James Randi is gay

Inspired by the movie Milk, 81-year-old skeptic and nerd hero James Randi has come out, with a heartfelt and moving article on spending 70+ years keeping his sexuality a secret.
From some seventy years of personal experience, I can tell you that there's not much "gay" about being homosexual. For the first twenty years of my life, I had to live in the shadows, in a culture that was -- at least outwardly -- totally hostile to any hint of that variation of life-style. At no time did I choose to adopt any protective coloration, though; my cultivation of an abundant beard was not at all a deception, but part of my costume as a conjuror.

Gradually, the general attitude that I'd perceived around me began to change, and presently I find that there has emerged a distinctly healthy acceptance of different social styles of living -- except, of course, in cultures that live in constant and abject fear of divine retribution for infractions found in the various Holy Books... In another two decades, I'm confident that young people will find themselves in a vastly improved atmosphere of acceptance.

How To Say It? (via Wil Wheaton)

(Image: RANDI.jpg, Wikimedia Commons)


  1. Hats off sir! I, for one, applaud your decision. It’s a shame that the ‘world’ can’t be a way hostile to those it deems ‘varied’.

  2. James Randi officially debunks the myth that publicly admitting you’re homosexual will have you smote from above.

    Well done, sir.

  3. Good for him. I’ve been a fan of James Randi ever since a friend of mine introduced me to Skeptics Magazine and Michael Shermer. Every once in awhile we’d go to the Skeptics Society meetings they would have at Cal Tech from time to time as well.

    Does it surprise me? It doesn’t matter one way or another to me. Breeders and Non-breeders all that I ask is that you don’t do your business in front of me, unless I’m paying you to do it. That’s pretty much my philosophy. Otherwise go to it and have fun.

    Do what you want, be who you are. Just as long as I don’t have to step around you to avoid any mess.

  4. It is a nice and fine thing that Mr. Randi can do this and not be driven from society upon some anointed yak or other act of “divinely appropriate” punishment.

    I worked with many Gay and Lesbian elders in a hospice postion a few years back. The changes they’ve seen over the course of their lifetime is simply astonishing. One man talked about living in terror that he’d end up like Alan Turing, cast out and eventually driven to suicide simply for being gay.

    And people wonder why PRIDE is such an explosive occasion for the GLBTQ family?

    I hope Mr. Randi gets invited to grand marshall a parade some time soon!

  5. Good for him.

    But still, it saddens me that people should have to come out. And if they do, that it’s a newsworthy event.

  6. No divine retribution my ass – Obama won the health care bill yesterday. The apocalypse is near. (Dibs on the Grand Canyon.)

  7. I wish he’d just admit he’s actually a psychic and mind reader and seer of dead people. He’s always claiming to be a ‘debunker’ and not a psychic. I wish he’d just come out. I mean, how could he do all that stuff unless he’s really psychic? How else could he know that all missing/presumed dead people are ‘near a body of water’ unless he’s in touch with the otherworld? How could he know that that woman’s dead father is at peace and proud of her?!?! How could he know that guy’s card was the 4 of clubs!?!? He even supports anti-psychic education!! There’s nothing worse than a self-hating psychic.

  8. Wow, it never even occur to me that this mattered. That said, congrats to Mr. Randi for doing something which has obviously been on his mind for a long time.

    1. I think that was pretty much my reaction – “That’s nice for him”.
      Having said that, with Mr Randi being of the generation that grew up with such ridiculous condemnation of, and hypocrisy about, sexuality, it’s good that things have got to the point where he can overcome the conditioned fear, and be himself.

      1. Mr Randi being of the generation that grew up with such ridiculous condemnation of, and hypocrisy about, sexuality

        You say that as if “ridiculous condemnation of, and hypocrisy about, sexuality” was a thing of the past. The parents of Lawrence King (shot to death in his own classroom Feb. ’08), or 20-year-old Angie Zapata (bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher in her own home July ’08), or 19-year-old Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado (stabbed, decapitated, dismembered and his remains burned in November ’09)…




        I could go on to give a lot more examples, but if you’re interested in just how disgustingly *common* this sort of thing is, take a look here:


        I would venture to guess that most, if not all, of those readers expressing surprise that this is some sort of “big deal” are not of a minority sexual orientation.

