State Senator Roy Ashburn, the
California GOP lawmaker with a long anti-gay record who was recently
forced to admit he's gay, says being honest about his sexuality was
never an option in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times.
told Pat Morrison that he learned at an early age that being gay
was something to hide. He said he realized this in the sixth grade
when he overheard negative talk surrounding a police raid on gay men.
“That sticks in my mind – the
publicity and the shame around it. One of my teachers was one of the
people. The talk among the kids, the talk among the adults, the talk
in the community, the press – at the time the choice was pretty
clear: If you were gay and open, it was a life of shame, ridicule,
innuendo about molesting and perversion. It was a dark life. Given
that choice of whether you come out or whether you're in a secret, I
mean, there really wasn't a choice.”
The 56-year-old Republican and divorced
father of four was forced to reveal his sexuality after details of a
March 3 drunk-driving arrest were made public, including the fact
that he was traveling with a male companion after leaving a popular
Sacramento gay bar.
Five days later, Ashburn publicly
admitted that he is gay. But it would take another three months
before he began talking openly about his sexuality and the secret he
says drove him to drink.
Ashburn said he voted against gay
rights bills out of fear of being discovered.
“I was so in terror I could not allow
any attention to come my way,” he said. “So any measure that had
to do with the subject of sexual orientation was an automatic 'no'
vote. I was paralyzed by this fear, and so I voted without even
looking at the content.”
Being outed, however, appears to have
lifted a dark cloud for the termed-out senator.
“I don't know that I've ever felt
more optimistic about the future for myself,” he said. “I don't
know what the future holds, but I think it's going to be incredible.”