History. Rated R. w/ Will Sterling & Craig Smith
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Episode · 10 months ago

History. Rated R. w/ Will Sterling & Craig Smith

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This week on Pride, we are speaking with Will Sterling, an actor, writer and director based in Los Angeles, California. Will hosts a podcast called “History Rated R” with his co-host Craig Smith. Throughout this episode, Will is going to share clips taken from their podcast, History Rated R and give us more insight into Craig and how he came to be a walking contradiction in terms of his sexuality, beliefs and political party affiliation.

Be sure to check out History Rated R, out now! Your host is Levi Chambers, co-founder of Gayety. Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @Pride. Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com. Your producers are Levi Chambers, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson and Edited by Silvana Alcala Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com. *This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Straw media. Well, as you know, we live in a very divided political time these days. Right, no surprise. You know that, especially listening to this show, nobody really gets along with many conservatives. They have a very specific reputation, I think, in the country now. That's really just being very problematic. And I have a unique friendship with somebody that I've known for probably about twelve years at this point. His name with Craig Smith. This week on pride we're speaking with will sterling, an actor, writer and director based in Los Angeles, will host a podcast called history radared. Are With this Co host, Craig Smith. He is the former chair of the film department of Kelsey Lung Beach, but also a more important than I former presidential speech writer who have for President Ford and President George Hw Bush. Wait, President Ford, yes, President Gerald. I feel like that was a hundred years ago. He is, he is as of this recording. He will be seventy seven years old tomorrow. He was a young speech writer at the time. Yeah, Craig is a I call him a walking contradiction because he is a gay, Catholic conservative. That's a fun Combo. It is a fun Combo, but the difference is that Craig is an interesting window into the evolution of politics. I think because of his age and because of what he knows and because of his his work history, it sort of gives us and holds up an interesting kind of history book and magnifying glass to how the parties sort of shift and change over the years and what somebody who is now seventy seven years old and identifies as what is an authentic conservative, how things are so different. You know, Craig as a big proponent of gun control and climate change and, you know respect separation of church and state, and these are all things that we kind of cover in some of these questions that I'll throw to, but or the clips that I'll throw to throughout this episode will will share clips taken from their podcast, history radared are, which the Tagline I have for it is that in history everyone's a piece of shit, because it's like you kind of can't get into the nitty gritty of hittyot history without understanding that like everyone's canceled. He'll give some insight into Craig and how he came to be a walking contradiction in terms of his sexuality, beliefs and political party affiliation. Craig is a very, very anti present day Republican Party trump individual and I think you know his story is just fascinating because because of those three facets, but because of the fact that when you listen to him speak and you hear him talk about these things, it's like, oh, he actually is is. He puts his money where his mouth is and it's this. This doesn't sound crazy when you hear him talk about it, but when you hear anybody talk about it today, it's it's it sounds pretty outrageous. I'M LEA by Chambers, and this is pride. Wait before we get into this, I have questions. Yes, one, how did you become friends with this individual? To because I feel like there's a lot of elements here that you don't agree with and you're very vocal about certain ones. For example, I have a screenshot of an instagram story that was in your story yesterday that I actually screenshot at because I liked it, but it's a sticker yes, says God loves you, but if you keep defying him, you will only suffer his wrath. And you added like a little caption to that and said God loves you unconditionally. Unless you don't do what he says and then he'll fucking kill you. That's right. So my question to you is like, how did you become friends with this individual who has very different beliefs than you? Well, that's the thing is, I think like it sounds on the surface that the beliefs are fundamentally very different, but in a lot of boys are the same, and I think that's how we became friends. And I obviously present day me is a very liberal, progressive individual. I'm very personally, I'm quite anti religious, which I didn't used to be, you know. No. So I think who I used to be when I met Craig was at a time where I actually used to bend more conservative. Coming right out of college, shocker, surprise, surprise, I was a lot more religious, very much so, and I evolution that I've gone through over the years. There's been a lot of things that have that have really pushed me. I was always socially very liberal and then once Sandy Hook happened, I was like, okay, once it's happened to children and no one seems to give a fuck, like it's over. So then I became very, very vocal in being critical of both conservatism and and religion. So Craig I met as the chair of the film department when I was the student representative in the department, and he and I and some other students like we would have dinner and just talk about the arts and talk about film and talk...

...about music and talk about different things, and it became this very like mentor kind of relationship where Craig is a wealth of knowledge and information, which is why I want to bring the story to the podcast to show that one friendships can sort of exist across multi generational gaps and to that differences, especially with compassionate people, are not as far as they seem when we were willing to dig a little bit under the surface. So if I say that someone's a gay, Catholic Republican, Everyone's like, what the fuck, how could you be friends with this person? And I like, it's actually quite easy, and his stance on a lot of these things, as far as it goes constitutionally, also kind of proves a lot of these things, like severation church and state. Okay, okay, I'll buy it. Do you have a question about that though? When you would have your dinners and stuff, was there any element did you have to come out to him a straight I did not. I did not have to come down to the street. I think that was I think that was sort of acknowledged information. Craig talks about what he sort of considers authentic conservatism and I figure that he could probably explain this better than I could. You rout up something interesting that I think I want to talk about because, especially as we look at even like the premise of our show, right in history, everybody's canceled. So what can you say? What can't you say? What's okay, what's not okay? You are a lifelong Republican. Well, I was. I now call myself a conservative because of the trump administration. I was a never trump and once they elected him and then went along with him. Yeah, I do not consider myself a Republican. I consider myself an authentic conservative. Okay, so, because I feel like people who say I'm a conservative at also has kind of the same like. Well, because like they're with trump, you know what I mean? Yeah, so you feel like the terminology when you say authentic conservative, authentic conservative. So I mean, but you, you have been your whole life. Yeah, and I think that that's always been a unique part of our relationship is that when people hear that they're like how what you know and I'm like no, no, Republicans didn't. Weren't always this way historically. It's also we talked about our show. Like I think the fascinating thing is that the Civil Rights Act in the voting rights ax are not past in Congress without Republicans support. Democrats had the majority in both of those places, but they actually voted more against it because even in the s we still had Dick Secrets. Oh, we kind of them. Yeah, so it's flipped in history. You know it. Lincoln was a Republican, Right, but Andrew Jackson was a democrat. Right, and Andrew Jackson's a real piece of Shit, which we do talk about on our show and will multiple times. So for you, what does it mean to be, as we're saying now, an authentic conservative and also be a gay man and a party that, in two thousand and twenty one does not love that part of you? Right, yeah, and and and you know, unfortunately they're wrong about that. I think an authentic conservative is somebody who believes in a strict reading of the constitution, who believes in original meaning as defined by Antonine Scalia, and I can go into that if you want at some point. But it's just when amendment, when the Constitution, was passed and when amendments to the Constitution are past, you look at the context of the passage when you can't figure out the meaning. Many passages are very clear and you don't have to go to the context to figure out what they mean, right, but when you look at something like the Second Amendment on gun control, it's only twenty seven words, right, it's a little ambiguous. So you have to go to the content, the context of the time to understand that the amendment really was for forming militias and gave control of guns to the states. Right. So it's a conservative I'm in favor of gun control, right, because that's what they meant. Yeah, this is the time one of my favorite stories and we'll have to tell it specifically on the podcast, but can you do a cliffsnotes version of Shays rebellion, which is really yeah, inspired the Second Amendment? Shay Dennishe is, hated taxes being imposed on him by the Massachusetts government and so he rebelled against them. He got a bunch of people together, they marched on get this a Court House, Oh and surrounded it so that the jurors could not go in and listen to a case against a farmer who didn't pay his taxes. So that's how the revolt started. And then they got more and more men and they actually let a rebellion and on August twenty seven, eighteen eighty one thousand eight hundred and seventy six, they, I'm sorry, eighteen eighty six. They there was a clash with the militia that had been formed by Governor Bowden of Massachusetts, which he funded with money from the banks, okay, and they defeated dennashes. They killed some people. DENNA...

...sches escaped with most of his men and a cross the border into Vermont and the militia did not feel that they could cross that border right without violating the sovereignty of Vermont. Eventually Shay is was pardoned in eighteen eighty eight. Seventeen eighty eight when the constitution was same time constitution was ratified. So ches rebellion is right up against the writing of the First Amendment. So the First Amendment was aimed at empowering states to put down rebellions. Okay, not to allow so is the second moment. You mean not for Second Amendment. Sorry. Yeah, the Second Amendment was to empower pause. HMM, that's fascinating. Yeah, the Second Amendment really was never intended to do what it does today. No, okay, we got to go back a little bit. So one and did he explain to you the meaning of original meaning first, because I think that's important. Yeah, I mean that's kind of what he talks about and what he references in terms of the way that the constitution is supposed to be read is that original intent is obviously a huge, huge piece of this. But then when you get in different specific Supreme Court justice has, they're all bringing their personal bias as much as they're supposed to, not to disinterpretation. And even Anton Scalia, who is not, I mean, as far as my politics go, my favorite person, provided and did the work as some okay, reading on the second amount to be like, listen, this is not exactly what it's supposed to to do for you, and and Shays rebellion is really this proof, in terms of historical context, of saying the way that people mostly read it now is like I'm allowed to form Malitias with my buddies and our are fifteen s to fight back against the federal government, which is not true. It's essentially the easiest example we could make is to say that the people who storm the capital in January. Six this states have the power to give random strangers weapons in order to stop people like that from storming the capital. So if you have a group of crazy people dispending on California state capital, the state of California can say hey, random citizens, here are guns, stop these crazy people. That's essentially the right to bear arms is a states rights and states granted thing. Interesting. Okay, the Second Amendment was to empower the states to form militias with people who had the right to bear arms. Right. The state could then grant that right to bear arms. Got It. It's not this Willy Nilly like I want my guns like just no, are fifteen s and all these different things that so to know that you are an authentic conservative who is in favor of gun control and you believe in climate change as well. M and Republican Eddy Related. Teddy Roosevelt was an authentic conservative and he, you know, expanded our national parks. He was a wellknown environmentalist, he broke up the trusts. Yeah, competition, fair competition in the market places. A conservative standard, okay, you know, and I think that's that's not a liberal standard. There's a lot of things to again, we talk about the flip, like Republicans created the EPA, yet it's his wilder Nixon, that it's now devolved into. Like, well, when trump was president, like wow much, can we actually just dump toxic waste into lakes? Yeah, whatever. Yeah. Well, trump is all about helping businesses no matter what. Right, and that's one of the things that Teddy Roosevelt was against. Yeah, the Republican Party had had drifted into becoming the pro business party after the grant administration and during reconstruction after the civil war. There were lots of rationals lations for that, reasons for that, but it was mainly because these businesses were built up during the civil war in the north. That's so they were Republican oriented. Right. So there's just some some interesting context there that I think a lot of people when we look at history, and I think that I mean the premise of this podcast that Craig and I are starting together. It's one. It's a fun dynamic of like a thirty four year old person in a seventy seven year old person, but that people sort of forget that history is not a straight line and it's not simple, you know, and it isn't exactly black and white the way that we want it to be. In fact, you know, Andrew Jackson, as was said in the clip, was a Democrat, but Andrew Jackson is responsible for all kinds of horrible fucking things. And Abraham Lincoln was a republican and but the emancipation proclamation didn't mean that he loved black people. He also wanted to put them on boats and ship them out of the country. So all these people that we glorify in history and all these parties that we glorify, people forget the bad shit exact is they don't want that part exactlyways with everything and that the parties flip flop in terms of history, Semitimes, some of the things that we see moralistically. You know, it's it's interesting, and I craigs obviously such a wealth of information of this. When it comes to discussing politics. There are certain keywords that individuals will involuntarily flag, like liberal or Conservative. Today, knowing where someone's hands in terms of their political philosophies can affect and determine the outcome of...

...the rest of a conversation and oftentimes an entire relationship. But when Will Matt Craig He let him explain his viewpoint before jumping to conclusions at first, when he said like I consider myself a conservative, I wanted to make sure I got the clarification from him because I know that he doesn't align with saying you're a conservative, it's the same as saying you support trump in two thousand and twenty one. You know what I mean? That doesn't in this terminology of authentic conservative. I know what he means and it's hard to get across to people, I think, because it's still sort of a threat response word. But there is historically in terms of personal freedoms and personal liberties, that should be a fundamental thing that, especially when we're talking about like we rights and black lives matter and everything that we're sort of having conversation about today. The the brutally horrible hypocrisy of present day conservatism is that individual freedoms and rights should be granted to all those people because that is their fundamental moral platform. And yet they believe that their church and their belief should dictate the rule of law, which violent separation of church and state. So, as an authentic conservative, getting the meeting out of that being that? No, no, we're going back to hard coreception of separation of church and state, this original meaning of the Constitution with context and that we genuinely care about people, we care about the environment, and guns are pretty fucking ridiculous, outside of apparently needing them in one thousand eighteen, seventy seven or whenever the fuck. So he got into speech writing as after being a professor in college and ended up working for President Ford, and the way that he got into that was it's kind of a funny story. How did you start to stumble into speech writing and and that angle of your career? Yeah, that again was, you know, a total accident. I had never written a speech for anybody and in at the end of one thousand nine hundred and seventy five, while Gerald Ford was president, I was invited down. I was teaching at the University Virginia and I was teaching courses in American public address argumentation. I was the debate coach at the university and so I was invited down to the University of North Carolina to give a guest lecture which was scheduled for ten o'clock in the morning, and I gave the lecture and they said, you know, at noon president forward is coming. Oh, you know, you're a Republican and he's giving a speech to the future homemakers America. You want to go see it? And I said sure, that'd be great, and I was a big fan of Gerald forward. I thought it's very nice man and, you know, a nice replacement for Richard Nixon. So I went to hear the speech and it was not good. Okay, and the professors who were with me, who tended to be on the liberal side, started kidding me about you know, I can't Republicans, you know, have a president who could be a better speaker than forward, and so on and so forth, and I was frustrated and I drove home to Charlottesville and couldn't sleep and I wrote a letter to the White House, five pages, single space, critiquing the president's speech in constructive, friendly terms. Right and a week later I was called for an interview at the White House. Wow, and that's how I started. I started at the top. You cold emailed the White House, but I email mail that I cold cold me Old the White House. The interview process was fascinating. I had the first person they interviewed me was the head of White House personnel, Doug Smith. He passed me on to the editor for the speech writers, Bob or Orban, who had been an editor for Red Scout in the show oh of all things. And then Orban evidently liked me and he passed me on to Bob Hartman, who was the counselor of the president. They had speech writer and I had the longest time with Bob Hartman and at the end of the Hartman interview he said just sit here for a minute. I'm I'll be right back, and I didn't know at the time but his office was the old Rosemary Woods office which was right next to the Oval Office. Okay, she just she was the secretary to Nixon. And so about five minutes later Harman came back into the office and he had come with me and he took me into the Oval Office and there was Gerald Ford puffing on a pipe and Hartman said pending security clearance, scary words for me. Yeah, pending security clearance. Craig Smith will be your new speech writer. He's a professor from the University of Virginia and I swear to you, the first words out of drope words mouth, he took his pipe out of his mouth and he said professors haven't done well here. And I said, Mr President, with all due respect, why is that? And he says they try to make me sound more eloquent than I want to sound. I'm going to talk the language of the common man and they never get anything done on time. And I said, I know, I know, I work with them. Yeah, so was he out at this time? No, he didn't co come out until nineteen ninety six. He lived his I...

...mean, obviously you know he's had twenty some odd years now, but if you think about that, if there's a seventy seven year old man not be until nineteen and ninety six, he's working in the White House kind of under like cover of darkness, essentially, where it was a sort of don't ask, don't tell situation, and that's the thing. Is like. That's another one of those things that even Clinton, what's the word? Even Clinton upheld don't ask don't tell in terms of our military in that we like to imagine people like Clinton another presidents being very progressive, but you think of some of these policies that, again, as a very foundational Democrat for the way that we governed today. Even Obama, when he first ran in two thousand and eight, was like, I don't support gay marriage. You know that there are things that people either felt like they had to do or say, but things that obviously contributed to keeping people like Craig in the closet because even working for the White House he felt that he was going to be out at and I have a clip for that if you'd like to hear. The joke about working in the White House for me was I was toggling between paranoia and boredom, and the reason was I was paranoid that they were going to discover me. But there was no at there was no evidence. I mean I hadn't slept with anybody. I hadn't. I hadn't had sex with anybody. So but I was always just afraid that something would come up and, you know, they'd interview one of the two or three people who knew I was gay, but that never happened. The reason for the boredom is I'm a very fast rider, HMM, and I could pop out a presidential speech very quickly. I don't know what took these other people so long. They hated me on. The other speech writers at the beginning hated me. I mean they just said, how do you do it so fast? Yeah, yeah, I'm trained to do that. I'm a professor who teaches it. You know, it's right, that hard. And I had also, you know, engaged in intercollegiate competition to extemporaneous speaking, in impromptu speaking, and you have to come up with a speech very fast, right. So I you know, I'd be assigned to speech and I'd write it and nothing to do. HMM, you know, and I'm sitting there in my office in the White House. It's like, and you know, it's kind of funny. You'd think it wouldn't be boring to just be in the White House, White House, but it was. That's fascinating. And then he was that good. Yeah, well, I mean that's the thing is, like he talks about in another and another clip. For him it was this thing of like they asked loose enough questions for people to get by. When he interviewed for the speech writing position, they asked him have you and like imagine being asked this question and a fucking job interview have you ever slept with another man? That was the question that they asked him at the White House and he had not had sex and said no, but they didn't ask him point blank, are you gay? So I just like the way that people used to go about this stuff, which is just the most abominable PR nightmare in in today's standards. This is this is at the top level, this is at the White House, and if we think that change like doesn't happen fast enough, I mean it's like Craig is walking talking proof that like that was only in the S, not not really that long ago, especially when we look at the you know, the the length of time and how much progress we've actually made. Where did that go from there? If if he was already bored, like started writing speeches for the president, like I would assume that's kind of the top right goal. If you are a speech writer like who alsore you writing them for now one. Well, yeah, and that's the thing. Like, obviously also because of his politics in the present day, it's like there's not a whole lot of people for him to work with her for because the the the dialog has changed, you know, like he's not going to fucking write speeches for Donald Trump even back then, you know. I mean like every conservative thinks like Reagan is really like the be all end all, but the even I mean every every administration is problematic to some degree, but Reagan is obviously quite problematic in terms of what gets us to this separation of church and state problem, because in the s that's really when church money realized that they could sort of fund political campaigns and conservative Christian America, as we know it was, was born. And Craig has an interesting perspective on the important of Separation Church and state. As a Catholic, can you also speak a little bit to your also, I mean you have your religious beliefs, but you also believe very strongly in the separation of church and state. Oh...

Yeah, and Oh yeah, like there is this feeling that that Christians, like conservative Christian America, is like no, this is the truth and you will have it. You know, as someone who, for you, considers yourself a devout Catholic, you admit that you're like no, this shouldn't be involved in this, right. Where does that come from? Well, it again, it goes back to my conservatism, and that is the separation of church and state. Is is certainly outlined in the first amendment. You have freedom of conscience. In the First Amendment. The government can establish a religion or endorse it, and that means also not endorsing religious positions. You know right that that that have occurred. I think. I APP I personally am opposed to a woman's right to have an abortion, but the courts have settled that the other way and they read the Constitution to say that a woman does have a right to an abortion and that, in my opinion, is settled law. There you go. I can believe whatever I want, but I can't impose it on women, right, you know, through legislation, legislation. That's ridiculous. Yeah, just as I now have a right to get married, where I didn't before, and you can't take that away from me. Yeah, under the Constitution, if you read the constitution correctly, and particularly the Fourteenth Amendment, which you know, grants me equal protection under the law and greats women equal protection under the law. Yeah, that's an important phrase. Yeah, what was your immediate like reaction to that in the room, because I assume you grew up in a family that didn't feel that way. No, I mean my family's very as some people would. I think, what's a pro life, which I just take on bridge with that term, because it's like you don't do anything else besides force them to have babies and then you're not around when it comes to helping people live their lives. I think hearing that is it. That's kind of a such an admirable thing and it's why I love Craig, it's why we're friends and I think it's why I I'm very happy about this relationship and want this dialog to have a bigger platform like this, because we think about how to reach across the aisle, we think about how to have these dialogs. It's just tough now because there's very few people like Craig, and so for him to say, you know, emotionally Catholicism. Wise, I don't believe in a woman's right to abortion. However, the Supreme Court ruled on Rov Wade. This is now law. You can't change this and he respects the ruling of the Supreme Court and the upholding of the constitution above his desire for his religion to dictate legislation, which, as he said, would be ridiculous and if you think about it, anybody who's Christian in America. If any other belief system besides themselves, said they were going to make laws, they would lose their minds and that's not something that's ever presented to them or that they seemingly ever have to think about. And I think it's a it's a very adult and, again, authentic conservative way to interpret the Constitution and to and to uphold the rule of law. Essentially, do you personally believe that there actually is a separation of church and state? And the only reason I say that is because we talk about it, but at the same time our currency says in God we trust. Right at the end of pretty much every presidential speech each on any topic. God bless America is there, even if that president did not run on Religious Foundation. It's always there, of course, and it's a virtual requirement. We've only ever had Christian, technically Christian, presidents and only two Catholic presidents, Biden being the second. JFK was the first Catholic president, and Catholicism is just a different sect of Christian it's just, you know, it's Christianity, but it's different. And when JFK was running in the S, so many Protestant Americans were like losing their minds that. Could you imagine a Catholic running the country? And so this country is is is steeped in religion, despite the fact that the founding fathers really tried to get us out of that. We've done a good job of fucking that up and bringing it back around, because if you think about the pledge allegiance, like children starting their days pledging allegiance to the flag or to the country, is quite a fashistic kind of thing, you know, like people do that in sort of dictatorial countries where you strip away the identity in upholding this larger identity for the common good, which I would argue as more sort of communism than what they think that they're fighting. So, to answer your question, that's a very long way saying no. You know, religion is unfortunately such a huge part of how we govern that getting out of that is is going to take a long time, but it has to be a necessary recognition. Presenting the argument in the flip side of saying like well, would you want X Y Z...

...to also make willing, ely rules about their religion? And there you know, consert of Christian America's answer would, of course, we know, and so you it can you can't have your cake and eat it too. You know, we all have to work together. We have to put down these things that technically make us different. Surprise, surprise, and govern from a legitimate logistic kind of way. It's interesting you bring up the pledge of allegiance because I have a many occasion reflected on my like K through twelve. Maybe it wasn't a nice soul. So much for K through eight. For sure, education where every day and every flag assembly on Fridays started with and I feel like, even looking back at it, I never really felt that way doing it, but it always started with right hand over your heart. Ready began. That's very coldy. It is very cold. When People Watch a documentary about North Korea or country's like that, it's like, Oh, can you believe they do that? They worshipend like a God and they say this whole thing every day. Yes, I can believe that, and that's the thing is like. And you also look at kneeling, you know, during the the the what's the fucking song that they played every sporting event that you're supposed to cross your hard and stand up and be additional anthem that's nine. Thank you. I'm glad I forgot the title. That is also something that when people have this argument that fundamentally you were disrespecting the flag and therefore the troops, it's like, well, know, the troops, technically, in terms of freedoms, have fought for the right to free speech and your ability to not do that. So know they're just upholding their constitutional rights and too, if they want to get perfect, about the Bible, of which I am also very familiar because of my upbringing. We are encouraged not to worship idols, and I think that we have created an idol out of the flag. Unfortunately, it is so important, it is so other worldly. Now that it is it is second to God, and that's very dangerous and I think trump took hold of this desire to really lean into fascism. Is Essentially what we're what we were looking at it. Unfortunately, now the party has has gone full tilt in that direction. When we come back, Craig comes out in his S and a mutilated Republican Party. Welcome back. Today we're speaking with will sterling, one of the hosts of the upcoming podcast history radard are through. Will we met Craig Smith, a gay man who refuses to identify as a Republican and instead opts for the title authentic conservative. Well, working as a speech writer for the White House, Craig always feared someone would out him as gay. He was about thirty years old while working for President Ford, where he remained deep inside the closet. Let's kind of go let's go back to Craig sort of growing up in the S S and and really his identity as a as a gay man, and sort of understanding his place in the world at a time where it was very difficult. So so then your story in that way. What was it like, you know, growing up? I mean it's well, I'm your urst question. I think anyone could ever ask anybody's like when did you know you were gay? Because the answers always like my whole life, but for you going out, know it wasn't my whole life. It wasn't very early. I knew I was gay when I was seven, okay, because I would mean that's your whole life. I was physically attracted to my older cousin. Yeah, and I knew that that was strange and I kept it a secret. And then, you know, the older I got, the more I knew that I was gay, the people I would look at, the things that attracted me, you know, the sears catalog, and then went toward that when I was in high school, Remember, you know, I'm in high school like nine, six, nineteen sixty one. And so I went to the library and looked up homosexuality, okay, and what it and it was classified as a mental disorder at that time. Wow, and that absolutely drove me into the closet. I mean and and millions of other people. Yeah, you're not going to come out at that time because you would be deemed mentally ill. Right, couldn't be employed anywhere, right. So, you know, it was very bad and and that kind of thing kept happening. I mean I thought I was very lucky. The Ford Administration had a don't ask, don't tell policy. When I was given I was, I was given deep, deep security clearance in the White House. Okay, and it's because they didn't ask the right question. The FBI said, have you ever slept with a man? I had not. I was a good Catholic. So I had that conflict in my life. To be that's I forget. Republic and Catholic a Catholic Republican, your walking contradiction. Yeah, so, you know, they asked me if I had ever slept with a man. I said no, and and that, you know, they did not ask me if I was homosexual. MMM. And so, you know, too bad. Yeah,...

