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Ambassador Chris Stevens, The Hero We Never Knew

by Jean Ann Esselink on September 17, 2012

in Jean Ann Esselink,News,Politics

Post image for Ambassador Chris Stevens, The Hero We Never Knew

Something I think we all can agree on, is that Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died during the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, was an American hero. I spent last week reading everything I could about his life because I had heard, as I’m sure you have too, the rumors that Chris was secretly gay. I thought if it were true, that story might have made a compelling On Our Radar column for last Sunday; Libyan ambassador unable to come out and still be effective in the gay-hating Middle East.

But the truth is, I cannot tell you if Chris was gay. I can tell you only that he was a 52-year-old man without wife or child, at least one he claimed in public. I could find no bereaved lover of either sex who raised a hand to acknowledge a relationship. The phone call Secretary Clinton made to inform his next of kin went to his sister, a Seattle doctor, so I assume it was her name Chris wrote in the “in case of emergency” box on the State Department personnel form. I could find not a single statement made by Chris himself, about any LGBT issue. Upon reflection, I suspect it is the kind briar patch topic that Foreign Service officials avoid. In the 50+ articles I read to try to get a sense of the man Chris Stevens was, I found one friend who seemed to go out of his way to say “He was a regular person. He drank beer and dated women and liked outdoor sports” and I could find no evidence that he was not speaking truth. So I couldn’t write the column. But that doesn’t mean I can’t tell you what I did learn about Chris Stevens. Whether he was gay, or straight, he still lived a fascinating life, and it is a heart wound to all of us that he was lost in service to, not just our country, but to humanity.

Chris, the oldest of three siblings, grew up in the upper-crust society of Northern California in the 70s. His father was a judge, and then a councilman representing Davis City, which is about as liberal a community as you will find in America. His mother was a cellist with the San Francisco symphony. His parents divorced when Chris was a teen. His dad went on to become an assistant California Attorney General; remarried and had another daughter. His mother, who retained custody of the children, married a music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. In high school Chris belonged to the Model UN Club, and went to Spain in an exchange student program. He went to his dad’s alma mater, UC Berkley, as an undergrad, where he played excellent tennis and belonged to a fraternity.

The year after college Chris spent teaching English in a remote village in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer. That was where he fell in love with that part of the world, and began learning Arabic. (He already spoke French.) His mother said of him “He had sand in his shoes.” When his year in Morocco ended, he returned to California, earned his law degree, and tried to settle into the life of a Washington DC trade attorney. After a year and a half, he put his head down on his desk one day, said he couldn’t do this anymore, and quit.

Chris was much happier in the Foreign Service. He had different titles and different official jobs, but what he did best is what they call “outreach”. Chris served in Jerusalem, in Damascus, in Cairo and Riyadh, and most importantly, in Tripoli, and everywhere he went he established a network of contacts. He was rarely found behind his desk wearing a suit or tie. He was always out “in the field” meeting people. Hillary Clinton described Chris as having a “goofy grin” and the one constant I found in everyone who spoke of him was how friendly and incurably upbeat he was. I came across one story about a friend who was on the phone with Chris who could hear explosions in the background. He asked, “What’s going on? Are they shelling you?” to which Chris answered “Well, not on purpose.”

All of Chris’ work at making contacts came into play during the Libyan uprising of 2011. Secretary Clinton sent Chris Stevens and a group of about a dozen Foreign Service and “security” (read CIA) agents into Benghazi at the height of the fighting on a mission worthy of a James Bond movie. To the annoyance of the State Department, Wikileaks published some of Chris’ messages from this mission. The group sneaked into Libya on a Greek cargo freighter. It was Chris’ job to make contact with the rebels, and bring them together with ex-pats and U.S. friendly leaders who would take over when the government fell. The hardest part was getting them to trust one another. Someday, there might be a movie of Chris’ mission into Libya. I am dying to know if the agent sent by France to do the same job worked with Chris, or as a rival? What we do know is that Chris was successful. His reward, ironically, was the Ambassadorship that would lead to his death.

Chris spent most of his time as Libyan Ambassador doing what he did best – outreach – trying to make sure the new government of Libya became a friend to the U.S. It was the reason he was in Benghazi, and not in the much safer embassy in Tripoli, the day the mob overran the compound. Chris was there for the opening a Libyan/American community center. I am sure you have heard by now that he was not killed by the mob, but died in a locked safe room of smoke inhalation from a fire started by a rocket-propelled grenade. What you may not have heard is that it was his Libyan friends who carried him through the streets to the hospital, where the Libyan doctor worked for 90 minutes trying to revive him. And that just as we mourn him here, many, many of those who knew him throughout the Mideast mourn him as well. The photo that appeared on many front pages did not show his Libyan enemies desecrating the body of the ambassador, they showed his Libyan friends trying to save him.

I am sorry, I couldn’t write a column about Chris Stevens being gay. But I am encouraged that Chris was the friendly face America showed to the world. I hope we have many more just like him out there, who believe in friendship rather than war. Gay or straight, makes absolutely no difference, I just hope Chris Stevens had love in his life. And most of all, I wish we had had a chance to know him better.

