James B. Stewart’s Coming Out Story: A Triumph of Love

Loves (usually) wins out, but sometimes it takes a while. James B. Stewart (DePauw ’73) illustrates this powerfully in the video below of yesterday’s DePauw University commencement address.

(The relevant portion begins at 8:30. I recommend watching the entire speech.)

Jim graduated from DePauw in 1973, and was not out to his parents.  In between then and yesterday’s speech, he became a lawyer, switched to journalism, won a Pulitzer Prize, edited Page One of the Wall Street Journal, wrote eleven best-selling books, was a founding editor of Smart Money magazine, and now writes for the New York Times.

He met a man, fell in love, and finally came out to his dad.

Who then firmly told Jim his partner would never be welcome in the home.  Who didn’t come to the commitment ceremony.

But Jim decided to keep loving his father, unconditionally. On his deathbed, his dad . . . well, watch the speech to find out what can happen when you just keep loving.


Filed under DePauw, gay issues, love

6 responses to “James B. Stewart’s Coming Out Story: A Triumph of Love

  1. Jim Sgewart

    Eric, thanks for your kind remarks and for posting this. The response has been overwhelmingly gratifying. Of course there have also been some nasty and hurtful comments. To me the bottom line is that it’s a true story, and it’s up to the graduates and others in the audience to make of it what they will.

  2. Louise Trinche

    Dear Mr. Stewart,

    I wanted to tell you how inspiring and moving you speech was. How fortunate the graduating class was to have you as a speaker, and I expect that for many of them, your speech will indeed be a defining moment that they won’t forget. Thank you especially for sharing the story of you and your father. What a great lesson in unconditional love. I so wish my brother had experienced a similar resolution with our dad, but it wasn’t meant to be, and my brother died of AIDS at 45 having spent his life with dad in a “don’t tell, don’t ask” relationship. Again, thank you for sharing such a touching and motivational story.


  3. Endoxa52

    Indeed a very somber testimony of a father/son relationship but I do take issue with Mr. Stewart’s reference to Jesus Christ and unconditional love. God is Love and He loves His creation. But man must be reconciled to God and the only way that this is accomplished is by trusting in Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. To quote R.C. Sproul,

    “It may be true that in some sense God loves even those who fail to meet the conditions of salvation, but that subtlety is often missed by the hearer when the preacher declares the unconditional love of God.”

    In this life, a father and son can be brought together even if one does not condone the lifestyle of the other, as in Mr. Stewart’s case. But no reconciliation between God and man can occur if the terms set forth by God are not met. Do not be fooled, God’s wrath awaits those who refuse Jesus Christ.

  4. I knew Jim at DePauw, where he played bassoon in the Orchestra, while I scrapped away at the viola. He was quiet and patient, going through what most closeted gays and lesbians were going through. He made a courageous choice in telling his family; I never did. Thankfully, my brother and his wife were unquestioning in their love and support when my husband and I were married last May in Chicago. I wish him all the best, and not to worry about “G-d’s wrath”. I know I’m not.

  5. Kent

    Hello James,

    I just had the pleasure of listening to your thoughtful speech @ DePauw. Your words are an inspiration to me as a father who is often too stubborn & controlling with my kids.

    I remember you & Ben from our home town & I’m glad you had your final chapter with your Dad – it seems to have brought peace to your soul.

    Thank you for sharing,

    Kent Brost

  6. Nate Gorham


    I heard you speak earlier today on MSNBC about your new book “Deep State”. I found your insights and intelligence to be most impressive. After doing some research I found this recording of you presenting this commencement speech. It was so heartfelt and put tears in my eyes. I graduated from a small college in 1983. The commencement speech at my graduation was given by a relatively unknown man, however I have often thought about his speech and it continues to be an inspiration for me. I’m sure your words will live in the mind of some graduate like me for his or her lifetime.

    Despite their religious beliefs, my father and mother accepted my sexuality the day I came out to them and for that I’m very grateful.

    I wish you much success with the release of your new book!

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