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.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Brian Sims

When Democrat Brian Sims (b. 1978) won a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last November, he became the first openly gay member elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. In a sort of group hug gesture, on the first day Sims reported for work, Republican representative Mike Fleck came out in a newspaper article later that day.* Commenting on Fleck’s revelation, Sims said, “The representative is an honorable man who has served his community well, and while I may disagree with him on a number of policy issues, if we are ever going to claw our way back out of this awful partisan divide that so many of our politicians have thrust us into, it's going to have to start with finding places of mutual respect and common ground. This is the perfect place to start.”

*Nothing like a little friendly competition, and pretty good for a state that spawned the political career of Rick Santorum.

Thirty-four-year-old Sims, who was sworn in Tuesday, has vowed to focus on gun control, saying, "We had more murders last year in Philadelphia than in all of Germany. Some people may have a deer problem. We have a murder problem."

In his role as a state legislator, he also plans to focus on jobs creation and education. His outspoken comment on the recent swearing-in ceremony:

"Each of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the constitution. We did not put our hand on the constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." - Brian Sims

Activist Sims recently stepped down as board president of Equality Pennsylvania, the statewide lesbian and gay advocacy organization. He also brings to politics a celebrated past as an openly gay football jock. As defensive tackle Sims had been captain of his college football team. In a 2009 article on OutSports.com, Sims shared with reporter Cyd Ziegler jr. that midway through the 2000 football season at Bloomsburg University (Pennsylvania) an ex-boyfriend tried to seek revenge by telling one of Sims’s teammates about their gay affair. When several of the guys on his team asked for confirmation, Sims was honest with them, freely admitting that he was gay.

To the credit of everyone involved, as word spread to the other players, no one made a big deal of it or kept their distance in the locker room. The team went on to complete a winning season and won playoff games until they found themselves participating in the Division II National Championship game. Sims said that his teammates actually took pride in having a gay player. He was hearing comments like, “Not only is this guy an All-Conference player, and not only is he a starter, and not only is he a good friend of mine, but I'm all right with the fact that he's gay.”

Relating to the Philadephia Inquirer how his sports career might help him in politics, he said, “If your opposition is dumb machismo, I speak the language.”

Sims earned a law degree from Michigan State University (2004) and took a job with the Philadelphia Bar Association, where he drafted a resolution in support of state legislation to protect against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Sims also joined the Board of Directors for Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia.

Citing our constitution’s separation of church and state and equal protection under the law for our citizens, Sims said, “There's not a valid policy argument to be made for why there isn't...100% equal rights for LGBT folks. There just isn't. The only argument that can be made... trace(s) back to religious norms. I happen to pay taxes to a government that says it won't base how it treats me on what a religion has to say about me.”

As a contributor to The Huffington Post, Sims commented last month, “Let's show the haters, the naysayers, the cynics and the critics all across the country that honesty is rewarded, integrity widespread, and an open mind and an open heart will always carry the day against fear, judgment and contempt.”

4 comments:

  1. What an incredible story about an incredibly confident and inspirational man. His actions and words should serve as an example to other gay men who fear coming out to friends, families,coworkers and teammates. Real friends will judge you based upon your character and not your sexuality...

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  2. Can you imagine the glorious day for human history that will be when a gay becomes president of USA?

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  3. i like that he uses the word 'thrust'

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  4. time flies, memory lazes, anyway about thirty years ago in an NPR talk/interview/round table... I REMEMBERED : The David Suskind program/show an NFL quarterback came out, but I don't know who

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