I’m From Providence, RI – Video Story.

by David Cicilline

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 David Cicilline from Providence, Rhode Island and before I ran for Mayor I had contemplated running for Congress and there was a reporter for a local newspaper who was doing a story – at the end of the story – the interview, he said, “I want to ask you a question, which you don’t have to answer it, but are you gay?”

And I said, “Yes” and he said, “Okay” and he finished writing his story and he called me the next day and he said, “I finished my column but the publisher will not include in the column the answer to the last question I asked you.”

I wanted actually the column to include that I was gay because I was thinking of running for Congress and and if in fact my being honest about who I was was going to make it impossible for me to run and win – I just sort of wanted to know that before I embarked on this journey for two years. And so I called the publisher and I said “You know I understand that you are unwilling to include in this column the response to that question and I’m calling to ask why?”

And he said, ” Oh if you’re asking me to include it. You’re are specifically requesting it, then we will.”

And I said, “I’m not the reporter, I’m not making any requests, I didn’t ask you to include that I’m Jewish or that I’m Italian. But a reporter asked me a question that I answered. Why would you exclude it? And he said, “Well, you know, we would ask for permission if we were doing a story on a person who had a handicapped child.”

I sort of paused and I said, “The reason you’re not asking me to include that I’m Jewish or Italian – or asking for permission to include the fact that I’m gay is because you’re homophobic and and you think of being gay as something that is shameful or bad and you want some special dispensation for me. Well I reject that idea and so I don’t buy in to that notion at all.”

Despite that experience nine years ago, I have to say that in my run or Mayor and my recent campaign for Congress – my sexual orientation was really irrelevant. And I think it demonstrates how far we’ve come as a community and how far we’ve come as a country that in both my campaign for Mayor where people were really interested in knowing what I intended to do about the important issues facing my city. And we’re at that place now, certainly in Providence and Rhode Island and hopefully more and more of the country – that people are starting to recognize that sexual orientation is irrelevant and that it makes no difference. That you should be making judgements of people based on their integrity, the quality of their ideas, and their commitment to important issues and that whether it’s in public service or in other careers – that we look at the person and that their sexual orientation is irrelevant in those instances and I think that’s real progress.

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