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18 Homophobic Leaders Who Turned Out to Be Gay or Bi
Even in the 21st century, self-hatred seems to drive many a tortured soul into the arms of movements that would do them harm. While it's unlikely that queer feelings live inside the heart of every homophobe, a significant number of anti-LGBT religious and political leaders have ultimately come out or been outed for same-sex feelings, encounters, or relationships. Sites like GayHomophobe.com make sure these revelations don't go unnoticed. Some closeted bigots get exposed as predators, using the offering of religion or therapy to find prey. Others eventually employ revelations of their own sexuality as opportunities to reexamine or apologize for their roles in the history of discrimination. Here's a list of those hostile to equality who turned out to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
The Toronto psychiatrist for years offered services to treat patients with "problems related to homosexuality." But in March, Ontario medical regulators found Iscove guilty of sexually abusing two male patients, engaging in mutual masturbation and oral sex with both of them and having anal sex with one in his office, as reported by The Star. "Neither complainant described any emotional or romantic aspects of the sexual activity with Dr. Iscove, and both said that at some point, they thought that the sexual activity was part of the therapy and an attempt to cure them of homosexuality by engaging in the acts, rather than fantasizing about them," a disciplinary panel wrote in its report.
The Oklahoma state senator and former Trump state campaign chair got busted in 2017 for soliciting sex from a 17-year-old male prostitute. He was, of course, a "family values" Republican who voted in favor of legislation allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, according to the Associated Press.
The pastor left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over a decision by the denomination in 2009 to ordain "practicing homosexuals," and even said God sent a tornado to strike the Minneapolis Convention Center during an ELCA conference over the decision. But a year later, Lavender Magazine published an undercover expose documenting Brock attending support groups and confessing to same-sex attraction and falling "into temptation" during a trip to Slovakia. Today, Brock says he's felt intense "homosexual temptation" his whole life but has always been celibate, and he maintains gay sex is evil.
Javier Suarez Pascagaza
The Colombian activist and director of the Husband and Wife Foundation in 2013 brought court challenges to same-sex marriages in his nation. Then multiple childhood associates of Suarez Pascagaza revealed to media outlets including El Espectador and La Opinion that he had been kicked out of a Jesuit school for being gay.
The Minnesota clergyman worked as a counselor for Outpost Ministries, an ex-gay ministry dedicated to helping individuals "break away" from LGBT life. But in 2012, Muehlhauser faced charged of sexually abusing two of his clients, as reported by the Star-Tribune. One man said Muehlhauser cupped his genitals during a blessing and asked that he masturbate in front of him, and the other claimed the counselor once fondled him before a dinner.
A former Houston City Council member and radio talk show host, Berry in 2012 was involved in a hit-and-run accident outside a gay bar in the Montrose district, which led to security footage of Berry leaving the club being made public. The conservative pundit had made cracks through the years attacking Barney Frank, Elton John, and others with homophobic taunts, according to The Texas Observer. Local TV station KPRC later reported Berry settled out of court with the injured party in the accident.
After raging for years against marriage equality, the New Birth Missionary Church senior pastor in 2010 faced accusations from four men in their earlier 20s who said the reverend engaged in oral sex and mutual masturbation with them, often exchanging sexual favors for gifts including cars, electronic and jewelry. The Georgia televangelist also took all four men on a trip to Kenya. While Long denied the accusations, he settled out of court with all accusers in 2011, according to CNN.
The founder of Glory House International Pentecostal Church decried homosexuality as "at odds with my religious beliefs," even as he admitted to he fondled a younger preacher and a teenage boy during separate trips where he stayed in the other men's hotel beds. The British church leader in 2011 was sentenced to eight months in jail for sexual assault, according to The Independent.
Once the most senior Catholic clergyman in Britain, O'Brien also had a reputation for homophobia and opposed marriage equality, adoption by gays, and other civil rights protections for LGBT people, earning him the title "Bigot of the Year" from the Stonewall charity. But in 2013, he resigned after four other priests accused O'Brien in writing of making inappropriate advances to them after night prayers, as reported by The Guardian. The accusers described incidents over 33 years.
Self-described as a traditional conservative, this mayor of Mississippi town Southaven got exposed as gay during his fourth term in office after state auditors revealed he purchased $67 worth of toys from a gay sex shop in Toronto and billed it to the taxpayers. Auditors found the suspicious purchase in 2011, and the news prompted an interview with the Memphis, Tenn., Commercial Appeal in which Davis confessed that he "came to the realization that I am gay" over the past few years.
The Finnish leader founded a fundamentalist Lutheran splinter group, Nokia Missio, but in 2011 got fired from his leadership position there for "violating sexual boundaries" after committing adultery with another man, as reported by Uutiset. Two years later, he was sentenced to 15 months in jail for sexually abusing a 17-year-old boy.
James E. West
The mayor of Spokane, Wash., from 2003 to 2005, West previously served in the state legislature, where the Republican supported such legislation as a ban on gay workers at schools and day care centers. But then an undercover investigation by TheSpokesman-Review in 2004 revealed the politician had been seeking out men on Gay.com while using the online identity Cobra82. A year later, voters removed the mayor in a recall election, as reported by the Associated Press. He died of complications from cancer surgery in 2006.
While still president of the Supreme Court in Spain, Divar was known to express a socially conservative philosophy according to Spanish website DosManzanas, and once told another judge entering a same-sex marriage that he would "pray a lot for him" and boasted he considered divine justice more objective than human justice. But he resigned in 2012 amid a scandal when it was revealed he traveled to luxury hotels with public money and dined repeatedly with the same male companion. Journalist Jose Maria Calleja contended publicly that this companion was in a long-term relationship with the legal figure.
Lest anyone think Democrats can't land on this type of list, New York state Sen. Carl Kruger voted against marriage equality in the Empire State as recently as 2010, and just a year later found himself in a bribery sting that exposed a longtime relationship with live-in companion Michael Turano, according to the New York Post. Turano, federal prosecutors said, not only had an intimate relationship with the lawmaker but also helped launder the money. Kruger eventually pleaded guilty to corruption charges and resigned.
While he didn't have the homophobic record of many of his cohorts in the Republican caucus, U.S. Rep. Mark Foley of Florida voted in favor of the notorious Defense of Marriage Act and managed to turn down any and every chance to come out of the glass closet, as noted by The Nation. Scandal ultimately exposed the truth, when a number of electronic communications with young male pages got uncovered by ABC News weeks before the 2006 midterms.
Another Republican to vote in favor of DOMA despite his homosexuality being an open secret in Washington was Jim Kolbe. That vote actually prompted a full-page ad in The New York Times paid for by the Washington Blade that not-so-subtly threatened to out hypocritical House members, as noted in a Times account. Ultimately, Kolbe decided to come out, and in 2000 became the first openly gay speaker at a Republican National Convention.
Then there's the attorney who while working for Congress in 1996 helped write the language of DOMA, as reported by The New York Times. But in ensuing years, Lehman said she had an internal epiphany, so she came out as lesbian. Thus 16 years after the passage of DOMA, Lehman served as one of the lobbyists for Freedom to Marry, making the case the law she drafted had in fact been unconstitutional.
The onetime Republican National Committee chairman served in 2004 as campaign manager for President George W. Bush during a reelection effort built largely on the promise that marriage equality would never become the law of the land. The campaign promoted an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and the wedge issue helped Bush secure reelection. But six years after securing that win, Mehlman came out as gay to The Atlantic, saying he came to that conclusion about his identity fairly recently (though Bill Maher seemed to know in 2006). Mehlman rallied Republicans to support marriage equality and encourage the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA.