EPISODE 132: History. Rated R. w/ Will Sterling & Craig Smith

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Show Notes

This week on Pride, we are speaking with Will Sterling, an actor, writer and director based in Los Angeles, California. Will hosts a podcast called “History Rated R” with his co-host Craig Smith. Throughout this episode, Will is going to share clips taken from their podcast, History Rated R and give us more insight into Craig and how he came to be a walking contradiction in terms of his sexuality, beliefs and political party affiliation.

Be sure to check out History Rated R, out now! Your host is Levi Chambers, co-founder of Gayety. Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @Pride. Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com. Your producers are Levi Chambers, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson and Edited by Silvana Alcala Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com. *This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


Straw media. Well, as you
know, we live in a very divided

political time these days. Right,
no surprise. You know that, especially

listening to this show, nobody really
gets along with many conservatives. They have

a very specific reputation, I think, in the country now. That's really

just being very problematic. And I
have a unique friendship with somebody that I've

known for probably about twelve years at
this point. His name with Craig Smith.

This week on pride we're speaking with
will sterling, an actor, writer

and director based in Los Angeles,
will host a podcast called history radared.

Are With this Co host, Craig
Smith. He is the former chair of

the film department of Kelsey Lung Beach, but also a more important than I

former presidential speech writer who have for
President Ford and President George Hw Bush.

Wait, President Ford, yes,
President Gerald. I feel like that was

a hundred years ago. He is, he is as of this recording.

He will be seventy seven years old
tomorrow. He was a young speech writer

at the time. Yeah, Craig
is a I call him a walking contradiction

because he is a gay, Catholic
conservative. That's a fun Combo. It

is a fun Combo, but the
difference is that Craig is an interesting window

into the evolution of politics. I
think because of his age and because of

what he knows and because of his
his work history, it sort of gives

us and holds up an interesting kind
of history book and magnifying glass to how

the parties sort of shift and change
over the years and what somebody who is

now seventy seven years old and identifies
as what is an authentic conservative, how

things are so different. You know, Craig as a big proponent of gun

control and climate change and, you
know respect separation of church and state,

and these are all things that we
kind of cover in some of these questions

that I'll throw to, but or
the clips that I'll throw to throughout this

episode will will share clips taken from
their podcast, history radared are, which

the Tagline I have for it is
that in history everyone's a piece of shit,

because it's like you kind of can't
get into the nitty gritty of hittyot

history without understanding that like everyone's canceled. He'll give some insight into Craig and

how he came to be a walking
contradiction in terms of his sexuality, beliefs

and political party affiliation. Craig is
a very, very anti present day Republican

Party trump individual and I think you
know his story is just fascinating because because

of those three facets, but because
of the fact that when you listen to

him speak and you hear him talk
about these things, it's like, oh,

he actually is is. He puts
his money where his mouth is and

it's this. This doesn't sound crazy
when you hear him talk about it,

but when you hear anybody talk about
it today, it's it's it sounds pretty

outrageous. I'M LEA by Chambers,
and this is pride. Wait before we

get into this, I have questions. Yes, one, how did you

become friends with this individual? To
because I feel like there's a lot of

elements here that you don't agree with
and you're very vocal about certain ones.

For example, I have a screenshot
of an instagram story that was in your

story yesterday that I actually screenshot at
because I liked it, but it's a

sticker yes, says God loves you, but if you keep defying him,

you will only suffer his wrath.
And you added like a little caption to

that and said God loves you unconditionally. Unless you don't do what he says

and then he'll fucking kill you.
That's right. So my question to you

is like, how did you become
friends with this individual who has very different

beliefs than you? Well, that's
the thing is, I think like it

sounds on the surface that the beliefs
are fundamentally very different, but in a

lot of boys are the same,
and I think that's how we became friends.

And I obviously present day me is
a very liberal, progressive individual.

I'm very personally, I'm quite anti
religious, which I didn't used to be,

you know. No. So I
think who I used to be when

I met Craig was at a time
where I actually used to bend more conservative.

Coming right out of college, shocker, surprise, surprise, I was

a lot more religious, very much
so, and I evolution that I've gone

through over the years. There's been
a lot of things that have that have

really pushed me. I was always
socially very liberal and then once Sandy Hook

happened, I was like, okay, once it's happened to children and no

one seems to give a fuck,
like it's over. So then I became

very, very vocal in being critical
of both conservatism and and religion. So

Craig I met as the chair of
the film department when I was the student

representative in the department, and he
and I and some other students like we

would have dinner and just talk about
the arts and talk about film and talk

about music and talk about different things, and it became this very like mentor

kind of relationship where Craig is a
wealth of knowledge and information, which is

why I want to bring the story
to the podcast to show that one friendships

can sort of exist across multi generational
gaps and to that differences, especially with

compassionate people, are not as far
as they seem when we were willing to

dig a little bit under the surface. So if I say that someone's a

gay, Catholic Republican, Everyone's like, what the fuck, how could you

be friends with this person? And
I like, it's actually quite easy,

and his stance on a lot of
these things, as far as it goes

constitutionally, also kind of proves a
lot of these things, like severation church

and state. Okay, okay,
I'll buy it. Do you have a

question about that though? When you
would have your dinners and stuff, was

there any element did you have to
come out to him a straight I did

not. I did not have to
come down to the street. I think

that was I think that was sort
of acknowledged information. Craig talks about what

he sort of considers authentic conservatism and
I figure that he could probably explain this

better than I could. You rout
up something interesting that I think I want

to talk about because, especially as
we look at even like the premise of

our show, right in history,
everybody's canceled. So what can you say?

