1974 December 9

Alan Spear, Minnesota State Senator, Comes Out of the Closet


Alan Spear, historian at the University of Minnesota, was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1972, and served as President of the Senate from 1992 to 2000. On this day, he came out as a gay man, making him one of the first gay or lesbian elected officials to acknowledge his or her homosexuality. He was the author of a highly regarded book on the history of the Chicago African-American ghetto (see below). He died in 2008, of complications from heart surgery.

Other early gay elected public officials who were open about their sexuality include Harvey Milk, who was elected a Supervisor (that is, city council member) in San Francisco on November 7, 1977, and Barney Frank, Congressman from Massachusetts, who came out as gay on May 30, 1987 and married his partner on July 7, 2012.

Learn more: Donald P. Haider-Markel, Out and Running: Gay and Lesbian Candidates, Elections, and Policy Representation (2010)

Read Spear’s book on Chicago: Alan Spear, Black Chicago: The Making of a Negro Ghetto, 1890–1920 (1967)

See the list of LGBT officeholders in the U.S.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_first_LGBT_holders_of_political_offices_in_the_United_States

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