Will Portman speaks out on marriage equality and coming out

Posted by Justin Snow
March 25, 2013 12:14 PM |

Rob Will Portman.jpg

The son of Republican Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) spoke out publicly for the first time since his father endorsed marriage equality earlier this month in a column published by his college newspaper.

Writing in the Yale Daily News, Will Portman says he came out to his parents in a letter that he overnighted to them in February of his freshman year. "They were surprised to learn I was gay, and full of questions, but absolutely rock-solid supportive," Portman writes. "That was the beginning of the end of feeling ashamed about who I was."

In discussing his journey of coming to terms with his sexual orientation, the college junior also defends his father against criticism he's faced from some in the LGBT community for waiting two years to openly endorse same-sex marriage after learning his son is gay, even as he was being considered as Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 presidential election.

"Some people have criticized my dad for waiting for two years after I came out to him before he endorsed marriage for gay couples. Part of the reason for that is that it took time for him to think through the issue more deeply after the impetus of my coming out. But another factor was my reluctance to make my personal life public," Portman writes.

During the vetting process, Rob Portman told the Romney campaign that he had a gay son and that they would be open about that fact on the campaign trail, but Will Portman says he was relived to have avoided the spotlight of a presidential campaign when Romney tapped Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate instead.

"We had decided that my dad would talk about having a gay son if he were to change his position on marriage equality. It would be the only honest way to explain his change of heart. Besides, the fact that I was gay would probably become public anyway," Portman writes. "I had encouraged my dad all along to change his position, but it gave me pause to think that the one thing that nobody had known about me for so many years would suddenly become the one thing that everybody knew about me."

Although Portman says seeing his sexual orientation in the headlines has been a strange experience, it has also been a privilege.

"Now, my friends at Yale and the folks in my dad's political orbit in Ohio are all on the same page," Portman writes. "They know two things about me that I'm very proud of, not just one or the other: that I'm gay, and that I'm Rob and Jane Portman's son."

Read Will Portman's full essay here.

[Photo: Rob and Will Portman (Courtesy of Facebook)]


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