I came to Yale as a freshman in the fall of 2010 with two big uncertainties hanging over my head: whether my dad would get elected to the Senate in November, and whether I’d ever work up the courage to come out of the closet.

I made some good friends that first semester, took a couple of interesting classes and got involved in a few rewarding activities. My dad won his election. On the surface, things looked like they were going well. But the truth was, I wasn’t happy.

I’d make stuff up when my suitemates and I would talk about our personal lives. I remember going to a dance in the Trumbull dining hall with a girl in my class and feeling guilty about pretending to be somebody I wasn’t. One night, I snuck up to the stacks in Sterling Library and did some research on coming out. The thought of telling people I was gay was pretty terrifying, but I was beginning to realize that coming out, however difficult it seemed, was a lot better than the alternative: staying in, all alone.

I worried about how my friends back home would react when I told them I was gay. Would they stop hanging out with me? Would they tell me they were supportive, but then slowly distance themselves? And what about my friends at Yale, the “Gay Ivy”? Would they criticize me for not having come out earlier? Would they be able to understand my anxiety about all of this? I felt like I didn’t quite fit in with Yale or Cincinnati, or with gay or straight culture.

In February of freshman year, I decided to write a letter to my parents. I’d tried to come out to them in person over winter break but hadn’t been able to. So I found a cubicle in Bass Library one day and went to work. Once I had something I was satisfied with, I overnighted it to my parents and awaited a response.

They called as soon as they got the letter. They were surprised to learn I was gay, and full of questions, but absolutely rock-solid supportive. That was the beginning of the end of feeling ashamed about who I was.

I still had a ways to go, though. By the end of freshman year, I’d only come out to my parents, my brother and sister, and two friends. One day that summer, my best friend from high school and I were hanging out.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” I finally said. “I’m gay.” He paused for a second, looked down at the ground, looked back up, and said, “Me too.”

I was surprised. At first it was funny, and we made jokes about our lack of gaydar. Then it was kind of sad to realize that we’d been going through the same thing all along but hadn’t felt safe enough to confide in each other. But then, it was pretty cool — we probably understood each other’s situation at that moment better than anybody else could.

In the weeks that followed, I got serious about coming out. I made a list of my family and friends and went through the names, checking them off one by one as I systematically filled people in on who I really was. A phone call here, a Skype call there, a couple of meals at Skyline Chili, my favorite Cincinnati restaurant. I was fortunate that virtually everyone, both from Yale and from home, was supportive and encouraging, calming my fears about how they’d react to my news. If anything, coming out seemed to strengthen my friendships and family relationships.

I started talking to my dad more about being gay. Through the process of my coming out, we’d had a tacit understanding that he was my dad first and my senator a distant second. Eventually, though, we began talking about the policy issues surrounding marriage for same-sex couples.

The following summer, the summer of 2012, my dad was under consideration to be Gov. Romney’s running mate. The rest of my family and I had given him the go-ahead to enter the vetting process. My dad told the Romney campaign that I was gay, that he and my mom were supportive and proud of their son, and that we’d be open about it on the campaign trail.

When he ultimately wasn’t chosen for the ticket, I was pretty relieved to have avoided the spotlight of a presidential campaign. Some people have criticized my dad for waiting for two years after I came out to him before he endorsed marriage for gay couples. Part of the reason for that is that it took time for him to think through the issue more deeply after the impetus of my coming out. But another factor was my reluctance to make my personal life public.

We had decided that my dad would talk about having a gay son if he were to change his position on marriage equality. It would be the only honest way to explain his change of heart. Besides, the fact that I was gay would probably become public anyway. I had encouraged my dad all along to change his position, but it gave me pause to think that the one thing that nobody had known about me for so many years would suddenly become the one thing that everybody knew about me.

It has been strange to have my personal life in the headlines. I could certainly do without having my sexual orientation announced on the evening news, or commentators weighing in to tell me things like living my life honestly and fully is “harmful to [me] and society as a whole.” But in many ways it’s been a privilege to come out so publicly. Now, my friends at Yale and the folks in my dad’s political orbit in Ohio are all on the same page. They know two things about me that I’m very proud of, not just one or the other: that I’m gay, and that I’m Rob and Jane Portman’s son.

I’m grateful to be able to continue to integrate my two worlds, the yin and yang of Yale and Ohio and the different values and experiences they represent in my life. When you find yourself between two worlds — for example, if you’re navigating the transition between a straight culture and a gay identity — it’s possible to feel isolated and alone, like you don’t fit in with either group that makes up a part of who you are.

But instead of feeling like you don’t belong anywhere, or like you have to reject one group in order to join another, you can build a bridge between your two worlds, and work to facilitate greater understanding between them.

I support marriage for same-sex couples because I believe that everybody should be treated the same way and have the same shot at happiness. Over the course of our country’s history the full rights of citizenship have gradually been extended to a broader and broader group of people, something that’s made our society stronger, not weaker. Gay rights may be the civil rights cause of the moment, but the movement fits into a larger historical narrative.

I’m proud of my dad, not necessarily because of where he is now on marriage equality (although I’m pretty psyched about that), but because he’s been thoughtful and open-minded in how he’s approached the issue, and because he’s shown that he’s willing to take a political risk in order to take a principled stand. He was a good man before he changed his position, and he’s a good man now, just as there are good people on either side of this issue today.

We’re all the products of our backgrounds and environments, and the issue of marriage for same-sex couples is a complicated nexus of love, identity, politics, ideology and religious beliefs. We should think twice before using terms like “bigoted” to describe the position of those opposed to same-sex marriage or “immoral” to describe the position of those in favor, and always strive to cultivate humility in ourselves as we listen to others’ perspectives and share our own.

I hope that my dad’s announcement and our family’s story will have a positive impact on anyone who is closeted and afraid, and questioning whether there’s something wrong with them. I’ve been there. If you’re there now, please know that things really do get better, and they will for you too.

Will Portman is a junior in Trumbull College. 

  • theantiyale

    Mr. Portman:

    At Yale Divinity School of the 1970″s and 80’s we would call this article and your choice to speak publicly a “sacrificial ministry”. I hope you do not blanche at the thought.

    You have chosen to sacrifice the comfort and security of private life and endure national publicity to minister to an ailing society.

    It is not a denominational thing—or even a “christian” thing: Such a ministry could hypothetically be performed by an atheist. The G-force works in strange ways. Think of how A.A. was formed and the millions it has “saved”.

    I hope every member of the Supreme Court reads your article.

    This is not a vain hope since my understanding is that at least one extremely conservative Justice graduated from Old Blue and holds a egalitarian grudge against its elitism—-(like I do in a friendlier way).

    I also understand that several former living US presidents are Old and Blue. They may smuggle your article to that temple of justice on Capital Hill.


    You have joined the Civil Rights movement. And like it or not you may be its Rosa Parks, its Gloria Steinham, its————–Rob Portman.

    Thank you for standing tall. We need to see the landmarks above the forest canopy to know where we are going and where we have been.

    That’s the role steeples used to play.

    Paul D. Keane
    M. Div.’80

    • joematcha

      Thanks for this; I never would have thought about Portman’s article in this light.

    • bandanajack

      thanks for couching this in terms of AA, you did not exaggerate its impact. i will have 30 years this september.

    • BobSF_94117

      Well, unless Mr. Portman is about to be arrested and jailed for coming out, he’s no Rosa Parks. What’s wrong with being just another gay kid, another one of tens of thousands, who have come out to their parents relatively young, albeit one with a more prominent father than most?

      • Ron Hayes

        No, Mr. Portman will not be arrested and jailed for coming out. But that’s because of the brave, gay “Rosa Parkses” who came out before him.

        • BobSF_94117

          Exactly! And you share your last name with one of them.

    • Inattentive Vigilant

      A.A. has an abysmal success rate.

      More than 50% leave after the first month. And only an average of 20% of that last a year in the program, and of that 20% somewhere around 80% of them relapse multiple times throughout the year.

      A.A. has statistically done either similar or worse than treatment through secular psychotherapy.

      • Bekah Wright

        Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it 🙂 Or perhaps you have, and you’re one of the unfortunate ones who are constitutionally incapable of the honesty the program requires. Just saying.

        • Inattentive Vigilant

          Sorry Bekah, I’m just citing empirical data comparing the success rates of A.A. compared to general psych treatments. If you’d like to give citations to the contrary, go right ahead. It’s probably more helpful than derision of others.

          • M.A.

            Just because it doesn’t work for everybody doesn’t mean there’s no value in it. Besides, lots of folks can’t afford psych treatment; it’s good to have options.

          • Inattentive Vigilant

            The state pays for A.A.

            The state could also pay for psych treatment.

          • JR

            Since AA is free, I’m not sure what the hell you mean. You also provide NO PROOF whatsoever that “psych” has a better success rate than AA, don’t tell us what you call “success”, and in general, seem merely to have an axe to grind. Many, many AA’ers have tried psychological/psychiatric approaches without success. I know plenty of them. But you, however, baldly make claims and provide zero evidence.

          • Inattentive Vigilant

            @JR: The building and the treatment programs are funded by the State and County mental health board, as well as private donations and children’s services.

            There is a lot of taxpayer money at the state level that funds AA directly. It’s free to participate, meaning, you don’t pay directly out of pocket but if you pay taxes you are certainly funding it.

          • Inattentive Vigilant

            Also, there is plenty of available evidence if you bother to look for even one second. And of course, you seem to not be providing anything contrary to my statements:


            You’re welcome.

          • Inattentive Vigilant

            How many alcoholics were cured after joining Scientology? I hear that works great too, but the organization, like AA, is too secretive to ever reveal any data. Oh darn, we may never know…

          • Inattentive Vigilant

            btw: AA has the same success rate as people who seek absolutely zero treatment.

      • Stephen Hutchison

        AA does have a terrible success rate, except for the approximately (using more accurate statistical methods) ten percent for whom it works beautifully.

        This is comparable to chemotherapy for difficult cancers: a targeted therapy for a specific kind of cancer works better than a shotgun approach; the same can be said of addiction. It’s only the assertion that AA is universally effective that is problematic.

        • JR

          I don’t see anyone making that claim.