Miss Miss the question. And and you know, I snuck through. And then AIDS comes along and you talk about something driving you into the closet further. Yeah, Oh my God. Yeah, that was horrific. I lost friends. You know that I had secretly revealed myself too, and they'd revealed themselves to me. So you had a close network of people you trusted. Very small, okay, very, very small, maybe three people really? Yeah, wow, and you didn't come out until the S righty six. I decided I would not come out while my father was alive. MMM, because at the end of his life he was in some pain, he was sick and I just didn't want to make things worse. He was homophobic. Okay, you know that part of his conservatism was unfortunate, but he'd been in the navy and there had been navy parties at my house and they talked about fags and you know, all that kind of stuff. That drove me further into the closet, right, and once he passed away in March of one thousand nine hundred and ninety six, I immediately came out. So you were ready to go. I was ready to go. You weren't even right. I was scared. MMM. I had a therapist lined up, as said, and and he was wonderful. And my all of my friends except two were very supportive. Okay, but all of your friends except to broke off their relationships. I got it, okay, they couldn't handle it really. Yeah, their colleagues your age, same. One was a professor and my former debate partner in college. Oh Wow, and he couldn't handle it and he just broke off the friendship and, you know, say leave. Yeah. And another was a former student who said the oddest thing. He said, I thought you were bisexual and I said, well, I'm not, I'm homosexual, and he said that's terrible, like it was okay to be bisexual, but it was not okay to be honest. It was very weird and haven't I haven't spoken of that person since either. Got It. Fast forward to when you met him. Did did he come out to you? I met him in two thousand and two thousand and nine. so He's already I mean that's only ten years really since he came out. Yeah, but that's the thing, is that? Like obviously, in the in the school, as the chair of the film department, Craig's not walking around with a big pride flag, you know what I mean, like I'm the Gay Chair of the film department, like he spent from the birth to One thousand nine hundred and ninety six, you know, shoved into a closet, not feeling comfortable to talk about this thing. That especially also with a Catholic upbringing. So still kind of hold holds himself in a very reserved sort of way. You know what I mean? Like is is everybody has the right to live however they want in terms of whatever it's supposed to be. There's no right or wrong in terms of the way that you celebrate who you are, and I think that it was never immediately known to me just because it did wasn't a necessary topic of conversation, and I think I just learned over like a dinner conversation. One item was like Oh, okay, you know, like a so I'm in college at this point. It's always been fine to me. So there was never any you know, there was never any worry, I think, from from him to me or anything like that. There's an interesting element of history in Craig as well in that he's tied to Real American history, like he was there, he did it, their speeches out there, he worked on as a queer person who was sort of a race by history, right, because they never asked, are you gay? So he just didn't say it. Right. So, in terms of like if someone wrote a history book about Craig, that element would not have been in there. It would of after he came out. Yeah, but it's like it definitely shines a light on queer his queer people throughout history that have been huge parts of history, right, you just don't know about. Well, yeah, and he tells funny, Fun Stories about you know. I mean technically you ask any historian. I guess we have a will have a segment called fan fact check, because I anticipate a lot of angry people writing into US and saying it's wrong. People like George Washington sleeping with, you know, a French general like it during the revolutionary war because France was helping the United States. As I can you prove that they fucked? It's like, I guess not, but they were sleeping in the same bed, you know, and it's like so we don't know. You know, all history is very queer and we unfortunately erase the fact that, like you said, like these people in Queer history have been erased, despite the fact the history itself is incredibly queer and you have all these people who really were, you know what I mean, who have all these you know, parent like there we tell a story about how Abraham Lincoln had, you know, maybe had gay...

