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Grenell says both parties play politics with gay equality

Former Romney staffer ‘humbled’ by support after stepping down



Richard Grenell, gay news, Washington Blade

Richard Grenell (Photo courtesy of Grenell)

Richard Grenell, the gay man who resigned from Mitt Romney’s campaign after intense criticism of his hiring from the left and right, said his stepping down should not be seen as a sign that a Romney administration would be hostile to gays.

“I would caution you not to jump to any conclusions about what this means for hiring gays in a Romney administration,” Grenell said in an interview with the Washington Blade. “You can’t compare campaigns to governing.”

Noting that he did not want to speak for the campaign, Grenell said he was overwhelmed and humbled by messages of support he received from Republicans during the flap. He sees the reaction to his resignation as a sign that the Republican Party is gradually moving in the right direction on gay rights.

“I received an overwhelming number of private emails, texts and calls from Republicans sending their support,” Grenell said. “The private support was overwhelming and humbling; the public support wasn’t. … It’s frustrating but also encouraging at the same time because I’ve been involved in the party long enough to remember when the private support wasn’t there.”

He noted that no elected Republican in Washington spoke out against his joining the Romney campaign.

Grenell was hired by the Romney campaign in April as foreign policy spokesperson after informally advising the foreign policy team for about six months. He said his sexual orientation was never an issue during the interview process.

“Everyone I’ve been working with knows I’m gay and knew my partner,” he said. “I’m very out; it’s not something I ever hide. I don’t have the ability to not be myself and talk about my life with my partner.”

Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton is among the Romney advisers who Grenell said were supportive. Grenell worked in the George W. Bush administration as United States spokesman at the U.N.

“There’s not a Republican who doesn’t know I’m gay,” he added. “The [Romney] campaign was unequivocally supportive and said that doesn’t matter to us or to the governor and that we hire according to experience and qualifications.”

But that support didn’t extend to the right wing of the Republican Party. Shortly after Grenell’s appointment, Christian conservatives pounced, criticizing Romney and suggesting that his hiring an openly gay man constituted an attack on families.

Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association, Tweeted, “If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead.” Later, Matthew Franck wrote in the National Journal, “Whatever fine record he compiled in the Bush administration, Grenell is more passionate about same-sex marriage than anything else.”

Further, Franck suggested that Grenell — who supports marriage equality — would jump ship and support President Obama if Obama endorsed same-sex marriage during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. Obama, of course, has since endorsed marriage equality.

“I’m not endorsing Obama,” Grenell said. “Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of playing politics with gay equality.”

Grenell echoed the sentiment expressed by many gay conservatives that they sometimes feel unwelcome by elements in the Republican Party and equally unwelcome in the LGBT community.

“The claim that gays should be barred from conservative activism is a bipartisan bigoted view,” he said. “The far left doesn’t want a gay to be conservative; the far right doesn’t want a conservative to be gay. I don’t have the luxury of being a one-issue voter. I’m more thoughtful and complex than that. I am comfortably gay and conservative.”

The criticism of Grenell’s hiring didn’t come exclusively from conservatives. Bloggers and commentators on the left denounced Grenell, too, mostly over Tweets he sent that were deemed misogynistic and even homophobic.

One Tweet, in particular, sparked outrage among LGBT critics. Grenell wrote, “rachel maddow needs to take a breath and put on a necklace.”

Richard Grenell, gay news, Washington Blade

Richard Grenell (Photo courtesy of Grenell)

Michelangelo Signorile, who hosts an LGBT-themed talk show on SiriusXM radio, wrote, “It was the kind of crack many people would expect from a homophobic straight guy.”

“I’m not a mean-spirited person,” Grenell said of the Twitter controversy. “I attempted to be funny and I wasn’t and I see how very hurtful that could be. I apologized immediately for that.”

Grenell said he regrets some of the Tweets and acknowledged that he deleted hundreds of Tweets after the criticism.

“The fact is when I was confronted by some on the left that I had inappropriate Tweets, I reviewed those Tweets and in reviewing the roughly seven Tweets that people pointed out, there were some I couldn’t find so I deleted everything before January 2012.”

