Maddow: My Parents Found Out I Was Gay From College Newspaper
2:45 pm, March 16th | by Laura Donovan
For many, college is the perfect time to have a clean slate and become the person our high schools and hometowns never gave us the chance to be. That’s how television host Rachel Maddow wanted to start her freshman year, when she chose to come out as gay in the Stanford University school newspaper.
In a column for The Daily Beast, Maddow explains her bold decision to announce she was a lesbian to the school publication under the condition that they printed the piece after the weekend so she could return home to share the news with her parents face to face. But when the pub disregarded Maddow’s request and published the article prior to the weekend— enabling an anonymous saboteur to mail the article clip to Maddow’s mother and father — the dynamic future broadcaster was rightfully devastated. She learned very early on what most of us figure out a little later during our freshman year: College isn’t always a magical or safe environment.
Devout Catholics, Maddow’s parents were initially heartbroken to learn their daughter was a lesbian, yet actually used their religion to overcome their disappointment:
“It took a while for them to get over it. My family’s very, very Catholic, so that was part of the initial upset. But I actually think that having a really strong faith is part of the reason they got over it — despite Catholic teaching being very anti-gay. Having a faith tradition was helpful for them and gave them the strength to get over this difficult thing.”
Maddow reports that her parents are “wonderful” now, but that she learned a solid lesson about putting faith in the wrong hands that day. Don’t always believe people will honor your requests:
“I learned that making myself dependent on somebody else’s competence and honor was a failure on my part—and that something that was important I could take care of myself. More than 20 years later, I look back and I feel emotional about it. I feel acutely angry at myself for having put myself in that position.”
We all make the mistake of trusting the wrong people, especially in college, so Maddow shouldn’t continue beating herself up over the way that situation transpired. If anything, she realized early on that there will always be toxic people out to hurt her, so hopefully it prepared her for the immense flak and criticism she gets now.