Mama's Got Something to Tell You
BY Trudy Ring
August 16 2010 5:25 PM ET
No longer cheering for gay rights from the sidelines but getting down on the field, as she puts it, progressive radio talk-show host Stephanie Miller came out as a lesbian on the air Friday. Miller, 48, who teased fans before her announcement with the tweet "Mama's got something to tell you," has often voiced support for gay causes on the nationally syndicated Stephanie Miller Show. In fact, she notes that she once thought she could be more effective if perceived as a straight ally. But now, she says, it feels freeing and empowering to walk in her truth.
Miller says listeners’ reactions have been overwhelmingly positive, and she’s long been out to and had support from colleagues, friends, and yes, her Republican family. Her late father, William Miller, was a Republican congressman from upstate New York and Barry Goldwater’s running mate on the 1964 GOP presidential ticket. Her mother, she notes, even prepared a statement to read on-air in the wake of her public coming-out.
Some listeners just want her to get back to fart jokes, and she assures The Advocate that her show, about to begin its seventh year, will still provide laughs along with as liberal activism. Her “mooks,” sidekicks Jim Ward and Chris Lavoie, now have more reasons to make fun of her, she notes, and she remains a single, childless loser.
The Advocate: First of all, let me say, I’m a longtime listener.
Stephanie Miller: You have exquisite taste in both broads and broadcasting, I have to say.
I heard your historic coming-out announcement. If you could tell our readers, why now? What inspired you?
As I said on the show, I think we all have our own tipping point or perfect storm or combination of events in our life, history, and people that inspire you. Something I wish we could get out of our dialogue is the people who say, “Why’d you wait so long? Why now?” We should respect everybody’s process and everybody’s path, and my point is to say, “Let’s start judging people less.” There are a lot of rationales that I had; as I said, I’ve always been a very private person and I’ve never lied. I’ve never said I’m straight, I’ve never said I’m not gay, I’ve just not talked about my private life. I certainly thought things like the “future husbands,” if people didn’t get that that was a joke, I’m pretty shocked. I think it was pretty clear they’re political crushes, like what liberal woman doesn’t have a crush on Keith Olbermann, for God’s sake? I also talked about that I often thought, Can I reach more of the hearts and minds I want to reach, particularly on the Right, if they don’t define me a certain way? [I thought otherwise] that they’d just dismiss me — "Oh, she’s just a lez, who cares what she thinks." And part of the message of the show has always been that you don’t have to be gay to be for equal rights for everybody, you don’t have to be black to think it’s wrong for a white radio host to say the n word 11 times on the air, you don’t have to be Muslim to think you should be able to build a mosque wherever you want in the United States of America, you don’t have to be Hispanic to think the Arizona law is racist and not the right way to solve the immigration problem. Interestingly, one segment of letters I got was from gay people that, while supportive, were kind of sad because they thought they had lost a straight advocate, and so it’s almost like some gay people thought the same thing I did for a while.
It’s a complex subject. I almost worried that would I hurt gay rights at a critical time in the fight for marriage equality if I talked about my particular path and that I’ve been with men and been in love with men. I think that as I said this morning, sexuality’s probably a lot more fluid and a lot more gray area than a lot of people are probably comfortable with. Will I hurt the whole “you’re born gay” argument? A lot of women I know have been married, have been in love with [men] … everybody just has a different sort of process. What I believe is that there’s a continuum some people are gay gay gay and others are straight straight and I think a lot of us are somewhere in the middle. However, when some people said to me, "Maybe you should say that you’re bisexual," I said, "I really don’t think that’s authentic either." I made a joke about saying the last date I had with a man was in a Packard… it’s been almost 20 years since I’ve had a boyfriend, so you kind of go, look, I think that Princess Cruise has sailed. But as I say, that’s part of me flirting with men on the air or whatever. I love men. I’m attracted to men. It’s the way I explained it to my 87-year-old Republican mother — she said, “Aren’t you attracted to men? You’re so pretty.” I said, “Yes, it’s just that I feel more comfortable in a relationship with a woman.”