It’s no surprise to anyone who reads this bloggy thing that I am pro-Coming Out. I think the more of us that come out, the better; there is, in fact, strength in numbers, and in visibility. Plus, the closet is a lonely place, when we tend to lie about ourselves, and tell half-truths and outright lies.
And it’s dark for a reason; many closeted gay folks are the most homophobic people in the world because they live under the notion that if they are vocally anti-gay no one would ever suspect that they are, indeed, as gay as the day is long themselves.
Think Ken Mehlman, the former Republican National Committee chairman and manager of former President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign which used opposition to same-sex marriage as the GOP platform in 2004. Then, eight years later, Mehlman came out as gay. Yes, one of our own, so deeply closeted actually worked against us out of fear of being outed and being himself.
Now, think Roberto Arango, who, in 2009, resigned from the Puerto Rican Senate in the wake of a scandal over a number of nude photos of him on a Grindr profile that was leaked to the press — and there are far more explicit pictures that that one over there.
At first, Arango denied it was him in the photos, but then, as it became clear that he was in fact the man in the pictures, he then claimed he had taken them to document his weight-loss under a new diet plan. But then how did the pictures get on a gay men’s pick-up app? Arango had no answer for that.
Until now: in 2014, Roberto Arango has come out as gay. Quelle surprise.
But, before we talk about his gay-ness, let’s review what living in the closet meant for Roberto Arango:
In 2004 he mocked a San Juan mayoral candidate at a political rally by suggesting the other man was :::gasp::: a homosexual, by holding up a plastic duck and making quacking noises. The word for duck in Spanish is ‘pato’ and it is often used as a slur against gay men in Puerto Rico.
So, the closeted gay man hurled a homophobic epithet at a straight man, as if to say, Don’t elect him, he’s a homosexual.
But that’s not all:
In 2007 Arango embraced a conservative religious coalition and personally received thousands of signatures they had collected against same-sex civil unions as he vowed to defend so-called Christian values in the Puerto Rican senate and prevent changes to the civil code.
Yes, the closeted gay man worked his ass off to fight same-sex marriage.
Also in 2007, Arango led the effort to amend the Puerto Rican constitution to ban recognition of any unions that were not those between a man and a woman. Now, while that effort ultimately failed, let’s be clear that a gay man, once again, worked against his own community because of his deeply closeted self-loathing.
And, in 2009 Arango defended efforts by his conservative colleagues in the Senate to pass a bill banning adoption rights for same-sex couples.
Then the Grindr pictures came out and Roberto Arango ran. He left Puerto Rico and moved to the United States, saying he wanted to spend his time raising a daughter from a previous marriage — yes, the closeted gay man married a woman and had a child — and to concentrate on his “personal life.”
I'll leave that last part alone :::cough cough::: hook-ups :::cough cough:::
But last May, Arango reappeared publicly to urge the conservative party in Puerto Rico — the same party he worked with to ban same-sex marriage and gay adoptions — to back a number of measures to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination; that measure actually passed in Puerto Rico.
And now, almost four years after the Grindr scandal, Roberto Arango has finally come out as gay, during a radio interview:
REPORTER: Following the controversy over the photos there was a lot of speculation about your sexual preference. Isn't it time for you to state whether or not you are a homosexual?
ROBERTO ARANGO: Well, the day someone asks me I will give a reply. In that respect, I have nothing to hide.
REPORTER: Are you a homosexual?
ROBERTO ARANGO: Yes. And on top of that I am a businessman. On top of that I am a father, I am a brother, I am a son. On top of that I like doing community work and volunteering. On top of that I like helping different communities. I like it and I am someone who likes to bring changes and progress and to give opportunities to those who want it.
REPORTER: When did you realize you were one.
ROBERTO ARANGO: I think it happened when I accepted it and I may not be a psychologist or a specialist in that field...
REPORTER: And did you accept it before your exit from the Senate?
ROBERTO ARANGO: No. It was after. My exit from the Senate and the process itself was what led me to accept myself.So, he’s come out. Good on him. I imagine after decades of being closeted, and hooking up with men anonymously, and in fear of being discovered, coming out is a good thing. And, as I said, coming out is a choice made by the individual to decide when the time is right.
But, I can’t reward him and welcome him to the club, the same way I couldn’t reward Ken Mehlman to the club. After one spends so much time working against your own community, denigrating your own community, using the mere thought of being gay as an insult, well, Welcome Out, but that’s all you get. Oh, don't get me wrong, i think it's good he came out, but you don't get an Instant Pass after spending years being a homophobe and a bigot because you're closeted.
If, though, one day, Roberto Arango proves himself to be a fully accepting gay man, and works towards equality for the LGBT community, in Puerto Rico,, and elsewhere, and equality for all, maybe then we’ll dust off the Coming Out Toaster Oven and the copy of the Gay Agenda.
For now, though, all he gets is a ‘Welcome out.’
And an ‘It’s about time.’
And the wish that, now that he knows better, he’ll do better. See, Roberto Arango might be running for mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, this time as an openly gay man.