        1. ‘I would venture to guess that most, if not all, of those readers expressing surprise that this is some sort of “big deal” are not of a minority sexuality’

          Exactly. It’s not a big deal if you’re not part of that community – but role models especially in that arena are in short supply.

          I can’t even think of any gay magicians for a start…

          1. I can’t even think of any gay magicians for a start…

            You’re…telling….me…..David Copperfield is straight?

            Thank God I was sitting down!

    2. It never occurred to me either — I suppose it still matters to an awful lot of people. Good for him regardless, it must be terrible having to go to the grave with such a massive secret, and luckily he lives in a time where he can come out without a public lynching.

  9. When I found out about Ellen Degeneres, people started to act like that was the most interesting thing about her. I’d been following her acting and stand-up career, and figured maybe it was the third most interesting thing about her, especially when she was dating Anne Heche. Now she’s a talk show host, and a pretty good one, and an American Idol host. Her sexuality is becoming less relevant over time.

    When I found out about George Takei, I thought that might be the 20th most interesting thing about him, as I’d read most of his autobiography.

    When I found out about Stephen Fry, I thought that might be the 50th most interesting thing about him. His life and works are so varied at this point that I’d thought of him as beyond sexuality altogether.

    And when I found out about James Randi, I figure this won’t even make the top 100, even if you factor in the rumor that he lived with the main character in his Carlos hoax for 20 years. This is the man who made it his mission to take down spoon-bender Uri Geller and humiliated him on the Tonight Show, who all but created Penn & Teller, who consulted for Alice Cooper’s stage show, and on and on and on…

    I don’t know what I’m really measuring here, but it’s something. It might even be used to measure straight people if used hypothetically. I’ll explore this idea later; it’s probably nothing.

    tl;dr: For a lesser celebrity, this might be big news.

  10. When I came out at 18 (a scant 8 years ago), the near paralyzing fear of the prospect was only offset by the bravery of those who had come before me. Openly LGBT public figures help those in the closet recognize that they are not alone and there is no reason to be afraid. So, for this reason, I thank James Randi.

    1. i, too, came out about 18 years or so ago, which is long before randi — but i have to say to him, with tears in my eyes, congratulations sir, and welcome. you are inspiring to those of us standing outside the closet, too.

  11. James Randi has always been a huge personal hero of mine and this frankly doesn’t change a thing. He is a corner stone of the recent skeptical movement by setting up Swift, The Amazing Meeting, the James Randi Educational Foundation and its Million Dollar Prize. He’s provided a bastion for critical thinking and skepticism, made fools of psychics and charlatans, and has significantly influenced many people’s lives including my own.

    I could care less about Randi’s sexual orientation, but I’m glad to hear that he has overcome the fear of releasing his secret.

  12. “James Randi officially debunks the myth that publicly admitting you’re homosexual will have you smote from above.”

    I think there is a big difference between coming out when you are established , rather than still trying to make it. Regardless i think it’s a great move.

  13. Good for him.
    James Randi is awesome.

    Personally, I think we’ll have truly “made it” as a society, when you don’t even need to “come out” anymore.
    When being gay is of so little consequence that you don’t even need to announce it to people.

  14. It’s a little encouraging to see, among all the stories about how the USA is becoming a horrible police state, that at least gay rights have progressed to the point where someone who has kept their orientation a secret their entire life finally feels safe coming out.

  15. James Randi isn’t just gay – he’s amazing!

    Randi has always been one of my idols (although I suspect he’d loath being called that) since I was old enough to read and appreciate his original mind, heroic struggle against the forces of lies and deceit, not to mention his fantastic sense of humor. So there’s a new adjective with which to describe him . . .

    I guess he’s the Gay Fantastic Heroic Original Amazing Randi? How’s that all going to fit on a poster?

  16. Randi on his coming out:

    “…presently I find that there has emerged a distinctly healthy acceptance of different social styles of living…”

    Randi on drug users:

    “…those individuals who were stupid enough to rush into the arms of the mythical houris and/or Adonis’s they would expect to greet them, would simply do so and die – by whatever chemical or biological fate would overcome them… the principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance, and I’m very, very, weary of supporting these losers with my tax dollars.