He added that the impression he deleted hundreds of misogynistic Tweets was “ridiculous, I love strong women.” In addition to Maddow, Grenell targeted Hillary Clinton and Callista Gingrich in some Tweets. The angry reaction to his Twitter feed amounted to an attack from the Obama campaign, Grenell said.

“It’s the classic Obama playbook,” he said. “Republicans are either racist, homophobic or misogynistic. I’m not a hurtful person.”

The Tweets, he said, were never discussed internally at the Romney campaign.

Perhaps the last straw for Grenell came in late April, when he helped organize a conference call with reporters to discuss national security issues. As the New York Times reported last month, Grenell was told by a senior Romney aide not to speak on the call because the campaign wanted him to “lay low for now.”

The Times story depicted Grenell as “seething” over the slight. When asked about the Times story, Grenell did not dispute the account but declined to comment further.

Days later, Grenell announced his resignation from the Romney campaign. Senior campaign staffers tried to talk him out of leaving. Aides to Romney were convinced the controversy would blow over, the Times reported. But Grenell quit anyway. He said he was frustrated that the media and his critics were focused on his “personal life” and not on the important foreign policy issues he wanted to discuss.

“I care very deeply about national security issues and it became increasingly clear that I wasn’t going to be talking about national security,” Grenell told the Blade. “The far left and far right wanted to talk about my personal life and my stance on gay marriage.

“For someone who’s hired to talk about the president’s failed policies on Iran and North Korea, that’s frustrating,” he continued in explaining his decision to resign. “These are my issues — foreign policy and that’s what I spend my time with. It’s ironic, too, because I served eight years in a high-profile position in the Bush administration, comfortably out, but national campaigns are hyper-partisan operations.”

The Romney campaign has declined Blade requests for comment and interview requests throughout the primary season. The campaign issued a statement to reporters in response to Grenell’s resignation.

“We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons,” said Matt Rhoades, Romney’s campaign manager, in a statement. “We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill.”

Grenell declined to say what the campaign could have done differently that might have encouraged him to stay on.

“Campaigns are not the real world,” he noted. “They have hyper-partisan activists on both sides shooting to kill. It’s not governing. The evidence shows Obama was an amazing campaigner and a terrible governor.”

Asked about Romney’s record on LGBT issues, which includes signing a pledge from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage that says he would support a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, Grenell urged both Democrats and Republicans to view gay rights as a civil rights issue.

“I wish that Gov. Romney would not view gay equality as a partisan issue,” he said, “it’s a civil rights issue.”

He continued, “The Democratic strategy is to point out extremists in my party and play politics with the issue. I recognize the historic nature of Obama’s personal stance on gay marriage. What I don’t hear from Democratic partisans is a critique on the fact that he hasn’t changed his policies.”

Asked to elaborate, he said that Obama supports the right of states to decide marriage for themselves, something Grenell opposes.

“We gay conservatives are fighting within our party on a daily basis and critique our own party,” he said. “I don’t see that critique on the Democratic side. The extreme lefties are just as intolerant as the far right.”

He went on to criticize Obama for the timing of his marriage announcement — just after a vote to add a ban on marriage and civil unions to the North Carolina Constitution.

“The president waited until after the North Carolina vote to talk about his personal stance and his policy stance is that North Carolina gets to be hateful — that’s his policy stance. Obama, [Nancy] Pelosi, Romney, [Speaker John] Boehner should recognize that this is a civil rights issue and asking other citizens to vote on someone else’s equality is wrong.”

Obama criticized the North Carolina amendment effort prior to the vote and has said he opposes similar efforts to “take away rights” in other states. His administration has also declared that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and the Justice Department is no longer defending the statute in court.

But Grenell said Democrats have failed to confront anti-gay voices in the party. “Prop 8 proves that Democrats have work to do too,” he said.

In a wide-ranging, nearly two-hour interview, Grenell spoke passionately about his hope that both parties would stop viewing gay rights as a partisan issue and instead as a civil rights issue. He also spoke about the need to confront religion-based objections to equality.

