Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mitchell Gold

President Obama's favorite chair: Michelle chair from Mitchell Gold.

Washington DC’s first Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture store opened on 14th Street NW in 2007, and now the Obamas have two pieces of Mitchell Gold’s upholstery in the White House, which lends a strong endorsement to the furniture brand. Married partners Mitchell and Tim Gold have been to the White House for a few receptions and have chatted up President Obama about the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture in the private spaces upstairs.

Mitchell says, “When I met the president there for the first time, I mentioned that our things were in the private quarters, and he asked which ones.” Mitchell told the president that the Dr. Pitt sectional sofa and an upholstered chair (now discontinued) called the Michelle were from his factory. “Obama told me that was one of the chairs he sits in the most.”

Last year, Mitchell Gold (60) married Tim Scofield (34), who now goes by Tim Gold, a graduate of the University of Maryland whose job often brings him to Washington. It all added up to enough reasons for Mitchell and Tim to buy a loft overlooking the terraces and fountains of Meridian Hill Park.

Mitchell already had three residences, so he had to be convinced he needed a fourth home. After they got married, he and Tim spent so much time staying in Washington hotels that they started looking at real estate and subsequently bought the loft in February.

Mitchell co-owns a $100 million furniture business, so he shops his own stores. In his D.C. home are his company’s dining banquette, winged platform bed and a brown-and-white cowhide ottoman. There are also one-of-a-kind furnishings, collections and mid-century modern pieces. Large framed photographs taken by friend and client Tipper Gore are hung throughout the loft. Mitchell interviewed a few interior designers, but decided that longtime business associate and former life partner Bob Williams was the right guy for the job.

“This chunk of teak wood here in the corner is our natural touch” (see photo), says Tim, pointing out a sculptural piece of Thai wood he and Mitchell picked out at the last furniture market. “Mitchell and I are known for killing plants, even cactus.”

The Golds are always on the move. In North Carolina, their primary residence is a lakeside retreat near the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams factory in Taylorsville; they also have a 1950s ranch house in High Point. Then there’s their trophy 58th-floor condo in Manhattan’s gay neighborhood of the moment, Hell’s Kitchen.

Tim and Mitchell were introduced through mutual friends in New York four years ago. The couple married at an arts center in Des Moines, because Iowa was one of five states at that time that permitted same-sex marriages. “We liked the fact that it was in the heartland,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell and his business partner Bob Williams, who was once his partner in life, have run the company for 22 years. They design and produce home furnishings sold at retailers across the country and at 16 Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams stores. They do private-label designs for Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma and Restoration Hardware, among others.

Mitchell also heads Faith in America, an advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Tim worked at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum for seven years as an exhibition specialist. Today, he is CEO of the Velvet Foundation, working to establish a national museum of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history and culture.

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