      • theantiyale

        It is a fact that the 12-Step Program, devised by AA’s founders, has helped millions, to overcome the self-destructive trap of self-defeating behavior, not only with alcohol ,but with other compulsive addictions.

        MY POINT, WHICH YOU IGNORE, is that the G-force does not choose saints to promulgate its intentions in the world.

        Dr. Bob and Bill W. were considered failures and drunks by many in their society, just as those who seek same gender marriage are considered blasphemous by their opponents in today’s society.

        Never underestimate the Power of Paradox to work its will for good in the world.


        • Inattentive Vigilant

          If you have any empirical data to corroborate your statement, then please provide. Otherwise, you are offering absolutely nothing but your opinion.

          And your point is GOD. Which, in my and many other people’s opinions, is a lie. The state forcing people to attend religious organization meetings is unconstitutional and should be stopped instantly.

          • JR

            If you don’t know the difference between a spiritual meeting and a religious one, you clearly don’t know enough to be posting on the subject. AA Is not religious at all.

          • JR

            You demand citations but provide none yourself. I, at least, can offer my personal experience over many years.

      • Gordon

        OK, then! Anyone for RR (Rational Recovery)? I hear that works beautifully. Any statistics on that program, Jean-Paul?

        • Inattentive Vigilant

          I don’t personally know much about RR, and I think it’s not widely used enough to have decent statistics.

          The point of contention with A.A. isn’t just their miserable success rate. But also the fact that people are ordered by the state to attend meetings with organizations steeped in Jesus (they call it “higher power”, or “The G-Force”). Seems a bit unconstitutional to me.

      • Bill Miller

        AA does indeed work. I have been sober for 30 + years now. I have had a drink now and then, in those 30 + years, but I learned a whole lot about me and who I am and why I am the way that I am through self examination, and a belief in a Higher Power. AA is not , in my opinion a place where people have to go to meetings for the rest of their lives, rather it is a way for people that need help adjusting to life get help and then move on with their lives.

        • Inattentive Vigilant

          Bill, it is awesome that you have been healthy for so long. It is highly commendable and one of the most difficult things a person can go through.

          However, it’s anecdotal. The statistics are completely accurate. And many of us believe it is highly unconstitutional for the state to force people into a religious program.

    • R Jensen

      As someone who reads the Bible on a regular basis, I view your characterization of Pullman’s “coming out” as borderline delusional. You have about as much understanding of what Christian sacrifice and ministry are as Portman does of humility. The homosex rights movement is all about forcing other people to think a certain way.

      • Bill Miller

        The HOMOSEXUAL MOVEMENT is all about ASKING PEOPLE to not judge others. The movement is asking to be treated the same as you want to be treated
        The Homosexual Movement is definitely NOT about FORCING anyone to think a certain way. The movement is to ask people to treat EVERYONE as their EQUAL.

      • Inattentive Vigilant

        This is where the christians and radical islamists have a lot in common.

      • robo94117

        Fortunately, we live in a secular country. You’re welcome to think whatever you like, even if it’s some delusion about homosexuals forcing you to think a certain way. I’m free to think that your thinking lacks thoughtfulness, and is probably the product of some inner fear or doubt about your own sexuality. But don’t be alarmed. This gnawing self-doubt is perfectly normal for those suffering from homophobia.

  • Bladderball2

    Sterling Library — where’s that?

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelBroder Michael Broder

    Yale is the Gay Ivy? I thought Columbia was the Gay Ivy. What a rude awakening.

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelBroder Michael Broder

    Nice work, Will. Thanks for writing this.

  • boogs

    You came out to your dad, your dad came out to the Republican Party. In doing so, he gives other Republicans room to do the same. He even beat a few Democrats in the Senate to the punch. Anyway, I’m glad he evolved; he’s not that far behind President Obama.

    • Eric09

      Let’s be honest here… no one was under the impression President Obama was ever anything but supportive for gay rights causes.

      After all, he stopped enforcing DOMA as soon as he came into office.

      • https://www.facebook.com/psiphiorg David Henderson

        DOMA is still enforced to this day. Try filing your federal taxes as “married” if you and your spouse are both men or both women. It will be rejected. And as recently as 2011, his Justice Department was still defending DOMA in the courts.

        • Eric09

          Obama in 2010 opposing DOMA: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/22/obama-affirms-support-for_n_800460.html

          Please stop making up facts.

          • https://www.facebook.com/psiphiorg David Henderson

            Read more closely. He supported repealing DOMA, but he was still defending it as constitutional. Here’s Towleroad’s analysis of a brief filed in January 2011:


            And he’s still enforcing it today. If he weren’t, then the Supreme Court would have no reason to hear US v. Windsor on Wednesday, because Edith Windsor would have already been granted her inheritance tax refund.

          • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/YXNpZADpBWEU1bUtuZAVhXdnR4NVl3MXV0YU9DeExobk1FX1ZArY2h4N3lXZADRyWkJiR0x4NUd1elhDa1ptWWdCWmtXd1BRVG5NaUJlSzRkYWRHeHBGRzlwRG1oY1ZAuRzJXWG40ZAWtFZATgZD/ Jose Del Real

            That analysis was published a month before the administration announced that it would reverse its position.


          • https://www.facebook.com/psiphiorg David Henderson

            But it affirms my claim, “as recently as 2011”, and disproves @Eric09:disqus’s claim, “as soon as he came into office [in 2009].”

          • zedn

            Regardless of the DOJ’s decision not to defend it in court, DOMA is still in effect.

          • ArlingtonRed

            Obama was for it before he was against it…or is it the other way around?????

        • $30851753

          That wasn’t the Justice Department. That was Legal Counsel hired by the House Republicans. Check it out.

      • boogs

        Really!?!? That’s odd — because my non-U.S.-citizen fiance and I have had a bitch dealing with that whole visa thing. News to me — but what would I know? I just live it all.

        • Paul Browne

          You mean you can’t just go in and get a spousal visa because Obama’s not enforcing DOMA? Heaven’s above – and hell’s below. And here I thought Nirvana had arrived.

        • Eric09

          Laws aren’t overturned because of a president’s support or lack thereof.

          That’s why the Supreme Court is currently involved.

      • Aimee Barfield

        Perhaps you meant DADT? He was against that going in, it was not left up to him to entirely make the decision either. It required extensive panels with different military organizations and Senate hearings. The President did go in wanting to repeal DADT.

      • Larry McMasters

        So Obama was lying about his position? Are you ok with the fact that THE ONE is a liar? Or since he is a lib and you are a lib it is ok to lie to the American people to get elected?

        What does that say about your politics?

        • Inattentive Vigilant

          It says shut up.

      • terryhughes

        That’s absolutely right. It’s just one of many examples of Obama’s supporters not only REALIZING he’s a serial calculated liar, but DEPENDING on it.

    • http://www.wikispeedia.org carterson2

      4% of the US Population has SSA. Avoid the word PARTY in comments. Do as Fred says, “Laugh with people”, “not at them”.

    • dmhlt_66

      Given that Will wrote his letter in February, 2010 – it took Sen. Portman over two years to decide whether he loved his son or his Republican Party ideology more.

      But that’s understandable because it takes humans a little while to come to terms with unexpected circumstances, process the data and evolve to deal with it in a productive way.

      It takes Republicans a LOT longer.

      • Stephen Hutchison

        Addressed in the original article. Not necessary to snark.

    • Ray Shelton

      By “evolve” you mean “will take any position that gets himself reelected. None of these people, republicans or democrats have any real beliefs. They simply want power for power’s sake. Their political jobs are nothing more that expressions of deep-seated personal problems. If the majority of Americans were still against gay marriage, you can be certain that Obama and his friends would still be firmly against gay marriage. All these people only get in the water once it has been made safe by all the rest of us who have done the real work of changing the world. Yet Will and his father will acclaimed as “heroes” when all they did was tell the truth – in a context of wealth and power.

      • Bruce Lewis

        But WILL did “get in the water” BEFORE his father did. Why don’t you give HIM credit for lending his father HIS courage.

  • nomegustas

    I would’ve appreciated more on Skyline Chili. Kidding. It’s pretty cool to realize the gay son I’ve heard so much about in the news is a fellow Yalie.

    • gever

      skyline is tripe & sugar with a few spices.

  • Kevin Park

    I read your article at this particular moment in time with a mixture of awe, joy, humbleness, and respect. Please keep up the good fight and work hard to use the talents you have to improve the world in a way that fits you… I am middle-aged now and finally matured when I matched what I am good at with what I enjoy. I thought I personally was done when I came out during college…

    And I also recovered from graduating from the “other Ivy” in Cambridge…. No just kidding, I still like Cambridge better than New Haven…

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/YXNpZADpBWEZAiRHpzdUtDNWIyQkNZATENRYXVwSmp3ZADlpOUtZARDFJQks1R3BKUGU5bEdWakZApOVBTR2x2aTNLQ3RuUE9EamhVZAmlSNW1Bd0FlQ2ZAsc3dwSmhFZAjFGejBOVW1WSGpZAM181/ Steve Ribisi

    Dear Will: I too came out in the Yale Daily News, though I did it in the early 1990’s and not quite as eloquently as you. After my article was published, I remember the relief of being out to everyone, finally, and of being able to be my true self at last. At the time, the article was seen by a teacher at my former high school who happened to be visiting campus when the article was printed and I briefly became the subject of much conversation back at my old school. Apparently, my article caused some of the teachers I had known to reconsider their thinking on gay people. An unintended consequence, that in retrospect, I probably could have foreseen. Unintended or not I welcomed the chance to make a small difference. Imagine the effect you are having! I wish you and your family luck and I hope that your parents one day get to dance at the wedding marking the beginning of your legally recognized marriage. Best wishes to you.

  • http://www.davidlauri.com David Lauri

    Good for you. I and many other Ohioans and Americans appreciate your coming out. It’s by LGBT Americans coming out that we help our straight family and friends to understand us and that we earn the civil rights we should have had all along.

    I still won’t vote for your dad though. He thinks it should be legal for people to fire me or to refuse to hire me for being gay. I believe in nondiscrimination legislation and I think your father should support ENDA. Unless he evolves to do so, he won’t get my vote.