“We can learn a lot from North Carolina and California in that gay equality issues should not be a political issue,” he said. “It’s clear the Democrats have a lot of work to do and I would suggest that all gay leaders in Washington concentrate on religious leaders and other groups that have the ability to support civil rights issues.”

Grenell was raised an evangelical Christian and his brother is a minster. He attended an evangelical undergraduate school. Despite the attacks from Christian conservatives, he said he received private support from religious activists and asserted there’s “clearly an opening” to engage with conservative Christians.

Asked about a recent Washington Post story that Romney participated in an assault on a gay student while in high school and forcibly cut the boy’s long hair, Grenell assailed the mainstream media.

“That report was more hyper-partisan campaign mudslinging,” he said. “It shouldn’t be an issue — it was a Washington Post partisan hit job. … The credibility of Washington journalism has imploded. When you get out of Washington, the majority of people don’t buy what you’re selling. That’s why mainstream media print journalism has imploded; they created this problem by pretending to be unbiased reporters and being partisan activists.”

His critique of the mainstream media extends to gay writers. In March, Grenell wrote an op-ed published in the Washington Blade criticizing gay Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart for failing to challenge Obama on marriage while attending a White House state dinner. Capehart responded, suggesting that Grenell was hypocritical for taking the Romney job because Romney opposes marriage equality.

“I have nothing against Jonathan,” Grenell said this week. “He’s a reporter who’s in the tank for Obama. We all have a role to play and if you’re going to take a reporter’s role then you should act like a reporter.”

“What Ric repeatedly fails to understand is that I am a reporter with the privilege of being required to have an opinion and to express it,” Capehart told the Blade this week. “And in my opinion, Ric cannot accept that President Obama has something that Gov. Romney does not: a strong record on LGBT equality.”

Grenell urged the Log Cabin Republicans to endorse Romney, though he noted that he is not active in the organization. Log Cabin hasn’t yet said whether it will issue an endorsement in the race. In 2004, the group declined to endorse Bush’s re-election over his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, something that Romney has also endorsed.

On foreign policy, Grenell’s favored topic, he sees a role for the United States to play in advancing LGBT rights abroad and offered praise for Hillary Clinton’s recent speech on LGBT rights in Geneva.

“Absolutely the United States should use its influence to advance rights and freedoms,” he said. Among those rights, he cited access to the Internet, the ability to freely assemble and the ability to be openly gay. “These issues cannot be separated. I think the U.S. should always stand as a beacon of hope for those who are seeking greater democracy and freedom.”

Grenell described Clinton’s Geneva speech — in which she famously said “gay rights are human rights” — as “a great speech for human rights. As much as I can critique Condi Rice’s foreign policy limitations, I have to recognize that she, too, pushed the State Department to accept gays and lesbians more. She was very forward leaning. Hillary built on some of what Condi was doing and has raised the bar even further.”

But that’s where the praise ends for the Obama administration. Grenell fears that Obama doesn’t understand foreign policy and cites as evidence the U.S. policy in Syria and Iran. Grenell faults the administration for not taking a more aggressive approach to Iran at the United Nations and for sending an ambassador to Syria, something Bush resisted.

“There’s no strategy, it’s trial and error diplomacy,” he said. “The Syria policy is to look the other way; the Russians are controlling the policy.”

Asked whether Obama deserves credit for combating terrorism and authorizing the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Grenell said Obama’s performance on these issues reflects a dramatic change from his posture during the campaign.

“There are three or four terror issues where candidate Obama didn’t know what he was talking about and when he got in the White House, he realized how wrong he was.”

The Obama campaign declined to comment on Grenell’s criticisms.

Grenell, 45, works with an L.A.-based public affairs firm, Capitol Media Partners, on international public affairs consulting projects. He lives in Los Angeles with his partner of nearly 10 years, Matthew Lashey, an executive in the media and entertainment industry.

“We’d like the right to marry but don’t live in a state where that’s an option,” he said. “I think it’s important to have the option be a legitimate federal option where you get all the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage.”



