Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Gay Heroes: Bill Clinton and Elton John

Bill Clinton

      When Bill Clinton was first running for president in 1992 I had heard from someone that he had gone to some gay fundraiser for Democratic candidates. I couldn't believe it, an actual candidate for president acknowledged the existence of gay people in a positive way? Could this be? Up until this time I had never heard of any politician on the presidential level say anything other than gays are the dregs of society. I was completely floored. Here was a candidate for president who wasn't saying that gays needed electroshock therapy and needed psychological treatment? At this time I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime a candidate for president or a president that would acknowledge gay people in a positive way. We had been through the awful Reagan years and the AIDS crisis when Ronald Reagan did not even say the word AIDS for years. This all may sound trite to some of you younger people, but things have changed a whole lot in a relatively short time. Bill Clinton started it, so for this he is one of my heroes. When Bill Clinton first took office one of the first things he did as president was try to end the ban on gays in the military. I couldn't believe it, I thought, 'This takes balls!' The resulting policy was “Don't ask, don't tell” which was a bad policy. The problem was congress, namely a Democrat named , yes a Democrat strongly opposed ending the ban and he was, well, anti-gay. I don't fault Bill Clinton for this, I give major credit for even trying. Bill Clinton gave me dignity as a human being, he didn't have to do it, and it was largely unpopular with a lot of people. If you are a gay person, you have a lot thank Bill Clinton for. 


Elton John

      Elton John first came out as bisexual in a 1976  article. It wasn't until his divorce in 1988 that he then told the magazine that he was comfortable being gay. I guess I really remember the 1988 thing, I can remember the huge flack that this caused. Here was a rock star coming out as gay? I couldn't believe it. I can remember rock radio stations saying they would never play his music again. They made crude nasty gay jokes about him. I thought, 'this takes guts'. This was also around the time that  died of AIDS and the world was shocked to find out that he was gay. I can remember all the nasty, hateful jokes I had to listen to about Rock Hudson. I was already a huge fan of Elton's music, and his acknowledgment of his sexuality made me love him even more. Like the things Bill Clinton did, Elton coming out of the closet also gave me dignity as a person and as a gay person. Both of these men had an impact on me as a young gay man, for that reason they are my gay heroes.


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