James Randi comes out

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James Randi comes out

Postby skeptical scientist » Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:14 am UTC

Linky

This is going to be big news in the skeptical community, I expect. I found fairly surprising, and someone on another site explained why: it's not that Randi particularly strikes one as straight, it's just that it's surprising when anyone comes out at the age of 81. I also think it's somewhat suprising he didn't come out sooner - as far as I'm concerned, there hasn't been any stigma attached to being gay for a long time: over a decade at least. But I guess that's not a reason to come out, it's just not a reason not to come out.

I also wonder what sort of skeptical/gay issues there may be that might get discussed as a result. It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this news will have.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Mother Superior » Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:33 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:as far as I'm concerned, there hasn't been any stigma attached to being gay for a long time: over a decade at least.

...really?

Anyway, this is... well it is, I guess. I wish he'd felt comfortable coming out sooner, for his own sake.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:35 am UTC

I did not know until just now Stephen Fry was gay.

This does change my opinion of him, but not at all for the worse.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:46 am UTC

That is pretty awesome, but It's unfortunate that people even have to come out. It is a bit weird though, I don't ever recall ever thinking about James Randi in any way that would even remotely require me making assumptions about his sexuality (subconscious or otherwise).

I wonder if Rachel Maddow will mention this on her show? Actually I'd be surprised if she didn't since she is such a big geek and she also got mentioned.

@pez: I knew that due to that debate that Stephen, Richard and some other guy did at some random place... yeah. I think the topic was "Does the Catholic Church kick ass?" or something. I also knew that because I looked him up on wikipedia after watching Derren Brown doing a crazy trick on him and also Derren Brown is one of the coolest of people and also openly homosexual.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby skeptical scientist » Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:54 am UTC

Mother Superior wrote:
closed-minded spiritualist wrote:as far as I'm concerned, there hasn't been any stigma attached to being gay for a long time: over a decade at least.

...really?

Well, it may be that I've lived all of my life in fairly liberal areas (Seattle/Boston/Chicago), and the last nine years of it on college campuses. I am certainly aware of antigay sentiment, but it's always felt to me as if it was coming from a relatively small (and frankly somewhat backward) subset of people concentrated in more conservative regions of the country.

Maybe I've just been blind to it. I remember, when my college roommate came out to me freshman year, how surprised I was that he wasn't out with his family. (I was also rather surprised that he was gay period, but that was more because of the girl who'd spent a night in his bed than anything else.)
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Josephine » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:01 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
Mother Superior wrote:
closed-minded spiritualist wrote:as far as I'm concerned, there hasn't been any stigma attached to being gay for a long time: over a decade at least.

...really?

Well, it may be that I've lived all of my life in fairly liberal areas (Seattle/Boston/Chicago). I am certainly aware of antigay sentiment, but it's always felt to me as if it was coming from a relatively small (and frankly somewhat backward) subset of people concentrated in more conservative regions of the country.

Maybe I've just been blind to it. I remember, when my college roommate came out to me freshman year, how surprised I was that he wasn't out with his family. (I was ALSO YOU GUYS: rather surprised that he was gay period, but that was more because of the girl who'd spent a night in his bed than anything else.)

Your experiences are anomalous in the US. Most of the country has a significant percentage of highly and outwardly homophobic people.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby skeptical scientist » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:06 am UTC

nbonaparte wrote:Your experiences are anomalous in Freedomville. Most of the country has a significant percentage of highly and outwardly homophobic people.

Perhaps, but I would venture a guess based on your "Location: Salt Lake City" that your experiences are likewise rather anomalous.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Josephine » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:06 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
nbonaparte wrote:Your experiences are anomalous in Freedomville. Most of the country has a significant percentage of highly and outwardly homophobic people.

Perhaps, but I would venture a guess based on your "Location: Salt Lake City" that your experiences are likewise rather anomalous.

point taken, although I have lived in quite a few other places.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby EmilyR » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:14 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
Mother Superior wrote:
closed-minded spiritualist wrote:as far as I'm concerned, there hasn't been any stigma attached to being gay for a long time: over a decade at least.

...really?

Well, it may be that I've lived all of my life in fairly liberal areas (Seattle/Boston/Chicago), and the last nine years of it on college campuses. I am certainly aware of antigay sentiment, but it's always felt to me as if it was coming from a relatively small (and frankly somewhat backward) subset of people concentrated in more conservative regions of the country.

Maybe I've just been blind to it. I remember, when my college roommate came out to me freshman year, how surprised I was that he wasn't out with his family. (I was ALSO YOU GUYS: rather surprised that he was gay period, but that was more because of the girl who'd spent a night in his bed than anything else.)


48% of Americans think homosexuality is immoral, 40% think it should be illegal, 56% think we should not be allowed to marry, 8% think we should have less rights in totally unrelated areas such as employment. Land of the free, huh?

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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:25 am UTC

40% think it should be illegal!? I'm not surprised at the other numbers but illegal!? Holy shit.

I do wonder though, as those numbers suggest some that there is some number of people who think homosexuality is 'morally acceptable' but not morally acceptable enough for marriage...

OT:
Spoiler:
I'm also surprised to see the Death Penalty so high, sex/children out of wedlock, abortion and cloning animals so low. Also suicide so low but doctor assisted suicide high (I'm actually surprised it's got a majority going for it).

Also, I suppose I expected it but it is kind of sad to see that polyamory related ones are so lowly approved of.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Lazar » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:29 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I do wonder though, as those numbers suggest some that there is some number of people who think homosexuality is 'morally acceptable' but not morally acceptable enough for marriage...

That's pretty much Obama's position right now. But he previously articulated support for gay marriage, and I have no doubt that his current stance is nothing more than a political calculation.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Mother Superior » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:31 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
Mother Superior wrote:
closed-minded spiritualist wrote:as far as I'm concerned, there hasn't been any stigma attached to being gay for a long time: over a decade at least.

...really?

Well, it may be that I've lived all of my life in fairly liberal areas (Seattle/Boston/Chicago), and the last nine years of it on college campuses. I am certainly aware of antigay sentiment, but it's always felt to me as if it was coming from a relatively small (and frankly somewhat backward) subset of people concentrated in more conservative regions of the country.

Well hey, I live in Sweden so it's kinda weird to me too, but I've certainly been around a couple people who are of the opinon that "Hey man, gays are fucking disgusting", though over here they are in a fair minority. But I am aware that in other places those people are either not in minority at all, or there's a good 50-50 ratio going on.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:17 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:40% think it should be illegal!? I'm not surprised at the other numbers but illegal!? Holy shit.

World, meet the American Right. Let's set aside hypocritical economic policy for now and look at social policy. Your freedom is of the utmost importance so long as it doesn't interfere with beliefs chosen seemingly at random from a book ostensibly untouched for 2 millenia while ignoring other directions given therein. Freedoms like that from regulation on firearms because we all know that "well regulated Militia" means civilians with unregulated, unlicensed, nigh untraceable weapons to protect us from gays and progressives that are a cancer on Amurrica; that from having to pay for basic social services that many if not all rightists have used or will use at some point in their life because, well, that's life (and some of the basic services we're talking about here are transit, roads, fire departments, that sort of thing); and that from having to comply with equal protection under the law if those who would be equally protected are, say, gay.

Yeah. 40%. Times like this I begin to grok people who say all religion is inherently harmful, meaning no offense to those who are religious - it's not a belief I hold but it's one I can understand how one would arrive at.

Bleh. To comment on the topic at hand: I don't expect this will change Randi's standing with much of anyone. Those who support him will applaud him, those who don't particularly like him won't think any better of him. And you know... that's the way it should be. Except the part where factions of the latter group will undoubtedly think less of him.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Gellert1984 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:30 am UTC

Its not inconceivable that that 58% relates purely to religious marriage.

I've always believed that a church is not required to marry anyone they don't want to, that said I do think homosexuals should be entitled to a legal marriage and equal benefits/responsibilities to a heterosexual marriage, seperation of church & state.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:37 am UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:40% think it should be illegal!? I'm not surprised at the other numbers but illegal!? Holy shit.

World, meet the American Right. Let's set aside hypocritical economic policy for now and look at social policy. Your freedom is of the utmost importance so long as it doesn't interfere with beliefs chosen seemingly at random from a book ostensibly untouched for 2 millenia while ignoring other directions given therein.


Well, from what I've seen the Christian Right's idea of "Freedom" is more just a name for some symbolic "measurement" for what ever falls in line with their ideology. Although you could say that they use the word "Freedom" to mean freedom for corporations... but they often seem to use the word in a way that suggests it is freedom for everyone.

Freedoms like that from regulation on firearms because we all know that "well regulated Militia" means civilians with unregulated, unlicensed, nigh untraceable weapons to protect us from gays and progressives that are a cancer on Amurrica;


Well... Offtopic.
Spoiler:
But I think the civilians with weapons is actually more the "people" whose "right" to "keep and bear arms" "shall not be infringed".
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:11 pm UTC

A digression that can accomplish nothing productive, I admit. I retract my statement of such because I don't really want the thread to get locked over a decades-old debate that we sure as hell aren't going to finish here.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:07 pm UTC

While there is still certainly antigay sentiment in this country, I am likewise a bit surprised Randi didn't come out sooner, because I would think he's been moving in more progressive circles pretty much his whole life.

Then again, if he didn't feel comfortable coming out back when he probably had more of a libido, he may have seen little reason to bother one way or the other later on.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Diadem » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:32 pm UTC

So he's an atheist, and now he's finally admitted he's gay.

