Graham Norton is one of the UK’s most loved TV personalities, earning millions for chatting with celebrities on The Graham Norton Show.
But as a young boy, growing up as Graham Walker in the small town of Bandon in Ireland, he always felt “foreign”. He thought it was because he was a Protestant surrounded by Catholics, but it was something more than that.
As Norton puts it, he was a “tiny transvestite”.
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“My sister had prettier clothes,” he told The Guardian.
Norton had a brief relationship with a male exchange student, but felt he couldn’t tell his parents he was gay. He struggled with the idea himself, thinking he’d be “a social pariah”.
In his late teens, he wanted to be an actor, but ended up studying English and French at university in Cork, suffering a kind of breakdown and refusing to leave his dorm room.
“But I was never diagnosed, so I don't want to kind of trivialise,” he told the Independent.
"But I did kill a lot of flies and then keep all their bodies.”
Norton headed to San Francisco where he joined a hippy commune. Short of cash, he decided to become a rent boy. When he was asked to “perform” for the pimp, he changed his mind.
"Given that my only homosexual experience up to this point was a fumble in France in a tent, it seemed a teeny-weeny bit sexually ambitious," he later said.
After that, he had a year-long relationship with a woman, while still having flings with other hippies in his commune.
Later, Norton moved to London, studying acting, as he’d wanted to do. One night in 1989, while walking home, he was mugged in the street and violently stabbed. As he lay on a doorstep, bleeding to death, the elderly couple who lived in the house came to his rescue.