The fact that the Amazing Randi is gay has long been an open secret. (The topic even comes up briefly in last August's New Times cover story about him.) But yesterday, on the James Randi Educational Foundation website, Randi told the world.
In a brief, thoughtful message, Randi described how much things have changed in his 81 years of life and how proud he is to "stand and fight" next to so many openly gay people in public life.
"From some seventy years of personal experience, I can tell you that there's not much 'gay' about being homosexual," he writes. "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."
With classic Randi-style showmanship, he adds: "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."
Randi says we've come a long way:
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"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."
Later in the note, he apologizes for using his blog -- usually dedicated to attacking "irrationality, stupidity, and irresponsibility" -- but says "it is my broadest platform."
I'll be in touch with Randi later today and will ask him a few questions about how he's feeling right now.
More to come.