    …Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would – and presently do – mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored.”


    1. Losers…Natural Selection…idiots….Darwinism….

      Yea, I’ve always found Randi to be something of a hater, and if I had to bestow “hero” into anyone in the skeptical community, it would definitely be Martin Gardner.

      That said, I am supremely uninterested in people’s sexual orientation (unless I’m involved with them sexually, doh!), and I can only hope that we continue to move to a world in which more people are as uninterested as I….

    2. There is a difference between being gay and being a heroine addict or an LDS freak. As a gay man, I resent that you would even make the comparison at even an implicit level. It’s one thing for my partner and I to be accept such that we can both be covered under my health insurance plan (something that will be very important here in the next few years) and implying he is a hypocrite for condemning shooting narcotics.

      1. There is a difference between being gay and being a heroine addict or an LDS freak.

        Yeah, all those Wonder Woman junkies and Mormon carnies really annoy me too.

      2. There is a difference between being gay and being a heroine addict or an LDS freak. As a gay man, I resent that you would even make the comparison at even an implicit level.

        As a user of psychedelics, I kind of resent your resentment. Seriously. As someone who has had to live with the projections that people make on you (as opposed to the reality of the situation), I would think you would be a little sensitive about stereotypes which are largely a product of the media and the dominant culture.

        (But as a user of psychedelics, I’m not going to let it bother me too much.)

      3. Anon @ #74: “As a gay man, I resent that you would even make the comparison at even an implicit level. It’s one thing for my partner and I to be accept such that we can both be covered under my health insurance plan (something that will be very important here in the next few years) and implying he is a hypocrite for condemning shooting narcotics.”

        You are correct. Those are two different things entirely. As I quoted, James Randi said “healthy acceptance of *different* social styles of living”. So yes, he’s a hypocrite.

        If I was as ignorant and opinionated as James Randi, I could say something idiotic about social Darwinism and what being gay means regarding survival of the fittest. And I would be (quite rightly) shouted down for such stupidity and bigotry. It is telling that Randi says things like this (only about drug users, not being gay) and people pass right over it, or even worse defend him.

        Randi: the cult leader for people who have a strong dislike for cults.

  17. He might be a bender, but at least he’s not a spoon bender…

    I’m sorry, I know that was in extraordinarily bad taste, but I couldn’t resist. Randi is awesome.

  18. Funny that Sylvia Browne, Uri Geller, nor any of those psychics who consider Randi their personal nemesis were able to “see” this and out him before he wanted to come out.

  19. Excuse me, but when you see a man who goes by “Randi” with an “I”, you’ve got to wonder.

    Plus, he’s not really gay, he’s just skeptical about sex with women.

    1. Plus, he’s not really gay, he’s just skeptical about sex with women.

      Well, he’s already proven that no one at 4chan has ever had actual sex with a woman. He put up a 1 million dollar reward for any woman that would come forward and admit that she had sex with a 4chan user. No woman ever came forward and he eventually cancelled the contest after some years time.

  20. The funny thing about USAstanis is how big a deal finally telling everyone about what or who you like in bed is.
    In most of the world they either don’t really care what you are doing or will kill you for being different. Maybe I have grown up in a hippier dippier world of educated geeks but the only people who care if you are gay are your parents who really wanted grandkids, and the people who were placing bets.
    I think the attention and water cooler chat over coming out shows how high-school level insecure people still are about the whole thing.

    1. The funny thing about USAstanis is how big a deal finally telling everyone about what or who you like in bed is.

      World perception to the contrary, the US is not a giant homogeneous cultural dead zone populated by southern baptist. I live outside of Boston and the last two apartments that I have lived in, through no planning or intention, had a room mate break down of exactly 50% gay and straight.

      Maybe in some hick backwater parts of the US (granted, we have a lot of such areas) people start losing their minds if two people’s naughty bits match up, but elsewhere in the US it is a non-issue. The only time it is worth caring about what someone’s naughty bit preference is, is if you are trying to get them to touch yours. Even then, you are far more likely to be shot down for other reasons than because they don’t like what is between your legs.