...lovers, like we like there's a lot of stories out there with a lot of proof, historically backed up to suggest that these people had liaisons and different things. Because that's the thing is a lot of people say like well, where did all these gay people come from these days, and it's like they're always there. Are You fucking for real? You know what it's like it that's just nobody talked about it. And so ideally, with Craig being one of the members of that history, you know, as you said, as a seventy seven year old guy, he is a part of that and we want to bring a lot of those stories to life. Even if people would would say that they were just rumors. So Craig sort of discusses how what it means to be a gay conservative and how the Party's kind of mutated. You know, yeah, okay, let's hear. And so for you personally, with this party and with with your background, I mean you your story sees a lot of evolution, you know, in terms of how long you've been a Republican, and so where do you feel personally as someone who does identify as a gay man, like how it doesn't how that affects you, because the narrative, I used to think, for Republicans was like less taxes, don't get into business, live your life. I don't want to. Don't let me what to do, I want tell you what to do. Right, but now we've lost separation of church and state and it's really become a church. Well, it's yeah, it's another reason to lose the Republican Party. You know, in nineteen ninety one Barry Goldwater, Mr Conservative, defended the rights of gays to get married. I mean that was a pretty stunning moment and I was there, wow, when he wrote the editorial for The Washington Post. Okay, and he had been educated over time from nineteen sixty four to nineteen ninety one, bury goal water went through a wonderful evolution that made him less radically conservative and more in favor of people's rights in more liberty area. Right, loud, and and and and, yeah, and he became, I think, an authentic conservative. Okay, let's balance the budget, you know they're let's get out of heat. The phrase he used in Washington Post editorial was let's get out of the bedroom. Yeah, get out of my bedroom, you know, get out of my life. Right, I have the right to be left alone. Right, consensual sex is not to be different aired with. Okay, and eventually the Supreme Court, thanks to wonderful people like Anthony Kennedy, a swing justice on the Supreme Court, we got gay rights. Right, right, yeah. So I think the thing too, is like even looking at somebody like Barry Goldwater, who, I don't you know how much like listeners are familiar with somebody like him, but even that phrase, you know, like stay out of the bedroom, has been has been perverted into this. Like how many times have you seen people being like I want, you can be whoever you want to be, just like don't make it my business or it's just I don't need to be and it's like nobody, fucking nobody's trying to make your business. Actually you're making it your business by not by being upset about it, by being afraid about it, like how about, we'll leave you alone if you shut the fuck up and we'll leave you alone. And you won't, you don't. I mean like this kind of like just let people be. This fundamental principle and what Craig sort of considers a big part of off into conservatism is is really just been lost, because the separation of church and Staidi's crumbled even more, a great deal, even more, and I think you know behind that is his money and power, unfortunately, because I wouldn't say trump is a devout Christian, like he held a Bible upside fucking down outside of a church where a tear gas protest or so he could take a picture in front of it. Yeah, because you can use that picture later to play Kate to people. Right exactly. It's like, Oh, I forgot about the time Jesus pro tear gassed people so he could walk up to the Cross and take his selfie and his pictures before they hung them up on it. Like it's just really been perverted, unfortunately, and Craig talks about there being sort of a way out, but it's a it's not it's not promising, unfortunately. So I mean, I feel like this is such an interesting topic because you started this by kind of discussing how everyone today now feels like conservator or not conservator. Being conservative is almost like a bad word. It really is. And when you see the mayor's flat became that, yeah, more so than Republican. Right it in some weird way. I mean, yeah, when you see American flags on lawns or trucks, what's your first thought? Oh, yeah, yeah, right now, absolutely right. Well, did then? Do you feel like the things and the conversations you've had with him? I feel like on social media you've definitely been very vocal about, you know, your political opinions of different parties, and do you feel like your opinions have shifted at all with this introduction of like add an adjective to conservative...

...and now it's different? Do you feel like it is different or is it sell the same? It's a good question because to me, and that's just my relationship with Craig, like he's allowed to be whoever he wants to be and and title himself however he wants. But I really think, and he talks about, the only way out really outside of a couple of level headed Republicans, if we could call them that, is there's going to have to be a third party. There's going to be some third parties going to have to break out of this because it just can't be sustained. We cannot go back to any kind of conservatism or republicanism that we had before, because it's just gone off the rails to such a degree that I think that if, if we really push came to shove and it could, Craig, if there was some other movement, would probably like, Oh, maybe I'm that party, you know. But I also respect and admire the fact that he doesn't want to let go of something that he actually believes in. The fundamental core values of that used to mean something good. It used to mean something surprise, kind of progressive, as we he had kind of mentioned and we talked about in an earlier clip, like the civil rights in the voting rights x aren't passed until sixty five and sixty six and that those are only accomplished because of majority Republican support. Democrats ran the Senate and house its time, but you still had a fucked on, a dixiecrats, which are racist southerners who are technically Democrats, who hated black people, and those are quote Unquote Democrats and they were termed dixiecrats because they fucking sucked and they were racist and they ruined it for everybody. And it was because of Republican support for those two things that they were passed. And that's not even a hundred years ago that we pass the civil rights and voting rights acts. So there is this like constant shift and change that unfortunately it's gone in the other direction. But I do feel that like for Craig to have grown up and with these