The Monica Lewinsky case, sexual allegations about Bill Clinton, the
fight over the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the United States
Supreme Court, and 1990s right-wing conservative activism. What do
these issues have in common with the University of California, Berkeley,
and gay men?
The thread connecting these two worlds was David Brock, a Berkeley
alumnus and journalist who became a darling of the conservative
establishment for his articles and books attacking progressive figures
from Anita Hill to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
In the early and mid-1990s Brock’s articles, speeches, and interviews
were wildly popular with American conservatives. In particular, in a
lengthy article in the American Spectator retailing allegations that
state troopers had helped arrange extra-marital sexual escapades for
Bill Clinton when he was Governor of Arkansas, Brock mentioned the
assertion that one rendezvous had been with a woman known only as
Not long thereafter a woman named Paula Jones identified herself as the
mysterious figure, but said she had rebuffed Clinton’s alleged
advances. Ultimately, she sued Clinton, and through the legal
machinations of that case the story of Monica Lewinsky came to light.
Clinton was tried and impeached before the U.S. Senate in one of the
biggest political sideshows of the late 20th century.
Through all this, one intriguing fact was not extensively known or
publicized. David Brock, the journalist and Berkeley alumnus who wrote
about the scandalous allegations, was gay.
In his autobiography, Blinded By the Right: the Conscience of an
Ex-Conservative, Brock described his adoptive childhood. Relocated
by a conservative father to Texas, he grew up lonely and rebellious,
crusading for unpopular liberal causes in his suburban Dallas high
“I chose Berkeley [for college] partly because it was a bitter pill for
my father to swallow and was as far away from Dallas as I could
imagine.” Once at Cal, he worked on the staff of the Daily Californian
and said he became disenchanted with liberal politics. A catalyst,
according to his story, was the lecture appearance of Ronald Reagan’s
Ambassador to the United Nations Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Brock writes he
was shocked by the hecklers who disrupted her speech. Later, he wrote
an editorial supporting the American invasion of Grenada, and was
attacked by the campus Left. In reaction, he gravitated towards
friendship and identification with conservative professors and students.
In addition to changing his political views, Brock was also coming to
understand his sexuality. He wrote he had little difficulty
reconciling politics and personal life.
“At Berkeley, I had no cause to associate conservatism with prejudice
against gays. In the early ‘80s gay issues weren’t polarizing our
campus…since arriving in Berkeley I no longer put aside my deeper
desires. With some hesitation, during my freshman year, I went on
uneasy dates and had hurried sexual encounters with other guys in
neighboring dorms. By the end of the year I considered myself gay and
had surprisingly little trouble accepting that reality….”
During the summer after his freshman year, he writes, he was attracted
to a fellow student (referred to in his book as “Andrew”), “a blond,
blue-eyed dreamboat of the Brad Pitt variety…” while they both worked
with CalPIRG (the California Public Interest Group).
“We became close friends instantly, and through Andrew I learned all
about the gay world — and how to be honest about who I was. After I
had known him for about ten months, Andrew moved into my
off-campus studio apartment, and we began to live as boyfriends. I was
After college, Brock moved to Washington D.C. where he took a job at the
conservative Washington Times. “Andrew” came along, although they
later separated. Brock enthusiastically became a writer in the service
of conservative causes. He also became a regular at gay clubs where he
encountered many of the people he saw more publicly in conservative
organizations and publications. “Gay Republicans were everywhere, even
in the city’s bars,” he wrote, and he became one of them.
Years later Brock was “outed” in an interview. He was abandoned by the
right-wing and published Blinded By the Right, in which he
apologized for much of his earlier writing and said “Had I come out of
college as an openly gay man ten years later, I doubt I would have
fallen in with the by-then transparently antigay GOP.”
Read More About It
David Brock, Blinded By the Right: The Conscience of An
Ex-Conservative (New York : Crown Publishers, 2002).
Will Harper, "The Unreal David Brock", East Bay Express,
Wednesday, May 15, 2002 (
Richard Goldstein, “The Primal Lie: Why Believe David Brock? Because
His Story Makes Sense,” Village Voice, March 27-April 2, 2002