Barack Obama Admits to 'Shamefully' Using Homophobic Slurs as Young Man in New Memoir

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday November 18, 2020

President Barack Obama has admitted to calling people "gay" and "fags" as a young man, and feeling "profoundly ashamed," Pink News reports.

The popular US President revealed as much in "A Promised Land," the critically acclaimed first volume of his memoirs — which also happens to be setting sales records. The President discusses the evolution of his LGBTQ views, admitting that as a young man his "attitudes toward gays, lesbians, and transgender people hadn't always been particularly enlightened."

Obama talks about how, as a teenager, he and his friends would hurl homophobic slurs at one another "as casual put-downs — callow attempts to fortify our masculinity and hide our insecurities." Going to college, however, would prove a catalyst for changing his perspective, interacting with "fellow students and professors who were openly gay." It was then that young Obama "realized the overt discrimination and hate they were subject to, as well as the loneliness and self-doubt that the dominant culture imposed on them. I felt ashamed of my past behavior — and learned to do better."

During his time in office, President Obama was responsible for signing all-inclusive hate crimes legislation in the form of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, and moving toward the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell military policy signed by former Democratic President Bill Clinton. Still, for all the progress he signaled, Obama was initially opposed to same-sex marriage — advocating instead for civil unions — at least until the end of 2010, when he said his views were "evolving."

Eventually, by May 2012, he would announce his support for marriage equality, having instructed the Justice Department the year before to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. These actions, arguably, led to a sea change in public support for expanded LGBTQ rights and protections.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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