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  1. Steve

    June 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    One can only imagine what promises are being exacted from Romney by his evangelical base in exchange for their overlooking the fact that Romney is a Mormon.

    Oh woe unto LGBT people if Romney is elected in November.

    And woe unto those like Grenell who would enable it.

    • Elaine

      June 2, 2012 at 4:04 am

      who cares …let’s focus on the real issue — instead of personalities: the issue is civil rights for gay partners not marriage — when blacks became equal civil citizens (as if African Americans should have even had to fight for this — one remains perplexed over why skin color is an issue ) AA should never be ashamed of skin color and no one asked that they change skin color to become equal! AA are equal period — so are gays — equal in all ways — no one gay person should have to grovel and ask for marriage to obtain civil rights — civil rights for pensions (of domestic partners), Soc Sec benefits, etc are an automatic right for those who chose to be life partners –should not have to be defined by marriage — hello , let’s be real — the definition of marriage is not the issue — it’s rights for the ones we love — government cannot define who I love – I do and she or he does — let’s go after the real issue of rights as a human being who loves another.

  2. I'm Just Sayin'

    June 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    What Ric fails to grasp is that he isn’t held in disdain by the LGBT community at large because of his perspective about things like the economy or foreign policy. He’s viewed this way because when faced with the chance to promote “community” over “self,” he tends to choose the latter.

    For example, rather when the Blade gave him the opportunity to repudiate Romney’s bullying of a fellow student who the prospective GOP nominee saw as his inferior, Grinell instead used the moment to question the motives of the messenger. Why the Washington Post exposed the incident, doesn’t diminish the act.

    Just as Romney’s failure to accept responsibility gave us a glimpse into his character, Ric’s failure to condemn Romney’s “forgetfulness,” gives us a glimpse into his.


  3. Troy

    June 2, 2012 at 12:15 am

    This self-loathing asshole was on CNN tonight saying the Republican Party is not homophobic, misogynist or racist.

    He was fired from Romney’s campaign for being gay. The American Family Association even took credit for it. Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, a Romney supporter, even quoted people in the Romney campaign who confirmed it as the reason for his firing.

    To be a gay man in the Republican Party is to sit at the back of the bus.

    This man insults the intelligence and decency of us all.

  4. FrankSFO

    June 2, 2012 at 1:12 am

    “But Grenell said Democrats have failed to confront anti-gay voices in the party. “Prop 8 proves that Democrats have work to do too,” he said”. Does he not understand that people like him, refusing to see or even acknowledge that his party will never accept him, has just as much work, if not more so, in working with members in their own party?

  5. Jeffrey Dunivant

    June 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Richard Grinell is gay traitor; the end!!!

  6. Mommie Dammit

    June 3, 2012 at 8:35 am

    “Republicans are either racist, homophobic or misogynistic.” But you are, Blanche, you ARE racist, homophobic and misogynistic… and I’m not a Democrat. I’m a Cynic and a Realist.

  7. Erik

    June 5, 2012 at 10:41 am

    To say both sides have work to do is a ridiculous false equivalency. When the Democratic President ordered his Administration to stop defending DOMA in court, the Republican House hired lawyers to continue the fight. That’s a stark contrast.

    Even more ridiculous is Grenell’s criticism of the President’s role in the North Carolina vote. The reason North Carolina had that vote last month? The 2010 election flipped the North Carolina legislature to Republican control for the first time since 1870. The reason the state hadn’t previously voted on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage? Because the state had been under Democratic control. North Carolina Republicans put it on the ballot the first chance they got.

    Yet somehow, in Mr. Grenell’s bizarro world, he saves his criticism for the President. Mr. Grenell is in a serious state of denial, much like someone with Stockholm Syndrome.

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Minnesota middle school principal ousted for displaying Pride flag

Critics ramped up attacks on the career educator- some compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students



Screenshot via Marshall Public Schools, YouTube Channel

MARSHALL, Mn. — A former middle school principal in Minnesota who lost her job after displaying a Pride flag alleges in a federal lawsuit that the school system retaliated against her for supporting LGBTQ+ students.

Mary Kay Thomas filed the complaint against Marshall Public Schools in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota Tuesday after anti-LGBTQ+ middle school staff, parents, students and local clergy began efforts to remove the Pride flag that she put up in her middle school’s cafeteria in 2020 as a part of an inclusiveness effort.

According to the lawsuit, Thomas has been a teacher and principal for more than three decades with a long track record of success. She held the principal position at Marshall Middle School for 15 years, receiving contract renewals, pay raises and praise for her performance.

“But when Thomas decided to display an LGBTQ Pride Flag in the school cafeteria in early 2020, everything changed,” reads the complaint. 

Thomas refused to take down the Pride flag as critics ramped up attacks on the career educator. The lawsuit alleges that some even compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students. 

“Sadly, the Marshall School District has sided with these critics,” her lawyers wrote. 

What followed was an “escalating series of adverse actions” taken by the Marshall School District, said the lawsuit. She claims that the school targeted her by threatening her employment, conducting a “bad-faith” investigation, putting her on indefinite involuntary leave, suspending her without pay and putting a notice of deficiency in her personnel file. 

The complaint says that the deficiencies were “false, distorted, and/or related to Thomas’s association with members of the LGBTQ community.”

Thomas also claims that the District attempted to get her to quit by removing her as principal and assigning her to a “demeaning ‘special projects’ position.”

At one point, Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams, who is named as a defendant in the case, told Thomas he could “make this all go away” if she stepped down, according to the complaint. 

The school removed the Pride flag in August 2021 after settling a lawsuit brought by residents who opposed it. 

The Blade reached out to Williams for comment but did not receive a response. However, according to the Marshall Independent, Williams did release a statement on the matter. 

“Marshall Public Schools is committed to the education of every child and has strong policies and practices in place against discrimination, against both students and staff members. The school district is committed to creating a respectful, inclusive, and safe learning and working environment for students, staff and our families,” Williams said. “While the school cannot comment about the specific allegations made in the complaint, the school district strongly denies any allegation of discriminatory conduct. The school will vigorously defend itself against these allegations.”

In addition, Thomas alleges that she resisted unwanted sexual advancements from school board member Bill Swope. She claims she told Williams about the sexual harassment.

As of Thursday, the school has not filed a response, and no hearing has been scheduled yet. 

Thomas is seeking a jury trial, damages and reinstatement as principal of Marshall Middle School.

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Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral

Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday



Matthew Shepard, gay news, Washington Blade
Matthew Shepard Thanksgiving and Celebration at the National Cathedral in 2018. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The parents of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a 1998 hate crime that drew international attention to anti-LGBTQ violence, were among those attending a day of religious services commemorating Shepard’s 45th birthday on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.

The services, which the Cathedral organized in partnership with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, included tributes to Shepard at the Cathedral’s St. Joseph’s Chapel, where his remains were interred in a ceremony in 2018.  

“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, said at the time of Shepard’s interment.

“In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,” Hollerith said.

The first of the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard began at 7 a.m. with prayers, scripture readings, and music led by the Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan. The service was live streamed on YouTube.

An online, all-day service was also held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Cathedral officials said was intended to “connect people around the world to honor Shepard and the LGBTQ community and pray for a more just world.”

The Shepard services concluded with a 5:30 p.m. in-person remembrance of Shepard in the Cathedral’s Nave, its main worship space. Among those attending were Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who have said they created the Matthew Shepard Foundation to continue their son’s support for equality for all.

A statement released by the Cathedral says a bronze plaque honoring Matthew Shepard was installed in St. Joseph’s Chapel to mark his final resting place at the time Shepard was interred there in 2018. 
Following the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard, the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers hosted a reception for Dennis and Judy Shepard, according to Pitchers’ owner David Perruzza.

One of the two men charged with Shepard’s murder, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty to the charge after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for him. The second of the two men charged, Aaron McKinney, was convicted of the murder following a lengthy jury trial.