What can't you say? What's okay, what's not okay? You are

a lifelong Republican. Well, I
was. I now call myself a conservative

because of the trump administration. I
was a never trump and once they elected

him and then went along with him. Yeah, I do not consider myself

a Republican. I consider myself an
authentic conservative. Okay, so, because

I feel like people who say I'm
a conservative at also has kind of the

same like. Well, because like
they're with trump, you know what I

mean? Yeah, so you feel
like the terminology when you say authentic conservative,

authentic conservative. So I mean,
but you, you have been your

whole life. Yeah, and I
think that that's always been a unique part

of our relationship is that when people
hear that they're like how what you know

and I'm like no, no,
Republicans didn't. Weren't always this way historically.

It's also we talked about our show. Like I think the fascinating thing

is that the Civil Rights Act in
the voting rights ax are not past in

Congress without Republicans support. Democrats had
the majority in both of those places,

but they actually voted more against it
because even in the s we still had

Dick Secrets. Oh, we kind
of them. Yeah, so it's flipped

in history. You know it.
Lincoln was a Republican, Right, but

Andrew Jackson was a democrat. Right, and Andrew Jackson's a real piece of

Shit, which we do talk about
on our show and will multiple times.

So for you, what does it
mean to be, as we're saying now,

an authentic conservative and also be a
gay man and a party that,

in two thousand and twenty one does
not love that part of you? Right,

yeah, and and and you know, unfortunately they're wrong about that.

I think an authentic conservative is somebody
who believes in a strict reading of the

constitution, who believes in original meaning
as defined by Antonine Scalia, and I

can go into that if you want
at some point. But it's just when

amendment, when the Constitution, was
passed and when amendments to the Constitution are

past, you look at the context
of the passage when you can't figure out

the meaning. Many passages are very
clear and you don't have to go to

the context to figure out what they
mean, right, but when you look

at something like the Second Amendment on
gun control, it's only twenty seven words,

right, it's a little ambiguous.
So you have to go to the

content, the context of the time
to understand that the amendment really was for

forming militias and gave control of guns
to the states. Right. So it's

a conservative I'm in favor of gun
control, right, because that's what they

meant. Yeah, this is the
time one of my favorite stories and we'll

have to tell it specifically on the
podcast, but can you do a cliffsnotes

version of Shays rebellion, which is
really yeah, inspired the Second Amendment?

Shay Dennishe is, hated taxes being
imposed on him by the Massachusetts government and

so he rebelled against them. He
got a bunch of people together, they

marched on get this a Court House, Oh and surrounded it so that the

jurors could not go in and listen
to a case against a farmer who didn't

pay his taxes. So that's how
the revolt started. And then they got

more and more men and they actually
let a rebellion and on August twenty seven,

eighteen eighty one thousand eight hundred and
seventy six, they, I'm sorry,

eighteen eighty six. They there was
a clash with the militia that had

been formed by Governor Bowden of Massachusetts, which he funded with money from the

banks, okay, and they defeated
dennashes. They killed some people. DENNA

sches escaped with most of his men
and a cross the border into Vermont and

the militia did not feel that they
could cross that border right without violating the

sovereignty of Vermont. Eventually Shay is
was pardoned in eighteen eighty eight. Seventeen

eighty eight when the constitution was same
time constitution was ratified. So ches rebellion

is right up against the writing of
the First Amendment. So the First Amendment

was aimed at empowering states to put
down rebellions. Okay, not to allow

so is the second moment. You
mean not for Second Amendment. Sorry.

Yeah, the Second Amendment was to
empower pause. HMM, that's fascinating.

Yeah, the Second Amendment really was
never intended to do what it does today.

No, okay, we got to
go back a little bit. So

one and did he explain to you
the meaning of original meaning first, because

I think that's important. Yeah,
I mean that's kind of what he talks

about and what he references in terms
of the way that the constitution is supposed

to be read is that original intent
is obviously a huge, huge piece of

this. But then when you get
in different specific Supreme Court justice has,

they're all bringing their personal bias as
much as they're supposed to, not to

disinterpretation. And even Anton Scalia,
who is not, I mean, as

far as my politics go, my
favorite person, provided and did the work

as some okay, reading on the
second amount to be like, listen,

this is not exactly what it's supposed
to to do for you, and and

Shays rebellion is really this proof,
in terms of historical context, of saying

the way that people mostly read it
now is like I'm allowed to form Malitias

with my buddies and our are fifteen
s to fight back against the federal government,

which is not true. It's essentially
the easiest example we could make is

to say that the people who storm
the capital in January. Six this states

have the power to give random strangers
weapons in order to stop people like that

from storming the capital. So if
you have a group of crazy people dispending

on California state capital, the state
of California can say hey, random citizens,

here are guns, stop these crazy
people. That's essentially the right to

bear arms is a states rights and
states granted thing. Interesting. Okay,

the Second Amendment was to empower the
states to form militias with people who had

the right to bear arms. Right. The state could then grant that right

to bear arms. Got It.
It's not this Willy Nilly like I want

my guns like just no, are
fifteen s and all these different things that

so to know that you are an
authentic conservative who is in favor of gun

control and you believe in climate change
as well. M and Republican Eddy Related.

Teddy Roosevelt was an authentic conservative and
he, you know, expanded our

national parks. He was a wellknown
environmentalist, he broke up the trusts.

Yeah, competition, fair competition in
the market places. A conservative standard,

okay, you know, and I
think that's that's not a liberal standard.

