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The BG News
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September 21, 2023

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Politician candid about sexuality

Days after being outed as gay by an anonymous blog, Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown is drawing support from constituents and colleagues.

Brown was outed Friday after an unknown person posted on an Ohio political blog that the commissioner was gay and living with a partner.

Brown has since publicly stated that he is gay but said he is not currently living with a partner. He said he believes the posting was a deliberate attempt to keep him from seeking the Republican nomination in the upcoming 5th District Congressional special election.

Although he has previously kept his orientation private to all but family and close friends, Brown said he wanted to be candid in order to take power away from the person who posted on the blog.

‘This was a deliberate shot across the bow to keep me out of the 5th District race,’ Brown said. ‘This person is willing to lie and exaggerate – he said I had a partner when I did not ‘shy;- so by being upfront and honest I’m taking away his bag of tricks.’

When he first learned of the blog posting on Friday afternoon, Brown said he was a nervous wreck, barely able to sleep that night worrying about public reaction to the news. He kept his sexual orientation private for years feeling that it could be a liability to his political career.

But in the days since it was announced, Brown said he has received wide support from constituents and political colleagues.

In today’s issue of The BG News, Dan Lipian, chair of the University’s College Republicans, comes to Brown’s defense.

‘I don’t believe anyone’s sexual orientation has anything to do with their job in office,’ Lipian said.

The Chair of the Wood County Democratic Party, Michael Zickar, also gave his support to the commissioner, saying, ‘Tim’s orientation doesn’t matter one iota.’

Since the news broke, Brown said he has only received one negative phone call. He declined to go into the nature of the call, or who made it, except to say it was from another local elected official.

Being outed might have doomed a politician years ago, but according to Julie Haught, who teaches the introduction to gay and lesbian studies course at the University, voters have grown more accepting of people with different sexual orientations.

‘There’s definitely been a real shift in student opinion – 18, 19, 20-year olds can’t figure out why gays can’t get married,’ Haught said.

Many students said they would be willing to vote for a gay political candidate.

‘As long as they have the same political views as me, it doesn’t matter what they are,’ said Dylan Longshore, junior.

Even senior Brett Dugan, who said he doesn’t agree with homosexuality, said he wouldn’t completely rule out voting for a gay or lesbian candidate.

Although younger voters seem more accepting, Haught said the Midwestern political climate can prevent gay politicians from being open about their orientation.

‘It probably depends on geography,’ she said. ‘I imagine he recognized a potential for this to be a negative in Wood County.’

Despite this, Brown said he plans on continuing the career in politics that he dreamt of since his days as a business major at the University. After graduating in 1986, Brown spent eight years working as an aide to the late U.S. Representative Paul Gillmor [R-Ohio] before he was appointed as a Wood County Commissioner in 1997.

‘I made a decision to pursue my dream of holding political office,’ he said. ‘I knew people might find out one day, but I wasn’t going to let their potential reaction shape my dreams.’

Brown said he has no reservations about holding office as a Republican despite the party’s record of being against gay and lesbian issues.

The commissioner believes that true Republican values would actually support gay and lesbian equality, saying government should not be concerned with such private aspects of people’s lives.

‘I believe in lower taxes, strong military and a government that doesn’t intrude into people’s private lives,’ he said. ‘I believe I’m more in line with genuine Republican thinkers than the current occupant of the White House.’

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