In a front page article on the December 9, 1974, edition of the Minneapolis Star, State Senator Allan Spear revealed that he was a homosexual. Never before had an American male legislator at any level, or in any state, come out publicly. However, he wasn't the first stage legislator to come out. That distinction belongs to Massachusetts state representative Elaine Noble, who announced she was a lesbian.
Spear’s revelation became a national story. He was immediately bombarded with phone calls and letters. Many of them, he later recalled, were supportive, but others were hurtful. One evangelical newspaper described him as a "pervert". He was especially interested to find out how his colleagues in the Senate would react to the news. His first DFL senate caucus meeting as an openly gay man is described below:
I learned that at a meeting of the DFL caucus steering committee, [Senator] Baldy Hanson [of Austin] had offered a resolution appropriating a hundred dollars to any member of the caucus who was a homosexual so that he could go to a psychiatrist and get cured. [Senate Majority Leader] Nick Coleman shut him up and quickly moved to the next item on the agenda. When I heard this story, my reaction was, “What a cheapskate! You can’t even get into a psychiatrist’s door for a hundred dollars.” And a few weeks later, [Senator] Florian Chmielewski [of Sturgeon Lake] wrote a letter to the Duluth News Tribune calling my coming out “a maneuver on behalf of secular humanism, a religion which denies the existence of God and glorifies pleasure.” My announcement, he warned, “should sound the alarm to every Minnesota citizen who believes in maintaining our Judeo-Christian ethics.”
I was determined that these isolated expressions of hostility were not going to discourage me. I was wholly comfortable with what I had done and felt better about myself than I ever had in my life. I would never again have to be ambivalent about who I was. I was now proudly and affirmatively gay.
- Crossing the Barriers, pg. 307