      So, hurray for James Randi, but as a person living in the heathen northeast US, the only news here is the sad reminder that there are people who actually care.

  21. Bravo for Randi for coming out. But it does irk me when people speak of the gay rights in terms of “the atmosphere began to change.” The atmosphere did not just change on it’s own, contrary to what people think. Our world did not just all of a sudden become less hostile to homosexuals.

    The change in attitude toward homosexuality was a result of people who did a huge amount of work and made huge sacrifices in order to change society.

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.

  22. I’ve always been a “Free to be You and Me” kind of guy, I am glad that James feels comfortable coming out publically, and that in his opinion society has changed for the better.

    I’m a gen-X’er. And on those occasions when I have met closeted gay or lesbian baby boomers, that person is invariably not sure how open they can be around me, and it ends up causing a strain in the conversation. What might be an elephant in the room for them might just be a slightly interesting factoid to me, but I have not figured out how to communicate that.

    It makes me resent the poor treatment other people have given them over the course of their lives; it just ends up creating unnecessary pain and a set of behaviors organized around preventing more pain, at the cost of isolation. I don’t think it’s right or fair that people should be forced to walk around with that much psychic scar tissue.

    Bonhomie, not anomie!

    1. As someone who aspires to “straight but not narrow”, I second maoinhibitor’s emotions.

  23. I came out starting in 1977, and completed the process by 1979. It always both delights and annoys me that much younger people are so nonchalant about coming out. It annoys me because they have no appreciation for how hard it was when I was doing it; it delights me because that’s the exact thing we were working for: a world where young people can be nonchalant about it (ultimately not have to do it at all, because they’ve never had to keep the secret).

    Delight wins.

    1. The downside to young folks being so nonchalant, is they see no reason for activism to either expand or even protect the progress that has been made. The glaring example of this is young women who can’t distance themselves fast enough and far enough from being labeled feminist, all the while living lives that would have been impossible, had it not been for feminists.

      So, yes, hurrah for progress. Hurrah to living in a society where the fact someone is gay gets a ho-hum response. But it’s both sad and worrisome when kids can’t grasp the significance of very recent history, nor the ramifications of the future.

      But on another level, the yawn is the thing. Now if we can get all the bigots and the fundamentalists, the frightened, the hostile and the controlling ones in every culture to yawn when they hear that their neighbor/boss/family member/employee is gay or female or a different race or an atheist or has a disability or is old or is young or whatever, then we can all relax.

  24. I’ve known this since about 1985. I was told by a roommate of mine who was a professional magician. He said Randi propositioned him once. Since then, I never considered Randi was closeted. This has probably been an open secret forever among people in that industry. And I think the response will be a collective yawn.

  25. I psychically senses this many years ago. Though seriously I’m glad that he can be who he is, and I realize that this sort of thing helps younger folks feel comfortable being who they are but it also hurts me a little that it is news. He is who he is and that is GREAT, but making it news makes it feel sensational which it is not at all. There is nothing wrong, different, or otherwise about being gay it just is.

  26. I’ll believe he’s gay when he demonstrates it in a experiment under controlled conditions repeatable by other parties.

  27. I don’t care. Well, let me state that more fully: I don’t care whether he is gay or whether he is straight – I don’t judge anyone based on their sexuality. So perhaps “it makes no difference to me” might be more accurate.

    But I’m happy that feels comfortable enough not to remain closeted. Being in a closet is never any fun, nor any good for anyone.

  28. I was shocked, but not that he is gay. I was shocked that even someone as bold as Randi, who has long accepted others’ animosity as a professional hazard, would still have felt the need to keep something like this a secret. Good for him that he has overcome that fear.

  29. A little disappointing. Not because he is gay, but because he was outspoken about everything, and seemed like the last person who would hide an important part about himself.

    I cam see the cynics using this against him for being an atheist.

    Better late than never.

