Presenter and businessman Darren Kennedy says he refused to brush off a recent homophobic incident in Dublin city centre.
The TV host says he has been made aware of a recent spike in such incidents during the pandemic.
He told Lunchtime Live he was waiting for food on Camden Street on Saturday with his boyfriend, when a group of men passed him.
"At the weekend I was minding my own business, enjoying the sun that cracked out on Saturday evening - and the biggest dilemma in my life at that moment in time was what to have for dinner?
"I decided it was going to be Thai...so I went up to Camden Street just to feel a bit of the buzz.
"My boyfriend went in to collect our order and I was standing outside minding my own business.
"And this group of lads came past and one them, before I even knew it, pretty much had his finger in my face saying 'There's the faggot off the telly'.
"And I was stunned, to be honest, completely out of the blue.
"And these guys - not that it's important what age they were - but they weren't teenagers, these are guys who are certainly in their 20s and you would hope would know better.
"I've spent my life brushing off that type of comment, and it would have been really easy for me to park it and go 'I'm well able to deal with it, water off a duck's back' - which it is.
"But at the same time I was standing there going 'I'm a 40-year-old man in the middle of Dublin city centre and someone is just after using one of the most violent terms that could be used against me', if I'm being brutally honest".
Darren says the comment brought him back to a time he felt vulnerable.
"And in that moment in time I kind of shrunk, and it brought me back to a time in my life where I felt very vulnerable and almost hopeless and shameful.
"I had so much shame when I was in my teenage years coming to terms with my own sexuality that in that one word, so loaded and probably meant nothing to that person, he probably didn't even know what it meant.
"And it just brought me to this place, and I had to call it out - it's just not good enough".
Darren says while similar things have happened several times over the years, he has got very positive feedback from calling this incident out.
"The feedback from this has been phenomenal, from everybody across the board, so many parents and teachers and people from all different walks of life saying 'It's disgusting'.
"But also then the feedback from people within the LGBT community saying that, unfortunately, they noticed a rise in this type of behaviour.
"One person said definitely during the pandemic has noticed a mark rise in this kind of everyday, casual homophobic slur".
📣Calling out everyday homophobia 📣
Shouting “Faggot” at people in the street is not ok.
I’m fine and thank you for all the gorgeous messages. But it’s still not acceptable and I just want TO CALL IT OUT 🌈😘
— Darren Kennedy (@Darrenken) July 4, 2021
'Two steps back'
Darren says while Ireland has come on in 'quantum leaps' and bounds in recent years, particularly with marriage equality: "I sometimes feel that it was one step forward, two steps back
"Progress takes a long time - while legislatively we have come on like a quantum leap, in terms of the everyday not necessarily.
"And I'm sure teachers would probably be the frontline of this: often times the first slur in the playground is 'fag' or 'faggot' and that still persists.
"And a lot of people who say it have no idea how deeply that can cut, and I think that's the problem.
"So I think it's really important that we continue to talk about it".
Darren says he feels drained, as he normally doesn't dwell on such comments.
"I've actually felt today a little bit emotionally drained and a little bit stressed... the reason for that is if I had of just packed it away when it happened - like I normally do - I wouldn't have given it a second thought.
"But because obviously now we're talking about it, it opens up a whole lot of other past experiences - but I believe it's important to do so.
"My family wouldn't be aware of it, but always my mother in particular is probably always slightly worried.
"That's mammies, right - doesn't matter if you're gay or not gay - your mammy's always worried about you.
"But if I say 'I'm going out for drinks tonight', she'll be like 'Be careful getting home' - and that's every mother.
"But I'm sure part of that for her is also 'You could be a target because you're gay'".
And Darren adds that he becomes more aware when he is outside his own circle.
"To a certain extent I live in a little bubble - in the sense of my friendship group, my friends, the people I work with - it's a very safe environment to be in in general.
"But I am aware outside of that, that it's not so easy".