See, this proves that atheists are evil.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Lucrece » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:51 pm UTC

I've lived in Florida, in Massachusetts, and in more "centrist" states. They all boil down to a good over 40% supporting heterosexual supremacy; it's just a difference in state culture how politically involved people get. Some states get more up in arms about what their politicians do, and some do not. It turns out that the judiciary also plays a role as well; MA had a majority against gay marriage prior to the ruling, and it took the legislation killing proposed motions for voting on gay marriage in order for the public to settle down and shift to accept it.

It still doesn't detract from the fact that over half the country believe they're superior to you. And that's half talking about the nebulous, nice idea of "fairness". If it turned out to "would I mind if my son kissed other boys", you would see more honest homophobia coming out into the open.

In, short, no, homophobia is still a staple of American culture. How many gay leads have there been in a big-time Hollywood film? Zero. Representation in the media? Under 2%. When they ARE represented, do they get treated the same as their straight counterparts--romantically? No, they're sterilized. Gay professional athletes that are out while playing? None. Gay supreme court judge? None. Gay president? Not one. What happens to books with gay leads? They get shuffled into some obscure quarter of a shelf in Borders under the "gay section".

Even if you move in progressive circles, that does not mean heterosexism isn't rampant.

Good for him, although I am flabbergasted at how long he could endure the closet. I know for certain that if I had stayed beyond five years in that nightmare I would've killed myself; that thing kills your soul.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Osha » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:23 pm UTC

I imagine part of the hesitation about coming out was from him being a public figure.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Velict » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:43 pm UTC

Lucrece wrote:In, short, no, homophobia is still a staple of American culture. How many sparkling leads have there been in a big-time Hollywood film? Zero. Representation in the media? Under 2%. When they ARE represented, do they get treated the same as their straight counterparts--romantically? No, they're sterilized. sparkling professional athletes that are out while playing? None. sparkling supreme court judge? None. sparkling president? Not one. What happens to books with sparkling leads? They get shuffled into some obscure quarter of a shelf in Borders under the "sparkling section".

Even if you move in progressive circles, that does not mean heterosexism isn't rampant.


While homosexuality is without a doubt underrepresented in the media, I would also like to point out that homosexuality does not occur in society at anywhere near the rate that heterosexuality does (even accepting that some percentage of individuals are homosexual or bisexual but do not self-identify as such). Because of this, it's not hugely surprising that no member of the Supreme Court is homosexual - if even one was gay, that would mean that 11% of the court was so, and that percentage is probably somewhat larger than the actual percentage of homosexual or bisexual individuals in society. What is notable, though, is the lack of homosexual individuals in Congress (there are only two to my immediate knowledge, Barney Frank and Jared Polis) - clearly people aren't willing to elect gay politicians.

You do miss a few very conspicuous examples of prominent homosexuals, however. In the entertainment industry, Elton John and Lady Gaga immediately come to mind. The actor Sir Ian McKellen is also quite notable.

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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby folkhero » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:31 pm UTC

Lucrece wrote:In, short, no, homophobia is still a staple of American culture. How many gay leads have there been in a big-time Hollywood film? Zero.

Philadelphia, Capote, Brokeback Mountain and Milk off the top of my head. I guess "big-time" is subjective, but those weren't small art-house films. I do agree with most of your post though.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Velict » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:40 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:
Lucrece wrote:In, short, no, homophobia is still a staple of American culture. How many sparkling leads have there been in a big-time Hollywood film? Zero.

Philadelphia, Capote, Brokeback Mountain and Milk off the top of my head. I guess "big-time" is subjective, but those weren't small art-house films. I do agree with most of your post though.


I don't believe any of the leads in these films were gay, however, which was the point that Lucrece was driving at.

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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby yoni45 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:54 pm UTC

Velict wrote:I don't believe any of the leads in these films were sparkling, however, which was the point that Lucrece was driving at.


Twilight? =D
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:08 pm UTC

Okay, so there's not much overlap between gay lead actors/actresses and gay lead characters. But there are a fair amount of movies with one or the other, which is a point that I think Lucrece's post glosses over or ignores.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby folkhero » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:24 pm UTC

Velict wrote:
folkhero wrote:
Lucrece wrote:In, short, no, homophobia is still a staple of American culture. How many sparkling leads have there been in a big-time Hollywood film? Zero.

Philadelphia, Capote, Brokeback Mountain and Milk off the top of my head. I guess "big-time" is subjective, but those weren't small art-house films. I do agree with most of your post though.


I don't believe any of the leads in these films were sparkling, however, which was the point that Lucrece was driving at.