There's a lot of things to again, we talk about the flip, like

Republicans created the EPA, yet it's
his wilder Nixon, that it's now devolved

into. Like, well, when
trump was president, like wow much,

can we actually just dump toxic waste
into lakes? Yeah, whatever. Yeah.

Well, trump is all about helping
businesses no matter what. Right,

and that's one of the things that
Teddy Roosevelt was against. Yeah, the

Republican Party had had drifted into becoming
the pro business party after the grant administration

and during reconstruction after the civil war. There were lots of rationals lations for

that, reasons for that, but
it was mainly because these businesses were built

up during the civil war in the
north. That's so they were Republican oriented.

Right. So there's just some some
interesting context there that I think a

lot of people when we look at
history, and I think that I mean

the premise of this podcast that Craig
and I are starting together. It's one.

It's a fun dynamic of like a
thirty four year old person in a

seventy seven year old person, but
that people sort of forget that history is

not a straight line and it's not
simple, you know, and it isn't

exactly black and white the way that
we want it to be. In fact,

you know, Andrew Jackson, as
was said in the clip, was

a Democrat, but Andrew Jackson is
responsible for all kinds of horrible fucking things.

And Abraham Lincoln was a republican and
but the emancipation proclamation didn't mean that

he loved black people. He also
wanted to put them on boats and ship

them out of the country. So
all these people that we glorify in history

and all these parties that we glorify, people forget the bad shit exact is

they don't want that part exactlyways with
everything and that the parties flip flop in

terms of history, Semitimes, some
of the things that we see moralistically.

You know, it's it's interesting,
and I craigs obviously such a wealth of

information of this. When it comes
to discussing politics. There are certain keywords

that individuals will involuntarily flag, like
liberal or Conservative. Today, knowing where

someone's hands in terms of their political
philosophies can affect and determine the outcome of

the rest of a conversation and oftentimes
an entire relationship. But when Will Matt

Craig He let him explain his viewpoint
before jumping to conclusions at first, when

he said like I consider myself a
conservative, I wanted to make sure I

got the clarification from him because I
know that he doesn't align with saying you're

a conservative, it's the same as
saying you support trump in two thousand and

twenty one. You know what I
mean? That doesn't in this terminology of

authentic conservative. I know what he
means and it's hard to get across to

people, I think, because it's
still sort of a threat response word.

But there is historically in terms of
personal freedoms and personal liberties, that should

be a fundamental thing that, especially
when we're talking about like we rights and

black lives matter and everything that we're
sort of having conversation about today. The

the brutally horrible hypocrisy of present day
conservatism is that individual freedoms and rights should

be granted to all those people because
that is their fundamental moral platform. And

yet they believe that their church and
their belief should dictate the rule of law,

which violent separation of church and state. So, as an authentic conservative,

getting the meeting out of that being
that? No, no, we're

going back to hard coreception of separation
of church and state, this original meaning

of the Constitution with context and that
we genuinely care about people, we care

about the environment, and guns are
pretty fucking ridiculous, outside of apparently needing

them in one thousand eighteen, seventy
seven or whenever the fuck. So he

got into speech writing as after being
a professor in college and ended up working

for President Ford, and the way
that he got into that was it's kind

of a funny story. How did
you start to stumble into speech writing and

and that angle of your career?
Yeah, that again was, you know,

a total accident. I had never
written a speech for anybody and in

at the end of one thousand nine
hundred and seventy five, while Gerald Ford

was president, I was invited down. I was teaching at the University Virginia

and I was teaching courses in American
public address argumentation. I was the debate

coach at the university and so I
was invited down to the University of North

Carolina to give a guest lecture which
was scheduled for ten o'clock in the morning,

and I gave the lecture and they
said, you know, at noon

president forward is coming. Oh,
you know, you're a Republican and he's

giving a speech to the future homemakers
America. You want to go see it?

And I said sure, that'd be
great, and I was a big

fan of Gerald forward. I thought
it's very nice man and, you know,

a nice replacement for Richard Nixon.
So I went to hear the speech

and it was not good. Okay, and the professors who were with me,

who tended to be on the liberal
side, started kidding me about you

know, I can't Republicans, you
know, have a president who could be

a better speaker than forward, and
so on and so forth, and I

was frustrated and I drove home to
Charlottesville and couldn't sleep and I wrote a

letter to the White House, five
pages, single space, critiquing the president's

speech in constructive, friendly terms.
Right and a week later I was called

for an interview at the White House. Wow, and that's how I started.

I started at the top. You
cold emailed the White House, but

I email mail that I cold cold
me Old the White House. The interview

process was fascinating. I had the
first person they interviewed me was the head

of White House personnel, Doug Smith. He passed me on to the editor

for the speech writers, Bob or
Orban, who had been an editor for

Red Scout in the show oh of
all things. And then Orban evidently liked

me and he passed me on to
Bob Hartman, who was the counselor of

the president. They had speech writer
and I had the longest time with Bob

Hartman and at the end of the
Hartman interview he said just sit here for

a minute. I'm I'll be right
back, and I didn't know at the

time but his office was the old
Rosemary Woods office which was right next to

the Oval Office. Okay, she
just she was the secretary to Nixon.

And so about five minutes later Harman
came back into the office and he had

come with me and he took me
into the Oval Office and there was Gerald

Ford puffing on a pipe and Hartman
said pending security clearance, scary words for

me. Yeah, pending security clearance. Craig Smith will be your new speech

writer. He's a professor from the
University of Virginia and I swear to you,

the first words out of drope words
mouth, he took his pipe out

of his mouth and he said professors
haven't done well here. And I said,

Mr President, with all due respect, why is that? And he

says they try to make me sound
more eloquent than I want to sound.