  • bandanajack

    your dad has good reason to be proud, and as a gay man who has been working most of my life to make an open life for you and your generation not only possible, but filled with opportunities for joy and satisfaction, i can take my satisfaction in having helped move the needle most of the way home. you and yours can proudly take it from here. (and please do hurry, i’d like to know i have all my rights as a citizen of these united states before i die).

  • jasonnewyork

    Thank you for coming out, Will. It’s an endearing story, and I hope you appreciate how rare and gentle your coming out process was. Who gets to come out to their best friend only to hear the response, “me too”? What a great moment, and there is so much ahead, but I also encourage you to remember the many many others whose coming out experience was not quite so easy and be thankful for the way your story is turning out.

    • David Robertson

      I was going to say the same thing. I’m obviously so happy for Will but the fact is, most coming out stories aren’t completely pretty if at all and they don’t get attention because people don’t want to hear the negative stories. However, it is true that, ultimately, if you want to feel complete as an individual, coming out is the process one needs to take to do that.

  • br2013

    Will this is a great piece and I’m so glad that you wrote it. Especially behind all the media coverage about your father’s support for marriage equality I think everyone forgets that it is a human issue with real people involved. I was disgusted when I read the various headlines questioning the authenticity of Senator Portman’s decision, as if though it was a long form of some political calculus. Reading this was refreshing in reminding us all that politics is about people and experiences rather than neatly packaged philosophies. Peoples views on social issues evolve and as a Republican I’m glad that we have your father in the Senate.

    • яовэят ёскэят

      Well, Senator Portman does seem to have gone through a long form of political calculus. If Will sees him as “dad first and a senator second”, sadly it doesn’t much look like his dad views it that way. He still doesn’t want Will to be secure in any job he takes, and he is only in favor of Will being allowed to marry as long as he lives far away from Ohio. I would hope that Rob still has further to evolve.

  • David Robertson

    Thank you, Will. You’re truly awesome. Very eloquent article. Really puts the entire situation in a new light for me and I think many others.

  • Lisa Baer

    I am so very proud of you and your Dad. You are a role model as far as I am concerned. If my kids turn out as intelligent, compassionate, and brave as you, I will be a very proud and grateful mother.
    Lisa Baer:)

  • Ryan

    You incorrectly refer to the goal of the homosexual movement as “marriage equality,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Every homosexual man has the right to marry somebody of the opposite gender, so every man and woman currently has equal rights. If you wish to declare yourself married to another man then find a minister to make such a declaration and work for a company that provides same-sex benefits. You have no right to impose those beliefs on everybody else through unelected justices in a court overturning the lawfully amended California state constitution.

    • Kola141

      “Every homosexual man has the right to marry somebody of the opposite gender, so every man and woman currently has equal rights.”

      This is a preposterous claim, and is equivalent to saying something like, “a law banning synagogues allows for equal rights, because both Jews and Christians have the equal right to attend a church.”

      The Supreme Court has held that marriage is a fundamental right over 10 times, and in none of those instances does it hold that procreation internal to the union is a necessary condition of marriage. In fact, the SCOTUS has held that the right to NOT have children within marriage is protected under the Constitution (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). Plus, the recent gay rights cases (Romer v. Evans, 1996 and Lawrence v. Texas, 2003) hold that moral disapproval of homosexuality is not a justifiable state interest for policy that burdens gays.

      In conclusion, there is no rational (let alone constitutional) reason to bar same-sex couples from the benefits and obligations of civil marriage. History is on the side of LGBT equality.

      • unixman84


      • depressionbaby

        What if I want to marry my sister? What if I want to marry two women, or vice versa? Doesn’t seem “fair” if I can’t. Once they change the customary “definition” of marriage the Supremes can change other definitions as well. In fact they already have changed the definition of murder.

        • Kola141

          Marriage has been a very changeful institution over the course of American history. It used to be that a woman was incorporated into her husband’s identity as his property (under the doctrine of coverture), but we have since “redefined” that aspect.

          Marriages used to be a tool to keep the races apart and promote racial “purity” in order to avoid breeding a “mongrel race.” We have since “redefined” that aspect.

          You might be surprised to know that, in 27 states, you can currently marry your opposite-sex cousin, but not a partner of the same-sex!

          And as for the polygamy slippery-slope that you marriage equality opponents are constantly invoking, I will grant you that this is a possibility. Fifty years from now, I expect new challenges will be made to the definition of marriage. Yes, such challenges could take the form of challenges to recognize polygamous marriages (in fact, such challenges would not be new, as they were made on grounds of the free exercise of religion in the 19th century). Currently, I would distinguish polygamous marriage primarily on the intuitive ground that one can give one’s full self to only one other person. But I would prefer to test such intuitions if and when such debates become live national controversies. I do not purport to know where future challenges will arise, or how those challenges might require us to reassess the purposes of marriage. I refuse to answer the question “What is marriage?” by saying “Marriage is one thing, always and everywhere, for all people.” I regard that refusal as a strength, rather than as a weakness, of my position, as I do not think we stand at the end of history today.

          Traditionalists often speak in terms of a timeless “ideal” family. I find myself asking “which ideal?” Liberty, equality, and justice are also ideals, and only time will reveal what they require of us.

    • Chad950

      but an LGBT person currently does not have the right to marry someone they love.

    • noveed

      Somebody has got it backwards…

      YOU have no right to impose your beliefs on everybody else. Every conservative religious individual is free to not marry someone of the same sex, so you will continue to have equal rights after gay marriage inevitably is legalized. If you wish to be a religious conservative, you are free to go to a church that claims “homosexuals” are sinners and not have gay marriages. However, you have no right to impose those beliefs on others. Nor do the people who happened to vote in 2008 in California. Nor does anyone else. That’s precisely the point behind marriage equality and civil rights, and it’s why we have a constitution and a judicial system that makes sure everybody’s rights continue to be upheld equally before the law.

    • Bob Gappa

      As to your imposition upon us the gay folk denying us our civil rights I say Pflafffffffff. As for those unelected justices, I expect equal rights not just the ones you decide to give us.

    • Mark McGovern

      Really? That old tired disingenuous argument?

      There is no imposition of anyone’s beliefs on you so long as we don’t demand you marry another man Ryan. Yet YOU demand I marry a woman if I want legal recognition.

      Is that really the best you have?

    • unixman84

      Ryan, I see your point and it’s a fair argument assuming that I was straight. It’s true that I can marry nearly any consenting woman of my choice. But you see the catch is it’s not truly equal on the base that I am not attracted to women. The folks in your boat are not suffering because of this and it only makes it more difficult for you all to see what is right in front of us. Rest assured in our lifetime that wall will fall more and more if not totally and I will be cheering it on with a rainbow flag in hand.

      Faketony, The difference is totally clear in your augment but if you don’t wish to acknowledge this thats fine by me. I’m not sold on family members getting hitched anymore than you and most people here would agree. However you are right that at some point that may become a topic to pick at… Today we just want freedom in the land of the free.

      Maybe one more thing to add to this, I wonder how people would react if when marriage was first proposed (between a man and woman) that it was met with the same intolerance that we are reading about now. Truth is that likely it was to some degree and people got over it and I’m sure both of you will as well.

  • The Cool Cookie

    Dear Will, All of us who are LGTB and decide to come out to those we love, and know, all have to make a unique journey. No two coming out experiences for people are the same – some of us choose when to undertake the process, and unfortunately for others, like myself, you get “outted” by a third party. If you are strong, things work out for the best. But never get so far along in life that you lose your compassion for those who are coming out of the closet. I think that’s what happened to the people who criticized your father – they forgot that parents of LGBT children also have their own coming out of a sort. These people see the world through their eyes, and their eyes only, and when someone doesn’t magically do what these other people feel like they should, that is where criticism can be found. Your parents raised a remarkable person in you and whatever you plan to do in life, I feel like you’ll do great things for you and yours.

  • Robert Morris

    Well done, Mr. Portman, and so eloquently expressed. Yale in the 60s was a very different place, on the surface at least.

  • Sarah Hawkins

    Thank you for sharing your story publicly, and in doing so making it part of your father’s narrative as well. Your courage and selflessness is an inspiration to anyone struggling to fit in while remaining true to themselves.

  • LuxetLex

    The longer one is “out”, the easier it is to forget how hard it was to get to that point. I hope that you and your family will stand strong against the criticism from some corners concerning your father’s delay in coming out in favor of marriage equality. I do particularly appreciate your point about building a bridge between the gay and straight worlds. As a gay lawyer and large corporation employee, I have managed to strike a balance such that I can move between the scotch-drinking, cigar-chomping world of Texas business (I really am a scotch enthusiast, so I have an incentive!) and the more progressive social world of the HRC National Dinner (an annual tradition now), a variety of local Federal Club, Stonewall, and Equality Texas events, and the occasional night out with the boys. But it took time and effort. There will always be some who throw themselves wholeheartedly into the gay world, surrounding themselves with mostly gay/lesbian friends and eschewing much of the other. That’s ok. We are all free to make our own lives. Now that you are beginning the process of integrating into the so-called gay community you will hear more painful stories from others who have struggled and may not have had the supportive parents you had. My own uncle recently passed away at the age of 65 and we discovered (as I long believed) that he was gay – and very lonely. I know young men who were kicked out of their homes after their parents found out about their sexual identity and many who still are running from any church affiliation due to the way they were treated when they were younger. It’s very sad. I think that the key to understanding why this issue is so important is that we want the freedom to make our own lives and build our own families, just as straight couples have the freedom to make their own lives and build their own families. We are not trying to deprive those straight couples of the right to do so. I wish you the best of luck.

  • Krusher

    Congratulations on your coming out–that had to take a lot of guts, even given that the world has changed a lot in the past 10 years. I am very far from being a Republican, but your dad must be commended for being able to overcome his prejudices.

  • desch

    This is beautiful. Good work!

  • tivino@hotmail.com

    While Sen Rob Portman’s change of mind on Equal Rights is welcome, it also illustrates a lack of intellectual and moral integrity: Why is it necessary for some people to be directly affected by an unjust state of affairs before they can see the light? Cases abound of parents initially supporting the Iraq war who later changed their position after their own son or daughter was killed or maimed in the war; or, anti-gun control parents become pro-gun control ony after their son or daughter falls victim of a gun attack in school. This kind of behavior may be excused if it’s due to ignorance or intellectual shortcoming, but it is unacceptable in the case of political leaders, who are supossed to look after the common good. How much suffering, humiliation and cruel discrimination of LGBTT people could have been avoided had this Senator and other mindless leaders like him given serious thought and due consideration to the issues at hand without having to be personally affected?

