March 16, 2017 at 11:28 am EDT | by Mark Lee
A defeated politician’s job search and its symbolism
Pat McCrory, Republican Party, South Carolina, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Pat McCrory (Photo by Hal Goodtree; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced last week that he was having difficulty acquiring a new job.

The once-popular governor indicated that the controversy surrounding passage of HB2, requiring transgender persons to use the bathroom corresponding to the biological sex indicated on their birth certificate when at schools and government buildings, had created obstacles for him on the job market as a result of his backing the bill.

Despite an unexpectedly strong ballot sweep by Republicans in the November election, including a surprisingly sizable rejection of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, McCrory became the Tar Heel State’s first top officeholder to lose a re-election bid since 1850. His defeat was attributed to the unpopular “bathroom law” he vehemently supported.

McCrory lamented in an interview last Friday that the issue “has impacted me to this day, even after I left office. People are reluctant to hire me, because, ‘oh my gosh, he’s a bigot’.”

The significance of McCrory’s described dilemma is not that he will remain unable to find satisfactory employment, or that he should be denied the opportunity to earn a living to the benefit of himself and his family, despite continuing to double-down on his advocacy for the law. His acknowledgment, however, does serve as a signifier of the broad-based affirmation of LGBT equality nationwide.

North Carolina businesses, joined by regional and national companies alongside other private sector enterprise and organizations, have led the still-continuing effort to overturn the law, which has reportedly cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and the loss of thousands of jobs. The NCAA, as it had previously threatened in other jurisdictions, announced the cancelation of all championship events scheduled for the state through 2022 at an estimated quarter-billion-dollar economic detriment, unless the law is repealed.

Strong polled majorities and super-majorities of Americans now support wide-ranging LGBT civil protections along with marriage equality. Even bathroom selection self-determined by gender identity enjoys nationwide majority endorsement, as the country takes a closer look at, and grows more comfortable with, the issue. At least 19 states and more than 100 cities extend a complement of legal protections to transgender persons.

Those achievements in the arena of LGBT equality and acceptance have been won less by government mandate and more by public persuasion. Although comprising only a modest four-percent of the U.S. population for all LGBT community components combined, with a limited corresponding degree of political clout, the pace toward full equality most everywhere continues to accelerate.

This relatively rapid communal success poses a fundamentally unfamiliar conundrum for many, especially older gays and lesbians with memories of a time in history and an experience of hardship largely foreign to those younger today.

The challenge for some is not only to fully embrace the substantially broad attainment of equal treatment and civic acceptance, but to also transition from old patterns of estrangement to accepting cultural assimilation. Identity politics will undoubtedly lessen and divergent attitudes will certainly increase, requiring a communal adjustment in perspective regarding what it means to be gay.

If not, we’ll merely mimic McCrory’s whining with our own vocalized victimization.

Are there items on the “gay agenda” that still need attention? Sure. But the victories that have been won surpass any illusory conveyance via conventional edict or collective instruction by society at large. Government is never the provider of genuine equality, only the lagging indicator that the citizenry has authentically evolved before the bureaucracy.

Diversification – whether regarding lifestyle preferences, geographic residency, or political positions – will increasingly become self-evident along the way. That will require a shift in thinking, an allowance for differences, and a seeming break-up of longstanding cultural identity. We won’t think the same any more than we look alike.

It should become something we celebrate, not something we begin to fear.

Pat McCrory may have been unprepared for the new culture in which he finds himself, but there’s no reason we should.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at

  • I think Pat McCrory’s situation has occurred because he has not consistently tipped generously for good service, the most effective immediate way to help address economic inequality, in North Carolina and beyond.

    Remember, tips are good karma. And karma never lies.

    And only the wait staff knows for sure. Thank you.

  • No, no, emphatically no. McCrory’s travails aren’t symbolic of a widespread embracing of LGBTQ acceptance. McCrory’s problems spring simply from his inept handling of the situation. He’s proven to potential employers that he’s not that competent. LGBTQ rights are under assault throughout the U.S., brought on by right wing reactionaries emboldened by the election of Trump. I know Mark Lee and his ilk want so very badly to move on from LGBTQ rights struggles so they can devote themselves full time to the fattening of their wallets at the expense of the lesser-advantaged among us. But it’s too soon to lay down our arms. The struggle is ongoing, and if that makes wealthy white homosexuals irritated, boohoo.

  • Good. I hope he ends up broke and vulnerable.

  • We are already seeing a cultural shift in what it means to be gay. I would cite the heteronormatization of gay relationships brought about by legal victories, the decreased importance of patronizing gay clubs among my college aged peers, and the general transition of Pride events from Larry Kramer style marches to family oriented functions.

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