Toast Or Roast: Mark Thompson

Thompson toasts:

Sullivan is all that so many have said about him over the years, both good and bad.  But to me, the good has just about always outweighed the bad (with the notable exception of his interest in Sarah Palin’s uterus).  More importantly, though, the same traits that can make Sullivan so frustrating to read at times are also the same traits that make him unfailingly interesting and intellectually stimulating. 

Ultimately, though, the reason I keep going back to Sullivan day after day and year after year, has more to do with the areas where I disagree with him than the areas where I agree with him.  I struggle to think of many - if any – writers who have had the ability to change my mind, and indeed my entire outlook, more frequently and with more force than Sullivan.  This ability, I think, stems from Sullivan’s insistence on weaving reasoned factual arguments with a raw emotion and passion that his detractors so often characterize as “shrill.”  It is that emotion and passion, driven by real-world concerns rather than loyalty to any “party or clique,” that makes him impossible to ignore and that brings his words to life.

For me, that emotion and passion when applied to Andrew’s arguments about same-sex marriage, full civil rights for gays, and anti-gay prejudice more generally made me confront my beliefs head-on in a way I never would have imagined.  They made me realize that what I had tried to rationalize away as simply “common sense” views about human nature and sexuality and as the furthest thing possible from bigotry was, in fact, exactly that: bigotry. 

A year later, for the first time in my life, I had the experience of a friend coming out.  I like to think that I responded appropriately and supportively to this news, though it’s certainly possible (even likely) that my ego has made me remember being less awkward and more casual about it than I actually was.  Regardless, I know how I would have reacted to this news before I ever read Andrew Sullivan, and the thought of that does not fill me with pride.  Instead, I suspect the thought of how I would have reacted before encountering Andrew Sullivan – which is the way many in the past, and (sadly) the present would have reacted – goes a long way to explaining why it took until my 25th year on this planet for me to learn that someone I knew was gay. 

Read Mark at The League Of Ordinary Gentlemen.