My Favorite Mistake: Rachel Maddow

Newsweek, March 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

My Favorite Mistake: Rachel Maddow


Rachel Maddow on being outed--by her college newspaper.

I was a college freshman, and I had just figured out that I was gay. I was heady with the self-importance of a 17-year-old who knows everything and is smarter than everybody--a trait that is great at the moment and really hard to live with in retrospect. I decided I was going to come out of the closet in a very confrontational way. I went to Stanford University, and there was nobody else "out" in my freshman class of more than 1,000 people--which I thought was kind of crazy. So a friend who was coming out at the same time and I did an interview with the student newspaper about being the only two gay freshmen on campus. The mistake I made was that I had not come out to my parents. I told the paper, "I will do this on the condition that you will not run the piece until after this weekend, because I will go home this weekend to tell my parents, and I want them to hear it from me instead of reading it in the paper." And they ran it before the weekend, and indeed some anonymous person helpfully clipped the article and mailed it to my parents--and that's how my parents found out that I was gay.

They would have had a hard time with me coming out anyway, but this was a particularly nasty way for them to find out. They're wonderful now, and couldn't be more supportive, but they took it poorly at first, which I don't fault them for. They were shocked and upset and hurt. First of all, they were having to deal with the fact that I'm gay. …

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