James Randi comes out of the closet

By Phil Plait | March 22, 2010 11:00 am

James Randi — one of the founders of the modern skeptical movement, a leading rationalist, thinker, and fighter of antiscience — has made a big announcement: he’s gay.

A lot of us already knew this, although I don’t know how widespread the knowledge is. I imagine this will surprise some folks, but not others. Some may wonder why he waited this long… but he makes it clear why in both his announcement on Swift as well as in his interview with JREF President (and openly gay man) D.J. Grothe on his podcast For Good Reason. D.J.’s interview with Randi is excellent; they discuss how this molded Randi’s life, his thoughts on gay marriage, his frequent mentioning of Sophia Loren (which made me smile), and how this affects (or more accurately, does not affect) the JREF’s mission.

I found out about the announcement right before a friend came to pick me up, and I told him about it. We chatted about it for a moment, and then he asked me, "What difference will this make?"

That’s a darn good question. For me it makes no difference, and wouldn’t had I known or not before the announcement. At some level it’s always interesting to find out personal information about someone you know, or someone you respect — it’s not exactly gossip, just more info that leads to a feeling of knowing someone better. I know most people, certainly an overwhelming majority, will support Randi with this. Some won’t like it, and it may be that a lot of Randi’s detractors will delight in trying to use this against him. I look forward to watching them reap that whirlwind.

In the end, it’s a good thing for the LGBT community, because now yet another person of some stature will lend his own credibility to the movement. Just being open and comfortably gay without making a point of it will establish that this is just another of the many flavors humans come in.

So to answer my friend’s question, this won’t change Randi or the JREF. But there is still a lot of prejudice about homosexuality — and certainly a lot of that comes from "cultural conservatives" as D.J. called them — and the more we have this out in the open, the more people will be used to it. As that happens, that sense of "other" diminishes, and we learn to accept differences and diversity more easily and naturally. And that is a very good thing indeed.

I’m glad Randi has talked about this, and I’m proud of him.

Rebecca posted some nice thoughts on this, too. Picture of Randi courtesy Andy Ihnatko.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: JREF, Piece of mind

Comments (160)

Links to this Post

  1. Reflections on Randi « In the Dark | March 23, 2010
  2. Link Post « The Madman on the Intertubes | March 27, 2010
  1. Sir Craig

    Randi is gay, and this matters why?

    (Yes, I’m trying to appear ahead of my time by trying to make it sound like a person’s sexual orientation is no different than the color of their skin. Sadly, some dirtbag somewhere will point to his sexuality as somehow proving all his work has been based on a fraud, therefore god/supernatural.)

  2. BJN

    This matters not at all, except that the gay community can claim a brilliant, erudite skeptic and entertainer among the ranks.

  3. Ismael

    Wow, I thought (Just for a second) that in the penultimate paragraph you were talking about the paranormal.

  4. Kirk

    As Randi notes in his statement, much of the prejudice against gays has come directly from religions, possibly part of the defining of a “them” necessary for a specific religion to establish a tribal identity around itself.

    Religions use a variety of behavioral rules or dogmas to set themselves apart from each other, but this sort of irrational attack on a group of people based on an intrinsic quality of those people is particularly destructive. Most people who consider themselves religious disregard the racist elements in the Bible and other religious texts, and I hope, as Randi does, that we will soon reach a time when they reject the rest of the bigoted statements in those books, as well.

    And welcome to the club, Randi!

  5. Jack Carter

    Quite frankly, so what? I may be wholly naive here, but what does it matter if Randi is straight or gay as long as he’s a good person?

  6. JD

    Slight tangent, but I think it’s forgiveable given you mentioned it:

    There was a FARK.com thread about that last night, and there too were a few comments mentioning Sophia Loren. Why’s that? What’s the link between Randi and Loren? Were they previously linked together or is it something else?

  7. Jim

    Congratulations to Randi for having the courage to come out. I hope it doesn’t diminish things any to say that many people, of all orientations, are eagerly awaiting the day when the most common reaction to an announcement like this is “so what?” (Among the general populace, that is. The set of BA readers is a bit of a biased sample.) Hopefully that day is not far off.

    It still kind of boggles my mind that someone being gay is some kind of controversial issue. How is this even a thing? I suppose it’s not too surprising given the myriad of other dumb things people believe, but still.

  8. Tiki Idyll

    One of many ways James Randi is like Dumbledore.

  9. Brian

    I was shocked at first when I read the headline that Randi had “come out of the closet” — until I read further and learned that he’s actually been open within his circle of friends, and it’s only in the public eye that he’s coming out now. I would have been very sad to hear he’d been fully closeted for the first 80 years of his life.

  10. Rikard

    Isn’t Randi’s preference irrelevant? If not, it’s a shame.

  11. To folks like #1 and #5, there are a lot of people – some who honestly consider themselves “skeptics” – who will think it matters.

  12. Mac

    And Sylvia Browne didn’t catch it.

  13. Kirk

    @Jack Carter #5 — In an ideal world, it matters not at all. In our real world, it matters when a public person comes out.

    And it may not matter so much to the skeptical world per se, but it might matter to some kid in high school who happens to be gay whose interest in science and reason led him to Randi and the JREF. Respected public figures provide role models for kids, and he just became a role model to a lot more kids for another reason.

    So, while it doesn’t impact his work with the JREF in any way, of course, Randi did just make a difference in another way for a lot of people once again. We are moving toward a world in which this wouldn’t make any difference at all, because for that hypothetical kid (now in the future), being gay or straight doesn’t provide a basis for some people to unfairly judge another. But that’s in the future. It’s still not now.

  14. James

    Why do gay people get all the brains? I can’t see how anyone can be smart enough to be a skeptic but dumb enough to be a homophobe.

  15. Pi-needles

    Good on him. :-)

    It should not matter – & one day it really won’t.

    He shouldn’t need to “out” himself – but I’m glad he did. :-)

    @ 7. Tiki Idyll Says:

    One of many ways James Randi is like Dumbledore.

    Well that & the beard. ;-)

    Actually there’s quite bit of overlap when you think of it – all in a good (you could say merry!) way. ;-)

    @ 10. Kirk Says:

    it may not matter so much to the skeptical world per se, but it might matter to some kid in high school who happens to be gay whose interest in science and reason led him to Randi and the JREF. Respected public figures provide role models for kids, and he just became a role model to a lot more kids for another reason.

    Not to be a downer here but one example of why it matters – & one tragedy ultimately for all people – the case of Alan Turing, the computer genius whose life was cut short by (then legally backed) homophobia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing

    Randi is a good counter-example of how a smart gay man can succeed – in today’s world. Things are changing and have come a long way – but still have some distance to go too.

  16. Matt T

    There will be plenty who see this is just another symptom of his overall evilness. But those people are so far in their own closet* that they were never going to be swayed by his arguments anyway. So hopefully the difference this announcement will make will be approximately 5/8 of 3/7 of bugger all.

    * intellectual, cultural, spiritual, moral, and often sexual.

  17. To be perfectly blunt: Why does this matter?

    I didn’t know, and frankly don’t think it’s any of my business let alone anything to a big deal out of.

    Oh wait, that’s the thing that’s missing isn’t it…

  18. Pi-needles

    ^ To be perfectly blunt: Why does this matter?

    It doesn’t – & yet it does .. still. To some ppl.

    Yes, the world is indeed messed up.

    No, it honestly should be nobody’s business but Randi’s and also someone who is contemplating a possibly intimate relationship with him but ..

    Yes, its good Randi can finally be open about who he is and who (& what) he loves.

