James Randi Escapes the Closet

by VorJack

Most of you have probably heard this already, but it bears repeating. In the latest edition of Swift, the blog of the James Randi Educational Foundation, James Randi has this to say:

Well, here goes. I really resent the term, but I use it because it’s recognized and accepted.

I’m gay.

From some seventy years of personal experience, I can tell you that there’s not much “gay” about being homosexual. For the first twenty years of my life, I had to live in the shadows, in a culture that was — at least outwardly — totally hostile to any hint of that variation of life-style. At no time did I choose to adopt any protective coloration, though; my cultivation of an abundant beard was not at all a deception, but part of my costume as a conjuror.

Gradually, the general attitude that I’d perceived around me began to change, and presently I find that there has emerged a distinctly healthy acceptance of different social styles of living — except, of course, in cultures that live in constant and abject fear of divine retribution for infractions found in the various Holy Books… In another two decades, I’m confident that young people will find themselves in a vastly improved atmosphere of acceptance.

And with that, Randi cements his position as the Dumbledore of the skeptic movement.

As Randi points out, there will probably be some ugliness following this. I have little doubt that Randi can handle it, and what’s more I’m sure the skeptics movement will stand firmly beside him. One thing thing I wonder, however, is how this will play out with the LGBT movement. The relationship between the atheist and skeptic movements and the LGBT movement is a little rocky at times.

The bisexual atheist blogger Greta Christina explains:

I’ve been an out queer, and an active participant in the queer community, for over 20 years now. I’ve felt for years like the LGBT community was my home base. I’ve only identified as an atheist for less than two years.

And yet I’m finding that I feel more at home — more welcomed, more valued, more truly understood — as a queer in the atheist community than I do as an atheist in the queer community.

Like, a lot more.
[...]
I’ve been exhorted to pray. I’ve been told about “our Creator.” I’ve seen comments in LGBT blogs, listing bigoted and wildly inaccurate anti-atheist canards that could have come straight out of the religious right’s playbook. I’ve heard inaccurate statistics bandied about regarding how many believers and non-believers there are in the U.S…. statistics that diminish atheists’ numbers and our strength. (For the record: We’re more than five percent, people.) I’ve heard the inaccurate and insulting canard about “fundamentalist” atheists… and, when I’ve pointed out that this term is both inaccurate and insulting, had the language firmly defended.

Now that one of the most recognized icons of the skeptic and atheist movement is out of the closet, how will this affect the relationship between the two movements?

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