A Long Road Traveled
There will undoubtedly be political struggles ahead, but for one gay activist, meeting with President Obama on the anniversary of Stonewall was a deeply emotional event.
By Michael Adams | Newsweek Web Exclusive - Updated: 10:33 a.m. ET Jun 30, 2009
The last time I got as close to the White House as I did this week was many years ago—six years after the Stonewall riots, when I was a 13-year-old National Spelling Bee participant from St. Margaret's School in Lowell, Mass. We spelling bee kids didn't make it into the White House that day—we stood outside as first lady Betty Ford spoke to us from a balcony. By then I already knew I was gay. Raised in a staunch Catholic home and taught (and tormented) by nuns, I was certain that an open homosexual (that was the only term I knew back then) could never be allowed inside the White House. I knew nothing of the nascent gay-rights movement—it hadn't reached Lowell in 1975. All I knew was that that whatever words there were to describe what I was, it would have to be suppressed forever. I assumed that I would have to either become a priest or figure out some other way to hide.
Thankfully, time marched on, and I eventually became a politicized college student rather than a candidate for the priesthood—and ultimately I kicked open my closet door and came out. But I can't help thinking about that personal history as I replay the reel of yesterday's visit to the White House in my head. As the executive director of SAGE, an advocacy group for LGBT senior citizens, I was invited, along with some 200 other LGBT leaders, to join the Obamas in commemorating gay pride—which falls this year on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Read more Newsweek.com