  19. Calli Arcale

    I find myself wanting to congratulate him on being so brave . . . but then I reexamine that impulse and realize that it is utterly horrible that that is my first instinct. If it is brave to admit that you are attracted to your own sex, then obviously our culture has a hell of a long ways still to go. It is fortunate indeed that he can’t suffer the way that Alan Turing did, but the fight is certainly not over. Not as long as people still think they are being progressive by suggesting that homosexuals need not be hated, since they can after all be *cured*. Not as long as sexuality remains one of the more accepted ways of disqualifying a person’s arguments. “Oh, of course he’s against the church. He’s *gay*! Doesn’t mean the church is wrong about anything! He’s just resentful.” Mind you, he’d have good reason to be resentful, but that’s neither here nor there since his arguments nearly always* have merit entirely on their own.

    Still, I’m glad he did this. Even if it’s depressing that this is still a momentous thing, when somebody acknowledges their sexuality publicly, what he has done gives another positive role model for young homosexuals. (Yes, he’s a good role model for heterosexuals too, but one does need a role model of one’s own sexuality too, because there are big questions that one faces at certain times in one’s life, and nobody else will do at those times but someone who shares the same dilemmas.)

    *I say “nearly always” because nobody’s perfect. ;-)

  20. Paineroo

    My only disappointment is that he slipped completely under my (usually fairly reliable) gaydar. I’ll have to recalibrate for age. :)

    Good for Randi.

  21. Gus Snarp

    The good news is that no one will think less of Randi for this. Sure, some people may hate him for it, but they likely already hated him for being an atheist. I can’t imagine any of his supporters changing their view over this. And frankly, anyone interested in psychic phenomena who see him demonstrate that they are false will either accept the evidence or not, regardless of his sexuality.

    Also, I find it odd that Wil Wheaton scooped you on news of James Randi.

  22. XMark

    Wait, is he just trying to debunk claims of people’s so-called “Gaydar” working?

  23. Pieter Kok
  24. Christopher Ambler

    Try as I might, I can’t find a single psychic who included this in their predictions for 2010.

  25. Sili

    “What difference will this make?”

    None. And that’s a good thing – and thanks to those who have gone before.

    This is not “a big announcement”. Perhaps to Randi, himself, but to the rest of us it’s pretty much “meh”.

    I don’t think this can help the woo-meisters much, since the people who swear by homoeopathy and the like are usually the liberated ‘liberal’ kind who’re okay with homophilia, so going after Randi for being gay could well be an own goal with that customerbase.

  26. Bill McElree

    Amen. I look forward to the day when an announcement like this will be a waste of time. Until then…lets air out those closets!

  27. Joe

    I think real progress will have been made when people can come out of the closet and no one feels the need to write blog posts about it.

  28. Adrian W.

    @ Paineroo #17:

    Have you subjected your gaydar to a rigorous, double-blind test protocol? ;)

  29. TheBlackCat

    I was surprised, only because I didn’t think Randi would be the sort of person who would need to keep that sort of thing a secret. It is sad that even someone like him felt compelled to keep something so innocuous and unimportant a secret.

  30. DLC

    I never knew. or even suspected. But, it’s not my business.

  31. mikerattlesnake

    @12 Pi-Needles

    The story of Alan Turing always makes me tear up. It’s one that should be shared whenever gay rights is brought up. Not only was he one of the most brilliant minds in history, but he was instrumental in helping us win WWII… and his reward was chemical castration, deformity, ostracization, and eventually death at his own hand, all for being gay.

  32. Len

    @ TheBlackCat #25:
    Unfortunately, people are still judged on what they are (gay, black, etc.) versus how they behave. Lots of people mix the two of those up.

    I’m glad that Randi saw fit to make his announcement. The more this happens, the more we as a society might come around to your (and my) point of view, which is “why is this such a big deal?”

    It’s like when Obama got elected — a great step forward towards racial tolerance, but we’ll really have made progress when the color of the president’s skin *doesn’t* make the headlines.

  33. Like other people that have commented, I didn’t know, didn’t suspect and, quite frankly, never gave it thought. It is great for him, though, and for those individuals he may inspire by his announcement. And I echo others that have said that it’s sad that our society still has such hang-ups about sexual orientation.

  34. ZomZom

    As a 45-year-old gay man myself, I am proud to have Randi on the team. And to anyone who thinks conservatives have a monopoly on homophobia, guess again.

  35. Ad Hominid

    The urban sophisticates among you may not understand just how important this kind of thing is out here in flyover country.

    I taught at a rural Texas high school for a couple of years back in the 90s. I came away with the feeling that homophobia was not just an issue for a lot of these people, it was the single most important factor in their worldview and the local subculture. Among the young men (and quite a few older ones) it amounted to an obsession, as though they literally spent every waking minute trying to assure the world (and themselves?) that they were not gay.

    It also happened that one of the dubious “traditions” of this school involved a rather degrading “initiation ceremony” for freshman boys. Some of the teachers, to their everlasting shame, just took a “boys will be boys” attitude toward this, while the local sheriff and some others and I tried to stamp it out, with scant success. Without going into too much detail, this “initiation” included some obvious homo-erotic elements. Coincidence? I think not.

  36. Michael Swanson

    It’s a shame that it’s a news item of any kind. I can only hope that one day someone saying, “By the way, I’m gay,” will have as much of an impact as saying, “By the way, I’m left-handed.”

    I am glad that Randi has been comfortable enough to open with those close to him.

  37. Huron

    That’s what I like about the readers of this blog: This announcement doesn’t matter to them. Doesn’t change their opinion of James Randi at all. He remains a great addition to humanity and one that will be remembered long after most of us have shuffled off this mortal coil.

    It’s a disgrace that our fairly liberal society, compared to other parts of the world, still considers such announcements newsworthy.

  38. BeamFormer

    @10 “Randi is a good counter-example of how a smart gay man can succeed – in today’s world”

    Yes, as long as you keep it secret – that’s the sad part. This should be a non-issue, but sadly in today’s world it still is one…

  39. ndt

    23. Bill McElree Says:
    March 22nd, 2010 at 12:21 pm
    Amen. I look forward to the day when an announcement like this will be a waste of time. Until then…lets air out those closets!

    Seconded.

    29. ZomZom Says:
    March 22nd, 2010 at 12:59 pm
    As a 45-year-old gay man myself, I am proud to have Randi on the team. And to anyone who thinks conservatives have a monopoly on homophobia, guess again.

    Also seconded.

  40. martin t.

    So, Randy is gay and i am hetero – who cares as long as we both enjoy this: http://games.adultswim.com/robot-unicorn-attack-twitchy-online-game.html

  41. Adam English

    This is news to me but huzzah for him! It’s a shame you have to admit” it though. I didn’t “Admit” I was straight :/ Oh well, progress is slow but at least it’s always moving forward.

  42. Don’t you EVER scare me like that, Mr Plait!

    “James Randi comes out of the closet”

    First thing in my mind was “Oh my FSM, he was a christian all the time!”

  43. Escuerd

    I’ve always looked up to James Randi. Amazingly, that he was gay never really occurred to me, but I’m glad that he has revealed it and only wish that he had felt comfortable enough to do it sooner.

    Congrats, James Randi. I know it’s always a big step, psychologically, to come out.

  44. @cardoso

    First thing in my mind was “Oh my FSM, he was a christian all the time!”

    Or, to follow on South Park, he was a Scientologist all this time!

  45. Cory

    As the saying goes, “You are, you be.”. Good on him.

  46. Chris

    His sexual orientation never occurred to me. Good on him to come out! He’s been a hero of mine for a long time.

  47. Flavio

    I didn’t see that coming; as a gay man I’m glad he came out, being a person of certain notoriety… and age! Right on brother!

    And I don’t agree with people saying “doesn’t matter”: it does matter, as 90% of people would assume he’s straight, and that would be wrong. Why not letting people know?