  30. Good for Mr. Randi, but I don’t see why its such a big deal. Sure he’s been hiding his sexual orientation out of a fear rejection by friends and family, but in todays society is there any reason to have this fear? If you don’t approve of a relative being homosexual then you don’t deserve the love they have for you. No one should fear who they are, let alone fear sharing who they are with friends and family.

    On a completely unrelated note, as a fellow beard cultivator, Mr. Randi your beard is awesome.

  31. Can I just be the first to say: who cares? James Randi is one of the great men of our time. He has made remarkable contributions to society in the realms of science and education. What difference does it make to anyone what is sexuality is? What people don’t realize is that in order to be a truly accepting society we dont need to congratulate people for being gay, we need to not give a crap. The response to someone saying, “I’m gay” should be a completely unfazed, “ok.” that is what happens in a truly open society. when telling someone you’re gay is like telling someone you have red hair, we win.

  32. Here’s a random question: how do gay and bisexual people find out whether someone they’re interested in/attracted to shares their sexual orientation? In a perfect world they’d just ask, but forming romantic relationships isn’t usually the easiest arena in which to be frank and straightforward, and not asking could presumably lead to many misunderstandings and awkward situations.

    1. Here’s a random question: how do gay and bisexual people find out whether someone they’re interested in/attracted to shares their sexual orientation?

      1) Go to a place with a lot of other available gay and bisexual people. There is a reason for gay nights at clubs and bars. Straight people do it too. We call them singles bars.

      2) The same way you straight people try and figure out if someone they are interested is available. Chat them up, drop hints, and see if you pick up on any hints. Build up a little confidence that they are interested and then ask. Granted, being gay is a bit more of a mine field of rejection if you are dense when it come to determining if people like you, but it isn’t that much more. Straight people can ask out people that are already unavailable because they are dating/married (in addition to just flat out not liking you). The only real differences is that if you are gay, your chances of getting rejection from a random person due to sexual orientation is higher.

      It isn’t a big deal. In places where being gay isn’t taboo, it is no more or less of an issue than that of straight folk getting reject due to the person in question being unavailable. Your only real danger is if you live in some cultural backwater where being ‘outted’ results in something bad happening.

      1. Option 1 requires “coming out”, at least if you are well known: you can’t go to a gay bar unless you want to be known as the kind of guy who goes to gay bars.

        Option 2 requires “coming out” to someone before you are sure of them, which may result in them “outing” them.

        The problem exists with all non-vanilla sexualities, though. The internet helps a LOT in finding people who share the same interest.

    2. how do gay and bisexual people find out whether someone they’re interested in/attracted to shares their sexual orientation? In a perfect world they’d just ask

      If you’ve ever wondered why the percentage of gay people in a Unitarian church is usually more than double that of the general population, now you can stop wondering… At a UU function, or hanging out with UU people in any situation, you just ask.

  33. I first saw the Amazing Randi on the local kid’s TV program Wonderama when I myself was a kid. That was back in the 1950s. Always enjoyed the matter of fact way he presented his magic. When he became a full-time skeptic, I enjoyed that too although he and I sometimes disagree.

    I’m sorry it took him so long to come out and am grateful to have seen his work growing up, something that would have been impossible if we were out way back then. An admitted gay man on a kid’s show!? Impossible.

  34. Like others here, I’d never considered that “coming out” was an issue. When people have asked, I’ve always just said the truth, that I’m “mostly het” (sexuality’s a spectrum, not a binary value, folks!)

    But Randi is famous, and his reputation reflects upon the great causes he champions. So this can’t have been an easy decision, particularly given the attitudes he’s grown up with.

    Will Christians take his scorn of them less seriously now? (“he’s just pissed ‘cos he doesn’t get to go to heaven!”)

    Seems to me that being gay is very accepted nowadays, though. Brokeback Mountain just seemed anachronistic to me.

    What things are still concealed?

    Coming out as a pedo could get even celibate people lynched, put in the child protection register, and basically ruin their lives: even if they are a child themselves at the time!

    Coming out as an ABDLer might get people equated with pedos and lynched, or might affect people’s careers (it’s hard to promote someone to Director when you imagine them in a diaper).

