So Nate Silver is gay. Huh.

So, poll-crunching guru Nate Silver is gay.


I honestly just figured he was a straight geek, when I met him years ago.  And I pride myself on my fine-tuned gaydar (that’d be you, Lindsey).

Some of you, I know, will ask, “why does it matter?”

It matters because it matters. When gay people still are having their civil rights voted on, like some high school popularity contest, and we often lose, then it matters who in famous-land is gay because it puts another face to the “gay menace” and makes it that much less menacing.

Nate silver

Nate Silver by Randy Stewart.

It’s long been held that people become more supportive of our civil rights if they know someone gay. And even if (or perhaps even better if) the person is a “celebrity” who you don’t know personally, but perhaps feel even more strongly about than someone you actually know – finding out they’re gay helps to soften any internal opposition you might have.

It also doesn’t hurt, when gay kids are killing themselves because they refuse to believe that it will ever get better, for those same kids to see adult role models who are happy, successful, well-loved and admired, and yes, gay.

So yeah, until it stops mattering that we’re gay, it matters that you’re gay.

Oh, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone come out so incidentally in my life (unless Nate came out earlier and none of us ever noticed).

From a Guardian profile of Nate Silver:

Dean Chambers of railed against his “voodoo statistics”, claimed he’d been “smoking the wacky weed” and finally pronounced him a “thin and effeminate” man “of small stature” with a “soft-sounding voice”.

There was more than a touch of homophobia to the criticism (Silver is gay), not to mention an aversion to scientific rationalism that has come to characterise certain segments of the conservative right. (Gawker compared the attack to “something like a jock slapping a math book out of a kid’s hands and saying, ‘NICE NUMBERS, FAG.'”)

It turns out that what he calls his “dorkiness” is actually the secret to his powers. “I’ve always felt like something of an outsider. I’ve always had friends, but I’ve always come from an outside point of view. I think that’s important. If you grow up gay, or in a household that’s agnostic, when most people are religious, then from the get-go, you are saying that there are things that the majority of society believes that I don’t believe.”

What made you more of a misfit, I ask, being gay or a geek? “Probably the numbers stuff since I had that from when I was six.”

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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50 Responses to “So Nate Silver is gay. Huh.”

  1. Heather Gray says:

    they’ve been there, done that, and are still there.

  2. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    You just described the “Christian” household where I was raised.

  3. aleatharhea says:

    I think a better question would be, “What made you more of a misfit, being gay or being agnostic?” Because seriously, being from an agnostic household myself, well, there was serious ostracization, even beatings.

  4. It also matters because being anti-gay hurts the GOP in a variety of ways. One way is that many of the best and the brightest won’t work with them. As times continue to change, stalwarts of the right will have a shallower pool as gay and gay supportive professionals refuse to work with them. Eventually they will be forced to make a choice between updating their ideology and settling for sub par consultants and pollsters.

  5. future_man says:

    What matters most here is in the backstory.

    A geeky gay “math and science” guy got it right and made a name for himself in the biggest game in American politics.

    That success opens some interesting new turf in global culture.

    But perhaps more substantially, inside gay men’s culture Nate’s position reiterates the message that a Hollywood look is not a prerequisite for important notice.

    Overall, a nice set of normalizing signals being sent out to the next generation.

    Go Nate!

  6. wmforr says:

    Speaking of John Goodman, I always thought that if he had played Edna in the movie of Hairspray instead of the bland John Revolta, the movie would have been as good as the Broadway play.

  7. wmforr says:

    The off-hand coming out is becoming more common among celebrities. Somewhat like when the dentist asks, “Will someone be here to drive you after the operation?” and I answer, “Yes, my husband.” The more casual it becomes, the more usual it is. Or the other way around… or something.

  8. Houndentenor says:

    Personal attacks mean your detractors can’t fault your work.

