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Mitt Romney Was A High School Gay-Bashing Bully

by David Badash on May 10, 2012

in Bigotry Watch,Discrimination,News,Politics

Post image for Mitt Romney Was A High School Gay-Bashing Bully

Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, was a gay-bashing high school bully who said, “Atta girl,” to effeminate boys and shockingly had a days-long emotional attack that culminated with him pinning down a gay classmate and cutting off his bleached-blond long hair. Governor Romney claims he has no memory of any of these incidents that date back to 1965, according to a lengthy and heart-wrenching exposé in today’s Washington Post. An excerpt:

John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be named. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.

“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said. “What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do.”

“It was a hack job,” recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. “It was vicious.”

The Post article concludes with an emotional note about John Lauber:

He came out as gay to his family and close friends and led a vagabond life, taking dressage lessons in England and touring with the Royal Lipizzaner Stallion riders.

His hair thinned as he aged, and in the winter of 2004 he returned to Seattle, the closest thing he had to a base. He died there of liver cancer that December.

He kept his hair blond until he died, said his sister Chris. “He never stopped bleaching it.”

But Lauber was not the only target for the gay-bashing Mitt Romney.

In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.

Saul, Romney’s campaign spokeswoman, said the candidate has no recollection of the incident.

Yes, it was 1965, a different time, when these acts of anti-gay bullying were not just ignored or accepted, but often condoned.

But the handful of Mitt Romney’s classmates who either participated or didn’t stop it, not only remember his gay-bashing, they feel terrible about it. For Romney to not remember, and thus not be affected by his own gay-bashing, speaks volumes about his character.

The Romney campaign, and others, no doubt would say it was 1965. It doesn’t matter. But Mitt Romney married his wife Ann in 1969, just four years later, and that certainly matters in his campaign.

And they have on their campaign website a video that shows Mitt’s life, beginning with 1968, with the note:

“I think there’s one word that would be high on my list of a few words you would describe Mitt with. It would be trust. I think the qualities Mitt would bring to the Oval Office would be integrity, intelligence, an ability to see a problem and see a solution and make people recognize that he has those leadership qualities that would unite many people.” – Ann Romney

At what point do your actions matter?

Editor’s update: This morning Mitt Romney spoke on this issue.
Read our report: Romney Minimizes Gay-Bashing: ‘In High School I Did Some Dumb Things’

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Scott_Rose May 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

Romney "not recalling" his gay bashing is like Billy Graham not recalling his anti-semitic conversations with Richard Nixon.

thebrooklyndame May 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

I'm SO not surprised! Boundless and soulless hypocrisy from Mr. Etch-a-Sktech.

LOrion May 10, 2012 at 11:37 am

I think he was attracted to long blond hair! And could never admit it so repressed .
Glad we have good eye witness evidence.
Now TPM says he apologizes for being bully but not a not Basher.
? Wonder if he kept the hair!

stopthehatestopthehurt May 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Share this far and wide. He is a cruel, vicious man (not that we didn't already know this..). Everyone needs to know it. What a jerk!

Griverasd May 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Romney had absolutely no room for comment on Obama's gay marriage comment and acceptance. He is a Mormon! They support polygamy in their r religion. They may not practice – BECAUSE IT IS AGAINST THE LAW IN AMERICA! However, I cannot believe there are reality shows about Mormon's that are polygamists (why are they not arrested?)

ROMNEY and REPs again – hypocrites and "no room to talk" about anything.

By the way, when Clinton came into to office after the REPs (Bush Sr) destroyed our economy – he repaired it – and again a BUSH comes in and whacks it to pieces. When will REPs learn – they have no standing in fixing anything.

Lou Gagliardi May 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm

I do hate to support these groups but I do have to clear up one fact. I am not Mormon but doing a little research would show:

In 1890, LDS Church president Wilford Woodruff issued a public declaration (the Manifesto) announcing that the LDS Church had discontinued new plural marriages. Anti-Mormon sentiment waned, as did opposition to statehood for Utah. The Smoot Hearings in 1904, which documented that the LDS Church was still practicing polygamy spurred the LDS Church to issue a Second Manifesto again claiming that it had ceased performing new plural marriages. By 1910 the LDS Church excommunicated those who entered into, or performed, new plural marriages.

Just to clear things up.

Scott_Rose May 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Romney says he can't remember what he inflicted on his gay victim. Maybe if people held him down and cut off his trademark hair, it would help him to remember.

awilky12 May 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Can you really judge a person by how they acted in high school? I hope that I am not judged by my actions in high school. I can remember doing and saying some really stupid things. I ran into a former classmate and she was frank about something I had said to her and how bad that had hurt her. I don't even recall saying it. I was shocked and asked her if she was sure it was me. I apologized, but the damage had been done. I hope we are all changing and becoming better people. If we are all judged by how we behaved in high school then we are all in trouble!

Lou Gagliardi May 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

When you are a Presidential candidate threatening to squash any momentum of rights that should be the peoples rights in the first place, yes, you can and should.

katela8 May 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I agree that judging people based on how they behaved in high school is unfair. So, I'll judge him on his current behavior about this incident. If he truly doesn't remember what happened when so many others did, he didn't see what he did as wrong. The others, even the one who participated, felt guilty afterward. He apologized to the kid. Mitt's conscience was obviously not touched. If he does remember, he is perpetuating the problem by denial against witnesses. He is also telling present day bullies that you never have to say you're sorry or admit you did anything wrong. We all did things as teenagers that we aren't proud of, but a presidential candidate who cannot say he regrets past wrongs is no leader.

iggie75 May 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm

There's a HUGE difference in some casual, but cruel, comment you may have made in high school, and an outright personal body assault against a young man. RmOney denies homosexuality was even an issue, says that people didn't even think of it back then, yet that is refuted by his own classmates. He denies remembering the incident; sorry, you don't forget something like that. This wasn't some minor incident. I think matters that relate to personal character and integrity are NEVER out of date. I find this very disturbing, and right in line with other things we've heard/read about RmOney. No presidential material there. He seems completely indifferent to the plight of others, from this incident right on through to the people whose lives he gutted and the retirement funds he demolished while at Bain. Other people outside his little personal sphere don't seem to register on his radar. Collateral damage.