    • Mark McGovern

      I wonder how many gay persons (myself included) would have been motivated to fight the fight without personal stake in the issue? Milk said “come out” because he wanted to engage the Senator Portmans of the world in the debate, and recruit them to the cause.

      For every one person who comes out, there are multiple new allies associated with the outed person. As much as I abhor Senator Portman’s pre-son- coming out positions on GLBT equality, perhaps he will apply what he (the Senator) has learned to the bigger picture? How many people has he now influenced for the cause, regardless of his position on other matters of politics and human rights?

    • theantiyale

      Cut the guy some slack. It’s a political hot potato. What do you want: a Thomas Aquinas?


      Nice donkey.

    • Mikey Johnson

      People have to learn somehow…

  • faketony

    If you support gay marriage you would be a hypocrite if you didn`t extend that same right to marry to say… brothers, mother and daughter, etc….

    Portman is gone next election.

    • gnomemaker

      Brothers, mother and daughter are already family. They don’t need explicit clarification of inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, and child custody in the case of the primary parent’s death.

      Marriage makes a family legally, the way love makes a family socially. You’re not preventing gay families by preventing gay marriage – opponents don’t really seem to be getting that.

    • Inattentive Vigilant

      While Will Portman has asked for people not to use the word bigot, there really is no other word for people like faketony

      Bigot: : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

      • TJay229

        The word bigot is also a accurate description of Rob Portman.

    • Mark McGovern

      On what basis do you make such a contention?

  • Michael David Barber Moghul

    On every other issue that matters, Portman remains a complete and utter piece of shit

  • icon4us

    I thought Columbia was the gay Ivy? lol
    My question is do you and you best friend from high school, see new (romantic)

    • lit per

      As somebody who had the same experience, I’d say it’s better to keep love and friendship apart. Or else it could ruin both.

  • http://twitter.com/ijpoole Isaiah J. Poole

    For those of us who have struggled with our own coming-out process, thank you Will for sharing yours and for using the opportunity you have to lead us all to a more loving and more understanding place.

  • Inattentive Vigilant

    Congratulations William. My sister came out to our family about 15 years ago. She has a wonderful son who is enlisted in the armed services, an incredibly thoughtful and talented person, and I couldn’t be more proud to be her brother. Send thanks to your father as well. It wasn’t an easy decision for him, knowing which part of the political spectrum he is in. He is risking his political career for this, and that can’t be brushed aside.

  • DigitalDeb

    Being a kid, teen, young adult, adult is tough enough these days without the added stress of living in fear because of your core person hood. I applaud your courage and thank you for the strength to put yourself out there publicly. “A life lived in fear is a life half lived” and “Be the change you wish to see in the world” come to mind here.
    All the best to you and your family – A fellow Buckeye (who still won’t vote RP- see above as another commenter covered it…but NOT the comment directly above me!!) I now view your father in a better light over this. See? People CAN change!

  • BlueAlliance

    Bravo Will and good luck to you! My brother was gay and completely ostracized from our family. Gayness was never discussed, it was just like he didn’t exist! He ended up becoming a priest which was not the right decision for him and he left soon after. He now lives with his boyfriend and sadly our parents and their generation passed away without knowing him and what an extraordinary human being he is. So glad you will not have to endure a life without a loving family, as he did, Your story gives me hope. Thank you.

  • lit per

    Thank you very much Will for fighting for our rights. I hope this will inspire more children to come out to their parents. The more they will know LGBT people are not just “there”, but in their own families, the more they will understand how decicions they make could affect their loved ones.

  • jimmy25

    I applaud your dad and I am curious what justification he gave in the past for his beliefs on marriage equality. I suspect that many, many people use “religious beliefs” as a scapegoat excuse for disapproving of a behavior, when in reality they just think it’s “weird or gross”. This would certainly seem the case for people who are capable of changing their views. (Do people really change deeply held religious beliefs that easily?) It seems like being close to someone who comes out is the only way actually cause someone to go through the introspection to see if they’re willing to change their positions. Sad, but true. Well, you did your part for being yourself and coming out to those you know.

    • TJay229

      The man (Rob Portman) is a bigot plain and simple.

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    Although I appreciate this young man’s ideals in regards to thinking twice about how this should be debated, I must respectfully disagree with the assertion he proffers. If one is against Same Sex Marriage, one is by definition, discriminatory. I say this because there is no rational argument to offer for its opposition and thus; lacking a rational basis, the argument cannot be given the same weighted consideration as the facts: the denial of civil rights to one segment of the population based solely on the concept of ‘eeww, that’s gross’.

    Not all situations have two sides that are of equal measure or value, and SSM is one of those situations; we should not pretend that they are. Mr. Portman wants to believe that those opposed to SSM have a legitimate point of view but, the facts do not bare that out. Although emotion is a valid part of an argument, for or against, it is merely one component of the whole. For an argument to be seen as valid or to hold any legitimate weight, it must also be composed of hard facts; which, as I stated, are lacking on the part of the opponents of SSM.

    I am quite prepared to be civil to those against SSM but I cannot, with all due humility and honesty, take their position to be anything more than what it is: a puerile worldview based on an emotional response to the imagined sexual activities of homosexuals. It’s an irrational fear and unworthy of being taken as a serious debating position.

    • BCSWowbagger

      If you are quite sure that there is “no rational argument to offer” in opposition to the redefinition of civil marriage, I invite you to read some of the intellectual arguments that have been taking place around marriage in the past couple of years. I would start with the Robert George / Ryan Anderson article, “What Is Marriage?”, published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy and the flurry of responses (and responses-to-responses) that that piece set off around the blogosphere. You can find that entire conversation here.

      It is impossible to be fully exposed to the national conversation on same-sex marriage and continue to believe that opposition to it is automatically irrational, emotional, or unfounded. There are very smart, very honest, very good people making the case on both sides of the question. (There are hateful, angry, bigoted knaves on both sides of the question, too.) Sen. Portman was persuaded by one group of smart people. Now, with the help of his son, he has been persuaded by another group of smart people; no shame in that. But dismissing either side as failing to offer a “serious debating position”, as you do, only show’s ones own ignorance of the opposite side, unfairly demeans many sincere and intelligent American voters, and ultimately weakens the case you’d like to make.

      I’m very pleased with young Mr. Portman today. It’s very hard to come out, no matter the circumstance. This was a particularly tough one.

      • Jean-Marc in Canada

        I understand your post but, and this may come as a shock, the U.S. is not the only nation to have gone through this debate or discussion, in fact I would say you are rather late coming to the debate. Many nations including: Canada, Spain, Denmark, Norway and others dealt with the same arguments now being put forth in the U.S. The results were pretty much the same; denial of marriage as a right to homosexuals cannot be predicated on irrational (there is no other word to best describe it) beliefs and non-factual based opposition.

        As for your swipe at my being ‘ignorant’ on the subject, know that I helped draft the argument in Canada though EGALE, the LGBT Civil Rights Group based in Ottawa. I may be many things, stupid is not one of them.

        Further, our Supreme Court dealt with the slippery slope nonsense, specifically the specious assertion that SSM would lead to legalizing Paedophila, Necrophilia, Bestiality, Incest and in the case of Polygamy, upheld the B.C. Supreme Court ruling that it was harmful on the grounds of gender/sex/power imbalance. These ruling ensured that there would be no future attempts by those opposed to SSM to try an end run around the ruling.

        My point is simply this, many of the same ‘rational’ arguments were made in other jurisdiction at different times in the past 20 years; they ultimately failed because, at the end of the day, it always came down to the ‘ick’ factor or religious beliefs. If I appear to be dismissive of the other side in this fight, it’s because I’ve been on this ride already. The arguments were not seen as valid then and , hopefully, the SCOTUS will confirm it now.

        • BCSWowbagger

          Stupidity and ignorance are not the same thing. Many very intelligent people, who have tremendous faculties for knowing and understanding and analyzing, lack accurate sources of information, which leaves them in ignorance. Sometimes they have been deprived of information by the condition of their birth, by a poor education, by bad luck, by intellectual isolation. Sometimes they have deliberately deprived themselves of information by refusing to understand what their intellectual opponents think and why.

          Your characterization of the anti-redefinition argument, at least as it has taken shape here in the States, is simply not accurate. The arguments on both sides here are fact-driven and rational, and have no reliance on animus (or “the ick factor”, as you call it) or religion — which the conversation I linked very adequately demonstrates, if you would be so kind as to take a look at it. Obviously, one side of this debate is right and the other is wrong, because they can’t both be right, but both sides have strong cases. But the fact that you immediately characterize the SSM opposition as making a “slippery slope” argument illustrates to me that you have no idea what the organized American opponents of same-sex marriage are chiefly arguing.

          It makes no difference that you are an activist on the issue — although, since you are from another country, who worked on one side of the issue, a decade ago, it is perhaps not surprising that you are unfamiliar with the contours of the discussion as it exists today in the U.S. Indeed, even if you were Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, it would not change the fact that what you just said was ignorant.

          Now, as I said, ignorance is not a character flaw. It is often accidental, and can always be remedied. So I have nothing against you personally. But your dismissive, inaccurate characterization of the intelligent, well-organized American opposition only injures the cause of getting same-sex marriage instituted in this country. I ask that you please refamiliarize yourself with the current landscape, as it has changed a great deal since Barbeau v. B.C..

  • TJay229

    Well I know we all must love our loved ones unconditionally. And that is surely evident with you being proud of a horrible man to the gay community.

    I do not feel elated that his “evolution” has just occurred 2 years after you told him. I still suffer from the misery he help to inflict on Gay people before you found the courage to tell him you liked men over women.

    http://www.ontheissues.org/oh/rob_portman.htm for those that don’t know or have a clue as to Why Rob Portman received a 0 from the Human Rights Campaign, he supported nothing for us, in fact he helped harm some gay families intentionally.