Prosecutors said McKinney repeatedly and fatally struck Shepard in the head with the barrel of a handgun after he and Henderson tied Shepard to a wooden fence in a remote field outside Laramie, Wy., on Oct. 6, 1998. Police and prosecutors presented evidence at McKinney’s trial that McKinney and Henderson met Shepard at a bar in Laramie on that day and lured him into their car, where they drove him to the field where authorities said McKinney fatally assaulted him.

Shepard died six days later at a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colo., where he was taken after being found unconscious while still tied to the fence.

In a dramatic courtroom scene following the jury’s guilty verdict for McKinney, Dennis Shepard urged the judge to spare McKinney’s life by not handing down a death sentence. He said that out of compassion and in honor of his son’s life, McKinney should be allowed to live. The judge sentenced McKinney to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the same sentence given to Henderson.

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‘Very familiar’: Mark Glaze’s story brings into focus mental health for gay men

Experts see common story as LGBTQ people enter middle age



Mark Glaze's death by suicide is bringing into focus mental health issues faced by gay men.

The death by suicide at age 51 of Mark Glaze, a gun reform advocate who was close to many in D.C.’s LGBTQ community, is striking a chord with observers who see his struggles with mental health and alcoholism as reflective of issues facing many gay men as they enter middle age.

Glaze’s story resonates even though much of the attention on mental health issues in the LGBTQ community is devoted to LGBTQ youth going through the coming out process and transgender people who face disproportionate violence and discrimination within the LGBTQ community in addition to a growing focus on LGBTQ seniors entering later stages of life.

Randy Pumphrey, senior director of behavioral health for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, said Glaze’s story was “very familiar” as a tale of mental health issues facing gay men in the middle stage of life.

“You’re talking about a gay-identified man who is in his 50s, somebody who has struggled with alcohol misuse — or maybe abuse or dependence— and also depression,” Pumphrey said. “I think that there has always been a higher incidence of suicide for men in general in their middle age 50 and above, but this increases when you’re talking about gay men, and also if you’re talking about gay men who suffer with mental health issues, or substance use disorder issues.”

Several sources close to Glaze said his death did not come as a surprise. His family has been open about his death by suicide last month while he was in jail after allegedly fleeing the scene of a car accident in Pennsylvania and a long history of depression and alcoholism.

Pumphrey said Glaze’s situation coping with mental health issues as well as the consequences for his role in the accident, were reflective of someone who might “begin to perceive that this is an issue that they can’t get away from, or the consequences they can’t get away from exposure and that can lead somebody to a fatal outcome.”

“My experience is that there have been gay men that I have worked with over the years — particularly in their 50s and early 60s — it’s taken them a long time to recognize the severity of the problem, whether it’s their depression or their substance abuse, and then they find themselves in a very precarious situation because of shame, and so they may not necessarily seek help even though they need help.”

A 2017 study in the American Journal of Men’s Health found the prevalence of depression among gay men is three times higher than the general adult population, which means they are a subgroup at high risk for suicide.

The study found “scant research exists about gay men’s health beyond sexual health issues,” most often with HIV, which means issues related to depression and suicidality “are poorly understood.”

“Gay men’s health has often been defined by sexual practices, and poorly understood are the intersections of gay men’s physical and mental health with social determinants of health including ethnicity, locale, education level and socioeconomic status,” the study says.

The study acknowledged being male itself is one factor incorporated in addressing mental health issues in this subgroup because “regardless of sexual orientation, men can be reluctant to seek help for mental health problems.” Another study quoted in the report found 23 percent, less than one quarter of gay men, who attempted suicide sought mental health or medical treatment.

In addition to mental health issues facing gay men in Glaze’s age group, others saw his situation as a common story in the culture of Washington, which is notorious for celebrating and prioritizing success with little tolerance for personal setbacks.

In the case of Glaze, who had sparred on Fox News with Tucker Carlson as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the threat of exposure and threat to his career may have seemed overwhelmingly daunting.

Steven Fisher, who knew Glaze since the 1990s and worked with him at the D.C.-based Raben Group, said one factor that contributed to Glaze’s condition was “he could only see upward in terms of his career trajectory.”