I read "leads" as lead characters rather than lead actor. Gods and Monsters had a gay actor playing a the gay main character. Labyrinth starred the bisexual David Bowie, he wasn't the main character, but he was definitely a bigger name than Jennifer Connelly at the time.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Nordic Einar » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:39 pm UTC

Velict wrote:While homosexuality is without a doubt underrepresented in the media, I would ALSO YOU GUYS: like to point out that homosexuality does not occur in society at anywhere near the rate that heterosexuality does (even accepting that some percentage of individuals are homosexual or bisexual but do not self-identify as such). Because of this, it's not hugely surprising that no member of the Supreme Court is homosexual - if even one was sparkling, that would mean that 11% of the court was so, and that percentage is probably somewhat larger than the actual percentage of homosexual or bisexual individuals in society.


That isn't necessarily the case. I'll try to dig the study up, but amongst most urban centers rates of homosexuality or bisexuality hit 10%, and that includes only self-identified homosexuals/bisexuals. I have seen studies that suggest rates of homosexuality (for example, individuals who participate EXCLUSIVELY in homosexual relationships but still claim to be heterosexual, or individuals who have had multiple same-sex relationships in the last year but claim not to be bisexual) can actually be as high as 20%. Human sexuality is an incredibly fluid thing and is influenced greatly by the times; there are many more self-identified homosexuals now then there were in the 20's, for example.

That isn't to say heterosexuality isn't the most prevalent. Clearly that is the case. However I often run into individuals who throw the (possibly erroneous) 3-4% number around as a means to dismiss the importance of GLBT issues.

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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Jessica » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:23 pm UTC

James Randi is now more awesome in my eyes.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby General_Norris » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:33 pm UTC

What is a "sparkling"? Excuse my ingorance on it's meaning.

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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby TaintedDeity » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:37 pm UTC

It's a word filter.
It's filtering the word 'gay' to 'sparkling'
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby yoni45 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:40 pm UTC

TaintedDeity wrote:It's a word filter.
It's filtering the word 'gay' to 'sparkling'


Off topic -- but why? It looks like there's a whole bunch that were implemented, and they're making reading these posts rather... painful.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby General_Norris » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:44 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:What is a "sparkling"? Excuse my ignorance on it's meaning.

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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Cynical Idealist » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:45 pm UTC

Check the announcements.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby The Utilitarian » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

Maybe this is all a lead up to Mr Randi being able to expand his crusade against bogus supernatural claims to include homosexuality cures. "Sorry, still gay. No million dollars for you."

That said I'm always happy for those who come out of the closet in the later years of their lives. I can only imagine that it must feel as though a terrible weight has been lifted from your shoulders, to hide something about yourself for so long.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby TaintedDeity » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:01 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:
General_Norris wrote:What is a "sparkling"? Excuse my ignorance on it's meaning.
A sparkle is like a glimmer or glittery thing.
So something is sparkling if it is glittery or shiny or something. Commonly associated with being camp and gay.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby EsotericWombat » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:20 pm UTC

Using the Supreme Court as a metric for that sort of thing is bunk anyway. Half of the population are women, as opposed to 22% of the Supreme Court. I wonder how many present and past Supreme Court Justices would need to be polled before one was found that was gay.

12.4% of Americans are black. There's only one black man in the Senate, and he's only temporary.

Under-representation of sociological minorities: Still pretty much a thing.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Malice » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:26 pm UTC

EsotericWombat wrote:Using the Supreme Court as a metric for that sort of thing is bunk anyway. Half of the population are women, as opposed to 22% of the Supreme Court. I wonder how many present and past Supreme Court Justices would need to be polled before one was found that was sparkling.

12.4% of Americans are black. There's only one black man in the Senate, and he's only temporary.

Under-representation of sociological minorities: Still pretty much a thing.


Nobody should be looking at the current Supreme Court for proportional representation; the group is too small and gets changed too slowly. You should look at all of the justices who have ever been on the Court. (In which case it fails really badly, but at least the methodology is more fair.)
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby EsotericWombat » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:58 pm UTC

Kind of thought I said that =P
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:28 pm UTC

If you look at all the justices who have ever been on the Supreme Court the proportion of sociological minorities gets worse, not better. Statistically there ought to have been at least one gay SCOTUS justice by now, but statistically there ought to have been a lot more female and black justices too so I'm not convinced there ever has been. Though I also question whether it matters - with so many closeted gay "social conservative" anti-gay crusaders (who are sociological majorities in other ways - male, Christian, white) being brutally (and poetically) ripped out of the closet by their own stupidity lately (hey there Sen. Craig), I wouldn't be surprised if any (obviously) closeted gay SCOTUS justices - who have traditionally been white Christian males - would have taken a similar anti-gay stance on the Court, at least given the opportunity.
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Re: James Randi comes out

Postby Diadem » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:56 pm UTC

I'm willing to bet there have been plenty of gay SCOTUS justices in its history. There might even be one (or more) now.

Just not openly gay ones.
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