    Now I’m curious to listen to the podcast and know his stance on gay issues.

  48. G

    None o’ my business, and when I saw his post, I wondered why he felt like he needed to make it. Then I saw all the replies from people who were encouraged by his post, and I think maybe I see.

  49. His preference really doesn’t matter. Not to his work, anyway.

    But it does matter for the LGBT movement. It helps further us – you know, society – towards a day when this sort of announcement ISN’T newsworthy to ANYONE. I think it helps when those that are anti-the movement find out that someone they respect has been gay all along. I hope a news item like this is a light bulb for those people. A realization that, in the end, we are all people. (“That person over there’s a person.” FoTC, anyone?)

  50. Gus Snarp

    I wonder if he really kept it secret, or just didn’t talk much about it? It’s not as if I go around introducing myself saying, Hi, I’m Gus and I’m straight.

  51. Stonez

    Randi is gay. I wonder if he’ll become somewhat flamboyant?

    Oh wait…!
    :D

  52. Gary Ansorge

    He still has a sexual preference at his age?

    Cool!!!

    ,,,as a friend of mine once said ” I call myself ambi-sexual, rather than bi. Which means when I come to town, lock up ALL your critters.”

    He wasn’t even species specific.

    Frankly, I prefer mammals. It’s the milk glands.

    Gary 7
    PS: It’s not really coming out of the closet; it’s actually escaping the cage.

  53. I don’t understand why the gay community thinks it is necessary to coerce prominent members to make public announcements about their sexuality. I’m getting the impression that Randi did this for reasons of peer pressure, and certainly many of the comments here voice an opinion that this is what well-known gay people are supposed to do, or at least should do.

    Personally, I don’t see the relevence of Randi, or anyone, announcing being gay any more than I would see the relevence of their announcing that they like Ethiopian food.

  54. Flavio

    To everybody who don’t get the importance of coming out:

    Do you realize that “what’s the deal with coming out as gay?” can be asked also about coming out as atheist, agnostic, skeptic, etc?

    Wow people, really!

  55. Daniel J. Andrews

    Was going to comment, but I see Len (27) made a similar point already–i.e. the day when x *doesn’t* make headlines.

  56. John Foudy

    “I taught at a rural Texas high school for a couple of years back in the 90s. I came away with the feeling that homophobia was not just an issue for a lot of these people, it was the single most important factor in their worldview and the local subculture. Among the young men (and quite a few older ones) it amounted to an obsession, as though they literally spent every waking minute trying to assure the world (and themselves?) that they were not gay. ”

    That explains a lot. I mean I grew up in New York, as teenager people here joked about gays, looked down on gays, but, no one really seemed to care all THAT much- I mean we would just have assumed that anyone obsessed with gays was gay- after all why on earth would someone say, “what are you, a faggot?”, unless they were one?

  57. MoonShark

    Yeah, a gay stage magician, go figure :p Just kidding, I honestly had no clue (never wondered if he had a wife or anything). And has others have said repeatedly now, it should be about as interesting as the fact the I like Italian food and wear size M boxers. But for those of his generation (he’s 81 according to Wikipedia) it’s probably quite a big deal!

    Maybe it’ll help open older folks’ minds to the fact that, hey, maybe some of their peers have been gay for many decades and treated unfairly the whole time.

  58. Kirk

    @Eric #53 — And your evidence for Randi being pressured? All we have are his statements to go by, and he provides a description of his decision-making process.

    I’ve said it earlier in this thread that this is a positive thing, for gay kids to have another role model. Adolescence is a scary enough time that when you have being gay thrown on top of that, you can sometimes feel incredibly alone, even in today’s world. It’s nice that these kids have another great role model. (Generalizing here, of course. Some kids, gay or otherwise, seem to have remarkably few problems in their teen years.)

    I would never have demanded that he come out. Like most people on here, I never thought about his sexuality, but that might be more of an agist bias on my part! Heck, I only thought about DJ Grothe’s because I thought he was cute!

    But Randi’s announcement wasn’t necessarily geared to you or the skeptical community at large per se. It was something he felt he wanted to do after he was inspired by a movie about a man killed for who he was. Randi thought it would be useful to share this part of his life with the rest of us. I happen to think it can have a very positive impact on a lot of people.

  59. jcm

    Kudos to Mr. Randi.


    Now if I had the courage coming out of the “religious closet”.

  60. Ad Hominid

    I’ve met Randi several times over the years. Like a number of others here, his sexual orientation never crossed my mind one way or the other. It just isn’t a prominent concern among skeptics.
    If I may share some juicy gossip, though, it is widely rumored among skepto-insiders that Phil is straight.

  61. Moose

    My first reaction: “Okay.”

    My longer, more considered reaction is that it’s a shame that Randi, like so many others, felt like he had to keep this hidden for so long. I don’t want to trivialize Randi’s courage in coming out, but when I’m elected Almighty, orientation won’t be such a big deal… unless you happen to be interested.

    Paraphrasing Trudeau (Pierre Elliott, not the woo-monger): Judgmental Society has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. Where Randi prefers to park his willy will be entirely up to him. It’s all good in MooseWorld.

    / Vote for Moose, Almighty 2012.

  62. TheBlackCat

    @ TheBlackCat #25:
    Unfortunately, people are still judged on what they are (gay, black, etc.) versus how they behave. Lots of people mix the two of those up.

    I know, that is why I said it was sad. A large part of Randi’s job has been to be blunt with people and tell them things they don’t want to hear. Yet he still felt pressured to keep something like this a secret. I find that to be a very sad statement about our society.

  63. Allen

    Not all that surprised that he’s gay. Not because I suspected it, but because being gay shouldn’t be more alarming than discovering someone is black or Chinese.

    And it’s quite sad that he’s had to wait all this time to come out because of the social stigma that’s attached to homosexuality.

  64. Ron1

    The never-ending American obsession with sex and sexuality never ceases to make me shake my head. It’s been 300+ years since the founding of your country by puritanical European escapees and yet it’s still a big deal when someone declares they’re gay or, has been previously mentioned, that they’ve had to hide their sexuality this long.

    The US is a country with so much potential for brilliance and yet it’s so dominated by a heart of utter darkness and trivia. I hope the brilliance can one day prevail.

  65. Ray

    Randi’s gay? No way. Doesn’t he know the Bible says he’ll go to Hell?

    What? Randi’s not a Christian?

    Oh. Nevermind.

    Seriously, whats the big deal? So he’s gay. I’d be more concerned if he was in the KKK.

  66. MoonShark

    @Ron1: I can’t comment on the populace as a whole, but I suspect many visitors to this thread find it newsworthy in the sense of “hey, another brilliant person to add to the list of gay atheists like Alan Turing and Stephen Fry”. Really not a bad thing, just a recognition that he can perhaps speak out for the advancement of two minorities instead of just one.

    As for other celebrities (the kind not known for their reasoning skills), yeah, this sort of gossip is obviously worthless.

  67. Good for him! And yes, the Turing story is very sad. Really terrible something like that could happen to a man that just might have helped win the War!

  68. Good for him! I love all the “Yay! We don’t care!” messages. What a wonderful world it will be when that’s the prevailing attitude.

  69. Nivi

    Meh. I am glad he’s come out, though. Of course, it’ll be great when that time comes when there won’t be any need for this “coming out of the closet” business and such news won’t even be considered news.

  70. I am glad Randi finally came out. I had suspected he was, but I look at him no different. I am lesbian myself so. The problem is still in todays society that, still so many people fear gays, and lesbians because so many hetrosexuals ( Notice I said so many, NOT all ) automatically assume the minute they learn you’re gay they think for some reason you might be interested in them.

