In the acknowledgements for his new novel Home Stretch, the Graham Norton Show host also paid tribute to “all the people who stayed in Ireland to fight for the modern tolerant place it has become”.
Norton was born in 1963, and grew up in Bandon, County Cork, before moving to London in order to pursue an acting career.
Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Ireland in 1993, following years of campaigning from LGBTQ+ rights groups, and same-sex marriage was legalised in 2015.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Norton said: “I moved where the gays were. I went to London. Where nobody knew me so there was none of that scariness and there were gay bars that were just on the street so I could walk in, and meet other gay people.
“I don’t want to be glib about it, because those people who stayed, who went on the marches and did the petitions, are nameless and faceless and I’ll never get to actually thank them, but they did the hard work.”
The next series of The Graham Norton Show is scheduled to begin on BBC One on Friday, 2 October at 10.45pm.
The first episode will feature Dolly Parton and Riz Ahmed, both of whom will appear via video link, while actor Rupert Everett, comedians Lolly Adefope and Sara Pascoe and musical guest Róisín Murphy will be interviewed from the studio.