Whenever I've written about the tragedy of closeted gay people being outed, it's been about Republican homophobes pretending to be straight, from Bob Bauman (R-MD) in 1980 (soliciting sex from a 16 year old boy while his wife and children were at home) to forcibly outed Republicans like Larry Craig (R-ID), Mark Foley (R-FL), Aaron Schock (R-IL), Denny Hastert (R-IL) and David Dreier (R-CA) to more recent-- and still officially closeted-- cases like Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC). Most of these gentlemen were in denial although a few did enough self reflection to have come to some actual conclusions worth sharing. One was Bauman, who wrote a book about it, The Gentleman From Maryland: The Conscience Of A Gay Conservative and another was a far right, vehemently anti-gay state senator from Bakersfield, Roy Ashburn. After being pulled over for drunken driving-- with a young male prostitute in his car-- Ashburn went on local radio and said "I am gay… those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long. But I am gay. But it is something that is personal and…. I felt with my heart that being gay didn't affect-- wouldn't affect-- how I did my job." Watch this interview:
And take a look at parts of this interview L.A. Times journalist Patt Morrison did with Ashburn soon after he was busted in 2010:
For decades you worked so hard to keep your sexual orientation under wraps. This must have been a torment, but in another sense, was there an element of relief?
I'm sensing relief now. I had not consciously decided to come out, but there's no doubt looking back that I had become increasingly bold about attending gay events, like pride festivals, and going to dance clubs and bars. Last year I attended Las Vegas Pride and San Diego Pride.
Were you looking over your shoulder?
A little more in San Diego than Las Vegas.
...At some point, you must have realized a public career was incompatible with being open about your sexual preferences.
Something happened that I guess caused me to realize that. When I was in sixth grade, the police had a raid in the sand dunes [near San Luis Obispo] and a bunch of gay men were arrested, probably charged with indecent activity. That sticks in my mind-- the publicity and the shame around it. One of my teachers was one of the people. The talk among the kids, the talk among the adults, the talk in the community, the press-- at that time the choice was pretty clear: If you were gay and open, it was a life of shame, ridicule, innuendo about molesting and perversion. It was a dark life. Given that choice of whether you come out or whether you're in secret, I mean, there really wasn't a choice.
You worked for members of Congress, then were elected to public office yourself from Kern County. Were your sexual preferences in the back of your mind, or did you just go about your business?
The answer is both yes and no. I was married and had children. And I had a career and a passion. I also had a huge secret. But given my circumstances and my responsibilities, it wasn't an overwhelming issue for me. The desires were always there, but my focus was primarily on-- well, pretty selfishly-- on me and my career and my family.
Barry Goldwater had a gay grandson and didn't think government had any business in anybody's bedroom. But the recent brand of Republicanism has championed anti-gay issues.
I truly believe the conservative philosophy as embraced by Goldwater: that the government has no role in the private lives of the citizens. In the 1980s, there was a coming together of the religious right and the Goldwater right, sort of a marriage of convenience. It propelled Ronald Reagan to the presidency. Reagan never repudiated that but-- this is just my view-- I don't think he really embraced it either. In no way do I want to put down people of strong religious convictions; I happen to have very strong religious beliefs myself. But it was a merger of those two, and the religious [right's issues] were about same-sex rules, same-sex marriage, abortion, gun rights, these sort of core, litmus-test issues.
Did you feel uneasy with that combination? You did help to organize and speak at a rally in 2005 against a legislative bill sanctioning same-sex marriage.
How I ever got into that is beyond me. I was very uncomfortable with that, and I told one of my confidantes, "I'm never doing that again." It was not what I wanted to do, it wasn't me, but I helped to organize and lent my name.
A lot of people, gay or straight, are probably wondering why you voted even against issues like insurance coverage for same-sex partners.
The best I can do is to say that I was hiding. I was so in terror I could not allow any attention to come my way. So any measure that had to do with the subject of sexual orientation was an automatic "no" vote. I was paralyzed by this fear, and so I voted without even looking at the content. The purpose of government is to protect the rights of people under the law, regardless of our skin color, national origin, our height, our weight, our sexual orientation. This is a nation predicated on the belief that there is no discrimination on those characteristics, and so my vote denied people equal treatment, and I'm truly sorry for that.
I'm truly sorry that Andrew Gillum never saw that. I knew Andrew, who will be 43 next month, when he was in his early 20's, long before he ran for governor of Florida and long before he ran for mayor of Tallahassee... and long before he was indicted (today) on 21 felony counts. We were both part of a civil rights organization that was extremely gay-friendly. His work was incredible and he was a hero to me. He seemed obviously gay but closeted. I asked other people who knew him longer and they said I was crazy and that "all southerners seem gay." That sounded bizarre and inaccurate. But when Andrew-- a married man with 3 children-- was discovered in a hotel room in Miami Beach, high on crystal meth with an over-dosing male prostitute, I can't say as was completely shocked. Half a year later he came out as bisexual in an interview on Tamron Hall's TV show:
He went out of his way to say how devastated he was when people said he was "living a lie." But that is exactly what being in the closet is-- living a lie... every single day. A lie on a slippery moral slope that leads to an indictment on 21 felony counts. Almost all of the Republicans listed above had downfalls that had to do with moral shortcomings NOT related-- at least not directly-- to their sexuality.
Andrew says he's innocent of all the charges, which include conspiracy, wire fraud, financial campaign fraud, and making false statements involving his time as Tallahassee mayor and his 2018 run for governor. The Orlando Sentinel interviewed professional ambulance chase John Morgan "who along with his firm gave Gillum’s campaign more than $3 million in 2018, has long criticized Gillum for how his campaign money was spent and has threatened to sue him. 'At this point nothing about him would surprise me,' Morgan said in an email Wednesday. 'He kept my money and others. Millions. He didn’t spend it on the campaign and lost by a whisker. He destroyed the Democratic Party forever in Florida.'"
Gillum wrote in a statement, “I have spent the last 20 years of my life in public service and continue to fight for the people.”
“Every campaign I’ve run has been done with integrity.” Gillum wrote. “Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political. Throughout my career I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power. There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.”
Last month, in a post called Impoverishment Of The Soul: Gay Conservative Closet Case-- Ed Koch Finally Outed, I wrote that "Most conservatives are Republicans, but not all of them; and most closet cases are Republicans; but not all of them." Back in the day, "everyone" knew Ed Koch was a closet case, but the NY Times studiously, even aggressively, covered up for him. Now that he's been dead nearly a decade, they outed him. "Koch was gay," wrote Matt Flegenheimer and Rosa Goldensohn. "He denied as much for decades-- to reporters, campaign operatives and his staff-- swatting away longstanding rumors with a choice profanity or a cheeky aside, even if these did little to convince some New Yorkers. Through his death, in 2013, his deflections endured." His deflections only endured because of the NY Times, which made an editorial decision to play along with the patently false asserts of a notorious old queen. The paper of record lied about Koch for decades, helping him advance his ugly conservative agenda and leading to the deaths of many thousands of gay men in the AIDs holocaust for which Koch's bathetic closet dilemma was central.