A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Ken Mehlman’s coming out. I said that in order to be accepted he had to apologize and work to undo the damage. It turns out, to my surprise, that I was much more charitable than former Log Cabin leader Rich Tafel, who kneecapped Mehlman in The Washington Blade. Over the years, I’ve had my differences with Tafel’s politics. But, at least the guy was out of the closet and living openly and honestly.
In the article, Tafel leaves it all on the table:
“It pisses me off that people will put their ambition ahead of the truth, and then, when it’s convenient, play the gay card and hope that everybody [can] raise money and get money and then expect everybody to say, ‘Everything is great.’”
“You do have to show moral courage in coming out when you work in politics. And if the message is stay ambitious, and stay in the closet, even work with anti-gay stuff, and then come out and everybody’s supposed to forgive him — I’m just not there.”
The most interesting part of the interview was to learn that there were different ways Republican closet cases deal with their precarious situations. Most, according to Tafel, try to help from the inside. Mehlman was the other type — the dishonorable kind.
“I would say there are two types of people in the closet. There’s one type of people in the closet who were extremely helpful to me, and then there were the other ones who weren’t. Ken was in the very small category of people who weren’t.”
“Most people actually tried to help … wherever they were in their life. They tried to help you, but he really never lifted a finger for us.”
Tafel also disputed — as did I — that Mehlman only recently figured out that he was gay at the age of 43. The former Log Cabin head concluded by saying that Mehlman’s coming out may have been orchestrated to help his dating life in Chelsea, New York, where he now lives.
“But the whole thing strikes me as a little almost picture perfect PR timing to do it now when it’s probably going to affect his social life if he wants to live in New York and go out and date and so forth, so I’m a little suspicious.”
Good for Rich Tafel. I’m glad to see that he is speaking freely and not regurgitating the party line.