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, August 25, 2023

Edgars Rinkēvičs, President of Latvia

 Rinkēvičs Sworn In as President of Latvia

This July (2023) 49-year-old Edgars Rinkēvičs took office as President of Latvia, becoming the first openly gay head of state in a European Union country. He won the national election in May. Your blogger is more than weary of bad news, so this lifts his spirits all the more, because East European countries are generally more conservative and less accepting of gays (Hungary and Turkey, for example). Rinkēvičs was already involved in Latvian politics when he announced he was gay on Twitter in 2014. He speaks fluent English and earned a masters degree from the U.S. National Defense University in Washington DC in the year 2000.

Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea, is a member of both NATO and the EU and supports Ukraine's efforts to stave off Russian aggression. As well, Latvia is a member of the IMF and United Nations. Latvia, once forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, regained its independence in 1991. It is noteworthy that Latvia borders both Russia and Belarus.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Gifford Joins Biden Reelection Campaign

Rufus Gifford, the highest-ranking "openly gay" official at the U.S. State Department, is leaving his post as chief of protocol to become finance chair for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

In 2021 President Biden had tapped former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford to serve as the State Department's new chief of protocol.

As chief of protocol, Gifford  retained the rank of ambassador. He assisted President Biden and other top U.S. leaders with proper diplomatic protocols when visiting or receiving foreign dignitaries. Gifford also scheduled itineraries for visiting officials from abroad. He had previously served as Deputy Campaign Manager for Biden's 2020 presidential campaign.

This is my original post from October, 2016:

My regular blog readers may recall a post from 2015 reporting the marriage of Rufus Gifford, the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, to his partner, a veterinarian named Stephen DeVincent, at Copenhagen’s city hall. Among the wedding guests were Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who had become close friends. Rufus and Stephen were married by the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen. 

The front page of the Wall Street Journal, however, carried a feature article reporting the viral sensation of the ambassador’s reality TV show, “Jeg er ambassadøren fra Amerika” (I Am the Ambassador from America), which averaged about 200,000 viewers per episode. There were 10 installments. Ambassador Gifford won the Danish equivalent of an Emmy for his role, in which he mused about being a gay ambassador and his regrets at not seeing more of his husband, who spent long stretches of time stateside to attend to his job.

Contributing to the success of the show was that fact that Gifford, 42 years old and Hollywood handsome, made sharp, witty comments about what is essentially a boring job – because there is virtually no strife between the two nations. The show followed him around the grand ambassador’s residence, traveling home to Boston to see his parents, making sojourns to Greenland, celebrating a birthday, even spending a night with the elite Danish Frogmen Corps. In the series Gifford steps into his limousine, he steps out of his limousine, he goes to the gym, etc. The series culminated with the ambassador’s wedding to his male partner. A 35-year-old Danish female fan of the show said she wasn’t looking for false drama, like that of other reality shows, but that she savored the scenes when Gifford was at home with Mr. DeVincent and their dog, Argos. But there was that one time when Gifford stripped down to his Calvins to change into a SWAT suit (not disappointing).

As a result of this show, Gifford’s celebrity in Denmark was such that people on the streets shouted, “Hey, Rufus!” and asked him to stop for a selfie, completely forsaking the honorific of his office. And that’s the way he liked it.

All 10 episodes were available for streaming on Netflix: “I Am the Ambassador”. Note from your blogger: Ambassador Gifford is charming beyond description.

*Note: In 2015 six gay male ambassadors represented our country. They gathered for an event at D.C.’s Newseum: Ambassador to Australia John Berry, Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James Brewster, Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford, Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Daniel Baer, Ambassador to Spain James Costos and Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius. All were appointed by President Obama and approved by congress. Amazing, since homosexuality was until recent times grounds for dismissal from foreign service. When President Bill Clinton nominated openly gay James Hormel for ambassador to Luxembourg in 1997, Hormel was strongly opposed by some Republican members of congress for his sexual orientation, and the appointment was thus stalled. Clinton then used a recess appointment to install Hormel as ambassador in 1999, making him the first openly gay ambassador to represent the U.S. 

Newlyweds Rufus (right) and Stephen leave Copenhagen's city hall: