James Randi just announced that he is gay on the Swift Blog: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/914-how-to-say-it.html

He has also recorded a podcast about it at http://www.forgoodreason.org/james_randi_a_skeptic_comes_out_at_81

My first thought was just: Wow, I didn't see that coming.  Randi is certainly no stranger to controversy.  He has been sued more than once by a person he has debunked, and he has been the target of much animosity for being an active sceptic.  I guess it just never occured to me that he would feel the need to keep quiet about anything.

I know other men who came out late in life.  In each case, they were raised in a toxic religious environment where they internalized so much shame that it took them almost a full lifetime to overcome it.  Even without the religious influence, the general disdain of society in general can be enough to keep someone in the closet.  I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be gay in the 1940's or 1950's.

So, congratulations to James Randi for coming out.  I am sure his opponents won't hesitate to use this against him, and there are already a few comments on his blog to this effect.  For me, it is just one more reason to admire the guy, and I wish him all the best.

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I was also taken by surprise and for the reason you stated. I listened to that episode of "For Good Reason" and it looks like it was an open secret for many years. So, in that respect, Mr. Randi wasn't really hiding.

But good for him, I say.
It does not sound like he was trying to hide it. He just was not public about it. I am glad to see all of the support he is getting on the Swift blog and everywhere else. Even when a person is out to close friends, living life in the closet can be a pretty major burden, so I hope he is able to enjoy a new sense of freedom.

Twitter is certainly buzzing about it, and I love this tweet from @victohenry:

Wow, James Randi has come out as gay. Best comment I've seen so far: "And not a single psychic knew it!"
That Tweet is hilarious. I've seen a few in that vein already.

I wonder when people will have to stop coming out as homosexual. It seems so absurd. The necessity of it, I mean.
It would be great to live in a society where it wouldn't matter. In a society where there is open hatred and discrimination, coming out becomes more than a simple statement about who you are, it becomes a political statement as well. It can also be extremely beneficial.

I think one of the things that would have made it so difficult to be gay prior to Stonewall would have been the fact that gay people were largely invisible. As a teenager in the 1980s, I certainly heard many bad things about gay people, but at least I knew that there were other gay people in the world. At least, I could see that there were gay people who were not ashamed or afraid to speak out.

Unfortunately, it is still a necessity. It takes courage, but I am very thankful for everyone who does.
From his post, it does not sound like he was being questioned about it now. He simply decided to come out publicly. It is certainly irrelevant to the work that he does, but it is also a part of who he is. Maybe he just felt the time was right to share that part of himself with the world.
A funny aside. My wife's father came out a couple of years ago. I never told my parents because, well, it was really irrelevant to me and I just didn't think to. The subject never came up, especially since he lives in another state.

When he found out that I had never told my parents, he was angry and thought I had issues with homosexuals or something. He never confronted me on the issue, or else I would have set him straight (not sexually, just on the issue). But I guess he is unaccustomed to people not really caring about sexuality.
I think that is one of the big surprises for people when they come out. When someone is in hiding, there can be so much fear. It becomes really easy to imagine all of the worst possible outcomes. Finding out that there are people in the world for whom it isn't an issue can be a major eye opener.

It's unfortunate that he misunderstood because I think you did the right thing. I know people who came out to a few friends who then made it public without their consent. It's much better not to out someone without their express permission.
I think he just doesn't know me well enough. I don't tend to gossip and I don't put much relevance on someone's sexuality. I can see why he misinterpreted my silence on the issue.


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