From the Huffington Post:
. . . if we asked you to name the first openly gay member of Congress, could you? Members of older generations may. But younger people -- including more than a dozen political operatives we tested -- could not. Perhaps that's because this story of coming out was so shrouded in scandal, so drenched in professional embarrassment, that its broader significance may forever be overshadowed.
This is the legacy of Gerry Studds, the long-serving Massachusetts Democrat who was, for those who followed his lead, every bit the historical figure as the first gay athlete, movie star and politician, but is best known as the congressman censured by his own colleagues in 1983 for a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male congressional page.
"I think that people in politics and especially people like me who are in politics and lived through that will remember him as being a real hero, because he was willing to be first," said Richard Socarides, a longtime Democratic operative who served as an adviser to President Bill Clinton for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. "Even though he was forced into it a little bit by circumstances, I think that people think of him as a hero and someone we look up to and someone who was a trailblazer."
Looking back at Studds' story three decades later, Socarides and others marvel at the circumstances that surrounded it. Certainly, the congressman was chiefly responsible for the drama -- he admitted missteps, though insisted that his relationship with the page was consensual. But the turbulence that accompanied his coming out seems more like a relic of the past. Part of the reason Michael Sam's highly controlled outing portends a smooth breaking of NFL barriers, they argue, is because Studds forged the way.
Read more about this remarkable Congressman here.
Past Know Your LGBT History Posts: