Commons Deputy Speaker tells why he is fed up with 'living a lie': …..........
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Growing up in South Wales, it was hard enough being a Tory, let alone being gay
Truth: Nigel Evans is to come out as gay in a move that will help MPs be more open about their homosexuality
By Simon Walters
Last updated at 5:26 PM on 19th December 2010
The Deputy Speaker of the Commons is to come out as gay tomorrow to mark the launch of a Parliamentary group that will help MPs and staff be open about their homosexuality.
Senior Tory MP Nigel Evans, who deputises for Speaker John Bercow, says he is ‘tired of living a lie’ and has received threats of blackmail in the past from political enemies.
Mr Evans said he had been threatened with exposure by a former Labour MP.
He admitted: ‘The MP was saying to anyone who would listen, “Why is it that Nigel Evans leads a life whereby he is gay to some people and not others?” ’
He refused to name the Labour politician, but added: ‘I could not afford it to be used as leverage against me. I couldn’t take the risk. I don’t want any other MP to face that kind of nastiness again.
‘I am sure there are other gay MPs who would like to be open about their sexuality but are fearful of the consequences. I hope this new group will help them to do so.’
Mr Evans’s decision came partly as a result of a chance conversation with a friend, the actress Vicky Entwistle, who plays plain-talking Janice Battersby in Coronation Street.
She lives in Mr Evans’s Ribble Valley constituency in Lancashire and invited him to a 50th anniversary party for the ITV soap opera.
Mr Evans, 53, said: ‘Vicky and I went for a drink after the party and she said to me, “You’re gay, aren’t you?” It’s a subject I avoid usually but Vicky is very natural and I told her I was. I thought to myself, “I am now telling people I am gay – it’s time I did something about it and told everyone.” ’
He was also encouraged after discussing it with fellow Welshman and rugby union star Gareth Thomas, who came out last year.
‘If people like Gareth, who was married, can come out, it should be no big deal for me,’ he said.