  9. Houndentenor says:

    Yes. it shows just how smart he is that he refused to take the bait and get into a mud-fight with a moron. Like he wasn’t the uber-adorkable to begin with!

  10. RyansTake says:

    Don’t believe it. He has an agenda….

  11. RyansTake says:

    Nate’s an example of why I don’t trust any kind of ‘gaydar.’ I was big-time surprised when I read this earlier today. I really didn’t see that one at all.

    I don’t think this is an example of him ‘coming out,’ because it doesn’t seem like he was in the closet, but I’m glad he’s speaking about it now. It makes a difference, and he’s certainly one of the cooler ‘role models’ some gay teens could look at.

  12. Czarina Flo says:

    Actually, Nate didn’t ignore Chambers’ BS. He cleverly (he can’t be anything ‘but’ clever) tweeted:
    “Unskewedpolls: Nate Silver seems kinda gay + ??? = Romney landslide!”

  13. girlcousin says:

    LOVE me some nate silver!! I never belonged anywhere, either, honey. But wherever I am is home. At some level we are all strangers in a strange land.

  14. He has been out for a while (if he was ever in) and no big deal. Awesome. I was surprised the Republicans didn’t use it against him. He’s adorable and seems like a catch.

  15. Butch1 says:

    Notice how he ignored the Neanderthal Dean Chambers’ idiotic comments? He dismissed them for what they were. They weren’t worthy of getting riled up about. He’s probably been used to this kind of thuggish behavior and has learned to ignore it. What do they know? Nate was the only one who was correct in predicting the outcome of the election. What did Chambers do? He’s not a bright man and all he can do is pick apart a person and try and tear them down. Typical playground bully who hasn’t grown up. One dismisses this type of person. People look to Silver for what he can do and ignore the loud mouth boorish types that are envious of him and can only make noise.

  16. MikeinSanJose says:

    You know what this means, don’t you?

    (Wait for it… Wait for it…)


    We certainly are a powerful lot, eh?

  17. mr_ed says:

    Denigrating the man doesn’t change his message. Usually.

  18. monopole says:

    Somewhere, Alan Turing is smiling…computers and math don’t give a shit about orientation

    re: (Gawker compared the attack to “something like a jock slapping a math book out of a kid’s hands and saying, ‘NICE NUMBERS, FAG.’”)

  19. Steve says:

    He’s been out for years. Or, rather, he was never really “in,” but the fact that he was gay has been mentioned several times in public places over the years. I remember an interview from around (2008?) where he laughed about having received a marriage proposal from a woman. While his response was not “one of the many reasons that is funny is because I’m gay,” I recall his answer made me assume that that was what he was trying to communicate. I take your point about how it matters that people are gay and that others know it, but Nate’s column never really has been personal diary, nor does he talk about himself a lot in interviews. Seems to me like grabbing a bullhorn to make sure that word gets out to the whole world about any aspect of his life is not really his style. But, as mentioned, he’s been obviously out to anyone who was paying attention for years.

  20. J.D. Rhoades says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t know this already. I hadn’t given it much thought (except to shake my head in exasperation at how certain innumerate deniers on the right thought that was supposed to be some legitimate basis for attacking his numbers). Thanks for the perspective on why that’s important.

  21. Indigo says:

    I have to assume that everyone is gay unless indicated otherwise.

  22. Hue-Man says:

    Having grown up in a world without public gays (it still bothers me that macho TV stars like Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) and Dr. Kildare (Richard Chamberlain) were closeted gays), an out Nate Silver would have been a Gay Geek God. Even in today’s crowded gay community, he stands out as an influential political analyst; he adds another path for lesbian and gay young geeks who are trying to figure out how they fit in – assuming programming video games doesn’t work out.

  23. Is there a 43.5 percent chance that he’s available?

    Seriously, though, the 538 blog was one of the things that kept me relatively clam up through the election. Congratulations to Mr. Silver for a) being right and b) disproving his nasty critics by being right.

