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Sandi Toksvig faced death threats and career failure when she came out as gay

Joe Williams August 3, 2016

The broadcaster and comedian has discussed the ramifications of being honest about her sexuality.

Superbly talented, delightfully witty, hilariously funny – just a few words that spring to mind when you think of Sandi Toksvig.

Her career has seen Toksvig present BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz for nine years, replace Stephen Fry as host of the popular intellectual quiz show QI and even found her own political party.

So it’s shocking to believe that when she decided to come out in 1994, Toksvig was told that she would “never work again” and that her decision to be honest would leave her “untouchable”.

“As far as I know there wasn’t a single out woman in British public life,” she recalled in a recent video for Makers UK.

“Everybody said my career would be over, that I wouldn’t work again, and that’s the risk that I was willing to take, because I wanted them to be proud.”

Following the ensuing media frenzy, Toksvig also found herself and her family in very real danger.

“It was terrifying. We had very unpleasant death threats and we had to go into hiding with the children for two weeks.

“We had to have police protection, and security, and all kinds of things.”

However, she says she was determined to make her young family proud by being honest about who she was – regardless of the consequences.

“By then I had three children, three young children, and I wasn’t prepared for them to live with the secret.

“I didn’t want them to grow up thinking there was anything at all to be ashamed of, having two mums.”

The Women Equality’s Party co-founder also discussed the lack of role models for women – both straight and LGBT – at the time and the effect her coming out had.

“I began to get letters from women, saying ‘I’ve never dared, but thanks to you I’m going to say something.’

“I grew up knowing my earliest time that I was gay and feeling awkward and uncomfortable with that,” she added.

Earlier this year, Toksvig told PinkNews that she was “enraged” at Pride in London for excluding her Women’s Equality Party from taking party in a Mayoral hustings.

She said she was “absolutely gutted” that the party’s candidate for London Mayor had not been invited to the hustings.

More: lesbian, LGBT, QI, Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry, women equalities party

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