One of the best-known bloggers and gay intellectuals is going to bat for Brandon Ambrosino, the openly gay writer who has drawn immense scrutiny since he joined the Ezra Klein-led Vox.com earlier this week.
In a lengthy, comprehensive post published late Thursday on The Dish, Andrew Sullivan tried to defend the 23-year-old Ambrosino from the “rhetorical lynch mob.”
While Sullivan granted the critics that Ambrosino, who was tapped to serve as Vox’s writing fellow, has been guilty of “some occasional cluelessness and attention-seeking pyrotechnics,” he ultimately found Ambrosino to be “perfectly sincere…if a little jejune.”
Sullivan drew attention to a piece last year in which Ambrosino recalled his time at Liberty University, the school founded by the late, anti-gay televangelist Jerry Falwell. The piece was one of several that was cited by Media Matters for America as evidence that Ambrosino is the favorite gay writer of homophobes. Mark Joseph Stern also panned the piece, writing in Slate that it was “casuistry, victimization, and unintelligible nonsense.”
But Sullivan found the article to be “impressive” — and “livelier and funnier than anything” he’s read from Stern — and said that Ambrosino’s experience is something that the LGBT community should value.
He is unusual, in as much as his journey into gay life from religious fundamentalism inevitably makes his take on being gay a very particular – and fascinating – one. But guess what? Millions of gay people are born and brought up in fundamentalist Christian environments and families. Understanding their lives and finding a place for them in the world is something we should be striving to achieve rather than attempting to snuff out. And gays from fundamentalist backgrounds can help us engage in dialogue with some of our most dedicated opponents. What I found truly disgusting about some of the commentary is that they tried to portray the man as somehow a Jerry Falwell clone. That’s a deliberate lie and a smear. And it springs from anti-Christian animus.
Klein acknowledged in an interview with The American Prospect on Wednesday that he hadn’t read any of the pieces for which Ambrosino has been criticized prior to making the hire. But after reviewing those pieces this week, Klein said he doesn’t believe his Ambrosino holds “an iota of homophobia.”
Ambrosino has not responded to TPM’s multiple requests for comment.