Kathy Sheridan: Varadkar deserves our respect even if he is a man

The behaviour of politicians such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson reflects well on the Taoiseach

The Irish Times’ Women’s Podcast is a production by and for women. But since it would be self-sabotage to exclude anyone with the power to improve our lives, we occasionally include men. So last Saturday, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, joined four women and Maya, a breast-feeding baby, on stage at the Body & Soul Festival in Co Meath.

On a cloudless day with a big, highly engaged, diverse audience, Varadkar was happy to accept the plaudits for his role in facilitating the referendum on the Eighth Amendment and to discuss relevant upcoming legislation. We talked about the first steps on his rather wobbly “feminist journey”. He explained earnestly that before he came out as gay, for many years he had felt judged by other people – and this in turn had made him more judgmental towards others. It was an illuminating glimpse into the mind of a 39-year-old leader who came out publicly only three years ago. It implies at least that he is still growing and learning and listening. Whatever your political colours or degree of cynicism, even an aspiration to that level of self-awareness has to be a good thing.

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