Breaking Barriers: Jim McGreevey, America’s First Openly Gay Governor

Photo by David Shankbone

In August 2004 the governor of New Jersey resigned. Big deal, you say. politicians resign from office all the time.

But Jim McGreevey’s resignation was unique, as he outed himself as the nation’s first openly gay governor:.

Get your copy of Jim McGreevey’s book

McGreevey resigned, however, not because of his sexuality, but because he had an affair with a male state employee.

Two years later McGreevey wrote a book called The Confession. That’s when I got a few minutes with him.

So here now, from 2006, Jim McGreevey.

Jim McGreevey. Will be 67 in August. He is executive director of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation.

E Lynn Harris

Our recognition of Pride Month continues, with a look back at an interview with one of the most prominent African American and LGBTQ authors of contemporary literature.

E. Lynn Harris quit his job as a computer salesman in 1990 to begin a full-time writing career. His first novel, invisible life, won widespread acclaim. He followed up with Just As I Am, and that was when I firstmet and interviewed him. We subsequently had several interviews.

In fact, over the next two decades, Harris had 10 consecutive New York times. Best-selling books.

So here now, from 1995, E Lynn Harris.

E Lynn Harris died in 2009. He was 54.


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Frank Buttino

Even years after the death of iconic FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the agency continued to discriminate against gay agents.

It wasn’t all that very long ago that the FBI was almost exclusively the domain of straight white men.

That is, until an agent named Frank Buttino came along. The FBI fired him after discovering his sexual orientation, but Buttino filed a discrimination lawsuit.

And as a result, the FBI’s homophobic hiring discrimination ended.

I met him in the summer of 1993, while his lawsuit was still pending. He had written his autobiography, a book called A Special Agent .

So here now, from 1993, Frank Buttino.

Frank Buttino died in 2018. He was 73.


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Holly Near

Photo: Donna A. Korones

Holly Near was just 8 years old when she first performed in public. And in a career that has now spanned over 50 yearse, Near has established herself as a folk music legend.

Actually, she calls herself a troubadour.

And she’s a talented actress, appearing in episodes of The Mod Squad, All in The Family, and The Partridge family, as well as on Broadway in the musical “Hair.”

Near is also a member of the LGBTQ community, at a strong supporter of gay rights for many decades.

I met her in 1990, when she published an autobiography called Fire in The Rain, Singer in The Storm.

So here now, from 1990, Holly Near.

Holly Near will be 74 in June, and still performs regularly.


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Tab Hunter

He was one of the hottest young movie stars in the 1950s…

Tab Hunter — who grew up as Artt Gelien — was a figure skater as a teenager. As a young man, a friend introduced him to a Hollywood agent who specialized in beefcake actors like Rock Hudson and Rober/ Wagner. That agent dubbed Art Gelien “Tab Hunter” and by 1950 he was in the movies.

And by the mid 1950s was major star, the strapping blond hunk of a man every girl wanted. Hunter made over 40 movies, and even recorded a hit song.

Hunger was also a witness to, and a participant in, the end of the Hollywood studio contract era. His movie and TV roles were fewer, until his last film role in 1992.

Then, in 2005, Tab Hunter wrote a memoir called Tab Hunter Confidential. In that book, he acknowledged publicly, for the first time, that he was gay. Turns out those gossip rags back in the day that had him romantically linked with various starlets were all fiction.

So here now, from 2005, Tab Hunter…

Tab Hunter died in 2018, just three days befopre his 87th birthdayl.

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