David Badash May 11, 2012 at 12:03 am

Yes, you can. The GOP has been bashing Obama for his childhood — and there was nothing wrong with his childhood, as far as I know — since day one. Obama has been attacked and judged for his childhood even though he didn't get to make any choices about it. Romney got to make choices and chose to make one that has now been characterized by one of the students who was there — and who is now a lawyer — as "assault and battery."
Even if you wish to dismiss Romney's actions from high school, how can you dismiss his response to his own actions? He claims he didn't remember committing assault and battery? Really? I remember when I accidentally hit a friend with a rock (we were probably 8.) I remember the names of all the boys who bullied me in elementary school. I remember far too many things I probably wish I could forget. He can't even own up to this? How very presidential.

Rsyk May 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

How about Obama's self admitted drug abuse? Or his formerly held "resentment" of white people? He's said himself that he did some things when he was younger that, were he doing now, would get him impeached. The difference between him and Romney is that Obama has had several books to explain in detail why these things were mistakes. Romney had a spokesperson give reporters less than a sentence of explanation, on the subject of a name-calling incident that happened about 20 years ago. (By this article's own information, the remark was made about the "Atta girl" comments, not the hair cutting incident.)
This story is completely irrelevant. It's only purpose is to give those who already hate Romney justification for their venom, as anyone who supports him now is likely to write this off as history.

thetruepooka July 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

"abuse"? Please. You insult people with real addiction problems with lies like that.

Personally knowing Obama smoked a little pot like most Americans from my time did just makes me want to vote for him more.

thetruepooka July 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm


lorimakes May 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

While I can understand the atmosphere of high school at the time and even the cruelties he inflicted, I have serious doubts about his inability to recall such an extraordinary incident. With his history of lying I have every reason to believe he's lying about this too. The man has no integrity or compassion and has no place being a leader of this country.

polnick May 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Throwing a sissy boy to the ground and cutting off his long hair with sharp steel scissors deserves more than an apology. Romney should wire his victim enough money to try to compensate for the hurt he caused.

writerjerome May 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Sadly, John Lauber died of cancer some years ago. All we can do is go forward, contrasting President Obama's statement yesterday in support of equality for all with this personal incident of Mitt Romney, who made most of his fortune using a metaphorical pair of scissors to hold down and cut up many companies during his days at Bain.

fanthing May 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Yes, people do stupid stuff in high school. But respectable people apologize for it and talk about how they learned their lesson.

Also, color me unsurprised about this, given how horribly he treated his dog.

westsideed May 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm

It's a shame that one running for president of the US has developed Alzheimer's. But then again I am sure that a lot of bulliers develope this disease as well.

fanthing May 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Also, I do feel obligated to point out that the modern LDS church does not endorse plural marriage. It has zillions of failings, and things like its founding in that practice and (very recent) racism ought not to be forgotten, but they do, at least, reject the rogues who've gone off to do their own polygamy colonies.

AVE8R May 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

How does Romney not remember that he was the leader of this bullying incident, which was described as "vicious" by eye witnesses, yet he does remember that he did not know that the victim of the vicious bullying incident was Gay? This and other incidents that are surfacing go to the mans' very core values.

peeonthehaters May 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm

And this is a surprise?? he's a no-good flip-floppin' asshole…I hope that intelligence prevails in November and the good people of the US re-elect Obama. Twit Rawknees fucked up Massachusetts as governor and he'll fuck up the US as president…God have mercy on us all IF and that's a big IF he gets in. and..did you notice his wife is blonde?? Hmmmmm….

notsofast13 September 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Can any of you attest to what Obama was doing in high school? Better research that before the stone throwing begins.
Obama does so many bad things on his own there is no need to construct anything negative about him. We must never mistake education for intelligence, ambition for ability, or energy for experience but… this is EXACTLY what Obama supporters have accomplished. OBAMA IS UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT.
To understand what is written one must learn to be a reflective, critical thinker, never take anything at face value. While reading or conversing don't put your mind on autopilot.

InvokeRights September 24, 2012 at 8:26 am

Who said anything about us not doing our research? Are you that daft as you can't even figure out that most people here have done their research?

At least Obama admits to his past mistakes.

And if you REALLY want to get into the nitty gritty about it, let us be reminded that it's been ALL REPUBLICANS that have huddled together like 'bullies' to block almost everything that Obama has attempted to do to get this country back on track, while Obama has at least shown some leeway with understanding things that both sides want done!

Don't like the facts? To bad. Either deal with it or get out of this country! We don't need another Bush-esque president in office!

notsofast13 September 24, 2012 at 10:23 am

The first 2 years of office nobama's party was in control of Congress, both the Senate and the House. They (the democrats) didn't even pass a budget, which by law they were required to do. Republicans have only veto'ed higher taxes on the working folks. You have no FACTS, and don't tell me to get out of my country! Just another angry hate fueled spewing fearful liberal – talk about a bully that describes your group not mine. Don't bother to reply, your ignorant raving is not worth my time.

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