1. Distingue Traces says

    I know we’re all supposed to adore this guy, but I’m just not here for him.

    Yes, he’s a produc a bygone era, so the repression and internalized homophobia — which often EXternalizes itself in the form of misogyny, as with his androgyny-panic over women in pantsuits — is understandable.

    But that doesn’t make it worthy of praise.

  2. says

    It’s a sad story he’s sharing, one that I’m sure will resonate with a great many readers.

    It’s fascinating – generational prejudices. I have a good family friend who, while a straight married man, had no contact at all with his parents before they both passed away in Michigan a few years ago.

    Why? He married a black woman, and had children with her.

    His parents just could not let go of the racism they’d held onto all their lives; and he was not about to subject his children and his incredible wife to their hatred.

    Stories like Gunn’s are what makes the news about the out and proud 11 year old transgendered boy so inspiring and encouraging; progress is being made, and Tim can take solace that by sharing his story with anyone and everyone, it will help open the doors for others.

  3. Dan says

    I like Tim Gunn. I think he’s a decent guy. I’m surprised though that he has forsworn relationships. He doesn’t get involved with anyone and I think he’s living a life of chastity, at least according to his biography.

  4. oncemorewithfeeling says

    Tim Gunn is an amazing and successful man with an incredibly sad life story. Between this and his almost lifetime of chosen celibacy, I both feel sorry for him and admire him for what he’s made of his life and how honest he is about it. But every time he talks about himself he breaks my heart.

  5. AJ says

    I agree with DISTINGUE, at 35 y/o I hear Tim’s use of “other era” speech, but don’t really believe it. I mean with every year you grow you learn, At 18 I was super afraid of coming out and having to be that vulnerable to judgment, as I continues to grow-up within the gay community I learned that all those thoughts of feeling like its my fault started to fade. Especially as a graphic designer and meeting other gay professionals I saw that I’m was actually becoming better, not only did I have my own history as a American Latino but that I also had a Gay history which offered so much pride in knowing how far we’ve come.

    I still think that Tim is harboring some self-hate and should work harder in learning to love himself as a gay man.

  6. candideinnc says

    I am older than Gunn, raised in Chicago. My folks grew up in a Catholic environment where being gay was unacceptable. I was married to a woman for 15 years, had two kids. I went through hell in coming out. But I told my folks. It was the only way to ever let them know me fully. They adapted to it and even got to know my lover. I think that was the cathartic moment of my coming out, and was really necessary for my growth.

    It is a shame Gunn didn’t tell his parents. I understand why he didn’t, and he had to live through what he had to live through. No one should judge him for that. But his case is not so exceptional. Lots of us older gays went through that part of coming out.

  7. Michael Sawyer says

    I can sympathize. My mom knows but me being gay is “something we dont talk about”, but at least I came out to her. My dad “knows” but I have never come out to him nor will I. Whereas I care nothing to spare my boss, spare my friends, spare my neighbors or community the “agony” of me being gay, I will spare my parents. Its an individual choice everyone must make based on everyone’s own personal family dynamic.

  8. Temple says

    I feel bad for Tim Gunn. I also heard he never had a relationship and hasn’t had sex since the seventies or something. He obviously internalized his era’s big time homophobia. Too bad his family life was just as tepid. I mean, it must be horrible to be the family eunuch.
    Well, he did become successful in fashion so at least he had that going for him, but in the end – I bet it can’t fill the void.

  9. Fenrox says

    @AJ, ahh, you don’t ask for much, do you? Just trivializing the history of a man almost twice your age because you feel like your process was manageable. But wait, you also suggest that he is self-hating! All in one pithy comment about a video you didn’t watch, about a man’s life you haven’t experienced.

    There is only one word for that: Brave.

  10. GG says

    Gays today could use a good dose of Gunn’s time. Being gay was more risky, but worth the reward when you found others like yourself. Being”gay” wasn’t a pre-defined personality as it is marketed now. Today, being gay is boring. Especially when you are seeking only one partner to “marry.” “Distingue Traces” must refer to his underwear. I wouldn’t be there for that either.

  11. Brian in Texas says

    I don’t think anyone needs to feel pity for Tim Gunn. He’s had serious relationships in the past. He’s just a private reserved man of a particular age. Self hate? Hardly.

