too...because he is. I hope you will be too.”
It’s been a revelation to see the Irish fan reaction to his news. “This was a wonderful, brave, positive thing to see this morning,” wrote Leah on his Facebook wall. “Thank you for trusting and sharing this with us.”
“Good on ye to come out on Facebook, Michael,” said another fan. “It’s a happy society we’re starting to live in finally where no one feels they need to hide the love of their lives.”
And so, the Irish race evolves again! I raised a proud pint to the man as we chatted over the weekend about his decision to come out, and it was also a great opportunity to discover what this consummate entertainer has up his sleeve next. Visit www.michaelondra.com for more.
What prompted you to come out now?
I guess it has been on my mind for a year or two. I have never really felt the need to share my private life with anyone more than my friends and family. I have been out to everyone close to me for many years.
Once I started to build a fan base after the PBS special aired I started to be concerned that I was not being honest to the fans who show me nothing but love and commitment. I honestly wasn’t concerned about the big reveal. I just didn’t want people to think I was lying to them. It was time.
On another level, I felt I should be a role model to young people who are lonely and confused. I guess I never read about out gay people in Irish America before. There was nothing political about it. It was just the right thing to do.
Who was the person you were most concerned about telling, and what was their reaction?
Way back when, it was my parents, but they were nothing but loving and supportive. I’d be lying if they weren’t shocked initially, but we are a close family and love will always take over.
Now there is always that initial awkward moment when I’m asked about my wife, but once I share my partner’s name there is that a-ha moment and everyone moves on.
How long have you known? What message would you like to tell others in this position?
I guess I was not sure who I was for the longest time. It is different for everyone. I really can’t remember back that far.
I went through a lonely, confused and indeed closeted existence in my youth, but once I moved to the U.S. it just kind of happened naturally. I have had my family’s full support for many years, a group of great friends in and out of show business who were there for me, and the love and commitment of my partner of 15 years.
I want to say to anyone reading who is considering coming out, that no matter how isolated, lonely or depressed you feel right now it will get better. Find one person you know and trust and tell them. I promise once one person is there for you, it will get easier. If you have no one, go to my website and email me.
What surprised you about the fan reaction?
I genuinely was amazed at the outpouring of love from everyone. I put up the small message on January 1. I just included it in my year’s review. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it.
The fans did, however. They sent hundreds of loving emails and messages on Facebook and Twitter. Not one fan had a negative response. I lost no followers on social media. They were just brilliant.
What’s next on the horizon for you musically?
This year it is back to some hard work. I am recording the music that I’ve been writing in Nashville with great writers like Marcus Hummon (Rascal Flatts) and Tommy Lee James. This is the first time I will sing music with an American roots heart to it.
I am more at home in Nashville than anywhere in the US and it will show. My management and I have started planning a new PBS special which is daunting but exciting and we are looking at some fun collaborations.