    Coming out as a furry could affect careers (disclosure: I am a furry: it’s affected my career positively), and they’re apparently occasionally assaulted if they wear a fursuit (I know nobody this has happened to).

    Coming out as an advocate of open relationships could destroy professionals, I guess. Imagine if the wife of Clinton or Tiger Woods or any of the recent footballers had just said “So? Our marriage is open, what’s the problem?”

  35. Cool! Good for him. Though, for some reason, I thought I already knew this. I’m probably thinking of someone else. Or maybe I was thrown off, because his beard is so fabulous? Seriously, I am very jealous of his beard.

    Anyway, I’m glad he doesn’t have to worry about keeping this a secret anymore. He’s one of the few people from the skeptical movement that I really like. For one thing, he debunks pseudoscience, and mostly leaves religion alone. Also, he seems to enjoy science, rather than simply hate non-science. He’s a happy skeptic! New tag? I think I may be caffeinated.

    Go Randi!

  36. “…my cultivation of an abundant beard was not at all a deception…”

    Well, I can name several guys who think it’s hot.

  37. I see a lot of comments along the line of “Why is he doing this now? Nobody cares!” You’re right in a way, society overall doesn’t care, and those few people who do care aren’t worth worrying about.

    However, this isn’t about society. It’s about Randi. The man probably feels that he’s either been “living a lie”, or more likely, just feels that he’s been (to one degree or another) dishonest to the (many) people who care about him and admire him. It hurts to be dishonest to people you care about or who care about you, especially if you’re someone who takes forthright honesty as seriously as he does. The other thing is that by hiding who he is, in some way he’s implying that his nature is shameful, which it isn’t. So he gets it off his chest. He feels better. Good for him.

    @ #45: That’s crap. Restricting your dating options to people you meet in bars is no way to live. There are a lot of great people who never ever go to bars. For your second comment, also incorrect: hitting on someone of the same sex when you don’t know their orientation (and they don’t know yours) is a really damn quick way to ruin a new friendship or work relationship. It shouldn’t be this way, but a lot of even otherwise open-minded cool people can get pretty freaked out if they’re hit on by a member of the same sex. It’s way better just to be out and be done with it.

    1. If the question is “how do I meet people when I live in a repressed area in the world where being ‘outed’ is social or physical suicide”, I have no good answer for you other than to suggest moving to a place where living life doesn’t suck. I have no idea how to be gay in rural Alabama or Iran. You are probably just fucked, and not in the fun consensual kind of way.

      If the question is “how do you meet people when you are a sexual minority”, the answer really is “the same way as everyone else, but stack your deck when you can”. That means finding concentrations of similar people or trying to figure out if another human in your life already is in to you and going for it.

      Option one isn’t restricted to bars. A friend of mine runs a GBLT oriented group that goes hiking, kayaking, paintball, etc. Even if you don’t meet the person of your dreams, you might meet the friend of the person of your dreams who introduces you to said person. Sure, it used to be that the only place to meet lots of gay folks was at gay bars which can be meat markets, but that isn’t the case anymore. With the intertubs, finding people outside of a meat market setting is dramatically easier for everyone.

      Option two is more or less the same as what everyone suffers. If you try and date someone who you already have a relationship with, you take a risk. Whose hasn’t blown a non-sexual relationship by trying to make it sexual? Use your head and consider the consequences for failure. Regardless of sexual orientation, trying to ask out your boss is a bad and risky idea. Regardless of your sexual orientation, hitting the barista at the local coffee shop, while sure to fail, isn’t going to result in any consequences.

  38. James Randi has been a hero of mine for 30 years. I applaud his decision to come out, but I do worry that his new status will make it easier for the Christian right to dismiss him as a heretic with an agenda. Ah well, small consequence I guess.

    This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.

  39. Randi declares “there’s nothing ‘gay’ about being homosexual.” Actually there’s nothing gay about hiding in a closet until you’re 81. The major gay struggles in the US have passed him by entirely – as have his chances for having an open, healthy relationship with another man – and he gets to come out with virtually no risk whatsoever thanks to the actions and courage of others.

