Former Gov. James McGreevey looks back on 'coming out' speech 10 years ago

With just a few words in a speech watched by millions 10 years ago today, Gov. James McGreevey stepped down from office and hasn't looked

With just a few words in a speech

With just a few words in a speech watched by millions 10 years ago today, Gov. James McGreevey stepped down from office and hasn't looked back. (Credit: News 12 New Jersey)

NEWARK - With just a few words in a speech watched by millions 10 years ago today, Gov. James McGreevey stepped down from office and hasn't looked back.

"And so my truth is that I am a gay American," he told New Jersey, coming out in a very public way.

A decade later, McGreevey says he's moved on and has a new mission in life. He doesn't like to dwell on that day, but admits he has rewatched that speech.

"It was a painful time but it was an honest time," he says. "I believe there's multiple closets... People have closets on family, on domestic violence, on drug abuse, etc. There's an old expression in the AA world, 'We're only as sick as our secrets'."

McGreevey says once his secret was out, he faced a long healing process. There was a pivotal moment five years ago, when he worked in Harlem.

"I remember thinking to go up there, that's a good place to go because I'll be dealing with people with all sorts of crimes and here I am," he says. "They won't be able to look down on me."

Today, the former governor works with Jersey City and Newark to help ex-prisoners get housing, jobs and treatment. He enjoys public service, but has no interest in holding a political office again.

McGreevey does acknowledge the political landscape has changed drastically since that day 10 years ago. "I think for the next generation, it's going to be a giant yawn whether somebody is gay or straight," he says.

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