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February 2003 Cover
February 2003 Cover

 Speaking Out (of his mind!) Speaking Out Archive  
February 2003 Email this to a friend
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Think First Before Coming Out
By Lester R. Grubé

Since the Supreme Court's decision outlawing gay sex, there's been a lot of nonsense bandied about to the effect that gay people, particularly those in prominent positions, need to come out of the closet. Of course, my readers are by now very familiar with my personal distaste for those militants who find it necessary to flaunt their orientation. What these kamikaze activists seem to lose sight of is the fact that if important people were to come out of their closet, they would completely lose their effectiveness.

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A brief walk through history demonstrates the futility that results when so-called leaders, in their zeal to push an extremist agenda, lose sight of the need to work with the establishment.

Moses is a perfect example. Here was someone who had risen to an important position with the Egyptian pharaoh by hiding his identity as a Hebrew. Unfortunately, he allowed his emotions over the oppression of "his people" to bring him out of the closet, so to speak, and he lost all influence. Eventually things got so bad he had to leave the country. Because of his "leadership" the Jews had to leave Egypt and endure the hardships of the wilderness not to mention centuries of persecution, culminating in the horrors of the Holocaust. Does anyone doubt that had he kept his cool and his identity secret, he could have continued to hold an important position with Pharaoh and been genuinely effective in helping "his people" to remain in Egypt.

Jesus is another case of someone who pushed his identity, of one sent by God, to the limits, thus alienating the entire religious establishment. With the gifts he clearly demonstrated, instead of ending up on a cross, he might have risen to be one of the chief priests of his religion. But Jesus did not seem to understand that to be effective, one must be more sensitive to the concerns of those in power and have a little better sense of which way the wind is blowing.

Martin Luther King is an example of someone who might be pastoring an influential black church today had he not allowed an extremist concern over real or imagined injustices to other black people cloud his judgment. Had he learned the importance of compromise in being effective, the civil rights movement might be in a very different place in this country. Who knows, had he played his cards right, he might even some day have been elected to Congress.

Fortunately, we have other models to follow. When I think of an effective leader, I immediately think of Kurt Waldheim. Here was a man who might have had reservations over the Nazi atrocities, but he knew that by sticking his own neck out he'd accomplish nothing. Instead, he went along, quietly doing his job. As a result he rose to become a truly effective leader, serving first as Secretary General of the United Nations and later as President of Austria.

Moses, Jesus, Martin Luther King these are the kind of failure-oriented people the gay movement can do without. So let's stop putting pressure on closeted politicians and other respected members of the community to come out. Let's remember that to be effective requires time, patience and discretion. After all, Kurt Waldheim didn't get to where he is overnight. It took years.


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