    Well, that’s OK, and it’s even what we worked and risked everything for, but for people to treat this as “awesome” or in any way remarkable is rather ludicrous. Were it a simple matter of an octogenarian finally coming out, well, fine, everyone at his own pace. For people who think his age and the times he lived in are mitigating circumstances, well, yeah… But there the real heroes are people like Harry Hay, Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin who all came out in the 1950’s (or sooner) and advocated for equality, while “Randi” an admitted professional charlatan kept living a lie.

    Harvey Milk inspired people through his life over 30 years ago, and his death moved people 32 years ago. Even the movie about it is a couple of years old by now, and now he’s inspired? For someone who goes around pretending to be quick on the uptake, a self-declared daring defender of the truth, Randi is looking pretty slow to catch on to the world around him and to give up his lies.

    1. Way to be a dick, Starjack. Randi coming out doesn’t diminish the activism of anyone else, and neither does people supporting his decision.

      Listen up, kids! You’d better come out the second you know you’re gay, ’cause every year you’re closeted is a year you’re hurting the cause.

      1. Yeah, I’ve known kids who did this. They hit that period of adolescence where they aren’t really sure of their sexuality yet, so they think they might be gay. If they come out and discover that they really are attracted to members of their own gender, great, they don’t have to worry about being closeted. But if they come out, then discover they are actually attracted to members of the opposite sex, and just weren’t sure (I suspect most people go through a period like that. I certainly did) it can be really hard to switch back without pissing off and alienating your friends and family. Which, when your 17, can be rough.

        I’m of the feeling that it’s not worth the trouble of declaring your sexuality until you are comfortable and confident in it. Until then, spend time with people you like and don’t worry about gender or orientation. In fact, do that your whole life. You’ll die happy.

      2. Firstly WOOHOO! I’ve read him gay for years, or suspected…although I always caveat it in my head cos I found him cute, projection and all that. It’s great news.

        And he’s not suddenly being ‘gay’ – if you listen to the podcast he’s in a long-term relationship. He’s not been fully publicly out (although hello? watch that 60 Minutes program with him on YouTube and get to the part where they say he’s living alone with 2 cats and a bloke. DING! ;-) but not exactly dishonest – apparently family and friends have known since year dot.

        But I partly agree with Starjack – this reminds me of my partner’s railing as part of the GLF against the ‘stately homos’ of the previous generation. He just wasn’t ‘interested’ in Stonewall if you listen to the podcast. Like Ian McKellen or even Tatchell he’s a latecomer, and that does deserve a little criticism. If you weren’t part of the fight and then come out to reap the benefits it is a little like ‘where were you?’ – understandable.

        That said; entertainment industry is incredibly closety – and all those crazy psychics (some of which I read* as closets too!) wanting a reason to discredit him – I understand it. But still I can see why people in the community might be a little wary. Still he fights a lot of the same nonsense, the podcast is right there is a lot of overlap – so if the rightwingers and nutjobs attack him, I think we should defend him.

        Just shame he didn’t do this 20-30 years ago!

        *I mean read as in Gaydar rather than psychically LOL. Maybe he should do a study on gaydar?

  40. “I’ll believe he’s gay when he demonstrates it in a experiment under controlled conditions repeatable by other parties.”

    LOL, made me laugh!

    As a longtime admirer of James Randi and his work, all I can say is, “Bravo to you, James!”

  41. Look, I’m sorry, but Iwood is right. There’s no reason to believe this.

    First, do we even know there is a James Randi? Every time I see someone claiming to be James Randi on TV or on the Internets there are slight differences between the person portrayed and the previous person claiming to be James Randi. Sure, you can say time passes, people age and fashions change, but it’s more likely these are paid actors, with access to a good makeup shop. Occam’s Razor, people!

    I have never seen James Randi in person, only pictures of a man with a white beard (and sometimes a cape). I’ve also seen pictures of longhorses and alien autopsies and Michele Obama changing into a monkey. Not plausible, not science, not proven.

    People on BB tell me James Randi is all-knowing and all-seeing, but I have a hard time believing that, even if he does exist. In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics! People also tell me that the word of James Randi is something to base one’s beliefs on – but I don’t see why I should throw away science for faith.

