The Mainstream Shifts

Andrew Sullivan —  May 13 2012 @ 7:56pm


My cover-essay on Obama's historic embrace of full gay equality is now online. It isn't just about one interview:

[It's easy to] be skeptical of Obama’s motives, of how long it took, of whether this is pure and late opportunism. But when you step back a little and assess the record of Obama on gay rights, you see, in fact, that this was not an aberration. It was an inevitable culmination of three years of work. He did this the way he always does: leading from behind and playing the long game.

And Obama's own life-story resonates with the same conflicts of identity that many gay people grow up with:

Barack Obama had to come out of a different closet. He had to discover his black identity and then reconcile it with his white family, just as gays discover their homosexual identity and then have to reconcile it with their heterosexual family. The America he grew up in had no space for a boy like him: black yet enveloped by loving whiteness, estranged from a father he longed for (another common gay experience), hurtling between being a Barry and a Barack, needing an American racial identity as he grew older but chafing also against it and over-embracing it at times.

This is the gay experience: the discovery in adulthood of a community not like your own home and the struggle to belong in both places, without displacement, without alienation.