    To make a crazy assumption that a gay man or lesbian woman would be attracted to every member of the same sex no matter what they look like, is so extremely absurd. Yet the first words I hear from so many hetrosexuals is ” that dyke, or that faggot better not be looking at me.”

    As if!! They just assume gay people are attracted to every member of the same sex no matter what they look like. It’s as stupid and absurd as saying all hetrosexual people are attracted to every member of the oppiset sex no matter what they look like. It’s an old stereotype I really wish would disappear.

  71. ndt

    For people wondering why he would want to say this publicly and why Phil thinks it’s notable, you know same-sex marriage is still illegal in most of the United States, right? You know there’s a girl in Mississippi who’s not allowed to take her girlfriend to her senior prom, right? And you do know that in Randi’s home state of Florida, it is illegal for gay couples to adopt children, right?

    That’s why this is news. If there were no more widescale discrimination based on sexual orientation, it wouldn’t be news.

    There are kids all over this country, gay and straight, who are told by their parents, peers, clergy, and often teachers that homosexuality is disgusting and immoral. Whenever someone like Randi comes out it shows those kids another way of thinking about homosexuality.

  72. Flounder

    Gasp! A an older man who was never married and spent his entire career in show business turns out to be gay? What’s next? Catholic popes? Wet water? Bears defecating in the woods? Next thing you will tell me is there are Jews in show business!

  73. AlexB

    wow i had no idea! i actually wouldve never guessed at all, i just assumed he was like one of those numerous intellectuals who just never got married. GOOD 4 U RANDY! WOOOHOOO now im going to have2 go back and watch his old videos for subtle hints lol

  74. Mike C.

    Great, now his enemies can accuse him of being a gay child molester. Just kidding, though seriously some fundamentalists have been viciously libeling this honorable gentleman for decades now.

  75. Greg in Austin

    Randi is gay? That doesn’t surprise me, is hardly newsworthy, and certainly has no effect on all the great things he’s done over the years to promote skepticism and reality.

    Now, if Randi were to come out and say that he is actually a leprechaun with super-magic paranormal powers, proves it, and wins his own Million Dollar Challenge, now THAT would be something!

    8)

  76. tm

    Randi’s psychic critics should’ve seen this one coming.

  77. PsyberDave

    Go, Randi! You’re the MAN!

  78. Twilightened

    What i don’t get is why famous people who are gay, need to make a declaration of some kind about their sexual preference. Why should anyone care about that ? Why don’t we see any heterosexuals declaring their choice to the public ? This kind of behavior actually hampers the development of some kind of sexual equality in which no one will question the others sexual choice. Making declarations pulls medias attention to sex, again and again, which should never be the issue of it anyway.

  79. Jeffersonian

    Randi lost me when he spoke against the evidence on the issue of climate change.
    Nothing wrong with a love fest for the man I suppose, so I’m sure I’ll receive extra frowning for also saying
    Now? He waited ’til now? Lame.

  80. Wow! This makes some 200+ comments I’ve seen in the last 30 hours since this was published, and less than a dozen negatives! A few points: No one “demanded” this of me. There was no “peer pressure” — my own idea. I didn’t ever “hide” my sexuality. It was never a “secret” — if anyone asked, I told them, directly. The D.J. Grothe interview covers all of this, folks.

    But I must admit that I didn’t want to have the leprechaun connection known…

    Thank you, Phil and friends, sincerely.

    J.R.

  81. Mr. D

    Randi is gay?

    Awesome, I had no idea. Good for him coming out of the closet, it can’t be easy… I have a hard enough time telling people I’m an Atheist. But hopefully that will change soon enough and people won’t have to hide these things from anyone.

  82. Karen

    haha – I too thought it must mean he is a secret believer :) How many psychics will now say “I knew it. I just didn’t say anything”?

  83. Grand Lunar

    I know the news won’t effect how awesome I think Randi is.

  84. Given the title of the post, I thought you were going to say Randi was a closet dowser – surreptitiously looking for pipes burried below his basement.

  85. John Berryman

    Who cares. He is still a self-promoting charlatan and you are an unwitting fan boy.

  86. Rebus

    I have been an admirer since Mr. Randi came to Akron and got the goods on Earnest Angley. This news is like Mr. Randi’s beard. Interesting, but it does not define him.

    I hope this inspires other talented GLBTs to be what they are.

  87. mishi

    “I don’t understand why the gay community thinks it is necessary to coerce prominent members to make public announcements about their sexuality.”

    Mostly, queer folks want to out people, like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig, who work against our interests from the safety of their closets. Nobody “coerced” Randi, so don’t make stuff up. However, I have to say that there is something kinda icky about celebrities who live a privately gay life, yet keep their orientation secret, as though it were some shameful thing. (Do you think any heterosexual keeps his orientation private “because it’s nobody’s business?” Please.)

    With all due respect for Randi, whom I greatly respect – he wasn’t a movie actor afraid of losing leading-man roles, or a pastor who might be rejected by his congregation, a waiter who could be fired by Burger King, or even a man who feared disappointing his parents or losing his friends (who apparently knew). So, rationally, why stay in the closet this long? Even Really Smart Guys can suffer from internalized homophobia, and I find Randi’s “there’s not much ‘gay’ about being homosexual” comment really dispiriting. I’ve been out for 40 years, and, despite the haters, have found it gay, joyful, and just plain fun.

    Sorry Randi hasn’t. but making blanket statements like his without empirical proof is beneath him.

  88. James is gay. I offer a heartfelt “So what?”

    I think it’s sad that busybodies, control-freaks and repression-minded politicos have a “So…” to go with it, and the bloke’s had to put up with those twits for the majority of his life, but for my part….

    ….”So what?”

    Because frankly what he does in the bedroom is none of my gorram business. He’s a damn nice thinker, and that’s all that should matter to anyone.

  89. Buzz Mega

    This is going to cheese off a lot of tea-partiers and Republicans.

    So were Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci, Lord Byron and John M. Keynes.

    A Social Darwinist might say, “There’s your survival of the species connection.”

  90. Randy

    James Randi is one of my all time heroes. If he is gay that must mean that i am gay too right?

    No?

    But he will destroy my family right?

    No?

    Well then, i guess it doesn’t matter in the slightest.

  91. Jack Mitcham

    I disagree with those saying “so what?” and “it doesn’t matter.”

    It is a tragedy when people have to hide their real life for fear of retribution. It’s a shame when people have to alter pronouns in their life story to be accepted.

    It’s a huge step when somebody can come out and stop hiding who they really are and start being honest. This may help millions of people feel more comfortable with themselves and allow them to live a more honest life.

    THAT’S what the big deal is.

  92. @ Jeffersonian:

    Now? He waited ’til now? Lame.

    Brave words, my friend. Have you ever had a club aimed at your head? Or seen one of your friends lying in a puddle of blood on the sidewalk? Or had to replant your front lawn because someone spelled “fag” in gasoline on your grass?

    Yeah. Thought not.

    I have.

    I will say no more.

  93. Rand All

    His beard is so amazing…

    I’m sorry, what was the topic?

  94. On my YouTube account, I made a video about this, discussing the closet that atheists and gays often find themselves in.

    And I had to note something. My tagline is “Skeptics till the day we die.” If ever a man has embodied that statement, surely it is James Randi.

  95. DigitalAxis

    I saw the message vaguely eluded to in a previous post here (“Randi’s big announcement”) and wondered if he was retiring from the JREF for good, or something. When I saw that he was gay I think my reaction was “Oh, that’s different” and felt somewhat let down. Then I started to wonder WHY he would be telling everyone now: Was it some last-minute deathbed revelation?

    Fortunately, it was not that exciting, again. Certainly nothing as alarming to me as when he professed skepticism about anthropogenic global warming…

    I won’t claim this doesn’t affect my view of Randi; it makes him seem more human to me now.

