When Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said during his press conference on Saturday, Feb. 18, that a lot of politicians and members of the media had already known that he was gay, he's correct: I've had several discussions in recent months with politically in-the-know people who mentioned Babeu's sexuality. So, yeah, it was out there.
The aspect of his outing that I find most stunning (aside from the accusations that led to his outing, which are in a whole other realm of "stunning") is that Babeu apparently thought he would be able to skate through his congressional campaign without this coming out (literally) at some point.
There was no way.
Before the bombshell that led to Babeu's coming-out, we had discussions here at the Tucson Weekly about covering Babeu's sexuality. Ultimately, we decided against it, for all sorts of reasons, but the primary reason was this: Every gay, lesbian or bisexual individual should be able to decide for themselves when to make the intensely personal decision to come out. There are exceptions to this rule, in my book—hypocrisy, for example (I would not hesitate to out a gay, lesbian or bisexual individual if they were going around promoting anti-LGBT legislation)—but Babeu never did anything that we knew about to trigger any of those exceptions.
Now that he's out, I hope Babeu does the right thing and stands up for his LGBT brothers and sisters when his fellow so-called conservatives say hateful things and push bigoted legislation. Of course, he should have been standing up for his LGBT brothers and sisters all along—but when it comes to doing the right thing, it's better late than never.