I'm going to talk the language of
the common man and they never get anything

done on time. And I said, I know, I know, I

work with them. Yeah, so
was he out at this time? No,

he didn't co come out until nineteen
ninety six. He lived his I

mean, obviously you know he's had
twenty some odd years now, but if

you think about that, if there's
a seventy seven year old man not be

until nineteen and ninety six, he's
working in the White House kind of under

like cover of darkness, essentially,
where it was a sort of don't ask,

don't tell situation, and that's the
thing. Is like. That's another

one of those things that even Clinton, what's the word? Even Clinton upheld

don't ask don't tell in terms of
our military in that we like to imagine

people like Clinton another presidents being very
progressive, but you think of some of

these policies that, again, as
a very foundational Democrat for the way that

we governed today. Even Obama,
when he first ran in two thousand and

eight, was like, I don't
support gay marriage. You know that there

are things that people either felt like
they had to do or say, but

things that obviously contributed to keeping people
like Craig in the closet because even working

for the White House he felt that
he was going to be out at and

I have a clip for that if
you'd like to hear. The joke about

working in the White House for me
was I was toggling between paranoia and boredom,

and the reason was I was paranoid
that they were going to discover me.

But there was no at there was
no evidence. I mean I hadn't

slept with anybody. I hadn't.
I hadn't had sex with anybody. So

but I was always just afraid that
something would come up and, you know,

they'd interview one of the two or
three people who knew I was gay,

but that never happened. The reason
for the boredom is I'm a very

fast rider, HMM, and I
could pop out a presidential speech very quickly.

I don't know what took these other
people so long. They hated me

on. The other speech writers at
the beginning hated me. I mean they

just said, how do you do
it so fast? Yeah, yeah,

I'm trained to do that. I'm
a professor who teaches it. You know,

it's right, that hard. And
I had also, you know,

engaged in intercollegiate competition to extemporaneous speaking, in impromptu speaking, and you have

to come up with a speech very
fast, right. So I you know,

I'd be assigned to speech and I'd
write it and nothing to do.

HMM, you know, and I'm
sitting there in my office in the White

House. It's like, and you
know, it's kind of funny. You'd

think it wouldn't be boring to just
be in the White House, White House,

but it was. That's fascinating.
And then he was that good.

Yeah, well, I mean that's
the thing is, like he talks about

in another and another clip. For
him it was this thing of like they

asked loose enough questions for people to
get by. When he interviewed for the

speech writing position, they asked him
have you and like imagine being asked this

question and a fucking job interview have
you ever slept with another man? That

was the question that they asked him
at the White House and he had not

had sex and said no, but
they didn't ask him point blank, are

you gay? So I just like
the way that people used to go about

this stuff, which is just the
most abominable PR nightmare in in today's standards.

This is this is at the top
level, this is at the White

House, and if we think that
change like doesn't happen fast enough, I

mean it's like Craig is walking talking
proof that like that was only in the

S, not not really that long
ago, especially when we look at the

you know, the the length of
time and how much progress we've actually made.

Where did that go from there?
If if he was already bored,

like started writing speeches for the president, like I would assume that's kind of

the top right goal. If you
are a speech writer like who alsore you

writing them for now one. Well, yeah, and that's the thing.

Like, obviously also because of his
politics in the present day, it's like

there's not a whole lot of people
for him to work with her for because

the the the dialog has changed,
you know, like he's not going to

fucking write speeches for Donald Trump even
back then, you know. I mean

like every conservative thinks like Reagan is
really like the be all end all,

but the even I mean every every
administration is problematic to some degree, but

Reagan is obviously quite problematic in terms
of what gets us to this separation of

church and state problem, because in
the s that's really when church money realized

that they could sort of fund political
campaigns and conservative Christian America, as we

know it was, was born.
And Craig has an interesting perspective on the

important of Separation Church and state.
As a Catholic, can you also speak

a little bit to your also,
I mean you have your religious beliefs,

but you also believe very strongly in
the separation of church and state. Oh

Yeah, and Oh yeah, like
there is this feeling that that Christians,

like conservative Christian America, is like
no, this is the truth and you

will have it. You know,
as someone who, for you, considers

yourself a devout Catholic, you admit
that you're like no, this shouldn't be

involved in this, right. Where
does that come from? Well, it

again, it goes back to my
conservatism, and that is the separation of

church and state. Is is certainly
outlined in the first amendment. You have

freedom of conscience. In the First
Amendment. The government can establish a religion

or endorse it, and that means
also not endorsing religious positions. You know

right that that that have occurred.
I think. I APP I personally am

opposed to a woman's right to have
an abortion, but the courts have settled

that the other way and they read
the Constitution to say that a woman does

have a right to an abortion and
that, in my opinion, is settled

law. There you go. I
can believe whatever I want, but I

can't impose it on women, right, you know, through legislation, legislation.

That's ridiculous. Yeah, just as
I now have a right to get

married, where I didn't before,
and you can't take that away from me.

Yeah, under the Constitution, if
you read the constitution correctly, and

particularly the Fourteenth Amendment, which you
know, grants me equal protection under the

law and greats women equal protection under
the law. Yeah, that's an important

phrase. Yeah, what was your
immediate like reaction to that in the room,

because I assume you grew up in
a family that didn't feel that way.

