23 March 2010

James Randi's announcement

James Randi, for decades a fighter in the struggle of reason against superstition and fraud, and a person I greatly admire, declared over the weekend that he is gay.

I can barely imagine the inner conflict that he must have felt from having to keep this secret until he reached the age of 81.

Randi says that he sees society growing more tolerant, and that "in another two decades, I’m confident that young people will find themselves in a vastly improved atmosphere of acceptance." Let's see to it that it doesn't take that long.

(Link found via Blag Hag.)


Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

This news doesn't alter my admiration for Randi. Always, always liked him. Maybe more, now. Because I have an appreciation for the struggles he's had to endure in this anti-gay culture.

Side note: My brother-in-law was gravely ill 3 summers ago with brain cancer. He was a great admirer of Randi. Someone in the family managed to get in touch with Randi and asked him to call my brother-in-law and talk to him. It was poignant and it made those last moments in Fred's life a little more tolerable--for him, and for us.

Fred was a great scholar of Celtic literature, played rugby while at Amherst College, {also went to University of Virgina Law School]and played baseball with the Providence Grays up until the bastard cancer stopped him. He was a great influence in my life--had a wicked sense of humor, and was a liberal in every sense of the word.

Your post brought all those emotions and memories back to me.

Thanks for doing that.

23 March, 2010 16:44  
Blogger Tim said...

Thank (God or something) for the young people. They so don't care about gay or not. It's only when the old bastards like me die off that this country can move forward.


23 March, 2010 18:33  
Blogger godlizard (aka dotlizard) said...

I saw this yesterday and wondered exactly the same thing -- must have been some deeply painful stuff to keep silent all those years, especially for someone who has had a wonderful career in the public eye for so many decades, even with so many devoted fans in the skeptic community (who are, as a whole, extremely progressive as far as our views on sexual orientation).

I hope not one negative thing comes of this, and if one does, I hope it doesn't do so within slapping distance of me, because I know slapping the crap out of people is wrong.

Also, I hope he's OK, and that it wasn't some sort of bad health-related news that compelled him to finally open up.

23 March, 2010 19:56  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: It does shed something of a new light on the man. I always knew him through his writings and videos, very little about his personal life.

Your story sounds like him, though, His detractors have always tried to paint him as cold because of his rationality (as if that logically followed!), but he always seemed to me to be a warm person.

Cancer has been such a terrible scourge for so long. We are very close to defeating it -- what a great day that will be!

Tim: Oh, I think plenty of us old bastards are salvageable.:-)

God Lizard: My sense from the posting is that it's not about a health problem -- he just feels the world has changed enough that he doesn't need to hide any more.

The kind of people who would reject him for this probably already reject him because of his work, anyway. I think he'll lose nothing important by it, and probably gain a lot of inner peace.

23 March, 2010 20:46  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Quite a story actually, being it is weird after so many year's of silence on it. I reckon too, their are many folk's that just never choose to talk about it, as far as their sexual preference's. Kind of difficult I would figure also if a guy may be bisexual, and has a relationship with a woman, yet dont know exactly how to tell her, and really care's for her, but just cant explain perhap's.

Nice posting nonetheless Sir .........

24 March, 2010 05:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC: That can happen too. My impression is that a lot of self-identified gay people are actually bisexual to some degree. As to Randi's own situation, I don't know if that was a factor. For people who grew up during an intolerant time, concealment can be a necessity which eventually becomes second nature; the victim hardly knows what a burden it is, until he has cast it off.

24 March, 2010 06:30  
Anonymous NickM said...

My take...

I am not in favour of gay rights. Not one bit. That's identity politics. I am thoroughly though in favour of no one having a say as to what consenting adults get up to. I was going to say in private but alas I can't.

Obviously that applies to sex but I know of people who object to gay and lesbian couples walking down the public street holding hands or (the horrors!) kissing.

I think Randi is right. Same sex relationships are (at least in the UK) rapidly being "accepted". In fact it's better than that. They are rapidly becoming, "yeah, right whatever"-ised.

The victory march hasn't happened but the war is essentially won. Think of it as though D Day has worked but Berlin has yet to fall.

I just hope complete scrotes like Fred Phelps live to see it and then choke on their own indignation.

When I was a kid in the '80s TV shows featuring gay characters were considered ground-breaking. Seen the new Dr Who? The ground is broken.

The religious "right" must be doing their ends!

But I will re-iterate my point. The ultimate goal is to get meddlesome ratbags out of the bedroom all together and to not to "allow" rights to specific "groups".

24 March, 2010 07:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

"Gay rights" in practice just means securing gay people the same rights that heterosexuals have, such as the right to marry. I've never heard anyone who supported gay rights use it to mean anything else.

Identity politics is not always illegitimate. When people are discriminated against based on a common trait they all share (even if the trait is objectively trivial), it can make sense to fight back specifically against discrimination based on that trait, as black people did when there were laws that discriminated against anybody who was black. And sexual orientation, unlike skin color, is actually a somewhat significant trait about a person, in that it would have some impact on how an individual lived and with whom he chose to associate, even if there were no discrimination.

24 March, 2010 08:12  
Blogger TRUTH 101 said...

After a moment it struck me Infidel. My first reaction to this was "So what." Then I thought, "Yeah. So what."

Years ago it would have mattered to me I admit. I'm ashamed that at one time I was that way.

24 March, 2010 18:51  
Anonymous NickM said...

Practically speaking yes Infidel but we must take care.

Sexuality easily changes over time. I just worry that by not tackling the wider issue here we might be setting ourselves up for a fall.

In much the same way that countries like Malaysia have ID cards that identify Muslims and ensure they are treated as Muslims. And this from birth.

The real exemplar of what we should aim at is Captain Jack from Dr Who. And we are getting there. That's the BBC's prime-time number one Saturday slot.

Except... We screwed-up in the UK. I dunno if you know this but a civil marriage in the UK is explictedly very secular (people have been banned from playing the Robbie Williams song "Angels") so there shouln't be any religious objections to gay or lesbian couples marrying... No, Labour introduced "civil partnerships". They should have just opened-up marriage to every adult of sound mind.

That was my point.

25 March, 2010 03:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Truth 101: Many people have been prejudiced in the past. I used to believe things that would make your hair stand on end. To have overcome one's former prejudices is not something to be ashamed of. Just the opposite.

I sometimes wonder what attitudes most of us still harbor now, and think completely innocuous, will be recognized as absurdly bigoted in a few decades.

Nick M: As long as there is an identifiable pattern of discrimination against people who share some innocuous trait, whether the trait is immutable or changeable, it's appropriate for the government to actively work to stamp out such discrimination. That doesn't constitute giving "special rights" to anybody, any more than a teacher reining in bullies on the playground is giving "special rights" to the kids who are being bullied.

25 March, 2010 03:50  

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