Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party
For those in New Hampshire, the credo “Live Free or Die” likely has special significance for gays and lesbians. Enigmatic, the Granite State was grudgingly conservative throughout the 1990s and much of the 2000s while much of the rest of New England was coming out of its homophobic shell. Then, in 2007, the state leap frogged over a handful of others with its passage of civil unions and then marriage in 2009.
Many credit political power broker and ace organizer Ray Buckley as a catalyst for the shift.
A teenage organizer for Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign, Buckley went on to serve several years on the staff of the New Hampshire House Democratic Leadership before taking up an office there of his own when he was first elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1986. In between, he held a number of positions in the Democratic Party and, since March of 1999, he has been a member of the Democratic National Committee, most recently serving as the organization’s first openly gay Vice Chair.
He was recently named one of the “Top 10 Most Powerful in NH” by NH Magazine.
“I have the responsibility to speak out at every opportunity for individual members of the LGBT community and for the community as a whole. I actively support and encourage members of the community in their career and in politics,” says Buckley. “Because of the success we have enjoyed in New England … we [now] must be much more engaged in anti-bullying, anti-youth violence and LGBT youth suicide prevention.”
It is painful to think that LGBT kids today still suffer from the same abuse I did in junior high in the early 1970s. It is simply unacceptable and we must do more.”
Okay—out professional athletes are one thing, but big time sports reporters and writers? Yes please! Steve Buckley made history in January 2011 when he became one of the nation’s first out big-city sports columnists. More notable, he has been a sportswriter for more than 36 years, a columnist at the Boston Herald, no less, since 1995.
He also appears regularly on Comcast SportsNet New England and 93.7 WEEI and his most recent book (yep, there are more than one), “Wicked Good Year,” (2009), tells the back stories of the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and Boston Celtics vying for championships between October 2007 and June 2008.
As for his relevance and power in the gay community, he keeps it real.
“The so-called power I have in the LGBT community must be earned on a daily basis. If you get involved and help get things done, even in the smallest of ways, that’s power,” he says. “But you’re just an observer once you step outside of things, and I spent too many years of my life being just that—an observer. I owe.”
He came clean in 2011 in a (gulp) Boston Herald column on January 6, 2011.
“I closed with this: ‘It’s my hope that from now on I’ll be more involved. I’m not really sure what I mean by being ‘involved,’ but this is a start: I’m gay. That’s where it began; I came out, and then I went out. I more or less showed up and said, ‘OK, here I am. What can I do?,” he says.
“I wish I could report that I organized some kind of Million Man Gay Men’s March on Washington, but the reality is that many of my contributions have been made via the typewriter. ‘Coming out has been a major ongoing story in the sports world, and my job has been to chronicle the experiences of Jason Collins, Michael Sam, Derrick Gordon and other out athletes. I take this responsibility quite seriously.”
In this case we agree, the pen is mightier than the march.