No, I mean my family's very
as some people would. I think,

what's a pro life, which I
just take on bridge with that term,

because it's like you don't do anything
else besides force them to have babies

and then you're not around when it
comes to helping people live their lives.

I think hearing that is it.
That's kind of a such an admirable thing

and it's why I love Craig,
it's why we're friends and I think it's

why I I'm very happy about this
relationship and want this dialog to have a

bigger platform like this, because we
think about how to reach across the aisle,

we think about how to have these
dialogs. It's just tough now because

there's very few people like Craig,
and so for him to say, you

know, emotionally Catholicism. Wise,
I don't believe in a woman's right to

abortion. However, the Supreme Court
ruled on Rov Wade. This is now

law. You can't change this and
he respects the ruling of the Supreme Court

and the upholding of the constitution above
his desire for his religion to dictate legislation,

which, as he said, would
be ridiculous and if you think about

it, anybody who's Christian in America. If any other belief system besides themselves,

said they were going to make laws, they would lose their minds and

that's not something that's ever presented to
them or that they seemingly ever have to

think about. And I think it's
a it's a very adult and, again,

authentic conservative way to interpret the Constitution
and to and to uphold the rule

of law. Essentially, do you
personally believe that there actually is a separation

of church and state? And the
only reason I say that is because we

talk about it, but at the
same time our currency says in God we

trust. Right at the end of
pretty much every presidential speech each on any

topic. God bless America is there, even if that president did not run

on Religious Foundation. It's always there, of course, and it's a virtual

requirement. We've only ever had Christian, technically Christian, presidents and only two

Catholic presidents, Biden being the second. JFK was the first Catholic president,

and Catholicism is just a different sect
of Christian it's just, you know,

it's Christianity, but it's different.
And when JFK was running in the S,

so many Protestant Americans were like losing
their minds that. Could you imagine

a Catholic running the country? And
so this country is is is steeped in

religion, despite the fact that the
founding fathers really tried to get us out

of that. We've done a good
job of fucking that up and bringing it

back around, because if you think
about the pledge allegiance, like children starting

their days pledging allegiance to the flag
or to the country, is quite a

fashistic kind of thing, you know, like people do that in sort of

dictatorial countries where you strip away the
identity in upholding this larger identity for the

common good, which I would argue
as more sort of communism than what they

think that they're fighting. So,
to answer your question, that's a very

long way saying no. You know, religion is unfortunately such a huge part

of how we govern that getting out
of that is is going to take a

long time, but it has to
be a necessary recognition. Presenting the argument

in the flip side of saying like
well, would you want X Y Z

to also make willing, ely rules
about their religion? And there you know,

consert of Christian America's answer would,
of course, we know, and

so you it can you can't have
your cake and eat it too. You

know, we all have to work
together. We have to put down these

things that technically make us different.
Surprise, surprise, and govern from a

legitimate logistic kind of way. It's
interesting you bring up the pledge of allegiance

because I have a many occasion reflected
on my like K through twelve. Maybe

it wasn't a nice soul. So
much for K through eight. For sure,

education where every day and every flag
assembly on Fridays started with and I

feel like, even looking back at
it, I never really felt that way

doing it, but it always started
with right hand over your heart. Ready

began. That's very coldy. It
is very cold. When People Watch a

documentary about North Korea or country's like
that, it's like, Oh, can

you believe they do that? They
worshipend like a God and they say this

whole thing every day. Yes,
I can believe that, and that's the

thing is like. And you also
look at kneeling, you know, during

the the the what's the fucking song
that they played every sporting event that you're

supposed to cross your hard and stand
up and be additional anthem that's nine.

Thank you. I'm glad I forgot
the title. That is also something that

when people have this argument that fundamentally
you were disrespecting the flag and therefore the

troops, it's like, well,
know, the troops, technically, in

terms of freedoms, have fought for
the right to free speech and your ability

to not do that. So know
they're just upholding their constitutional rights and too,

if they want to get perfect,
about the Bible, of which I

am also very familiar because of my
upbringing. We are encouraged not to worship

idols, and I think that we
have created an idol out of the flag.

Unfortunately, it is so important,
it is so other worldly. Now

that it is it is second to
God, and that's very dangerous and I

think trump took hold of this desire
to really lean into fascism. Is Essentially

what we're what we were looking at
it. Unfortunately, now the party has

has gone full tilt in that direction. When we come back, Craig comes

out in his S and a mutilated
Republican Party. Welcome back. Today we're

speaking with will sterling, one of
the hosts of the upcoming podcast history radard

are through. Will we met Craig
Smith, a gay man who refuses to

identify as a Republican and instead opts
for the title authentic conservative. Well,

working as a speech writer for the
White House, Craig always feared someone would

out him as gay. He was
about thirty years old while working for President

Ford, where he remained deep inside
the closet. Let's kind of go let's

go back to Craig sort of growing
up in the S S and and really

his identity as a as a gay
man, and sort of understanding his place

in the world at a time where
it was very difficult. So so then

your story in that way. What
was it like, you know, growing

up? I mean it's well,
I'm your urst question. I think anyone

could ever ask anybody's like when did
you know you were gay? Because the

answers always like my whole life,
but for you going out, know it

wasn't my whole life. It wasn't
very early. I knew I was gay

when I was seven, okay,
because I would mean that's your whole life.

I was physically attracted to my older
cousin. Yeah, and I knew

that that was strange and I kept
it a secret. And then, you

know, the older I got,
the more I knew that I was gay,

the people I would look at,
the things that attracted me, you

know, the sears catalog, and
then went toward that when I was in

high school, Remember, you know, I'm in high school like nine,

six, nineteen sixty one. And
so I went to the library and looked

up homosexuality, okay, and what
it and it was classified as a mental

disorder at that time. Wow,
and that absolutely drove me into the closet.

