Saturday, December 01, 2012

A Republican Legislator Comes Out Of The Closet-- Voluntarily!


And this was BEFORE he came out!

No, it wasn't David Dreier (R-CA), even though he's retiring and everyone knows anyway, nor Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Miss McConnell (R-KY), Aaron Schock (R-IL), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Patrick McHenry (R-NC) or Adrian Smith (R-NE). They're all-- to one degree or another-- still shut up in their closets. And, as you know, Massachusetts ex-closet case Richard Tisei, lost his bid to become the first openly gay Republican to win a congressional seat, since Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) was outed and then reelected (and has since retired). You may recall that last year a conservative Missouri state Rep., Zach Wyatt, come out. Republican voters in Adair, Putnam and Sullivan counties didn't seem all that concerned but Wyatt decided to not run for reelection, opting for continuing his marine biology education in Hawaii instead. So... as of January that leaves exactly ZERO openly gay Republicans anywhere in any legislature in America. But wait! Hold everything! Something happened this morning.

Recently seperated from his wife, 39-year old Pennsylvania state Rep., Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon), who describes himself as a devout Christian, announced earlier today that he's gay too. “Coming out is hard enough," he told the local newspaper, "but doing it in the public eye is definitely something I never anticipated. I’m still the exact same person and I’m still a Republican and, most importantly, I’m still a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public. The only difference now is that I will also be doing so as honestly as I know how.”

Fleck has been a mainstream conservative and he's been attacked by right-wing extremists for being "too moderate." Huntingdon County is deep red. Romney beat Obama there 11,953 (68%) to 5,383 (30%) and you can't even blame it entirely on the area's notorious racism. Republican extremist Tom Smith beat [white] Senator Bob Casey 11,285 (64%) to 5,817 (33%). Keegan Gibson at Politics PA, who reminds us that in January openly gay Democrat Brian Sims of Philly will also be in the state legislature (making two openly gay members), shared the very personal story with us.
After college, Fleck returned home to southern Huntingdon County, purchased his grandfather’s farm and found himself working as district executive for the Boy Scouts of America. He’d been extensively involved in the program in his youth, was once named Scout of the Year and, during his senior year at SHCHS, earned the distinction of Eagle Scout.

As an executive for the organization, Fleck said “now my livelihood depended on hiding my true sexual orientation, something I was very good at.”

He continued that during his 20s, he firmly believed what he’s been taught, that homosexuality was a choice and so never felt in great conflict because he’d learned to suppress his feelings.

“I wanted to live a ‘normal’ life and raise a family,” Fleck said. “I also believed that by marrying, I was fulfilling God’s will and I thought my same-sex attraction would simply go away.

In fall 2000, Fleck met his future wife and they immediately clicked.

“She was everything I could have ever asked for and to this day she is still my best friend,” he said.

…While his professional dreams were becoming reality, Fleck said he was also weathering personal battles, namely his same-sex attraction which, contrary to all he believed and was taught, remained.

“So I just prayed harder and put it in God’s hands,” he said, adding that as one of the county’s most visible couples, the unresolved feelings and pressure of public scrutiny took its toll and Fleck opted for therapy.

“I sought out treatment from a Christian counselor, but when that didn’t work out, I engaged a secular therapist who told me point blank that I was gay and that I was too caught up in being the perfect Christian rather than actually being authentic and honest,” Fleck said.

He said the hardest part of the process has been reconciling his faith with his sexuality.

“Through years of counseling, I’ve met a lot of gay Christians who have tried hard to change their God-given sexual orientation, but at the end of the day, I know of none who’ve been successful,” he said. “They’ve only succeeded at repressing their identity, only to have it reappear time and time again and always wreaking havoc not only on themselves, but especially on their family.”

Fleck said once he was able to be honest with himself, he could finally be honest with others, because no one in his life had any clue about his personal struggle, not even his wife.

“My wife and I became closer than ever before but it was bittersweet as we both concluded that the marriage was over,” he said. Fleck moved out in the summer of 2011 and his wife bought a house that fall.

….Fleck stressed he is still the same representative the residents of the 81st District elected in 2006 and have since reelected.

“I don’t see anything changing in my life, I don’t see my voting pattern changing,” Fleck said. “I just want to do my very best for the 81st District. I’m just trying to be authentic and I do owe it to my constituency to do that.”

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At 12:11 PM, Anonymous me said...

A Republican Legislator Comes Out Of The Closet-- Voluntarily

But not, I note, until after the election.


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