    Now, he’s evolved… His evolution didnt even prompt him to become the only sitting member of Congress to sign the Amicus brief to repeal DOMA… And some people want to lavish him with praise or adulation… For what… What strides for fairness has he done… His acceptance is still a sefish one, and cant be seen as nothing else.

    He’s your father Will, you have to love him, not the rest of us. The man is a BIGOT, and im not ashamed to say it.

    I spit on his name

    • Inattentive Vigilant

      That’s a terrible way to go through life.

      If people like Senator Portman believe that coming around to our side of things will be met with the kind of vitriol and hatred that you espouse here, why would they make that decision knowing they are also harming their political career and inviting derision and open hostility from their own side of the political spectrum?

      That kind of attitude is going to prevent conservative Republicans from changing their minds and coming out of their own political closets.

      • BobSF_94117

        Sen. Portman hasn’t come around to our side. He still supports DOMA. He believes it’s up to the states — I assume he expects his son will live in a blue state. He still doesn’t support federal recognition. In fact, the only pro-gay vote he’s made is to include sexual orientation in hate crime law and that vote was probably incidental to his decision to support the law that included the provision. He probably supported other parts of the law and just accepted the pro-gay pill.

        • Inattentive Vigilant

          Maybe I’m jumping the gun on it, but perhaps he needs all the encouragement he can get to get him over here quicker.

          • BobSF_94117

            I’m all for encouragement, but I’m not going to pretend he has done more than he has. I sincerely hope his son keeps talking to him and pressing him.

      • TJay229

        First off, who gives a rats ass about Republicans…? I sure as hell dont. They are the scum of the earth in my view.

        And as far as hate and vitriol.. Is that NOT THE SAME HE GAVE US.?

        You and your cloudy view of life is not significant to me.

        • David_Knight

          And who exactly is the bigot here. Hint, TJ — look in a mirror.

          • TJay229

            No, ignoramus, I’m not afraid to call a spade a spade. You don’t like it, tough.

          • David_Knight

            I know a bigot when I see one — and TJay, that would be you.

          • TJay229

            Ignoramus, I don’t give a dead fly’s wings about your incorrect opinion of me. PHUCK YOU.

  • Fudge

    We shouldn’t be naive and assume that your dad didn’t wait until the veep stakes were over. He did.

    • George Brauer

      Or he just didn’t want the 2012 election media to swarm around his son and make him the story. Ever think maybe he’s a good father that loves his son and puts family before politics?

      • tivino@hotmail.com

        I appreciate your comment, George, except that there was no need at all for the enlighted Senator to refer to his son story. Anyway, better late than never.

      • Anna

        Ever think that it’s idiotic that two people wanting to love each other is a political topic at all? Yes, he’s a good father that looks after his son. Guess what? He’s also a politician. Which means, he’s supposed to represent the interests of OTHER people. If he really wanted to put his family before politics, he could have done something easily. NOT ran for political office.

  • Sharon Stengel

    Your grandfather was the nicest person I ever knew. Is he still alive? If so or if not I’m sure he’s just of proud of you as your parents

  • afrocraft

    Ah, I dunno about such a public coming out, to be honest. I suppose it’s good to be free to be your true self, and that public acknowledgment that gay people are regular people helps the cause. Still, just as much as I’d rather die than be up on those gay pride floats gyrating about being out and proud, I cringe at such public displays of sexual orientation. I don’t see straight people “coming out” with a bang, do you? Equality for gays is a worthy goal, but you can’t be special and equal.

    Then again, considering who your dad is, perhaps there was no alternative…. Anyways, congrats?

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/YXNpZADpBWEg5YmRtaVJNZAFQzU1RodzJ6UVpJWnpPUnkxb0NtWHdIY0ZAvTklGa0VDS1FKeVBRZAmttR1BvM2NYVENQdldSeS1oTTJsS3FkRFdIc09vSjFLYzhnTnVnd2Flcm0tQQZDZD/ Jason Green-Lowe

    Great article! Thank you. 🙂
    -Jason Green-Lowe, TC ’06

  • http://worldojeff.blogspot.com/ WorldOJeff

    “We should think twice before using terms like ‘bigoted’ to describe the position of those opposed to same-sex marriage.”

    No, Will, we shouldn’t. It is the correct term to use for one who opposes the rights of another because of personal animus. It’s a factually based observation.

    It further bears notice that at NO point in this decades old struggle for basic equality have rights been awarded freely- we haven’t gotten this far by kowtowing or begging and we’re not going to start now.

    I’m glad that your own coming out story has been so successful- but don’t forget you have a lot of people to thank starting with the Stonewall rioters.

    • Mark McGovern

      There are people who are bigoted; there are people who are misinformed; and there are people who are uneducated. All the same in your view?

  • http://memorieswithpride.com/ Susan Berland

    Very well written. As the mother of a gay son, I was always supportive and when he came out, it took me a bit to adjust, even though I did know he was gay. As for marriage equality, I’ve been a staunch supporter. I’ve been very annoyed at those putting your dad down for changing his thinking, “just” because he has a gay son. How many parents of gay children never change their minds and in fact, disown their gay children. I appreciate your sharing your story and his evolution. You are lucky to have him as a dad and he is lucky to have you as his son.

  • ms2676

    Great Article Will. I was very happy to see your Dad change his mind on this. I hope he can get others in the GOP to feel the same.

  • Jordi Alonso

    Very eloquent, as always Will. I admire your courage and I’m glad to share a hometown and a senator with you.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/100000899865319/ Harvey Levitt

    Mr. Portman:
    As an Ohioan I am proud of the stance your father finally took, but it is disheartening that he had to rely on personal experience to end up doing the right thing. Perhaps you and your siblings can work on him to do the right thing on guns. W/o much downside he could help move the senate to pass legislation requiring universal background checks and criminalizing buying guns for others. Those two would be a good start for now and eventually he might even favor banning assault weapons and limiting the rounds per clip.
    Thank you.

  • Brian Fender

    Thank you for clarifying your and your father’s process. I have been particularly unnerved by the judgement of many gay people in response to your father’s announcement of support. Damned if you do etc. There needs to be room for growth for those who lack personal perspective.

  • Archie1954

    Unfortunately my experience with the coming out of a few of my friends has been difficult for me. I found that in every case my gay friends dropped me out of their lives in favour of their new found gay friends. I miss them very much and have supported them fully in their new lives. I just wish I hadn’t been shut out of them.

  • Paul M

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Will. I certainly appreciate your father’s willingness to discuss his change of heart in the public eye, and perhaps even more so appreciate your courage in both coming out to your parents and also being willing to sacrifice some privacy for the good of our national conversation. Many father/son relationships will be strengthened because of the leadership and modeling your have both provided. Thank you and best wishes.

  • xzargo

    Very heart-warming to read your story. For too long, prejudice and ignorance toward gay people has destroyed families, circumscribed people’s lives and led to horribly unjust laws, many of which remain in force. (Hopefully that’s going to change soon!) Times may be changing, but coming out to family and friends is still a deeply personal matter – we’ve all experienced the feelings of shame, guilt, isolation and despair; all at some point asked ourselves, “why was I dealt THIS?”.

    As for the politics, I know your dad is catching a lot of grief from both political sides about his change of heart on same-sex marriage. Myself, I’m willing to cut him some slack – for us, coming out to our parents is the end of a journey, but for them it’s just the beginning. It requires patience. Thanks to you, we now have a new friend and supporter in the U.S. Senate.

    We are turning the tide against prejudice, one family at a time.

    * Even better to find out that you and your dad are both whitewater boaters. Best wishes to you both. Live to paddle!

  • http://www.michaeltomasetti.com Michael Tomasetti

    Will, thanks for your eloquent letter explaining your process of coming out. I came out in a letter to my parents as well, and both were supportive. It takes integrity to live your life open and honestly. The Supreme Court will rule on gay marriage this week and I hope your letter, will be one additional push in the right direction for marriage equality.

  • disqus_8GRYzG4tJW

    Thanks for sharing your story, Will. This shows great courage, and I wish you the best of luck building and reinforcing the bridges you describe. This is the sort of news that makes me proud to be a Yalie.

    “We’re all the products of our backgrounds and environments, and the issue of marriage for same-sex couples is a complicated nexus of love, identity, politics, ideology and religious beliefs. ” Thank you for this especially; your experience illustrates the truth in this. The route to social change often comes through respectful and loving personal relationships (though I believe other routes can be valid and necessary). In particular, religion can actually provide a powerful force for social equality, as your father has acknowledged and as the Yale campus ministry I was a part of believes. Ideally, the religious community can also be a source of social and spiritual support when individuals face lonely, difficult struggles.

    Yet other churches and dogmas take conflicting positions. And instead of dismissing religious beliefs as counter to rationality or puerile as commenters on this article have, that’s where meeting respectfully and with love for our neighbors is most critical. Again, good luck with your journey, and many of us are helping build the bridges you describe.

    Betsy Williams, JE ’06
    Former Chair of the Liberal Party and alum of Presbyterian Undergraduates at Yale

    • Ray Shelton

      Great courage? You’ve got to be kidding. The son of wealth and power in no danger at all. Apparently, he hasn’t a set balls – he’s so afraid of someone frowning with disapproval at him. Courage is what those of us had when we came out in the 60’s and 70’s.

      • disqus_8GRYzG4tJW

        Arguing about who is or was more oppressed gets us nowhere. This generation would not be where we are without the work and courage of prior generations, but that privilege does not mean we face no challenges. Coming out in the context of a national media frenzy DOES take courage, and he has risen to the occasion.

        Also, different situations call for different tactics, and it is a powerful political choice to present himself to gay rights opponents as potentially their own son. Extreme tactics (say, hunger strike?) might get his father to change position on ENDA, but have no chance of swaying any other Senator’s stance.

  • MsBJns

    Bless you Will for telling your story. I’m so very glad your parents accepted you for who you are, so many are not that blessed. That being said, I’m still upset that it took you coming out, your father to accept that before he changed his mind on same sex marriage. It would have been nice if he had looked into his Heart years ago and looked at Gay and Lesbians as possibly one of his own at that time and considered how he would feel if it were one of them being discriminated against, loudly and with far too much hatred in his own party. But, better late than never.

    I wish you well in school and love.

  • gever

    geography is a key component of this article. greater cincinnati/southern ohio for years has been a hot bed of republican anti gay hysteria. some still fly the confederate flag & it can be seen on the sides of barns in rural areas. some gay people have been literally terrorized at the hands of elected republican officials in southern ohio – john zeh activist & others – simon leis sheriff hamilton co sheriff & other law enforcement agencies in southern ohio. real pain has been endured, real harassment was common & real blood was shed – in wills lifetime. i hope will takes pause at the suffering endured & bravery that it took of others less fortunate for him to be able to come out as the son of a republican senator from southern ohio – and be accepted by his family & local southern ohio community.

  • Rob

    Thank you Will for this touching and thoughtful article. I must disagree with you on one point though. You say we should think twice before using the term “bigoted” to describe those opposed to marriage equality. But that is exactly what those people are. Hating someone because of a inborn characteristic is the definition of bigotry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lbaker89 Lisa Baker

    Will, this is such an eloquent and loving essay. I’m sure your parents were already very proud of you, and I am sure they are even more proud today. Well done.

  • Kit Cosper

    Excellent writing that puts a name and face on a complex societal issue that will not be fully resolved even if SCOTUS rules favorably on both cases before them.

    People fear the unknown and often make irrational arguments to explain their position. I know as a teenager in the 80’s a degree of homophobia was prevalent across the board. Familiarity with those that are different than ourselves brings us all closer together. It doesn’t matter if it’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or favorite ice cream flavor – understanding can only come from knowledge.

  • Anna

    Hello. I wrote a letter to your father. I hope you see this. I’m glad that your father supports you. But– there’s another concern that I can’t get over. It seems that Republicans, as a party, support things that affect THEM, that matter to THEM, personally. Gay marriage is wrong…but oh, wait, my son is gay and I want him to be happy. Good for you. But I guess it was okay to make other gay people unhappy because you don’t know who they are? I’m sorry to be harsh, but I’m not. Maybe liberals are more accepting of others, not because of something inherent in them, but just the fact that they are surrounded by more diversity..and they learn to relate to all sorts of issues, just like what happened to your father regarding gay marriage. Ever wonder why cities are liberal and rural areas are conservative? Maybe liberals are attracted to diversity…but maybe, just maybe, because people tend not to move much from where they were born…maybe they just grew up knowing different kinds of people. Got to see that illegal immigrants, gays, whatever, are kind of like them. I guess what I’m saying is, tell your dad to go out and experience those things. Experience poverty, talk to people, ALL kinds of people. Talk to the poor in the inner city. Talk to people who own guns. And not just the NRA. And maybe all those issues you’re father is voting on become a little more relatable.

    • Jayne4Obama

      Anna – so much of what I was going to write you wrote – does anyone seriously think that Cheney would support gay rights if his own daughter wasn’t a lesbien?

      As a Democrat I call it as I see it – we are the party of “we” – the GOP is the party of “me”. It is only when something affects them personally that they finally “see the light”!

      Sad – we would have to strip their salaries, take away their health insurance and have them live on food stamps before they would be able to “see the light” about those issues. If a family member were shot maybe their position on gun safety would change.


  • desuhu61

    Great article. If people would read this and put themselves in that position, they might be more understanding of the issue.

  • Kevin Wilson

    Very glad Will wrote this and very glad Yale Daily News gave him the platform to do it. It gets us away from simple caricatures of his dad, who delayed his public reversal to some extent to protect his son from the spotlight until he was ready.

  • http://www.facebook.com/larry.hoch.18 Larry Hoch

    Your article is so well written. I wish I could have come out at your age, some 50+ year ago. I never got to tell my parents, but I have since learned that my mother did know, and was totally accepting. Sounds to me like you’re doing everything right. Best wishes, and God bless!

  • Marty Gilbert

    Will your bravery is far more than i could have accomplished at your age. Sexuality is not a choice. Living a lie is a horrible way to live but you can now go on an live your life to its fullest. Thank You for you story it proves to the many who do not yet understand that it is our sons, daughters. Gay and Lesbians are not other people they are our friends and families.

  • yalie13


  • disqus_dQowXAiVME

    Very well said. I’m glad I was directed to this article by a FB posting because now I understand the reasoning behind and the timing of the position change. I’m a 53 year old mother of three 20 somethings, a socially liberal Ohio Republican, and I so wish the
    Republican party would bend an ear to it’s more socially liberal members and adopt a platform that’s in line with this millennium.

  • matt

    While I certainly applaud Sen Portman’s change of position. He is remarkablely low on empathy if it took a loved child of his own for him to arrive at the correct position.
    To the younger Mr. Portman you’re father is clearly not a “good man” seeing as he and his Republican ilk have championed the cruelest, most insane positions for the last five years. Throw poor people under the bus while letting the rich get richer. If anything I’m disgusted with both of your lack of compassion for people that are you. Your narcissism is the reason Washington is a cesspool.

  • disqus_lK8UVESv42

    I applaud Senator Portman for standing up and doing the right thing in supporting same-sex marriage, and much of what Will says in this column I can relate to in so many ways, as I am just starting the process of coming out to my family myself.

    It really is amazing how so many of our straight friends and family simply do not understand where we are coming from, yet when I see columns like this one, I can’t help but smile (despite how miserable I may feel on the inside) as I completely understand what you went through.

    The loneliness is constant and borderline unbearable at times; the anxiety and paranoia eats at you continuously; and the stages of coming to terms with who you really are is like being on the ultimate roller coaster. I take your word that things get better, Will, and I hope that my coming out is as successful as yours seems to have gone. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • JE anon

    Props to you Will, from a fellow gay Cincinnatian Yalie.

    Edit: some asshole is going through every comment in support and down-voting it.

  • Ray Shelton

    Will is just another privileged loser kid without a set of balls. With idiots like him, its no wonder it’s taken as long as it has for us to get this far. I came out at the age of seventeen in 1978 – as so many brave men and women did – people who made it possible for little Willie to sneak around while getting his head out of his ass.

    • Chad950

      aww steady on. For you it was clearly easy- congratulations. But it aint always that easy for someone else.

    • Mojo the Awkward

      Thank you for so clearly illustrating why identity politics is such a terrible vehicle for meaningful social reform. As long as gay people are going to have to conform to your idea of being ‘gay enough’ – as long as you can’t be wealthy-and-gay (or, equally arbitrarily, female-and-gay, or white-and-gay) – they will never be equal in society. At best, they’ll have their own little ghetto and be able to indulge in some special pleading from patronistic parties like the modern Democrats.

      Free people in a civil society deserve better, but they won’t get it with bigots like you banging the drums for reform.

    • Jackson Furst

      Ray, LOSER is what you see when looking in the mirror…’Nuff said.

  • drdanfee

    Will P., please allow me to toss my own personal thanks and appreciations your way, along with so many others just now. I’m from a previous generation old enough to have walked with dinosaurs in those not far distant days when being gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans or even just being uncertain or open-ended about your bodily-relational self was a state crime, an incurable mental disorder, and of course, the kind of faith Abomination that got whole ancient cities burned up by fire from heaven. I spent about ten years in complicated, rigorous church/counseling activities that were ‘guaranteed’ to make me opposite sex attracted, just as soon as I got my erring guy person-hood properly suited up, fit and diligently worked into the shape everybody said was absolutely best. I thought I had just walked away from that decade of disaster, along with its utter pain, self-doubt, and self-loathing; as it did not seem to me I had anything left to salvage from what I had so destructively been doing. Now after half a century of being adult and on my putative own, I started having stress injury flashbacks to all those Bible Belt exorcisms of which I duly lost count. If you managed to forgo some of all that (or, lots of all that?), I think our road-paving was worth doing. After going off to school, then to grad school, I worked as hard as I could as often as I could, hoping that some better future day would arrive when young people like yourself could walk a less vexed, more honest life path with family, with friends, and in the wider world in general. Your brief, personal article tells me that what we worked to encourage for later generations, can and does happen – even for the child of a prominent conservative Republican family. I now dearly hope that, by the time you fall head over heels in love with a guy who is head over heels in love with you, that you two have the real choice about how to shape, ground, and express your commitment to one another’s happiness and well being, which is just my way of saying I hope the choice to marry or not is up to the two of you fellows …. not on auto pilot via some other authority, among (even sincere) other people who (sincerely) believe they know best for the two of you guys. Meanwhile, busta move for me and my generation at the next LGBTQ college dance …. we older folks will be right next to you in spirit, perhaps. All the best to you and yours, sincerely ….. drdanfee

  • $40492668

    Will – I’m an Liberal Democrat and I think you did a great thing by coming out.
    Furthermore, I admire your diplomatic skills in convincing your father to switch positions on same-sex marriage. Your father is clearly an honorable man, not only for raising a son who feels unconditionally loved enough to come out, but also for following his logic, despite the opposition of so many others in his party.

    There are thousands of elected officials and community leaders who oppose gay rights. Some of them have gay kids. But thanks you and your father…the standard has now been set for how they should address this. Thanks to the Portman family….their pathway is now clear.

  • Andrew D

    Nice essay, but your dad is a shameless opportunist who hesitated way too long to do the right thing. He doesn’t deserve kudos.

  • NoBigGovDuh

    Great story, really reminded me of the anxiety of coming out to my family.

    As a Democrat I do not like many of your fathers positions but I do not fault him for taking time before making this public. Everyone deserves time to think about such things and it would have been stressful to you as well.

    Good luck in life.

  • Chanda Stone

    Hello Will,

    I am a married mother of two living in Saudi Arabia as an expat and you made my day.You are a very strong, well spoken person. I really enjoyed reading about your coming out, so happy your parents were 100% there for you. I think you will help a lot of people on both sides of this issue. Please consider politics, we need your well reasoned, compassionate mind.

  • WP

    Some gays have bigger problems than coming out. While it might be generally a good idea you should always remember not everbody has a rich and powerful dad backing him and his future up. So maybe we should be a little less eager to declare somebody a hero here.

