Mr. Nice Gay

John Corvino advocates for civility:

Even though my being "Mr. Nice Guy" wasn't chosen for strategic purposes, I try to work it to my advantage. It gives me influence with a certain group of people. And it's shaped my career as a gay-rights advocate, one who aims for thoughtful engagement with the other side.

Such engagement can be productive.

For one thing, the more our opponents know us personally, the harder it is for them to demonize us. (Not impossible, obviously, but harder.) Part of my life's mission is to create cognitive dissonance for those who would label all gays as angry deviants.

But engagement is also important because, like it or not, our opponents still capture majorities in most states. I don't doubt that the tide is shifting strongly in our favor, but we've got a lot of work to do. One effective way to reach the movable middle is to take opponents' concerns seriously.