  24. AdmNaismith says:

    “It Doesn’t Matter If Nate Silver Is Gay. It Matters That America Knows He Is.”

    Yes, exactly.

  25. tzikeh says: — publicly out in 2010, generally out before that. This is super-old news.

  26. benb says:

    Didn’t set my gaydar off either….but…he listened to the Data…doesn’t matter if he’s gay, straight, or a member of the Tea Party….his projections matched Reality and—-except in …(I suspect) Quantum Physics—Reality doesn’t lie.

  27. odypoly says:

    I’m super gay, pretty “tuned in” and totally appreciated Nate Silver and the work he did in 2008 and 2012 and I didn’t know he was gay.

  28. Russ says:

    I thought I remembered reading an article somewhere after the 2008 election that postively said he was straight. Obviously, I was misinformed.

  29. MyrddinWilt says:

    He was anonymous until the 2008 cycle.

    And he was interviewed by Queerly just after the 2008 election cycle which described him as a ‘gay icon’.

    Which suggests to me that perhaps, yes we have indeed got to the point where being gay is no longer notable outside a certain part of the country.

    Also interesting to see from the article how much has changed in just 4 years.

  30. Tyke says:

    Chris Christie is getting dangerously close to acting sane on occasion as well.

  31. Zorba says:

    Yes, it has been widely known for awhile. And in any case, so what? Like, you can’t be gay and a complete math and statistics nerd? Who knew? I’ll definitely have to tell my math-oriented gay friends that. ;-)

  32. karmanot says:

    Yes, yes, give me Geek lessons Nate!

  33. karmanot says:

    Go Nate! For the record, hasn’t Dean Chambers of UnSkewedPolls.combeen described as a huge, short, furry eared , round, eunuch-like troll with tiny hands?

  34. Maile says:

    Photo of Nate and his ex-bf via Gawker (posted in comments).

  35. Savagespeaking says:

    when I was at Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh, he had a bunch of girls following him around, the kind who wear “I love nerds” t-shirts, so I bet they’re kind of disappointed.

  36. Jon Maas says:

    John, this is kind of old news already.

  37. leathersmith says:

    what about me? I’m gay too you know

  38. Finn says:

    Get Adam Lambert on US radio! Rest of the world has no issue

  39. Suga Pea says:

    Interesting Video. Only available until Nov. 19th…Don’t miss it:

  40. leliorisen says:

    Actually, Instinct Magazine wrote about this earlier today, asking, “Does It Matter That Nate Silver Is Gay?”
    They were referencing the piece from David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement, whose article was headlined, “It Doesn’t Matter If Nate Silver Is Gay. It Matters That America Knows He Is.”

    They are both excellent reads and contain the relevant question, about why it’s good to note his sexual orientation.

  41. Drew2u says:

    You’d better add Chris Farley to that list!

  42. Drew2u says:

    You mean the general media ignored a factual statistician? ;p

  43. Drew2u says:

    But what’s the answer to the most important question? Is he AVAILABLE?

  44. Markov says:

    He came out in a couple of places, and was one of the Out100 from a few years back. No one in the general media noticed though.

  45. Jim Olson says:

    Huh. I knew Silver was gay…I saw it in the media a year ago or so. Maybe it matters because it didn’t matter much.

  46. JefferyK says:

    I thought it was common knowledge that Silver is gay? Anyway, many — if not all — of the conservative attacks on Silver have been loaded with homophobic code words: “effeminate,” “soft-spoken,” etc., etc.

  47. Jonas Grumby says:

    I personally could give two hoots in Hell who has sex with whom as long as it’s consenting adults. I don’t care gay, straight, bi, polygamy, celibacy, green, blue, etc. But …. I do see your point and will continue to fight for LGBT rights.

  48. People naturally like to take pride in the accomplishments of others in the same community. I myself, being overly large, take pride in people like John Goodman and John Candy.

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