  96. Eric TF Bat

    I’m waiting for the day he comes out as a warlock, with terrible psychic powers that he has used ceaselessly for years to hunt down and conscript others with superhuman abilities. The whole million dollar challenge, obviously, is the front for that project. Where else do you hide but in plain sight? It’s brilliant! And of course, once he outs himself over that, Phil will come forward to admit that he’s a shapeshifter from Tau Ceti, and PZ Myers while announce that he’s a member of a secret cabal devoted to using the powers and technology of the elder god Cthulhu to better all humanity.

    And then they’ll form a super team.

    Would that be a killer comic, or what? Someone get in touch with Warren Ellis and tell him to start on it immediately!

  97. Robert

    I wish didn’t matter.

    I’m straight as straight can get. Wasn’t raised right either. Bigotted and racist would be an apt description of my role models.

    But these days, all I care about is “Are you a good person who let’s others alone?”

    And my daughters friend has been the guy on the sidewalk in the pool of blood. Disgusting that a a good guy gets beat up for nothing but hate.

  98. Thomas Siefert

    and the world turns…

    Nothing more to say really…

  99. #64 -

    As an American, I have to agree. We (Americans) spend too much time on the trivial and the really important things get ignored until, often, we have to work double or triple hard to fix them.

    If we could only shed this religious blanket we wear….

    Sigh.

  100. Jason

    Now I’m worried that the Religious Fundamentalists will resort to the “Of COURSE he hates God, he just wants to continue his anti-god, sinful gay ways without being guilty!”

    Coming out, I could imagine, is the most difficult thing a gay person could do. Unfortunately. Being honest with yourself and others around you should never be that difficult or that risky.

  101. Mike

    When my 16 year old son came out last year, I braced for what I expected to be the onslaught of problems for him at school, etc. It has been like pushing against a wall that wasn’t there. It has been a complete non-issue. Now admittedly we don’t live in TX, and we’ve probably created a social network of relationships that are more open-minded than most, but it has really been surprising (at least this to this 51 year old dad).

    I still don’t get the Sophia Loren reference though.

  102. Mau

    This doesn’ matter at all. He’s 100 yo, FGS!

  103. MoMan

    Shhh! Actually, years ago, Randi came out of the closet and revealed to a few million people that he is a…are you ready for this?…a gentleman. I’m not kidding. And then many of us realized to our consternation that he is…wise and dedicated to the good of the planet. And….well, it hurts me to go on…telling people about these qualities that make him unique. The question is: how have we managed to put up with this fellow for so long? If only we had picked up the stones years ago and made him retreat to the nearest church. We would now all be safe.

  104. Michelle R

    I just find it sad he felt the need to hide it all his life. I mean, we heteros don’t have to hide it or even speak of our sexual orientation. Something like that should be mundane and no different from your hair color.

    Too bad some creeps make a big deal out of it and make homosexuals feel uncomfortable about it.

    (My reaction was just “So what if you are?”… and I wish everyone would think the same way.)

  105. ThatPirateGuy

    I was just glad to find out he had a long-term partner and thus wasn’t alone.

  106. Outsider

    I have to make another announcement. I have bought a motorbike.

    Could it affect my point of view on natural life?… don’t think so, it only says that I like bikes.

  107. Gary Ansorge

    85. John Berryman:

    “He is still a self-promoting charlatan and you are an unwitting fan boy.”

    Since when has Randi ever said he was other than a skeptic, an illusionist and an entertainer? I think you are confusing an honest magician(as in; “What I do isn’t magic. It’s tricks and illusions.”) with Sylvia Brown.

    95. DigitalAxis:

    It’s one thing to flat out deny climate warming evidence vs saying “I haven’t seen enough evidence, or do not understand the evidence, well enough to make a decision.”

    Which, as I recall, is really what Randi said about AGW. Which is quite different from being an AGW denier.

    Gary 7

  108. oldebabe

    Like some others here, I just don’t care what Randi prefers, did, does or doesn’t do when it comes to sex.

    When I say `who cares’, I mean that I, personally, don’t find it interesting, or meaningful, or important.

    Almost everyone has some kind of sex at one time or another… duh… and what anyone likes is their business (as long as it isn’t actually hurting anyone, that is), and I, frankly, don’t need to, or want to, know.

    But then, I’m not into living my life vicariously through famous, or notorious, persons, or because of, whether Presidents of the USA, or those in the movies, sports, and on TV, or even, yes, the Amazing One.

    Let’s move on.

  109. Richard Wolford

    Add me to the list of “don’t care”; Randi has done a tremendous job promoting skepticism and critical thinking, I could care less about his sexual orientation. I do wish they would start putting SWIFT back into an email, maybe a weekly recap, I really miss that in my inbox, it was the greatest way to start a weekend.

  110. Billy Bob

    I unfortunately do understand why it bothers people, I’ve never been exactly comfortable around homosexuals, never really figured out why.

    However, I don’t let it interfere with my day to day, or their day to day, adn I’ve managed a few decent friendships.
    I think of it as a affliction, personally.

    Good on Randi.

  111. It’s awesome that many of you don’t care, but … that is your straight privilege talking.

    Please remember that being gay is still thought of as “other” or even “bad” in many places. It’s not “huh, who cares” to many people. The more high-stature people come out, the better. And not just high-stature people – every day people, too.

    I think it’s very telling that he came out after he saw Milk.

    One of Milk’s most important messages was the need for people to come out, not be ashamed, and show the world that gay people from all walks of life exist.

    Of course, one shouldn’t feel pressured to come out. But when they do, I commend them.

    We’ve come a LONG way in regards to gay rights, and we did not get there by being silent.

    The more people come out, the more “normal” it will seem, and eventually, someday … there will no longer be a need for people to come out.

  112. However, I don’t let it interfere with my day to day, or their day to day, adn I’ve managed a few decent friendships.
    I think of it as a affliction, personally.

    And look.

    A good example of why we need people to come out.

    “a affliction”? Really?

    Sigh.

  113. Gary Ansorge

    109. Billy Bob

    “I think of it as a affliction, personally”

    If reproduction is your only rationale for sex, then of course you would see it in such fashion however, sex for most big brained critters is as much about social and personal connection as it is about fun. Even birds engage in homosexual activity. I doubt such broad dispersal of sexuality could in any way be considered abnormal.

    GAry 7

  114. Billy Bob

    Gary, I meant my own discomfort around homosexuals seems a affliction, not homosexuals themselves, I apologize.
    Personally, I have no judgment on them, except they make me a bit uncomfortable.
    I’ve raised birds, cattle, dogs, and a number of other animals and seen that they’ll carry on just as humans do.

  115. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    I didn’t know the LGBT community needed more cred, but if it does this certainly will do it!

    Oh, and good for Randi.

  116. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    I’ve raised birds, cattle, dogs, and a number of other animals and seen that they’ll carry on just as humans do.

    Several things comes to mind:

    First, it is the “naturalistic fallacy” to claim that nature decides culture or that we would wish it so. (In reality it seems ~ 10 % of genes are influenced by culture and vice versa, but the point is there is no 1-1 relationship, nor should it morally be.)

    Second, I would be careful with studying kept animals for natural behavior in all ways. But as it happens, many if not most higher animals have been observed to engage in homosexual behavior. So it is certainly natural. (But see previous point.)

  117. Why do they make you a bit uncomfortable? Ridiculous.

  118. Gary Ansorge

    111. Billy Bob

    “Gary, I meant my own discomfort”

    Oh! Never mind.

    The only time I’ve ever felt that way was when a young, affective Queen referred to me as “cute”,,,I kept my back to the fireplace,,,(but I considered that as just being prudent)

    GAry 7

  119. Right, Gary, because if someone thinks you’re cute, that means they are going to bend you over right there and have their way with you. *eye roll*

    This fear of people who happen to be gay is homophobia. Plain and simple.

