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Peter Rosenstein On His New Memoir

Born This Gay

Columnist for the Washington Blade and The Georgetown Dish and a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Peter Rosenstein has been writing on politics, local government, healthcare, the media, LGBTQ+ issues, and the theater for many years. 

The newly minted author sat down Thursday evening with Jimmy Alexander of WTOP News to talk about his memoir, Born This Gay:  My Life of Activism, Politics, Travel, and Coming Out.

“You don’t need to be rich to live a rich and full life... I could never have imagined at sixteen I would have a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or that in the course of my life, meet six presidents.”

Jimmy Alexander and Peter Rosenstain
Jimmy Alexander and Peter Rosenstein  Photo by Judith Beermann

His resume is long and laudable. Teaching public school in Harlem, leading four national nonprofits, aide to Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug, campaigning for Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and along the way, always fighting for civil rights, women’s rights, disability rights and his own rights.

“Deep in the closet” in his early years, mainly because of a desire for a political career, Peter’s coming of age and coming out was, as Jimmy Alexander described it, “much like trying to move a refrigerator. Slow. A little rocking back and forth, tilting, nudging away from the wall.”

The road from white male privilege (though gay and Jewish) to gay elder, is paved with humorous transatlantic escapades, celebrities, a lot of dancing, and a memorable encounter with the Ice Capades. It was a rollicking good time. 

Peter's move from New York to DC during the Carter administration marked the beginning of his career and life as an openly gay activist. He has volunteered and helped write the platforms for DC Mayors from Anthony Williams to Muriel Bowser. He continues today, speaking out.

“When I was a young boy growing up in a lower-middle-class Jewish home in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in upper Manhattan, New York City, I understood how my parents suffered just from being Jewish. That knowledge drew me to community activism and then politics. I saw these things as a way to make life better for others and help ensure that what my parents experienced in Europe wouldn’t occur here in the United States. I was convinced it couldn’t —- until Donald Trump was elected president. Watching what he and his administration did during his presidency and what he and his cult continue to do today has been a wake-up call. Seeing him condone some of the worst far-right agenda makes me wonder if it could all happen here.”

Thank you, Peter for sharing your story. It's a great read by a man I'm proud to call my friend.