  12. Howard says

    As a 65yo gay man my family established a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy of dealing with the issue of my being gay. I never told my parents but I’m sure they knew.

    As one friend told me when I said my parents didn’t know I was gay, “Honey, you are 30 years old, never been married, never had a girlfriend, and live with another man in a one bedroom apartment. They would have to be deaf, blind and VERY dumb not to know!”

    That’s how a lot of families dealt with it back then. It’s a different world now, thankfully.

  13. Jonster says

    I’m older than Gunn but in my family, and with my personality, there was no way I was staying in. The late 60s/early 70s is, I presume, the “era” he was talking about. It was free love baby! I was flying my freak flag and I noticed even people my own age shocked that I was proud of who I was, and am. So glad times have changed. But I think Gunn’s wrong. He didn’t have the balls to think he was fine the way he was. And that’s just plain sad.

  14. Jay says

    @HOWARD I’m half your age and that was the policy I embraced. My parents never asked and I thought they deserved my respect. I now see how it held us back and kept me living as an outcast. I lived a double life because the last thing I wanted to do was to shame them. Like you it is a relief to see how things have change so fast.

  15. anon says

    Most people don’t talk about their sex lives w/ their parent, but if they have relationships they generally don’t hide them. In Gunn’s case he doesn’t even have a relationship, so I’m not sure what there was to share. He probably has zero sex drive anyway.

  16. Rexford says

    @Temple – TG has previously talked/written about two very intense relationships he had: one long-term, leaving him damaged; the other short-term, but quite thrilling where he thought he’d found Mr. Right.

  17. johnny says

    Every person’s journey is different. When you judge another person’s journey through your own lens, you devalue it and render it meaningless for yourself. When you accept it for what it is, your mind opens and you just might learn from it.

    No two gays are alike, folks.

  18. Clayton says

    Tim Gunn is 60. I’m 56. I came out to my parents 30 years ago. Yes, times were different then, but they weren’t *that* different. I like Tim Gunn, and I wish he could have enjoyed the warm, loving relationship with his parents that I had with mine.

  19. Francis #1 says

    Um, based on a Pew Research study that came out a couple months ago, one of the first times this question has ever been asked in a national study that isn’t a LGBT organization, and in such a comprehensive LGBT-based study, only 39% of LGBT adults said they were out to their fathers. And even today, around 60-ish of LGBT teens are out to their parents. That means 40-ish are not. So it’s not as if Tim Gunn’s experience is something that is rare in the community. Even in today’s times with more acceptance, being closeted with the parents is a situation that occurs very often and most people are still more out with friends and when around other LGBT people, than they are with family and in general society.

  20. Knock says

    it saddens me to see how the manufactured “gay/LGBT community” must condemn Gunn as self-hating or cowardly or a homophobe for not conforming to the rainbow and sparkles experience.

  21. jonvincent says

    I’ve heard Tim Gunn speak passionately and eloquently in support of the gay community at many events.From all accounts, he is also a genuinely kind and warm person. Sadly, being a kind and warm person is not typical in the fashion world – its more about being bitchy and catty (think Christian from Project Runway as Exhibit A).

  22. andrew says

    Tim is by all accounts a good man. In terms of his gayness, Tim is not a difficult read. Just watching his mannerisms and listening to him talk you can be pretty sure he is a gay man. I can’t help but believe that his parents really did know he was gay and they and he chose not to deal with it. That seems like a very sad story to me. It must have put so many limits on their relationship.

  23. UGH says

    Only you know how your parents are.

    It’s a great ideal to be out to them, but you’re sure it’s going to just be a bunch of suck, I’m not going to judge.

    Especially elderly parents, people who’ve never dealt with a range of types of elderly people just don’t get it.

    Outed myself to my elderly grandmother years back – was a bad idea. I don’t recommend it automatically for everybody. Nope. I knew it was a bad idea, I just let myself be conned into thinking it was necessary by morons.

    The great grandma, I knew she’d be cool. She was WAY more than cool. She was the very first person I told, YEARS ago, back when it could get you killed where I lived.

    “Well, isn’t that wonderful ? I looked at her like she was nutso. “Don’t you know that it’s our differences that makes us special ?” Miss her every day.