  120. Michael Swanson

    You’re a hero to me, James Randi, before and after coming out, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    Love you!

  121. Douglas Troy

    I’m sure there are some people in this world that will make a huge stink about this, but the truth is, it doesn’t change a damn thing. He’s still a brilliant thinker and a credit to the human race.

  122. Okay, I’m going to be the first “troll” of this thread. It’s not that I have a problem with Randi being gay, or declaring his gayness, or even that it took so long to be officially out. All of these things are personal decisions (except for being gay, which is probably not a decision) that I can pass judgment on.

    I like Randi and probably always will, unless I discover that he’s been secretly trying to destroy the universe (my job) or been listening to Seether. What irks me more than a little is some of his responses to DJ Grothe, I don’t, as a straight person with far left tendencies, demand that all people coming out of the closet become ardent defenders of gay rights. Obviously people vary in their levels of interest in any cause. Still, I was puzzled by his acceding to the “Libertarian view” of distinction between marriage and civil unions. (I put this in quotes because even as I’m opposed to Libertarianism, I fail to see how it relates to the world-view) I was also equally bothered by his remarks of simply not being “into it” enough to protest with the masses during his youth. I’m not much for protests because I feel that they’ve lost effectiveness for various reasons, but it has nothing to do with being “into it” or not. It’s not that I have a problem with him being genuinely disinterested, but I simply don’t believe his response. It sounded, frankly, a little forced.

    Does this mean that I now suddenly hate Randi and think he’s a big fat stinky poopy-head? No. These are just niggling details that bothered me listening to the interview.

  123. @ Gary Ansorge:

    I kept my back to the fireplace,,,

    With or without a fire going?

    ’cause I’m thinking you might have misconstrued his comment about “that kid with the hot ass.”

  124. Mark

    I called this one a long time ago. There is a picture of Mr. Randi in my astronomy textbook and it just screams gay :) lol. My gaydar is working, commenter #20. Although, I have had formal training in reading body language so I have an advantage. ha ha

    As a gay man, I am proud that someone I respect very much and admire for their brilliance is like me. I think being gay can jump-start one to be a critical thinker. One begins to question life and seek understanding very early on when one is gay because they know they are different from most other people. That has been my own experience at least. I’d love to see research on the link between homosexuality and intelligence.

    To reiterate what others have posted, it shouldn’t matter, but it does. “Coming out” in a public way is a big deal, at least for Randi. Being gay can occupy a lot of your thinking. Willingly or not, it does in a sense, define who you are and I can understand Mr. Randi’s need to come out publicly. I imagine it’s quite a relief now, not having to hide part of who he is.

  125. Murff

    I’m coming out of the closet: I’m straight.

    Is there a reason why gay people feel they need to come out of the closet? The sooner we stop caring wether anyone is gay or not, the better. No need for announcements, just be gay, or don’t, no need to make an announcement.

    Kinda contributes to the stereotype, doesn’t it?

  126. Murff

    @ Douglas Troy (post 121)

    Exacty! +1

  127. @ Murff:

    No need for announcements, just be gay, or don’t, no need to make an announcement. Kinda contributes to the stereotype, doesn’t it?

    Because, Murff, when people like Randi come out, it adds yet one more dent to those very same stereotypes and all the bigotry behind them. Closets were there for a good reason: gay people were damn tired of getting beat up, having their jobs taken away, even killed, simply because they wanted to “just be gay.”

    Tell me, what closet exactly is it you are coming out of? Who has ever threatened you just because you’re straight? Who has ever denied you the right to marry the person you love? Or denied you the same spousal immigration rights others take for granted? Or tried to tell you you weren’t fit to adopt or raise kids? Or sent you off to camp to be “coverted”?

    It would be nice if all the hatred magically went away over night, Murff, but it won’t. It’s taken decades of hard fought battles and in most places in the world it will take decades more. I don’t know where you live, but there are vast stretches of the land o’ the free where people would just as soon punch a fag into the dirt as look at him. For every one Matthew Shepard, there’s a hundred other kids whose equally grim stories don’t get told.

    Sorry if all this coming out business annoys you, really, I am. But I guess you’re just going to have to deal with it a bit longer. Either that, or tell the rest of your straight buddies to stop contributing to their stereotype….that of the sensitive little whiners whose sexual identity is so fragile they have to obsess about everyone else’s.

  128. Sadly, a few here are clueless with a combination of hetero privilege and basic 16 year old internet stupidity. You’ve never sacrificed anything in your life nor will you ever since you cry when you note the slightest drop in fatty foods in the refrigerator somebody else keeps stocked for you. You don’t count and you never will. You are the emotional equivalent of an 8 year old. The rest of this is not meant for you since you cannot even understand it.

    Thanks, Phil, for writing this. And thanks Mr. Randi for having the strength to growing up and being who you have always been. Sorry for all the bigotry you have had to endure. Nobody deserves that load of crap.

  129. Murff

    First, I’m not 16 and I’m not privileged. I don’t care if anyone is gay or not. We are what we are. I also know that 1000 famous people can publicly come out of the closet and it won’t change anything, 100% of the idiots that don’t like gays still won’t. What it will do is make other gays feel pround, and might make a few of them “come out” as well, and the chain never ends… Announcements don’t annoy me because I don’t like homosexuals ( I don’t like or dislike anyone because of their orientation), they bother me because they are not necessary. You want to end the gay stereotype? Stop acting like it’s something that needs to be flaunted and announced. It’s funny, because even Randi says he wasn’t in the closet, and yet he “came out”. I’d have rather just seem him show up to an event with a date. No announcement needed, just living his life.

    This is my opinion on the subject, you can agree or disagree, but making rude comments and assumptions, as Doug did, is uncalled for.

  130. “There is more news from the James Randi Educational Foundation. After his recent coming out as gay, now the Amazing one has another shocking revalation:…” read more:
    http://jacbur.blogspot.com/2010/03/breaking-news-james-randi-has-beard.html

  131. JudeThom

    I am glad he came out of the closet, good for him, but
    he’s wrong when he dismisses the entire paranormal world.
    Abuses and fakes exist in the paranormal world, certainly
    there’s a lot of conning there, but there are different
    ranges of psychic talent, from bad/bogus to lackluster to
    astounding. Randi’s position is too extreme, too orthodox.
    But good for him for coming out!

  132. Ugh, thanks Doug Watts. You’ve nailed it on the head.

    Murff, Doug didn’t call you 16. He said you were acting 16.

    “Stop acting like it’s something that needs to be flaunted and announced”

    Oh, yeah. Because one should hide their true selves!

    Do some research on Harvey Milk and why it is important for gays to come out (when ready), and get back to me.

    Do you honestly think the gay rights movement has gotten as far as it has because LGBT folk remained silent and ashamed? Please. You are ignorant, privileged, and not very bright.

  133. “I also know that 1000 famous people can publicly come out of the closet and it won’t change anything, 100% of the idiots that don’t like gays still won’t. ”

    And please! There is a REASON why it’s legal to marry in DC — because people are changing their minds.

  134. scotth

    I wonder if this announcement is more suprising to those of us who already knew than those who didn’t. Having had time to think about it, I was quite certain that this announcement would never happen. Randi certainly came of age in a different era.

    I suspect, anyone who would reject Randi due to this recent announcement already disliked him. I can’t think of anyone who would dislike someone for being gay that wouldn’t already be turned off over him being an out-of-the-closet atheist.

    It certainly doesn’t change how I feel about the man. (but, I’ve known for quite some time)

    Scott

  135. You want to end the gay stereotype? Stop acting like it’s something that needs to be flaunted and announced.

    Tell me something, amigo.