    All in all, I see no reason to believe in this cult or its mythical white-bearded gay patriarch. Too much woo, it’s just not credible.

  42. A conjecture:

    My guess is that DJ Grothe, the current president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, may have have had something to do with Randi coming out.

    Grothe is openly gay and an activist and I’ll bet he gave Randi the push he needed to come out publicly.


  43. Good for Randi, but I find it interesting that “Milk” is what finally inspired him to come out since that film hit theaters in 2008 and the man that the film was based on died thirty years before that. Each in his own time I suppose!

  44. I really like him and what he has to say, but I do not care about his sexual prefrences. His business. Have fun James! :)

  45. I met James Randi and a man who I simply assumed was his partner when he came to talk to our skeptics group back around 2000ish. He seemed comfortable with it, but didn’t introduce the man as his partner. I assumed he was merely private about his sexuality. Good for him for making it public.

  46. “in todays society is there any reason to have this fear?”

    No, because in today’s society gay people have all the same rights as straight people.

    Oh, wait…

  47. Randi’s a little late, but late is better than never.

    As far as the “Why is this a big deal?” comments go, while I’m glad you guys are so open-minded and rational about homosexuality, it’s a big deal for a famous person to come out because we still live in a world where homosexuals are, at best, second-class citizens in most countries.

  48. As a teenager working in a magic shop in the late 70s, I hung out with Randi for several weeks when he was in town for a magic gig. He was quite friendly, if noticeably opinionated about everything. Back then, he was a hero of mine since I worshiped the whole CSICOP crowd.

    Since then, I have befriended a lot of legitimate parapsychologists (no, that’s not an oxymoron) and have heard the other side of the story — how so-called skeptics are often really fundamentalists with minds much more closed than the people they are trying to debunk. The Randi quote about drug users cited by MachineElf is a good example and reminds me of Marcello Truzzi’s line about the skeptic Martin Gardner: “I wish I knew as much about anything as he thinks he knows about everything.”

    Randi’s sexuality has been a pretty open secret in the magic world for years, although I don’t think anyone really cared one way or another. For better or worse, society notices “the gay” in some contexts more than others. Gay leading man? Big story. Gay paranormal debunker? No one cares.

    Regardless, Wikipedia and other sources suggest Randi is actually quite ill and if that’s the case he might have decided to come out before he runs out of time. Good on him in any case. Better to be out than in.

    Randi: I wish you a full recovery, excellent health and an open heart.

  49. What still interests me is how people will talk/gossip about men, in particular, who *might* be gay, with fairly obvious contempt. Then, when they come out, they’re suddenly admirable. We – most of us? – are still very, very conflicted about homosexuality.

    The other thing that interests me is how we use the learned contempt of homosexuality – again, particularly in men – to get men to conform to the straight (literally) and narrow of acceptable male behavior. Gay people are only the visible victims of homophobia. What man, of a certain age, hasn’t learned to fear the epithet,”Faggot!”, for behavior that didn’t meet the desired norm? How many avowedly straight men would be comfortable looking and acting like Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show – say, for Halloween?

    So, the current stance is kind of, I-accept-gay-people liberal, mixed with a very strong fear of not being seen as manly. Well, how else are you going to force men to do all the self-destructive, inhuman things we want men to do, when it suits our culture?

  50. It’s interesting that Randi has been an “out” and vocal atheist or agnostic for quite a while, but just now coming out about sexual preference. Not necessarily a contradiction, it’s just a matter of which friends or family members do you want to lose or fight with because of their prejudices.

  51. Bravo to Mr. Randi. I don’t agree with all of his viewpoints, but I do respect anyone who doggedly pursues honesty as they see it, and asks no less of themselves.

  52. James Randi is the illusionist and the founder of ”The James Randi Educational Foundation” (JREF) a Florida based non-profit organization. It sounds grand doesn’t it? But in reality there seem to be only one person active within the organization, that’s himself. His mission includes educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled scientific experimental conditions. Again it sounds good, scientific and all, until you look more closely. Then the illusion fails.

    Read more: http://torbjornsassersson.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/james-randi-and-his-one-million-dollar-challenge-fraud/

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