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Not What I Expected

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Memo to Mike Fleck and John Eichelberger: WAIT, WHAT THE FUCK?

So, most of you know how my process works at this point, but I haven't paid attention to the stats for months, so maybe a bunch of you are new and maybe you're not. Anyway, I have a "research pile" consisting of starred RSS feed articles that generally goes back no more than a couple of months. Some of the things get written about, some don't.

And sometimes, rarely, poking around in the details of an older story reveals things that would have moved it into the WRITE ABOUT THIS NOW queue a long time ago had I noticed them. So, from the end of May, I give you the tale of Pennsylvania state representative Mike Fleck.

Fleck is a Republican. According to Wikipedia, he's a graduate of Liberty University. And, in 2012, Fleck came out as gay.

Right there, that's a pile of questions. A closeted gay dude toughing it out to earn a degree from Liberty University, winning local office as a Republican, and finally coming out of the closet a couple of years ago, still a Republican. That's nuts. I don't know how that even works in a human brain. I mean, I've seen lots of examples over the years of gay Republicans pretending the party doesn't hate them for who they are, but no way can you get out of four years at Liberty U with that delusion. Dude must really, really love tax cuts.

Anyway, he comes out in 2012, and two years later, surprise surprise, faces a strong write-in primary challenge. As the votes were being counted and Fleck was looking like he was going to lose the Republican primary, his colleague, John Eichelberger, got quoted in a news story that is what in fact got my attention and earned the star. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"A lot of people thought that Mike was a homosexual. He didn't announce it and it was OK. The feeling from many people is, he put them in a very uncomfortable position." - Eichenberger, according to HuffPo.

There's no way this doesn't make everyone involved look like fucking monsters. First, obviously, "we'd have been fine with him if he'd just stayed closeted", which is awful on the face of it, but it's not the usual "I don't want to know you're gay" thing a lot of bigots put out there.

No, this is, in a way, worse. "We knew you were gay, but now that you've told everyone, we either have to admit we're OK with it, which will get us in trouble, or pretend to hate you. We're gonna pretend to hate you to keep our jobs, if that's OK. Why did you make it so awkward?"

Now, if my friends and colleagues pulled this shit on me, I would resent them, realize I didn't want to be part of their little bullshit straight white bigots' club, and get the fuck out. And when I found out that Fleck had waged a write-in campaign for his seat in the DEMOCRATIC primary, and won narrowly, I thought, great, we've got a feel good ending. After four years of Liberty U and having everyone turn on him once he came out, Fleck finally saw the light and realized the Republicans had nothing for him.

Nope! He's staying a Republican. He'll run as a Democrat in November, but if he wins, he's not switching parties. This is apparently a thing you can do in Pennsylvania state politics, which is apparently held together with bits and pieces of an old Erector set and Scotch tape. So, that district will either be represented by an anti-gay Republican, or a pro-anti-himself gay Republican. Hope there's nothing important there.

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