I mean and and millions of other
people. Yeah, you're not going

to come out at that time because
you would be deemed mentally ill. Right,

couldn't be employed anywhere, right.
So, you know, it was

very bad and and that kind of
thing kept happening. I mean I thought

I was very lucky. The Ford
Administration had a don't ask, don't tell

policy. When I was given I
was, I was given deep, deep

security clearance in the White House.
Okay, and it's because they didn't ask

the right question. The FBI said, have you ever slept with a man?

I had not. I was a
good Catholic. So I had that

conflict in my life. To be
that's I forget. Republic and Catholic a

Catholic Republican, your walking contradiction.
Yeah, so, you know, they

asked me if I had ever slept
with a man. I said no,

and and that, you know,
they did not ask me if I was

homosexual. MMM. And so,
you know, too bad. Yeah,

Miss Miss the question. And and
you know, I snuck through. And

then AIDS comes along and you talk
about something driving you into the closet further.

Yeah, Oh my God. Yeah, that was horrific. I lost

friends. You know that I had
secretly revealed myself too, and they'd revealed

themselves to me. So you had
a close network of people you trusted.

Very small, okay, very,
very small, maybe three people really?

Yeah, wow, and you didn't
come out until the S righty six.

I decided I would not come out
while my father was alive. MMM,

because at the end of his life
he was in some pain, he was

sick and I just didn't want to
make things worse. He was homophobic.

Okay, you know that part of
his conservatism was unfortunate, but he'd been

in the navy and there had been
navy parties at my house and they talked

about fags and you know, all
that kind of stuff. That drove me

further into the closet, right,
and once he passed away in March of

one thousand nine hundred and ninety six, I immediately came out. So you

were ready to go. I was
ready to go. You weren't even right.

I was scared. MMM. I
had a therapist lined up, as

said, and and he was wonderful. And my all of my friends except

two were very supportive. Okay,
but all of your friends except to broke

off their relationships. I got it, okay, they couldn't handle it really.

Yeah, their colleagues your age,
same. One was a professor and

my former debate partner in college.
Oh Wow, and he couldn't handle it

and he just broke off the friendship
and, you know, say leave.

Yeah. And another was a former
student who said the oddest thing. He

said, I thought you were bisexual
and I said, well, I'm not,

I'm homosexual, and he said that's
terrible, like it was okay to

be bisexual, but it was not
okay to be honest. It was very

weird and haven't I haven't spoken of
that person since either. Got It.

Fast forward to when you met him. Did did he come out to you?

I met him in two thousand and
two thousand and nine. so He's

already I mean that's only ten years
really since he came out. Yeah,

but that's the thing, is that? Like obviously, in the in the

school, as the chair of the
film department, Craig's not walking around with

a big pride flag, you know
what I mean, like I'm the Gay

Chair of the film department, like
he spent from the birth to One thousand

nine hundred and ninety six, you
know, shoved into a closet, not

feeling comfortable to talk about this thing. That especially also with a Catholic upbringing.

So still kind of hold holds himself
in a very reserved sort of way.

You know what I mean? Like
is is everybody has the right to

live however they want in terms of
whatever it's supposed to be. There's no

right or wrong in terms of the
way that you celebrate who you are,

and I think that it was never
immediately known to me just because it did

wasn't a necessary topic of conversation,
and I think I just learned over like

a dinner conversation. One item was
like Oh, okay, you know,

like a so I'm in college at
this point. It's always been fine to

me. So there was never any
you know, there was never any worry,

I think, from from him to
me or anything like that. There's

an interesting element of history in Craig
as well in that he's tied to Real

American history, like he was there, he did it, their speeches out

there, he worked on as a
queer person who was sort of a race

by history, right, because they
never asked, are you gay? So

he just didn't say it. Right. So, in terms of like if

someone wrote a history book about Craig, that element would not have been in

there. It would of after he
came out. Yeah, but it's like

it definitely shines a light on queer
his queer people throughout history that have been

huge parts of history, right,
you just don't know about. Well,

yeah, and he tells funny,
Fun Stories about you know. I mean

technically you ask any historian. I
guess we have a will have a segment

called fan fact check, because I
anticipate a lot of angry people writing into

US and saying it's wrong. People
like George Washington sleeping with, you know,

a French general like it during the
revolutionary war because France was helping the

United States. As I can you
prove that they fucked? It's like,

I guess not, but they were
sleeping in the same bed, you know,

and it's like so we don't know. You know, all history is

very queer and we unfortunately erase the
fact that, like you said, like

these people in Queer history have been
erased, despite the fact the history itself

is incredibly queer and you have all
these people who really were, you know

what I mean, who have all
these you know, parent like there we

tell a story about how Abraham Lincoln
had, you know, maybe had gay

lovers, like we like there's a
lot of stories out there with a lot

of proof, historically backed up to
suggest that these people had liaisons and different

things. Because that's the thing is
a lot of people say like well,

where did all these gay people come
from these days, and it's like they're

always there. Are You fucking for
real? You know what it's like it

that's just nobody talked about it.
And so ideally, with Craig being one

of the members of that history,
you know, as you said, as

a seventy seven year old guy,
he is a part of that and we

want to bring a lot of those
stories to life. Even if people would

would say that they were just rumors. So Craig sort of discusses how what

it means to be a gay conservative
and how the Party's kind of mutated.

