Pulitzer prize-winning biographer David J. Garrow reveals in his new book, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, that the former president “considered” having a same-sex relationship with his openly gay college professor Lawrence Goldyn. Obama met Goldyn in 1980 when he was an 18-year-old student at Occidental College in Los Angeles and developed a close “beyond the classroom” friendship with him.
According to the new biography by historian and author David Garrow, who won a Pulitzer for his biography of Martin Luther King Jr., during his first year at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Obama developed a close relationship with Lawrence Goldyn, an openly gay political science associate professor. Obama’s relationship with Goldyn became so intimate that for some time he considered entering into a gay relationship with the professor.
A few years after he left Occidental College, Obama wrote to an intimate girlfriend that he had thought about having a same-sex relationship but he decided that having a relationship with someone of the opposite sex would be more challenging, demanding, and interesting, according to the Daily Mail.
“Obama wrote somewhat elusively to his first intimate girlfriend that he had thought about and considered gayness but ultimately decided that a same-sex relationship would be less challenging and demanding than developing one with the opposite sex.”
— ALR12 (@aguilucholere) May 3, 2017
Obama met Goldyn in 1980 when he took Goldyn’s political science course. According to Obama, Goldyn was one of the first openly gay individuals he met and developed a relationship with.
When the gay and lesbian publication Advocate asked Obama in 2009 who had the greatest impact on his views about homosexuality, he answered that besides his mother, Goldyn had the most profound influence on his attitude toward gays and lesbians. Obama said that his relationship with Goldyn “helped to educate” him.
“He was a wonderful guy,” Obama said. “He was the first openly gay professor that I had ever come in contact with, or openly gay person of authority that I had come in contact with.”
“He was just a terrific guy,” he continued. “He wasn’t proselytizing all the time, but just his comfort in his own skin and the friendship we developed helped to educate me on a number of these issues.”
“Goldyn made a huge impact on Barry Obama,” Garrow writes in the biography Rising Star, which profiles Obama’s early years. “Almost a quarter century later, asked about his understanding of gay issues, Obama enthusiastically said, ‘my favorite professor [during] my first year in college was one of the first openly gay people that I knew… He was a terrific guy.'”
“But there is no doubting that Goldyn gave 18-year-old Barry a vastly more positive and uplifting image of gay identity and self-confidence than he had known in Honolulu.”
— Obama Updates (@obamolizer) November 11, 2015
Another person who knew Goldyn at college described him as “funny and engaging” and recalled that he used to wear “really bright yellow pants and open-toed sandals.”
Goldyn himself recalled that Obama was not embarrassed or fearful of being associated with him at a time when anti-gay attitudes were mainstream. He recalled that Obama associated with him in class as well as outside class.
During an interview about his book on The Jamie Weinstein Show, Garrow was asked whether Obama ever experimented with or had a physical same-sex relationship. But he declined to answer.
“I think anyone and everyone, no matter what their role in life deserves a certain basic degree of privacy, in that context,” he said, according to the Daily Caller.
But unsubstantiated claims that Obama pursued an active gay lifestyle in his youth have circulated in the anti-Obama blogosphere for years.
Goldyn is a 1973 graduate of Reed College in Oregon. He also has a Ph.D. from Stanford. He later trained as a medical doctor and currently practices as an HIV specialist in Mendocino, California.
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