Today’s Video Story was collected on the 50-state Story Tour. Check out the blog where you can follow us on our adventure. If you haven’t submitted a story yet to IFD, or if you want to submit another one, I’d love to read and publish it. Write one up and send it in.
I’m Jim Gray and I am originally from a small town in southern Kentucky called Glasgow. I had run for Mayor of Lexington in 2002 and didn’t succeed in that race, was narrowly defeated in the primary. But I had the sense that I wanted to do this again and after that race in 2002 I came back into our company. My brothers asked me to return to the company and wanted me in the role of president and chief executive officer and I took that role on. The election of 2006 came around and I was debating – there was conversation – will I run again? The conversation was to some extent, was centered around – well, “Is Jim Gray gay? Is he not gay? Is that going to have an affect on the race?” I wasn’t out, and I knew that one way or another the question of my sexual orientation would be an issue in the race. Well, I had to decide, that if I’m going to continue on this path, then I need to move forward here. I need, in a sense, a breakthrough here. And I decided then, in late 2005 I guess it was, that I would come out and I did. I’ve sometimes said, actually being on the front page of the newspaper was in a sense, a blessing, because you don’t have to answer questions all the time. It was tough being in an industry like ours, construction industry, I didn’t know how this news would actually break, so we were prepared to address it if the feedback and response was really negative in our company. That was my greatest concern – was the family and the company. What was really reassuring to me was the response that I got from the people in our company. A very diverse bunch of folks. You can imagine the construction industry? So, what was inspiring and really encouraging for me was people that I’d worked with a long time came up to me after that news and were incredibly supportive. They may have had, and may still have different points of view on these issues from the context of religious backgrounds – whatever it may be today, but I found in this – that there was human dignity and respect for others that was inspiring and reassuring and to some extent it may have been unexpected. At one point in time I would have thought that I can never go there – I don’t know if I can never go there, and I did go there. And going there was in a sense life encouraging and inspiring.