You know, yeah, okay,
let's hear. And so for you personally,

with this party and with with your
background, I mean you your story

sees a lot of evolution, you
know, in terms of how long you've

been a Republican, and so where
do you feel personally as someone who does

identify as a gay man, like
how it doesn't how that affects you,

because the narrative, I used to
think, for Republicans was like less taxes,

don't get into business, live your
life. I don't want to.

Don't let me what to do,
I want tell you what to do.

Right, but now we've lost separation
of church and state and it's really become

a church. Well, it's yeah, it's another reason to lose the Republican

Party. You know, in nineteen
ninety one Barry Goldwater, Mr Conservative,

defended the rights of gays to get
married. I mean that was a pretty

stunning moment and I was there,
wow, when he wrote the editorial for

The Washington Post. Okay, and
he had been educated over time from nineteen

sixty four to nineteen ninety one,
bury goal water went through a wonderful evolution

that made him less radically conservative and
more in favor of people's rights in more

liberty area. Right, loud,
and and and and, yeah, and

he became, I think, an
authentic conservative. Okay, let's balance the

budget, you know they're let's get
out of heat. The phrase he used

in Washington Post editorial was let's get
out of the bedroom. Yeah, get

out of my bedroom, you know, get out of my life. Right,

I have the right to be left
alone. Right, consensual sex is

not to be different aired with.
Okay, and eventually the Supreme Court,

thanks to wonderful people like Anthony Kennedy, a swing justice on the Supreme Court,

we got gay rights. Right,
right, yeah. So I think

the thing too, is like even
looking at somebody like Barry Goldwater, who,

I don't you know how much like
listeners are familiar with somebody like him,

but even that phrase, you know, like stay out of the bedroom,

has been has been perverted into this. Like how many times have you

seen people being like I want,
you can be whoever you want to be,

just like don't make it my business
or it's just I don't need to

be and it's like nobody, fucking
nobody's trying to make your business. Actually

you're making it your business by not
by being upset about it, by being

afraid about it, like how about, we'll leave you alone if you shut

the fuck up and we'll leave you
alone. And you won't, you don't.

I mean like this kind of like
just let people be. This fundamental

principle and what Craig sort of considers
a big part of off into conservatism is

is really just been lost, because
the separation of church and Staidi's crumbled even

more, a great deal, even
more, and I think you know behind

that is his money and power,
unfortunately, because I wouldn't say trump is

a devout Christian, like he held
a Bible upside fucking down outside of a

church where a tear gas protest or
so he could take a picture in front

of it. Yeah, because you
can use that picture later to play Kate

to people. Right exactly. It's
like, Oh, I forgot about the

time Jesus pro tear gassed people so
he could walk up to the Cross and

take his selfie and his pictures before
they hung them up on it. Like

it's just really been perverted, unfortunately, and Craig talks about there being sort

of a way out, but it's
a it's not it's not promising, unfortunately.

So I mean, I feel like
this is such an interesting topic because

you started this by kind of discussing
how everyone today now feels like conservator or

not conservator. Being conservative is almost
like a bad word. It really is.

And when you see the mayor's flat
became that, yeah, more so

than Republican. Right it in some
weird way. I mean, yeah,

when you see American flags on lawns
or trucks, what's your first thought?

Oh, yeah, yeah, right
now, absolutely right. Well, did

then? Do you feel like the
things and the conversations you've had with him?

I feel like on social media you've
definitely been very vocal about, you

know, your political opinions of different
parties, and do you feel like your

opinions have shifted at all with this
introduction of like add an adjective to conservative

and now it's different? Do you
feel like it is different or is it

sell the same? It's a good
question because to me, and that's just

my relationship with Craig, like he's
allowed to be whoever he wants to be

and and title himself however he wants. But I really think, and he

talks about, the only way out
really outside of a couple of level headed

Republicans, if we could call them
that, is there's going to have to

be a third party. There's going
to be some third parties going to have

to break out of this because it
just can't be sustained. We cannot go

back to any kind of conservatism or
republicanism that we had before, because it's

just gone off the rails to such
a degree that I think that if,

if we really push came to shove
and it could, Craig, if there

was some other movement, would probably
like, Oh, maybe I'm that party,

you know. But I also respect
and admire the fact that he doesn't

want to let go of something that
he actually believes in. The fundamental core

values of that used to mean something
good. It used to mean something surprise,

kind of progressive, as we he
had kind of mentioned and we talked

about in an earlier clip, like
the civil rights in the voting rights x

aren't passed until sixty five and sixty
six and that those are only accomplished because

of majority Republican support. Democrats ran
the Senate and house its time, but

you still had a fucked on,
a dixiecrats, which are racist southerners who

are technically Democrats, who hated black
people, and those are quote Unquote Democrats

and they were termed dixiecrats because they
fucking sucked and they were racist and they

ruined it for everybody. And it
was because of Republican support for those two

things that they were passed. And
that's not even a hundred years ago that

we pass the civil rights and voting
rights acts. So there is this like

constant shift and change that unfortunately it's
gone in the other direction. But I

do feel that like for Craig to
have grown up and with these principles,

in these morals and believe in a
sort of a strict reading of the constitution

and believe that if the court's ruled
on it, this is law. We

have to respect this. There is
something like he deserves to be, in

my opinion, like you're the he's
the only real conservative in the world.

