MW: Given the change in climate for gays and lesbians since, say, 1989 when you first wrote about marriage, and the greatly increased visibility, is there a point where the closet becomes morally indefensible?
SULLIVAN: It's never been morally defensible. It's just humanly understandable. During the AIDS epidemic, to be closeted was, to me, unforgivable. And say what you will about me, I was out from the beginning. I considered it my responsibility to be out as a gay man in those times. I consider it a personal responsibility for everybody to be out at all times and all places. If they're not, then they're part of the problem, not the solution. Standing up for yourself with your family or making sure your boss knows you're gay, talking to your co-workers, that's hard. That's the work. That's why we have moved the country. And we've moved it so far now.
But we also now have this huge backlash, which in many parts of the country is vicious, [such as] in Virginia. It's right here, and that's awful, and we have to fight it. But we have to understand that it's really a function of our success. We're winning. The next generation of straight people is totally over this issue. They don't give a damn about this issue. Unless they're going to be brainwashed by the religious right, they really don't.
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