  24. andrew says

    @KNOCK: You must have written your comments about Tim Gunn being accused of being a “self hating/cowardly/homophobe” by posters on this site without reading the comments. Most of the comments are sympathetic, understanding and generous in their comments and opinions about Mr. Gunn. Very few if any condemned Mr. Gunn for “not conforming to the rainbow and sparkles experience.” Whatever that is. Cheer up KNOCK, you don’t have to be “saddened” folks didn’t say what you say they said.

  25. andrew says

    @KNOCK: I re-read the 30 comments about Mr. Gunn and only 2 or 3 were on the nasty negative side that you said you were saddened by. Don’t be so easily saddened. Most of the comments were at least understanding and sympathetic if not down right positive about Mr. Gunn’s life experience.

  26. Audi-owner says

    It is self-hating to stay in the closet for more than 2/3 of your life.It is also self-hating and selfish to marry a woman,have kids with her,and then after 15-20 years of that sham of a marriage,reveal that you are gay. I don’t need to live in the time when “being gay was more risky” as one bitter ass queen put it. Because I know what it was like,if it were twice as hard for Black Americans in this country at that time one can put 2 and 2 together to figure out what it was like for gays during the same era. That’s still no rationale to stay in the closet for 30+ years. Maybe that’s why so many of you people are so damn bitter and arrogant to younger gay people!

  27. Rascal says

    There are generational aspects to this but they are less influential than some may think. There are people today who are as intransigent as most people were in the ’50s, and there were people in the 1920s who were more open-minded than many people today.

    Prejudice has more to do with whether you think for yourself and reason through questions or whether you follow an aribitrary set of rules set down by others. The latter is easier. If you want to maintain family relationships, you sometimes need to be sensitive to people’s limitations.

    Tim Gunn is less than decade older than I am. Culturally, it may happen to be an unusually important decade, but the ease with which I was able to be open with my family had much more to do with their inclination to be independent thinkers, and not consume without question what any institution happened to be serving up.

  28. 47yearold says

    Every parent-child relationship is unique. My parents would NOT want to know anything about my relationships (gay or straight), or my siblings, unless it was going to result in marriage. Premarital sex is SIN. Sex, other than in reference to reproduction, was not discussed. Feelings were dismissed. However I grew up feeling very fortunate & cared for, in comparison to most of my friends, even though sexuality was not a topic of discussion. I was born into my parents’ circumstances, learned from them & went on to create a life of my own choosing. Don’t judge–everyone’s circumstances are different. That’s the problem with older generation: the judgement.

  29. RWR says

    One of the 7 Cardinal Rules of Life, “Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is all about.”

    I am 5 years younger than Tim and grew up in the South. At 10 years of age I was told by my father at the dinner table, “You had better not be a G*#D!%M FAGGOT!” I am happy for those of you who were able to live Out & Proud from the beginning but that was not my life and I gather it was not his either. If he has issues of self-hated or whatever you chose to call it they are his to deal with as best he can. The gentleman is a class act and being an “out” public person isn’t easy. So lighten up and do something useful and stop berating someone else.

  30. says

    the best way to make life better for our brothers and sisters is to live by example and SHARE that example.

    i strongly encourage those of you with supportive families to step your game up a bit: get that camera, make a video, and have your supportive family share a message of Equality, Love, Compassion and show folks out there what being a family truly means.

    you have no idea whose lives you may change and even safe by putting a publicly-visible face to your family dynamic.

    trust me. for parents who refuse to understand and accept and celebrate their LGBT children, or other family members, more often seeing another family embracing their LGBT children is a real game-changer: it shows them what they can be, it shows that the excuses they give are truly not valid.

    so, if you come from a family where your being gay is an accepted, celebrated thing…consider what i’ve said. you could help a lot of other families put themselves back together simply by showing how your family dynamic remains strong, and is even perhaps stronger, because LOVE is what makes a family.

  31. TimD says

    Surprised. I am exactly one month older than Tim Gunn. I told my very religious, conservative, poor Southern parents I was gay at age 18 in 1971. They were pretty OK with it. I don’t know his background but I can’t imagine it was much worse than mine, and it was NOT that hard a thing to do to come out back then. I feel very fortunate to have been out for over 40 years and feel it’s been a privilege. Granted it probably impeded my career prospects … but I’d never trade my life for his.

Leave A Reply