    Are you “flaunting” your sexuality when you casually mention you’re going on a date with your girlfriend? Or, if you’re standing around the water cooler and someone says they went away for the weekend with their wife, is that person “flaunting” their heterosexuality?

    Yet if a gay person was standing at the water cooler, you can be damn sure it would be an issue. Suddenly they are “flaunting” their sexuality. Double standard. Also known as bulls__t.

    Bottom line, Murph: it’s none of your freaking business. You don’t like Randi’s announcement, or anyone else’s announcement? Don’t listen to it! Turn the other way! Read a different blog!

  136. @kuhnigget

    You hit the nail on the head. Straightness is “normal” but gayness is “overt” and no one thinks about it. Yet straightness is, necessarily because of the statistics, flaunted everywhere! It used to be Ms. and Mrs., rings on fingers (in many respects that’s nor applicable to gays still). It’s still currently everywhere people are basically acknowledging that they like members of the opposite sex. PDA, free admission for women into a club, male and female “bonding” rituals that involve overt objectification of members of the opposite sex. This is all social theater, it’s all display and peacocking. We want, consciously or not, people to know we’re straight. Either so that we can satisfy heteronormative expectations set by society or to display sexual availability.

    When a gay person is running around with a stereotypical gay “affectation” you need to remember that affect is universal. We all play a character, I play the character of me, you play the character of you. There is no such thing as a “default”. You are not invisible because you are straight.

  137. Stu

    there are different ranges of psychic talent, from bad/bogus to lackluster to
    astounding.

    [Citation needed]

  138. Peter B

    JudeThom said @ 132: “…he’s wrong when he dismisses the entire paranormal world. Abuses and fakes exist in the paranormal world, certainly there’s a lot of conning there, but there are different ranges of psychic talent, from bad/bogus to lackluster to astounding. Randi’s position is too extreme, too orthodox.”

    G’day JudeThom

    Randi holds his position because of the evidence he’s seen, and he’s had a million dollars available for years for anyone who can demonstrate “astounding” psychic talent. Would you be willing to name someone you think has astounding psychic talent? Would you like to speculate why Randi and others dismiss such claims?

  139. Murff

    @ Martilove

    You call me ignorant for my views, yet there is no scientific proof of what is the best course of action.

    Why do I think it’s legal for gay marriage in D.C.? Politicians. (Please remember, I have no problem with gay marriage).

    I never said anyone should hide their true selves, actually I said the opposite. I just said that announcements weren’t necessary and I felt it was worse for prolonging the stereotype. My opinion, no proof either way who is correct.

    That’s 2 responses on here that have resorted to name calling…

  140. Murff

    “Bottom line, Murph: it’s none of your freaking business. You don’t like Randi’s announcement, or anyone else’s announcement? Don’t listen to it! Turn the other way! Read a different blog!”

    It’s not that I don’t like or dislike them, it’s that I think it is more harmful in prolonging the stereotype. I think James Randi is a great man, read almost anything than man writes and you really can’t think of him in any other way :)

    Ironically, the military is a rough example. Black American’s endure quite a bit less racism in the military. They don’t generally make a huge deal about the color of their skin because they know it’s widely accepted. This happened because of the regulations in place: no one is allowed discriminate against them and they can’t expect special treatment. Although it was rough at first, over the years it has proven to work. Unfortunately, racism still exists, but nowhere near the scale of the past. This has led to a better environment, and Black American now make up approx. 40% of the U.S. Air Force.

    When gays are allowed in the military, the same thing will happen, but it will also probably take the same time scales. We might not like that, but I think it’s better than where we are now.

  141. Murff, I have to say, I honestly do not understand your position.

    You decry people making “announcements” that flaunt their identity, yet you pine for a better world in which those identities don’t matter, using the legislated integration of the military as an example.

    Apart from the slight correction that there already are gay people in the military, you seem to be overlooking the fact that the military was once one of the most harshly segregated segments of our society. It wasn’t until president Truman issued an executive order that this segregation — or at least the racial segregation — gradually broke down.

    And that’s the kicker: none of this would have happened if there hadn’t been a huge movement to force the government to take action. In other words, the military would still be segregated to this day if people hadn’t stood up for their rights and demanded that action be taken.

    So I’m really confused. It seems to me you want gay people to just stay in the closet until the rest of society changes its ways. But history has shown repeatedly that society has to be dragged kicking and screaming into change. Race, gender, religion…every aspect of non-normal “otherness” has always been difficult for Americans. Difficult, that is, until enough of those “others” stand up and make themselves known for who they are.

  142. Sorry, one more thing:

    It’s not that I don’t like or dislike them, it’s that I think it is more harmful in prolonging the stereotype

    What stereotype is that, Murff? The stereotype of someone insisting on the right to be who they are?

    Go back and read my penultimate post. In the large majority of American cities and towns, gay people are not allowed to be who they are. It’s “an issue.” As rosy as your glasses may be, they don’t reflect the reality, and they won’t, either, unto more and more gay people make their announcements, the ones you don’t care for.

    The way I’m reading it, Murff, it’s not that your position is there to support the desires of gay people to be who they are, it’s to support your own desire not to be made uncomfortable at all those homos having the audacity to step out and enjoy the sunshine.

    Sorry, but that’s just the way you’re coming across.

  143. Sticks

    Jason on post 100 does make a salient point which could mean James has shot himself in the foot by this announcement

    Allow me to try and explain

    I come from a faith grouping and my understanding of the scriptures is that the phenomenon of so called faith healing has to be false. It gets technical explaining this one and not all Christians will agree with my understanding what the Bible actually says on this subject.

    A lot of good work Randi has done is in exposing these so called faith healers as frauds. This is where I am with Randi 100% as well as his excellent work in exposing so called psychics as frauds.

    In moments of weakness, you find yourself wishing that Randi was part of our community because he is such an asset.

    However, because of this announcement, the charlatans posing as faith healers will use this against Randi to say something along the lines of “Who are you going to believe, a man of God or a expletive – {unpleasant word for a gay man based on the name of a city in the Bible where fire and sulphur was rained down on it}

    Get the picture?
    :(

  144. However, because of this announcement, the charlatans posing as faith healers will use this against Randi to say something along the lines of “Who are you going to believe, a man of God or a expletive – {unpleasant word for a gay man based on the name of a city in the Bible where fire and sulphur was rained down on it}”

    In which case, the bigotry that masquerades as “argument” will be laid bare for all, Christians and non-Christians alike.

    And the problem with that is…?

  145. Murff

    I guess I’m not explaining myself well. I’m not, and never have been uncomfortable around gay people.

    As far as gays in the military, of course they are. The media makes it sound like the people in the military don’t want gays around, but a recent survey in the Air Force Times shows that roughly 60% don’t care, as long as they do their job. The biggest concern seems to be whether or not they need a separate bathroom when living in the dorms, seriously, that was the number 1 concern (including the cost of said bathrooms). Note: Just because the military has a huge budget, doesn’t mean us worker bees are rolling in dough, so the extra cost of anything raises our brow, wondering what we’ll lose in order to fund it.

    I guess the comparison to Black Americans wasn’t a good one, since blacks can’t be “in the closet” to hide their race. I guess gays at least had that better, if they felt threatened, they could keep it a secret. (not that I think they should have to do that).

  146. Well, again, Murff, I just don’t know where you’re coming from then.

    You said coming out in the way Randi did was just playing to the stereotype, but yet you haven’t articulated just what stereotype you’re talking about.

    Is it of a person who “flaunts” his sexuality? But we’ve seen that’s not confined to gay people. Straight people are likewise “flaunting” their own sexuality every time they make casual conversation about their wives, girlfriends, etc. Why is one activity considered “flaunting,” while another is not?