  • disqus_va2GyDjOsE

    I appreciate Mr. Portman’s struggle and respect his dad’s evolution of thought. I’m not naive enough, though, to believe the latter would have happened were it not for the revelation of the former. It would be nice to see a current GOP pol come out for same sex marriage without having to have a gay family member. As for the “bigot” part, call it what you want. It’s just tough to believe anyone who has lived enough life could believe someone would make the ‘choice’ to face locker room scorn and derision, whispers behind the back, bullying on and offline and the like. I understand society is more tolerant than it has ever been. That said, one would be naive to believe the aforementioned still isn’t pervasive. Thus, a person would have to bee a serious masochist to ‘choose’ to be gay as a ‘lfestyle.’

    • Phadras Johns

      Evolution of thought? Wow is that our new term for acceptance of sin and deviance? He is politically opportunistic, duh, he’s a politician. I would like to know from the left mindset exactly where now to draw the line for sexual deviance. How about child molestation? Bigamy? Bestiality? Incest?

      • Mojo the Awkward

        It’s not an exclusively leftist province, defense of sexual liberty.

        Libertarianism is a thoroughly right-wing doctrine, and I assure you there are a fair few of us hardline right-wing libertarians who are strongly on the side of the quote-unquote deviants. Cultural normativity is the hallmark of “tyranny of the majority,” and therefore explicitly what the Bill of Rights defends the individual against.

        From OUR side of the fence – I won’t presume to speak for the other – the defense of gay sexuality stems from a recognition that it doesn’t harm anybody. Two consenting adults, loving one another, wish to officialize their union and be recognized under the law as a couple. There is no harm there, and therefore no pressing need for the state to intervene and penalize them for their choices. For myself personally, I treat homosexuals as having made a valid life choice to express their same-sex orientation – I just find it a stronger case than the naturalistic ‘born this way’ argument, although I understand why many homosexuals feel they were ‘born this way.’

        I can appreciate the very nuanced argument that legitimizing gay marriage further decouples the social institution of marriage from the social institution of childrearing, and so contributes to the undermining of the nuclear family. Insofar as I see the supplanting of social support structures stemming from the nuclear family with those maintained at the whim of the State as an ‘evil,’ I can see a very abstract sort of harm in the legitimization of gay ‘marriage,’ but this doesn’t necessarily attach to equal treatment under the law. Despite the historical resonance, I don’t recoil from a notion of “separate but equal” – I don’t personally see an incoherence between idealizing the traditional nuclear family unit, and NOT DISCRIMINATING against nontraditional families. I can believe that traditional nuclear families work best for the society as a whole in the longest term, without going so far as demoting any other nontraditional living arrangement. This is consistent with the minarchist position of many libertarians – a government that is exactly large enough to defend necessary freedoms, and no larger. In fact, for many libertarians, a government large enough to promote a social ideal is too large, but they’re more anarchistic than I am.

        To your particular examples:

        Child molestation is not remotely in the same ballpark as homosexuality. It is, by its nature, coercive and harmful. It is an infringement of the liberties of the child; it is, necessarily, a nonconsensual relationship. Equating the two is as illogical as equating a purchase with a theft.

        Bigamy, on the other hand, where it operates as a union between consenting adults and not a harem of slave-wives, is an equivalent situation – one in which the adults involved aren’t harming anyone, and aren’t being harmed themselves, unless you take a very pure view of ‘harm’ that counts any deviation from the norm as harmful (in which case, congratulations, you’re a Communist). Controversial it may be, but I’d defend a bigamist on libertarian grounds, assuming everybody involved had full knowledge and consented to the arrangement.

        Bestiality is harmful to the beast if you consider beasts to belong to the ‘kingdom of ends;’ Peter Singer would wryly contend that if you’re prepared to slaughter and eat a beast, you should have no compunction over deriving sexual pleasure from one, but he again is more extreme than I am. Bestiality is abnormal, but it shouldn’t be proscribed on that basis; rather, on the basis that it is a nonconsensual and harmful relationship.

        Incest and child molestation, sadly, have a lot of overlap. The cases of grown siblings engaging consensually in incest creates harm almost certainly for any progeny of theirs – there’s a test case on this in Germany, where a couple of siblings intentionally keep producing genetically-damaged offspring together – and so deserves prohibition; incest is also the most strongly damaging of these taboos to the institution of the family as the principal unit of a functioning civil society, to an extent in that case which might merit prohibition on those grounds alone.

      • http://about.me/mikeschinkel MikeSchinkel

        > How about child molestation? Bestiality?

        Gay marriage has two willing participants. In those two cases, there is only one willing participant with legal standing that can be defined as “willing.”

        > Bigamy?

        Good question, however I wonder how many willing participants there would be for bigamy if the person was not a member of a very small group isolated from the rest of society? Who *really* wants to share their life partner with one or many other people?

        > Incest?

        Really? One word: inbreeding. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incest#Inbreeding

  • PJM

    Beautifully written.

  • Exposures

    Bravo Will!
    Your courage is enlightening. You are a very thoughtful young man and I hope people will look at you from that perspective and not from the perspective of your sexual orientation.

  • Laurie Whitehead

    I have no problem with your personal life and your personal decisions. But, if you want your conscience and your views to be treated with respect, you have to respect those who differ with you. Christ Jesus said, “The measure you meet, shall be measured to you.” The way you treat others is the way you will be treated. The way I read the Bible, homosexuality is a sin. It is not worse than other sins, and I have my own, but I don’t try to make everyone approve of my sins, or change their reading of the Bible or society’s traditions to align with my sins. I respect your right to conscience, because I want my right to conscience respected. While society once outlawed homosexuality, I was part of the generation that removed the criminalization to respect your freedom of conscience. But I did not expect my freedom to be taken away as a result. You can’t make everyone see homosexuality the way you do without tyranny.

    • Mojo the Awkward

      Laurie – I’d gently observe to you that Will Portman IS GAY, whether he tells you so or not, whether he is granted equality under the law or not. You ARE A SINNER, whether you confess your sin or keep it primly hidden. As a Christian, I imagine you believe that we all sin, and that we are all redeemed, if at all, by the grace of God Almighty.

      Will, and other supporters of marriage equality, aren’t asking for your approval. They are asking for the law not to continue punishing them for loving who they love. You point out that it is not unlawful to be homosexual (some states still differ on that, I think); but it is the case that in many areas of law, from tax to inheritance to advanced directives, gay couples are penalized relative to straight ones. It is not for civil law to uphold religious directives, even if those religious directives are widely held and sincerely believed. You would, I think, object to the imposition of Shar’ia law in the United States – but the unequal treatment under the law that gay couples experience is of the same general character: it is a religious directive, codified into law.

      You have freedom of religion in this great country. You are free to pray for Will’s immortal soul, as he is free to pray for yours if that is his desire. Your freedoms are not remotely circumscribed if the law stops discriminating against him.

      • Jayne4Obama

        Beautifully put Mojo!

    • tv22

      The Bible also tells us that Jesus died for us sinners and that we are all sinners. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

      • justarunner

        Jesus also said to repent. That means to renounce and turn from sin. He did not tell us to parade our sins down 5th Avenue with the mayor and the governor and a brass band — or to toot our own horns in the press.

        • Jayne4Obama

          Oh good Lord! Are we still killing our first born sons? What about divorce? Over 50% of marriages end in divorce – shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that these people want to get married in the first place? Heterosexual couples are choosing more and more to live “in sin” (put in quotes because this isn’t my belief but yours) and here are people who actually want to commit themselves to each other.

        • Chad950

          So what was Jesus attitude to issues of personal morality?

          What was Jesus attitude towards whether we should strictly adhere to every jot and tittle of the Talmud?

          Whose company do you think Jesus prefered- the self righteous Pharisees or those who acknowledged they were sinners?

          The one documented occasion when Jesus met a homosexual was the Roman centurion whose ‘slave’ was sick. The Centurion said to Jesus ‘Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed’. Remember that the next time you receive comunion.
          …and if you think the centurion wasnt gay read what the history books say about what the duties of a Roman centurion’s slave were. I will give you a clue- it didnt involve flicking round a feather duster.

          PS: rather than pass judgement on the centurion or his slave Jesus healed the slave. So be like Jesus and dont sit in judgement on others.

        • tv22

          But nobody would pay him any attention if he weren’t a Senator’s son or jump all over his father for the “sin” of loving his son, no matter what. It’s just a kid saying this is how I was built. Good for him that he has a supporting family and friends.

    • Jayne4Obama

      These laws would not affect you one bit! Your church can still refuse to marry same sex couples. There are so many things said in the Bible that aren’t relevant today – where is your compassion? Your Jesus certainly would have treated these people as equals.

    • tv22

      I don’t see this kid forcing any views on anyone. He’s a curiosity because his father is a conservative Senator. All he talked about was his own fear of coming out and hoping that others can be comfortable in their own skin.

    • Jackson Furst

      Laurie, you say YOU sin as well. Well, we have to accept that about you don’t we? Or, should we not allow YOU to marry anyone because you sin?

  • TripLike_I_Do

    Who frickin’ cares

  • Jayne4Obama

    As a Democrat I call it as I see it – we are
    the party of “we” – the GOP is the party of “me”. It is only when
    something affects them personally that they finally “see the light”! Does anyone
    seriously think that Cheney would support gay rights if his own daughter
    wasn’t a lesbian?

    – we would have to strip their salaries, take away their health
    insurance and have them live on food stamps before they would be able to
    “see the light” about those issues. If a family member were shot maybe
    their position on gun safety would change.

    • $40492668

      You mean, like…

      – Reagan was anti-abortion….until Ronnie got Alzheimer’s and Nancy spoke out against GOP opposition to stem cell research.

      – Silence on free access to guns…until a bullet puts James Brady in a wheel chair.

      – Rush Limbaugh stormed on about sending drug addicts to prison…until he’s caught with a cigar box full of Oxycontin pills.

      – Abortion is always wrong…until its your daughter or wife that needs one.

      – Tough talk on war…unless its your turn to do the fighting.

      – Gay is wrong…unless you’re Ted Haggard who gets caught snorting crack off the back of his man whore.

      But I give major props to Will Portman for taking action to change things. What more can you expect of a 20 year old? He not only came out, but then lobbied his father to reconsider his stance on gay marriage. And thanks to Rob Portman, anti-gay politicians are going to look like jerks if they have a gay kid, yet oppose civil rights for them.

