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.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Johnny Cummings

Johnny Cummings, the openly gay mayor of the small coal mining town of Vicco, Kentucky (pop. 334), was profiled on TV’s “The Colbert Report” on August 14, 2013. Described by locals as “the best mayor we’ve ever had,” Cummings, also the town’s part-time hairdresser, led a successful initiative to pass an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thus Vicco KY became the smallest town in the nation to have such a law.

A part of Colbert’s recurring tongue-in-cheek feature titled “People Who Are Destroying America,” the segment consisted mostly of interviews with the town’s residents, who one after another fractured the stereotype of  “close-minded hillbillies,” a phrase used by one Vicco citizen. Local residents praised Cummings for his accomplishments and described how they approved of the anti-bias ordinance. An exception was the local pastor, who said he wished gays would “go back in the closet where they belong.”

The fifty-year-old mayor, who plays saxophone in his spare time, reports that five other communities have contacted him about how to enact similar anti-discrimination laws. Currently a Democrat, Cummings says that in the past he has switched between Democrat and Republican affiliation. He is pleased with how the satirical Colbert Report episode turned out, because he had turned down other media efforts to cast a lurid slant on Vicco’s recent notoriety. One organization had proposed filming a reality show on location, but Cummings dismissed that and similar offers. Instead, Cummings welcomed a feature on "The Colbert Report".

“To get your point across, sometimes you just gotta laugh,” according to Johnny.

The Comedy Central crew shot the "Colbert Report" footage last February, following a news item about the passage of the anti-discrimination ordinance that appeared in the New York Times in January, 2013.

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