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Friday, March 15, 2013

The amazing success of the ‘coming out’ strategy


Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), once a staunch opponent of gay marriage, says that he now supports same-sex nuptials after his son told him he was gay.

“I’m announcing today a change of heart on an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about that has to do with gay couples’ opportunity to marry,” Portman said, according to CNN.

Two years ago, his son Will came out to Portman and his wife, Jane, during Will’s freshman year at Yale University, which eventually led Portman to support same-sex marriage.

“I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married,” Portman wrote Friday in an op-ed in The Columbus Dispatch.

He later wrote: “Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.”

My only real comment here is that this is the entire purpose of coming out of the closet. When the LGBT community decided to mainstream themselves, they came up with a strategy that was both brilliant and fraught with tremendous personal risk. It’s worked trememndously well over the years, with gays steadily gaining acceptance and homophobes just as steadily losing it.

It’s also a strategy that requires a great deal of courage, because these sorts of revelations can also go so very, very wrong. So don’t congratulate Rob Portman — you don’t congratulate the bully when he stops stealing lunch money. Congratulate Will Portman, who got that bully to stop.

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