      • http://about.me/mikeschinkel MikeSchinkel

        @facebook-1609089258:disqus I think that sums up my feelings about the GOP in general and about Portman in particular. Well said.

    • marlette782

      like Obama didn’t change his position when it suited him. You also need to have a talk with blacks and Hispanics since they voted against gay marriage

  • bland9876

    Will, thanks for this.

    However: “I hope that my dad’s announcement and our family’s story will have a positive impact on anyone who is closeted and afraid” doesn’t quite cut it.

    The story should have a positive impact on EVERYONE, especially those who don’t accept LGBT people and think their very existence goes against “God’s laws” and the myriad other insults, degradations, bullying and outright violence they face every day in their lives.

  • http://gulfcoastcommentary.blogspot.com/ gulfcoastcommentary

    Will, I love your letter to the world! Great job! I’m a gay man and a strong conservative in most issues that really matter: primacy of family, faith and community, importance of personal responsibility and initiative, limited government, dangers to liberty from too much government, fiscal responsibility, etc. I too think that gay couples should be allowed to marry if they want. In fact, gay couples need protection from the “tyranny of the majority” that the US Constitution is rightly famous. Whenever people strive for greater commitment, greater responsibility and greater personal depth, this should always be supported and applauded. Good luck!!

  • R Jensen


  • neastsider

    Too bad he didn’t publish this letter sooner. It provides a powerful discourse to support the repeal of DOMA and getting rid of prop 8. A better use would be to shove it down Scalia’s throat and making him swallow the truth.

  • David Flood

    Will, your experience and your support – along with the struggle you had to get to this point – will aid and help other young men and women. Despite the fact that many people are more comfortable talking about gay issues and accepting of gay people and supportive of gay issues, the individual still has to cope with the reality of who they are and accept themselves in their complete humanness. Thank you for sharing your experience — I pray that everyone can find there way to the right place about who they are — straight or gay.

  • Will65

    Does this not reflect terribly on Father Portman? He finally takes the sensitive stance on an issue when it turns up close to home? He was happy to tell your gay son not to marry until he realized his wouldn’t be able to? I’m less impressed with his “choice of his love for his son over his political ideology…” Anyone?

    • Larry McMasters

      How about President Obama and his “evolution” on the issue. Only the dumbest liberal belives that his views changed. He lied to get elected. What does it say bout you that you support a liar?

  • Jack Martin

    This article highlights, perfectly, the disconnect many modern gay activists have with respect to society at large. Unless you tell someone your sexual orientation, they won’t know. And guess what, a person’s sexual orientation is something I really don’t care about and actually don’t want to know about unless it becomes somehow relevant to our relationship. You want to be seen as ‘mainstream” and “normal”? Then act like it – keep your bedroom activities private like the rest of society does.

    • Jackson Furst

      Jack, what are you afraid of? Will Portman didn’t discuss a single “bedroom activity”…unless I missed something. Gay Marriage is a reality that’s time has come. I hope people like yourself, Jack, can deal with it. If you have a problem with “Gay Marriage”, by all means DON’T marry a gay person —it’s really THAT simple!

      • Larry McMasters

        I do not want to see two guys kissing. It is sick. It disgusts most people, no matter how tolerant they say they are. Have you ever seen the freaks that participate in “gay pride” parades? No matter what you do, they will always be different

        • http://about.me/mikeschinkel MikeSchinkel

          Although there are many rights that are denied based on the ban of gay marriage, there’s no “right” for someone not to be disgusted; get over it.


        • Jackson Furst

          Larry, here’s a novel idea for you — If you have a problem with seeing two guys kissing…A) Don’t watch, and B) Get Over It. The world doesn’t revolve around making your fragile puritanical psyche more comfy. As for “the freaks at Gay Pride Parades”….again, what are you doing at a Gay Pride parade in the first place? Have you seen THE FREAKS at a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade? Sorry, Larry, but THE GAYS hardly have a corner on the FREAK market. You clearly have many hangups that you try and put over on others. Gawd you must be one big unexciting BORE in bed.

  • independentthinker1

    “We should think twice before using terms like “bigoted” to describe the
    position of those opposed to same-sex marriage or “immoral” to describe
    the position of those in favor, and always strive to cultivate humility
    in ourselves as we listen to others’ perspectives and share our own.”

    Beautiful statement that should be applied to all hot button issues of the day. The elected officials of our two political parties would do well to read the statement and take its broader meaning to heart every single day of their service to our country. And we as citizens should strive to allow it to resonate with us as well in our every day debates in public forums such as this.

  • http://twitter.com/michelleturc Michelle

    Well said.

  • ThePhdScientist

    Maybe there is a weak religious social/theological argument to be made against gay marriage, but fortunately there is no good legal argument. Did you listen to the pro-prop 8 legal team – absolutely abysmal!!!

    • Larry McMasters

      Here is one. The people spoke. Just like they did in Washington and Maryland in 2012. The federal government has no standing to decide what the people of California have decided. There are 50 separate states in this country. Go live in the one that most resembles your belief system. Forcing your views on people that disagree with you is the quickest way for violence to occur

      • ThePhdScientist

        Sorry Larry the “discrimination is a state’s right” position was settled after the civil war.

        • MileHighJoe

          “The Civil War ended?!?” — Larry

  • Kerryman

    Will’s “dad” (whatever happened to the word “father”; “dad” sounds like “Will” is 4 years old) has got the balls of a flea. Typical politician. He knows his son is queer, but still flirts with the possibility of being 47% Mitt’s running mate. You know him, he’s the guy who is against same-sex marriage until it would be viewed as politically a-okay to be for it. Will’s father is no great shakes. Maybe when a republican’s family member becomes homeless or mentally ill they will get religion on these issues, too. In the meantime, I hate these sleezy, opportunistic politician of all stripes. BTW, isn’t announcing you’re gay akin to announcing that you have brown hair and blue eyes? Don’t we come here with these features?

    • Randy Smiggles

      What an incredibly meaningful criticism of an excellent coming out story. He calls his father ‘dad’. Really with that deep level insight I could picture you standing beside other deep thinkers of our age like Michele Bachmann and Ben Carson.

      • Kerryman

        Hey Randy Smiggles (REAL NAME),
        Thanks for your speedy reply. What’s 2 years among friends? I’m sorry my comment didn’t comport with your standards of opining (we won’t talk about your punctuation!). Gee whiz, I was proud of my pro homosexual/coming out position and you go and trash it. What, being critical of Mitt Romney and that other forward thinker, Rob Portman, doesn’t help me out, either? Apparently not! The unkindest cut is, of course, the comparison with Michele (sp.?) Bachmann and Ben Carson. Can I help it if a 20 year old calling his father “Dad” sounds like Beaver asking Ward Cleaver (his Father): “Dad, the kids were talking about boners in school today. Dad, what’s a boner?” (okay, maybe 8 or 9 years old) FYI, “Leave It To Beaver” was a 60’s sitcom. Well, that does it for me and more of my “deep level (of) insight.” I wish Will Portman nothing but the best and I hope that he and his Dad have worked things out. Sorry for any errors in punctuation. Global climate change.

  • Barbie Nelson

    Will, maybe you can consider giving up your medical insurance to help your father see the need for affordable healthcare? Or, maybe since you’re in school less than an hour away from Newtown you can help your father see the impact the NRA had on our community and has on our country (Both Adam and Nancy Lanza were members). Why do so many people need to have a family member directly impacted by an issue before truly thinking about it? How about a little imagination and a little “There but for the grace of G-d go I?” Will Portman you are clearly a very bright and very brave young man . . . keep up the good work!

    • Randy Smiggles

      The deal is states don’t get to discriminate whether the majority would prefer it that way or not. Neither the majority nor the minority are always right. That’s why in our system, theoretically at least, might (of the majority) does not make right. If the majority ( and the minority too) are wrong, we have laws to enforce fairness. If we didn’t, who knows when universal suffrage, the abolition of slavery, the doctrines of separate but equal, and many other plain illegalities would have fallen on their own. “We the people in order to form a more perfect union.’ This is what the USA was based on. But we can’t be perfect if discrimination is allowed to stand.

  • TAH

    Powerful essay and appreciate that you have shared. Also pleased for you that your personal experience was so positive. That said, the thing that makes me scratch my head is that it was somehow not possible for your father, Senator Portman, to support equality under the law until it affected him personally. Sadly, he is not alone. Fortunately, he supported you and seems to have come around. Too bad that seems to be beyond the capacity of his colleagues in the Senate and in the Republican Party more broadly. I happen to be a straight person but I can recognize bad law and policy even when it doesn’t affect me personally. Perhaps true equality under the law is too much to hope for.

  • Satinismelord

    Let’s hope your father’s example brings light to the Republican Party and that others may follow his lead. I’m no Republican but hold a mix of values from different parties. Hopefully, when you find the person who loves you and that you love, that we will have no more discrimination for people in the LGTQ community.
    Kim and Daniel – together since 2010

  • boredwell

    When I came out, my mom said, “Ok, sweetheart, please pass the salt.” My brothers and sisters piped up, “Can we come out, too?”

  • 11

    I wish my coming out had spurred a majority for gay marriage in the senate…

  • Katherine Schultz

    Will Portman, in coming out, you have also been discovered as a great writer! Thank you for sharing this. I am distantly connected to your lovely family – through your kind Aunt Dolley and your grandfather, who is my Dad’s tennis partner! What a small world. Best of luck at Yale and KEEP ON WRITING! Katherine Schultz

  • Jack

    “I support marriage for same-sex couples because I believe that everybody should be treated the same way and have the same shot at happiness.”

    Let’s be consistent then, Will. If you’re so concerned about equality, why aren’t you passionately lobbying for plural marriage? If a man and four women want to be married, then let’s let them have their shot at happiness, too.

    Or does that strike you as immoral? Wrong? Unnecessary? Too complicated? Forget the excuses and start really pushing for marriage equality. The moral fabric of our society could use some more stretching.

  • Bill Busse

    Very well put. I applaud both you and your dad for bravery in the face of opposition.

  • SlapFat

    I think this is a great column and thank Will Portman for writing it. The acceptance and tranquility at the center of it should be what families strive for among the noise of this world.