Everyone else is just a fucking impostor. But that's because he's my friend,

you know. And again, the
only way that we continue to have these

conversations is not with just like minded
people like ourselves, you know, people

who have kind of push us in
ways we like and don't like, but

still respect US and value us and
care about us, and that's you know,

that's like this friendship, which is
why it's important to me. You're

going to do this podcast together.
Yes, and it's really kind of about

the dark side of history, right, that exists in that is there,

and about the strucle and, in
a funny way, gears. Yeah,

but doesn't that feel? I'm curious
if I feel like you're a very optimistic

and will maybe not not optimistics wrong
word, but like you try to see

the best, not a good,
part of things. Yeah, and now

you've got this podcast. Ask about
all the dark parts of things. Well,

those there any element that is like
do I really want to know what

the dark side of this is?
Well, that's the thing is that there's

no idea. Lincoln was like free
the slaves and then send them away,

put them on a button. No
idea. That was the thing, that

it was a thing. Yes,
and that's the thing is like, you

know, you look at Daniel de
Lewis and the Spielberg movie and I was

like turn this shit off, the
amount of people in in Hollywood that of

just like painted racism and slavers.
This almost like quaint kind of thing.

It's just it's really gross and so
but the thing about it's called history.

Rated are in terms of were analyzing
people and Events and places and things with

a modern day context. But it's
not meant to beat you over the head

and make you Super Sad. It's
really Craig is the expert, he's the

he's the compendium and wealth of knowledge, and I'm the idiot who doesn't know

anything, because truly I don't.
It's almost this format that we're doing of

this where you're like, I have
I have no idea what we're going to

do, like walk me through this. Craig's like, okay, I have

this story prepared and I'm a great
and so I ask questions and make jokes

along the way, but the foundation
of the story that he's telling is really

just to kind of walk us through
history, to give people a very comfortable

seat at a table to hear a
story about history in a non class roomy

way, but also in a non
I feel like that. You know,

there's also a degree to which it
seems like people have overcorrected in their wokeness

to where now everybody's like presentation of
stuff is is too who buttoned up that?

It's that it almost sucks some of
the fun in the life out of

it. So I'm sort of there
to ask questions and poke and proud and

be like, but he was kind
of a piece of shit, right.

I was like, well, of
course, but the show is really meant

to to educate people and be more
fun than anything else, because we're not

dwelling on the shittiness of what people
did. We're sort of talking about history

and then bringing up some of these
things. But you know, the foundation

of it is, you know,
those who don't learn from history are doomed

to repeat it. And here we
are with the president trump being elected.

Nobody thought it would happen in two
thousand and sixteen, and it's like do

we fucking learn nothing in the four
hundred years that we've been a country?

And it's like, apparently fucking not. And so how else can we start

to educate people? And it's like
we have to talk about these things.

You know, if we don't,
they're just going to happen again. I

think your podcast is going to end
up being one of those podcasts that you

listen to it and there's something like
that, I don't know that you like

passionate about that, you love,
then you're going to find something out about

it and be like no, no, that did not have a hundred percent.

There's so many things where I'm like, are you kidding me? He's

like, Oh, yeah, and
I'm like great, sweet, that changes

everything. And I also don't want
to try it like strong arm into our

podcast to say we're going to rewrite
history in a woke way. You know,

history has to be what it is. We do have to be fairly

unbiased, despite my jokes and and
other things like. It just fucking is

what it is, unfortunately. And
but we talked about the Mexican American war,

like how we started that on purpose, just so we could kill Mexicans

and take land. You know,
like Shocker, we did that. Columbus

and America did that from the from
the get go. That's our history.

You know, when we talk about
American history, world history is all over

the place, but that's kind of
the premise of our show and like I'm

always just like what's our what's our
show about? Craig and he had something

kind of funny. That's also kind
of the the the premise for our new

podcast, which this is helping promote, called, what's it called, Craig?

You remember something about Shit. History, history rated are somethink about shit.

Something about Shit, because my tagline
for it is in history everyone's a

piece of shit. But anyway,
you know, it's just it's a fun

relationship and something that I want to
highlight our podcast. There's a lot of

fun. We drink MARTINIS, we
eat dinner, talk about food. We

talked about history and we answer questions
and as any as hard as anybody could

try to try any kind of gap
bridging, you know, like that's that's,

in a small way, with this
sort of hopes to do. So,

okay, when does the PODCAST come
out? When can people listen?

Tune in find out other, you
know, the rated our moment throughout history

that will piss them off. The
podcast will be launching the day that this

episode goes up, so whenever this
is out, episode one is out.

If you're listening to pride right now
and you seem interested in history, rated

are find us on apple, spotify, where we get your podcast. Pride

is a production of Straw Huad media. If you like the show, leave

us a rating and a review on
Apple, podcast, spotify or wherever you

listen to podcast. Then follow us
on Instagram, facebook, twitter and snapchat

at pride and tune in weekly for
new episodes. Be Sure to share this

episode with your friends and subscribe for
more stories from Amazing Queer people. If

you'd like to connect with me,
you can follow me everywhere. At Le

by chambers. Pride is produced by
me Le by Chambers, Maiggie Bulls,

Ryan Tillotson, Caitlyn mcdaniel and Brandon
Marlow, edited by Silvana, I'll Calla,

and Daniel Fer era. Sound mixing
by Sylvana, I'll calla. I

love this, Ryan. I think
this is a great episode, and then

I was like, we could do
more episodes on that right. You could

do your episodes. I love that
because I think this will be a really

cool episode.
The LGBTQ experience is more than just a rainbow flag, it’s a movement. The PRIDE podcast hosted by Levi Chambers celebrates every person under the queer umbrella wit... View More




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