    Or is the stereotype that of the “flaming queen,” prancing here and there, wearing lavender and calling everyone “girlfriend”? Because Randi certainly doesn’t meet that stereotype, so how could his coming out do anything but help to break down that particular stereotyped view of gay people? How could the addition of anyone who doesn’t match that stereotype do anything but help change people’s minds about gay people? It seems to me the more “ordinary” folk they realize just happen to be gay, the better chance they might drop their stereotypical views and move on.

    So again, I don’t mean to be dragging this on for no reason….I just honestly don’t get your point, and I suspect you haven’t got it quite figured out yet, either.

  147. And what’s wrong with the “stereotype” anyway? What of the “prancing flaming queen”? Why is this a problem? Only bigots think this is a problem. We shouldn’t kotow to bigots.

  148. Charlie in Dayton

    (The only reason this is here instead of on Randi’s forum is that I’ve been locked in mortal password combat with that system for awhile, and so far it’s winning…)

    Somewhere in the back of my mind, the vague suspicion of this always floated around…can’t see as it made any difference, but it was just there.

    Now, it’s…THERE.

    Takes courage to come out, especially in the public circumstances The Amazing One resides in. Good for you, Mr. R…

    I do have one teeeeeeeeny little problem, though…”…I find myself in excellent company…” and then follows a list of names. Stephen Fry I’ve seen a little of on PBS…Ellen DeGeneres I’ve had a ten-ton-steel press crush on for years…Rachel Maddow I’m not familiar with ’cause I don’t have cable, but I’m willing to give benefit of doubt…but BARNEY FRANK?!?!?!?!?…uhhh…we need to talk, sir…

  149. Charlie in Dayton

    @JD #6 — not sure if anyone else has answered this…apparently Randi has had the warm fuzzies for Ms Loren for quite some time. I remember hearing about this just prior to TAM 1, and thinking how slick it would be to get her to surprise him on the stage at the end of the convention. After all, she does live in Florida within spittin’ distance of JREF HQ (or so I was led to believe).

    Better that we didn’t pull it off — that heart problem might have appeared a few years earlier and been more severe…

    Evidently he’s so smitten by her, Mr Randi named his itty bitty sports car after her. I have yet to work up the courage to name my 8-year old Chevy “Ellen”…

    …c’est la vie…

  150. Murff

    @ Kuhnigget

    The stereotype of gay people is that they need to make announcements about being gay. This generally draws attention and causes, to some degree, a commotion around them. This is particularly evident for celebrities. When Randi announced that he was gay, what did it change?

    Did people that were gay suddenly respect him? I bet Randi would rather them respect him for his accomplishments, not his sexual preference.

    Did his colleagues and fans, myself being the latter, change their view of him? If we did, then shame on us.

    Did people who don’t like Randi change their minds and suddenly start liking him? Again, if they did, shame on them.

    When the gay community suddenly throws their support at people who have “come out of the closet”, it just keeps the stereotype churning along. Why didn’t they support those people before? Sexual preference should not be a defining factor in how we regard others, and by constantly making it a big deal, we just keep that one detail at the forefront.

    I think Randi had it right to begin with. He wasn’t in the closet, he was just gay and didn’t feel the need to make a public announcement. Sounds like the logical thinking of a man we’ve all grown to respect.

  151. @ Murff:

    Okay. Did you not read the previous responses to your first post?

    Heterosexuals are “announcing” their sexuality all the time. Everyone does. The way you talk, the things you talk about, in casual conversation or deep discussion. Advertisements, movies, music–it’s all loaded with heterosexuality announcing itself. So why is that not a big deal? Why is that not flaunting it?

    You seem to be operating under a couple of misperceptions, Murff. One, is that it is safe for gay people to “just be gay” in America today. I hate to break it to you, but that is not the case. I travel a lot for business. There are places I go where I wouldn’t dare let it be known I’m not straight. Why? Because I’d get attacked, physically harmed, possibly killed. Just for “being gay.” Seriously. And not just in some podunk flyover state where yahoos drive around with gun racks on their trucks. Everywhere. In fact, there are precious few places in the land o’ the free where a person can “just be gay” and not draw evil glares, if not sticks and stones. I wish that weren’t the case, Murff, but it is denialism to believe it’s not. I can move in these circles, so long as I don’t mention my husband, or my gay friends, or any other aspect of my life that doesn’t jibe with the heterosexual norm.

    Which leads us to misperception #2.

    The reason why it’s important that people like Randi publicly come out is that it directly address the idiotic stereotype many, if not most, heterosexuals have of gay people. To them, gay people are flighty, flirty, queens or ultra butch females. The idea of a gay person just being a “regular guy” or “regular girl” doesn’t enter into their heads. Gays are pansies. Gays are bulldykes. Well that’s bulls__t, Murff. The range of behavior and characteristics of gay people is just as wide as it is with straight people. We have all kinds of behaviors, all kinds of looks, of styles, of ways of talking. Not all of us are fems or leather queens or whatever the stereotype says we are. (And by the way, I’m not saying it’s bad to be any of those things…just that it’s a limitation that is so far from the richness of reality as to be ludicrous). So when someone like Randi, or NFL star Roy Simmons, or — take your pick of any number of “out” people who don’t fit that stereotype — when they make a public announcement, they are actively attacking that stereotype, forcing people to rethink their positions. They may not change the mind of any true bigot, but they sure as hell make a difference among people who are able to think for themselves. “So and so is gay? But he doesn’t act gay! Hmmmmm….”

    You ask, “why didn’t (the gay community) support those people before? (their announcement)” Jeebus, Murff, what a question. Why did they need support? Ever ask yourself that? Why did they need a whole community of people to support them “just being gay”? Do you think it might be because our society’s bigotry is such that a large percentage of the people still think being gay is a sickness? or equitable with pedophilia? or an affront to one god or another?

    Are things getting better? Sure they are. But they are getting better because people such as Randi, and Ellen, and Roy Simmons, and all the rest are dragging people out of the dark ages, forcing them by their very public announcements to reconsider their bigotry, to accept the idea that to remain ignorant about who gay people are is unacceptable in a supposedly free society.

    Is that making any sense?

    Have a nice day.

  152. Billy Bob

    @117
    Don’t have a good answer for you. Could be the culture I was raised in. I’m in the Southern part of the US.
    And I have to agree with you, it definitely is ridiculous.
    Like I said, I try not to let it guide my actions.

  153. WJM

    Gay, schmay; hip-hip-hooray; but Randi, when ya gonna come out as Canadian?

  154. Murff, the gay community DOES support them. I’m an activist and a volunteer in the gay community. Guess what? We support those in the closet, and we support those going through the process of coming out. Why? Because other gay people have been there. Most gay people understand how tough it is, and so are sympathetic and supportive.

    Unlike you, who, like many straight people with straight privilege, just do not get it.

  155. Joe

    Mr. Randi, congrats on coming out of the closet! Now the gays have a person of great influence. You could get gay marriage legalized! I am not gay myself, but I support you! OK, that just sounded wrong.

  156. Bill Thompson

    I only wondered if he had kids and what they thought of him. I imagined that they would be very proud of him. I never thought he was gay or not.

  157. Kevin Levites

    I’ve admired his work for years, and he’s made this world a better place to live.

    Why does it matter if he’s gay? Does his sexual orientation in any way diminish the value of his contributions? If everyone could contribute as much as he has . . . well . . . I wouldn’t care if the whole world was gay.

    Best,

    —Kevin Levites

  158. Znorsk

    Looked up the definition of the word “gay.” This part fits Randi perfectly.

    “keenly alive and exuberant.”

    I attended one of his lectures, and using this definition, he’s about the gayest person I’ve ever known.

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