Coming Out

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s gay son pens his coming out story

Will Portman

Will Portman

The gay son of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman tells his coming out story in a column that praises his father for being thoughtful and open minded, and for the GOP Senator’s willingness to take a political risk by supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Will Portman, writing in the Yale Daily News, reflects on those moments two years ago when, unable to tell his parents in person, writes a letter to tell them that there son is gay.

Will Portman

Will Portman writes that he hopes his story will inspire people who are afraid to come out.

In February of freshman year, I decided to write a letter to my parents. I’d tried to come out to them in person over winter break but hadn’t been able to. So I found a cubicle in Bass Library one day and went to work. Once I had something I was satisfied with, I overnighted it to my parents and awaited a response.

They called as soon as they got the letter. They were surprised to learn I was gay, and full of questions, but absolutely rock-solid supportive. That was the beginning of the end of feeling ashamed about who I was.


I started talking to my dad more about being gay. Through the process of my coming out, we’d had a tacit understanding that he was my dad first and my senator a distant second. Eventually, though, we began talking about the policy issues surrounding marriage for same-sex couples.


I’m proud of my dad, not necessarily because of where he is now on marriage equality (although I’m pretty psyched about that), but because he’s been thoughtful and open-minded in how he’s approached the issue, and because he’s shown that he’s willing to take a political risk in order to take a principled stand. He was a good man before he changed his position, and he’s a good man now, just as there are good people on either side of this issue today. …

I hope that my dad’s announcement and our family’s story will have a positive impact on anyone who is closeted and afraid, and questioning whether there’s something wrong with them. I’ve been there. If you’re there now, please know that things really do get better, and they will for you too.

Conservative U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), announced earlier this month that he has reversed his longtime opposition to same-sex marriage, saying he evolved on the issue after learning that Will is gay.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage … that I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay,” said Portman.

Will, 21, is a junior at Yale University.

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