A New York Times profile on Ken Mehlman touts the formerly closeted Republican's increasing credentials as a gay rights advocate.

Mehlman, the former chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), came out gay in 2010, saying that he wanted to work on the issue of legalizing marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

After Mehlman came out, many gay activists criticized him for working against the interests of the gay community, particularly as manager of President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. That year, eleven states approved marriage bans with the backing of the GOP.

The 46-year-old Mehlman told the paper that coming out “has been a little bit like the Tom Sawyer funeral, where you show up at your own funeral and you hear what people really think.”

“A big part of one's brain that used to worry about this issue has now been freed to worry about things that are much more productive.”

The Times quoted friends as saying that “Ken Mehlman's apology tour” was over and the paper touted his legitimate successes in winning over Republicans on gay rights.

“Deploying his vast Rolodex but staying mostly behind the scenes, he has worked with the White House to repeal the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy; lobbied lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage in states like New York, Minnesota and New Hampshire; served as an informal adviser to Republicans including Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who backed marriage rights after learning his son is gay; and recruited Republican donors, helping to raise $4.5 million for gay causes, including an antibullying campaign.”

And Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), praised Mehlman as “one of the single greatest successful strategists for Republicans.”

“And now he's on our side,” Griffin added.