 

Chris Stevens formal Photo via Wikipedia

Informal photo via U.S. Consulate Facebook page.

 

 

tncrmJean Ann Esselink is straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.

Follow me on Twitter as @Uncucumbered or friend me on Facebook.

 

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{ 8 comments }

LOrion September 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Thank you, sharing.

artlynentertainment September 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Does it really matter whether he was or wasn't ?

He was an American who served his Country.

This is what I despise about most LGBT bloggers and websites, always trying to put a gay spin on things …. and folks wonder why I call out such nonsense so often on my blog.

uncucumbered September 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm

If you had actually read this article you would have found it says exactly what you did – what does it matter if Chris was gay or straight, he was a hero. So you actually are in agreement with this biography. To wonder whether someone was gay is like wondering if they were left handed or had blue eyes, it's not an insult or "nonsense" to most people, just you. You might spend some time thinking about why that is.

RALPH September 17, 2012 at 5:49 pm

PIAPS AND HER SAPPHIC STATE DEPARTMENT ARE PROVOKING AND AGGRAVATING THE UNREST IN THE ISLAMOFASCIST WORLD BY PROMOTING HER LGBT/ANTI-CHICK-FIL-A® AGENDA!!!!!!!
http://americaphile.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/stat

RATHER THAN ENGAGING AMERICA’S EMBASSIES AND CONSULATED TO PROMOTE FREEDOM, CAPITALISM, THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND OPENING UP THOSE COUNTRIES TO KNOWLEDGE OF THE COMING RAPTURE, PIAP’S NEST OF LESBIANS IS PROMOTING SODOMY, FELLATIO, FISTING, RIMMING, GERBILING, NAMBLA, DOUGHNUT-BUMPING, CARPET-CHOMPING, MUFF-SLURPING. TRIBADISM AND WITCHCRAFT!!!!!!!

WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN THE TRAGIC RESULTS!!!!!!!!!

PRO-AMERICANS MUST BE CERTAIN TO GET THE VOTE OUT FOR GOVERNOR ROMNEY ON ELECTION DAY SO THAT AS PRESIDENT, HE WILL BE ABLE TO HEAD THE WISE COUNSEL PROVIDED REGARING THE DEPARTMENTS OF STATE AND HOMELAND SECURITY!!!!!!

uncucumbered September 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I try to make a personal response to people who take the time to leave a comment, but I have no idea what to say to you, as I have no formal psychiatric training, and I don't want to make your condition worse. Try watching a sunset. Maybe take a walk in a nature preserve. Perhaps there's a comedy club near you? Peace.

richardkanepa May 9, 2014 at 2:24 am

The awful riots stopped after Ambassador Stevens death and the point blank shooting of an Afghan school girl as Muslims en mass thought the wrong person was punished for the anti Muslim porn movie.

I think he might have scarified his life to prevent endless tit for tat revenge killings like Christ did, and Kathy Change tried to when she set herself on fire at a peace protest, google
Ambassador Stevens is a hero, Four Heroes who ended a Helter Skelter Chain

richardkanepa May 9, 2014 at 2:43 am

He was more than a little careless with security rooming the streets without an escort. Maybe relying on the fact that anyone who killed him would backfire in their face, but alas the Muslim militias have now retaken the streets of Libya from the ordinary folk, https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/e2c67ad0940b

richardkanepa May 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Another site “The martyrdom of Christopher Stevens” supplements this site, https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/e2c67ad0940b

It is a real opportunity that this blog and a few others allows new comments on old stories that suddenly become permanent again. http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/22-22/1
This society is suffering from amnesia due to this being so infrequently allowed.

Ambassador Stevens had a vision of a light US touch in Libya now that Gaddafi was gone that would lead to Libyans cheering for years to come the way Cambodians are still cheering Vietnam overthrowing the Pol Pot dictatorship.

His vision was inspiring to other US officials. He was allowed to always do things his way, likely responsible for originally calling the attack on the safe house due to the anti-Muslim porn smut hate movie. He had little or no right to wandering the streets without security escort nor to send the guns he was buying back to the rebels to send to the non-al Qaeda faction of the rebels in Syria. However if we want to condemn his for aiding the rebels in Syria we might as well condemn Vietnam for overthrowing Pol Pot who offered no more threat to Vietnam then Saddam did the US.

The riots that started over the film re-fermented years of tit for tat violence between Muslims and Hindus in Burma and nearby counties such as India. The death of Chris and the gunning down an Afghan school girl on a school bus stopped years of tit or tat strife elsewhere in the world. I am hopeful that a new Benghazi hearing might lead to the US realizing that is dealing very poorly with an extremist fringe whose one of their goals is to bait the US into bankruptcy. That hate film advertised in the Muslim press as praise of the Prophet, hoped to create a scene at the original showing in Los
Angels, then to a Jewish philanthropist spit on or worse in LA as well, Coptic Christians killed in Egypt and to a tit for tat blame and vengeance chain throughout the world

There was lively discussion at RSN on an old gun site when a new mass killing occurs, I hope to spread this link around for comments during the new Benghazi hearings.

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