Board of Education President
Los Angeles, California
Elected November 1991
In the photograph above, Jeff Horton stands in his office with an enlargement of the photograph that accompanied the newspaper article below. The tone of the article speaks volumes about how the press has at times handled the subject of homosexuality.
News article about Jeff Horton
Horton Declares He is Homosexual
by Sandy Harrison & Peter Larsen
Daily News, October 12, 1991
Saying he hopes to serve as a role model for young gays and lesbians, Los Angeles Unified School District board member Jeff Horton publicly announced Friday that he is homosexual.
Horton, actors Dick Sargent and Sheila James Kuehl, and thousands of homosexuals across the country publicly declared their homosexuality Friday as part of National Coming Out Day.
In California, gays and lesbians continued protests against Gov. Pete Wilson over his veto last week of a bill intended to prohibit job discrimination against homosexuals.
“I’m making this announcement to do what I can to improve life for the thousands of gay and lesbian young people in our schools,” Horton said, joined by about 40 homosexual teachers and school employees at a press conference at the district’s headquarters.
I (also) am making this announcement for myself,” Horton said, introducing the man with whom he has lived for the last eight years. “I’m tired of keeping secrets, of hiding those aspects of my life that non-gay people speak of openly and proudly.
“Like all lesbians and gay men, what I want is no more than others have: the right to be who we are without fear of discrimination or reprisal,” Horton said.
Later, Horton attended a coming-out celebration at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in Hollywood, at which actors Sargent, who played Darrin Stephens on the “Bewitched” TV series and Kuehl, who played Zelda Gilroy on TV’s “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” publicly discussed their own homosexuality before a crowd of about 400. Sargent wiped tears from his eyes as he was greeted with a lengthy ovation.
“It came down to a recognition that role models weren’t available when I was young and gay,” Sargent said, discussing why he decided to publicly announce his homosexuality. ‘Today, there’s still homophobia in the industry,” Sargent said. “This will probably ensure that I’m never seen on a screen again…but I don’t really care.”
Kuehl said her acting career ended prematurely because she was homosexual. “I was scared to death they would find out,” Kuehl said, discussing how she tried to hide her lesbian relationship from her employers. “I made up a boyfriend in New York.”
Horton, Sargent and Kuehl all said Wilson’s veto last week of AB 101 illustrated the importance of homosexuals publicly declaring their sexuality.
In Sacramento on Friday, thousands of angry gay-rights advocates made speeches, chanted slogans, waved signs and blocked traffic near the state Capitol in an emotional protest of the veto.
Ron Gray, a homosexual and the press secretary for Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, said he hoped the demonstration, timed to coincide with National Coming Out Day, would lead to higher visibility for gay people in the future.
“Our greatest enemy is our own silence,” Gray said. “By being highly visible we can destroy stereotypes, which don’t fit most of us anyway.”
Sacramento Police Department Spokeswoman Betsy Brazil said police estimates placed the crowd at 4,000 people and that the vast majority were non-violent and well-behaved. She said there were no arrests.
For information on a touring exhibit version of Out and Elected in the USA, contact Ron Schlittler at firstname.lastname@example.org.