“We saw that in him and it had me very concerned because I felt like he might end up in a place that wasn’t good once he left Everytown, and that’s tragically and sadly what happened,” Fisher said. “I think he just had trouble adjusting to what is usually a roller coaster ride, I think, in people’s careers, especially in the D.C. world.”

Along with Glaze, Fisher has worked on gun issues for Everytown, which has been a client of his since 2015 after he worked for them in 2012 after the Newtown shooting.

Compounding the challenges that Glaze faced is a culture among many gay men focused on sexuality, which prioritizes youth and appearance and presents problems as those qualities start fading when men enter middle age.

Fisher said another factor in Glaze’s condition was social media, pointing out public perception about his identity was important to him.

“If you look at his social media — I think this is instructive to the rest of us — a lot of the comments are about how Mark was so good looking and he was charming, and he was so smart and so funny,” Fisher said. “That’s all true, and that’s why he was very appealing to many people, but those qualities don’t really tell you everything about a person. In fact, one could argue they’re superficial in a way, and people have to remember people are more complicated than what you see on social media.”

One issue for gay men facing mental health issues as they enter middle age is they don’t have the same resources as those available to LGBTQ youth, who have been more of a focus in terms of mental health issues in the LGBTQ community.

Among the leading organizations for LGBTQ youth is the Trevor Project, which has resources and a hotline for LGBTQ youth facing mental health crises.

Kevin Wong, vice president of communications for the Trevor Project, said his organization would be receptive to an older LGBTQ person who calls the hotline, but ultimately would refer that person elsewhere.

“If an LGBTQ person above the age of 25 reaches out to The Trevor Project’s crisis services for support and expresses suicidal thoughts, our counselors will listen, actively and with empathy, and work with them to de-escalate and form a safety plan, like any other contact,” Wong said. “However, our organization has remained youth-centric since its founding and our volunteer crisis counselors are specifically trained with younger LGBTQ people in mind.”

Much attention is focused on the coming out process for LGBTQ people, a time that can upend close relationships — as well as reaffirm them — and a process more commonly associated with youth.

Ilan Meyer, senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said data is scant about suicide rates among LGBTQ people, but information on suicide attempts shows they tend to be at a heightened rate for LGBTQ people as they go through the coming out process.

“What we do know is that there is a connection with the coming out period at whatever age coming out happens,” Meyer said. “And so, we see a proximity to coming out whatever age that happened, we see the suicide attempts proceeding and after that.”

Suicide attempts, Meyer said, are much higher for LGBTQ people than the population at large. The self-reported rate of suicide attempts in the U.S. population as a whole, Meyer said, is 2.4 percent, but that figure changes to 20 to 30 percent among LGBTQ youth, which about to 10 to 15 times greater.

Black and Latino people, Meyer said, have been less likely to make suicide attempts in their lifetimes, although he added that may be changing in recent years.

With the primary focus on mental health issues elsewhere in the LGBTQ community, Glaze’s death raises questions about whether sufficient resources are available to people in his demographic, or whether individuals are willing to seek out care options that are available.

Meyer said whether the resources for suicidal ideologies among LGBTQ people are sufficient and what more could be done “is the the million-dollar question.”

“It’s definitely not determined by just mental health,” Meyer said. “So many people have depression, but they don’t attempt suicide. And so, then the difficult thing is to find the right moment to intervene and what that intervention should be.”

Meyer said much of the focus on mental health is on a person’s last moments before making a suicide attempt, such as making suicide hotlines readily available, but some of the stressors he sees “are more chronic, ongoing things related to homophobia and the kind of experience that LGBT people have as they come to terms to realize their sexual identity.”

Pumphrey said another factor in mental health issues not to be underestimated for almost two years now is “dealing with the COVID and loneliness epidemic,” which appears to have no immediate end in sight with the emergence of the Omnicron variant.

“There was always this piece of sometimes the experience of being in your 50s and early 60s…we talk about the invisibility factor,” Pumphrey said. “But when there’s just this sense of being disconnected from community, especially in the early days of the pandemic, and kind of being locked down, I think that just raised the risk.”

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