principles, in these morals and believe in a sort of a strict reading of the constitution and believe that if the court's ruled on it, this is law. We have to respect this. There is something like he deserves to be, in my opinion, like you're the he's the only real conservative in the world. Everyone else is just a fucking impostor. But that's because he's my friend, you know. And again, the only way that we continue to have these conversations is not with just like minded people like ourselves, you know, people who have kind of push us in ways we like and don't like, but still respect US and value us and care about us, and that's you know, that's like this friendship, which is why it's important to me. You're going to do this podcast together. Yes, and it's really kind of about the dark side of history, right, that exists in that is there, and about the strucle and, in a funny way, gears. Yeah, but doesn't that feel? I'm curious if I feel like you're a very optimistic and will maybe not not optimistics wrong word, but like you try to see the best, not a good, part of things. Yeah, and now you've got this podcast. Ask about all the dark parts of things. Well, those there any element that is like do I really want to know what the dark side of this is? Well, that's the thing is that there's no idea. Lincoln was like free the slaves and then send them away, put them on a button. No idea. That was the thing, that it was a thing. Yes, and that's the thing is like, you know, you look at Daniel de Lewis and the Spielberg movie and I was like turn this shit off, the amount of people in in Hollywood that of just like painted racism and slavers. This almost like quaint kind of thing. It's just it's really gross and so but the thing about it's called history. Rated are in terms of were analyzing people and Events and places and things with a modern day context. But it's not meant to beat you over the head and make you Super Sad. It's really Craig is the expert, he's the he's the compendium and wealth of knowledge, and I'm the idiot who doesn't know anything, because truly I don't. It's almost this format that we're doing of this where you're like, I have I have no idea what we're going to do, like walk me through this. Craig's like, okay, I have this story prepared and I'm a great and so I ask questions and make jokes along the way, but the foundation of the story that he's telling is really just to kind of walk us through history, to give people a very comfortable seat at a table to hear a story about history in a non class roomy way, but also in a non I feel like that. You know, there's also a degree to which it seems like people have overcorrected in their wokeness to where now everybody's like presentation of stuff is is too who buttoned up that? It's that it almost sucks some of the fun in the life out of it. So I'm sort of there to ask questions and poke and proud and be like, but he was kind of a piece of shit, right. I was like, well, of course, but the show is really meant to to educate people and be more fun than anything else, because we're not dwelling on the shittiness of what people did. We're sort of talking about history and then bringing up some of these things. But you know, the foundation of it is, you know, those who don't learn from history are doomed...

...to repeat it. And here we are with the president trump being elected. Nobody thought it would happen in two thousand and sixteen, and it's like do we fucking learn nothing in the four hundred years that we've been a country? And it's like, apparently fucking not. And so how else can we start to educate people? And it's like we have to talk about these things. You know, if we don't, they're just going to happen again. I think your podcast is going to end up being one of those podcasts that you listen to it and there's something like that, I don't know that you like passionate about that, you love, then you're going to find something out about it and be like no, no, that did not have a hundred percent. There's so many things where I'm like, are you kidding me? He's like, Oh, yeah, and I'm like great, sweet, that changes everything. And I also don't want to try it like strong arm into our podcast to say we're going to rewrite history in a woke way. You know, history has to be what it is. We do have to be fairly unbiased, despite my jokes and and other things like. It just fucking is what it is, unfortunately. And but we talked about the Mexican American war, like how we started that on purpose, just so we could kill Mexicans and take land. You know, like Shocker, we did that. Columbus and America did that from the from the get go. That's our history. You know, when we talk about American history, world history is all over the place, but that's kind of the premise of our show and like I'm always just like what's our what's our show about? Craig and he had something kind of funny. That's also kind of the the the premise for our new podcast, which this is helping promote, called, what's it called, Craig? You remember something about Shit. History, history rated are somethink about shit. Something about Shit, because my tagline for it is in history everyone's a piece of shit. But anyway, you know, it's just it's a fun relationship and something that I want to highlight our podcast. There's a lot of fun. We drink MARTINIS, we eat dinner, talk about food. We talked about history and we answer questions and as any as hard as anybody could try to try any kind of gap bridging, you know, like that's that's, in a small way, with this sort of hopes to do. So, okay, when does the PODCAST come out? When can people listen? Tune in find out other, you know, the rated our moment throughout history that will piss them off. The podcast will be launching the day that this episode goes up, so whenever this is out, episode one is out. If you're listening to pride right now and you seem interested in history, rated are find us on apple, spotify, where we get your podcast. Pride is a production of Straw Huad media. If you like the show, leave us a rating and a review on Apple, podcast, spotify or wherever you listen to podcast. Then follow us on Instagram, facebook, twitter and snapchat at pride and tune in weekly for new episodes. Be Sure to share this episode with your friends and subscribe for more stories from Amazing Queer people. If you'd like to connect with me, you can follow me everywhere. At Le by chambers. Pride is produced by me Le by Chambers, Maiggie Bulls, Ryan Tillotson, Caitlyn mcdaniel and Brandon Marlow, edited by Silvana, I'll Calla, and Daniel Fer era. Sound mixing by Sylvana, I'll calla. I love this, Ryan. I think this is a great episode, and then I was like, we could do more episodes on that right. You could do your episodes. I love that because I think this will be a really cool episode.

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