WeHo Gay Activist Duke Mason on Why He Attended Nancy Reagan’s Funeral

In praising Nancy Reagan for her AIDS advocacy at Reagan’s funeral last Friday, Hillary Clinton stirred up a hornet’s nest until she apologized and said she “misspoke” in praising Reagan for her action on a crisis on which both First Lady Reagan and her husband were notoriously silent.

James Duke Mason
James Duke Mason

Now a local gay activist, who also happens to be a member of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, has come out about his decision to attend Reagan’s funeral. Duke Mason, who was an unsuccessful candidate in last year’s City Council election, published an essay today on Queerty, the nation’s most prominent gay website, explaining why. Mason is the son of Belinda Carlisle, the Go-Go’s lead singer, and producer Morgan Mason, who worked in the Reagan White House.

Mason said his father had been invited to the funeral and was upset because he was unable to attend. So Mason took his place.

“I knew immediately that my accepting the invitation would stoke anger and disapproval among my friends and followers; I felt a lot of conflicting feelings,” he wrote. “On the one hand I fully agreed with the sentiment that the Reagans had failed adequately to address HIV/AIDS; I don’t think there’s any way to disagree with that. The difference, in my mind, was on the question of why they failed. Was it a pre-meditated decision not to act out of malice towards gay people, as many have suggested, or a grave error in judgment due to a lack of important information? The evidence, from my perspective, seems to suggest the latter.”

Mason’s essay has attracted as of this publication 29 comments, most of them critical of his decision. And he says in the essay that he already has heard from David Furnish, Elton John’s husband, and other prominent members of the LGBT community. What they had to say he didn’t reveal.


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Jag in Weho
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Jag in Weho

Bill Clinton signed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” into law. Thousands of GLBT lives were ruined. This means no GLBT could attend his funeral! Mrs. Clinton was at Nancy’s funeral. That would mean no GLBT would attend Hillary’s funeral. This has to be total farce.

Ever Vigilant
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Ever Vigilant

Can someone please tell us why Hillary appeared at the funeral other than to be one of George HW Bush’s “thousand points of light”. Showing up in every possible situation to garner whatever she can from whomever she can. Promise the moon, flash a smile, “I’ll fight for you”, even stealing points from Bernie Saunders. Without integrity, Hillary is nothing but a desperate weathervane. At least Nancy Reagan for good or for bad, had single minded conviction.

Ever Vigilant
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Ever Vigilant

Mr. Martin: Self promotion of any stripe is not activism. And more importantly neither is being a political arsonist and then rushing in to help put out the fire.

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

Who cares? While I agree with Ty, we need to remember the past but at some point we need forgiveness. We have buried our dead but we have not forgotten them. But why does Duke warrant this attention? Does he think he is a celebrity? It is not like he has been some great gay activist. Self promotion is not activism. But Mr. Mason is bright and has plenty of time to prove himself worthy of the celebrity he already seems to take for granted. I am rather surprised that anyone thinks his attendance or non-attendance at Nancy Regan’s funeral… Read more »

luca d
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luca d

blah blah …. and democrat fdr interred the germans, japanese and the italians, WITHIN THE BORDERS OF THE USA of A. and fdr took the radios and cameras away from these american citizens, too. i know history quite well, and am happy to dish it when sanctimonious party chatter is poured out, simply to shut someone down or marginalize. mr. mason was the topic, and his decision to represent his family is none of anyone’s business, except again, for the lefty crowd that likes to box people and brand them pariah. back and forth, tit for tat… mr. mason has… Read more »

Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D.
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Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D.

Luca D correctly states what is reprinted in his own words below. But he fails to specifically mention that amidst all the wars fought, the USA civilian German firebombing and Japan atomic attacks were criminal responses, killing civilians “guilty” of the “banality of evil” (see Kurt Vonnegut & Hannah Arendt). Forgotten in Luca D.’s comments, not that it excuses such faults, is that FDR pushed the New Deal, Harry Truman advocated universal national healthcare, Dwight Eisenhower sent federal troops to desegregate Southern institutions, JFK (an admitted failure with Bay of Pigs vis-a-vis Cuba) at least (while stoking the Vietnam debacle)… Read more »

Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D.
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Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D.

Luca D. correctly states: — “funny thing is that the reagans and others of their generation just didn’t get it. they didn’t hate, they just didn’t care.” — also, proper references to Democratic Presidents from Truman, to John F. Kennedy, to Lyndon Johnson, regarding war. And, Franklin Roosevelt lack of righteous action in saving Jews. None of this documented history (including the criminal atomic acts on civilians in Japan and firebombing in Germany, regardless of the obvious guilt of those nations’ governments, with complicity of too many citizens not courageous enough, or just too weak, to oppose Fascism: see, Hannah… Read more »

WeHoMikey
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WeHoMikey

Thanks, Jimmy Palmieri, for your deep and sensitive post directly addressing Duke’s un(der)-educated opinions about the Reagan years. with changes in names and locales, many of us know the same story.
Ignorance is easy to cure, and thoughtful people can and do continue to learn.
Malice, on the other hand, is inexcusable.

luca d
Guest
luca d

and while we are chatting about presidential malfeasance, shall we take a look at the following facts; jfk & lbj’s foray into viet nam which led to 58,000 dead american lads. ever go to that memorial and see the scope of the democrats hell? or shall we talk about truman and his ‘tie’ in korea, which killed 51,000 american boys. and the whopper of all time, is the democrats refusal to acknowledge the millions, yes MILLIONS of jews killed in nazi death camps, because fdr didn’t care about those european jews, and bomb the railroad tracks leading to the death… Read more »

Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D.
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Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D.

In the midst of the obvious scandal of the Reagans’ hypocritical/criminal denial of speaking out on AIDS, let’s also remember Iran-Contra and the war in Central America, the firing of air traffic controller union members, falsified attacks on “welfare queens,” the Beirut massacre of Marines, the “invasion” of Grenada, among other Reagan tragedies. Plenty of us gay men and women were active in opposing these Reagan escapades. Ron and Nancy were a mirage of “Morning in America” at a time of serious decline, now come home to roost with Donald Trump. Does anyone remember Reagan’s incendiary theme that “Government is… Read more »

luca d
Guest
luca d

yup, that’s right, it’s all ronnie and nancy’s fault. funny thing is that the reagans and others of their generation just didn’t get it. they didn’t hate, they just didn’t care. their understanding of ‘gay’ was the gm choreographer or hair dresser with the quick wit, and the fiercely closeted actors and singers they welcomed to parties, so long as they had a ‘proper’ companion for the evening. but, all the while, the head strong gay community of the 80’s and early 90’s were not taking heed to the warnings of safe sex, drug and alcohol abuse, instead fighting the… Read more »

Woody McBreairty
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Woody McBreairty

I find Mr. Mason’s article to be superfluous at best, if not ridiculously immature. Perhaps he simply wants everyone to know that he attended Nancy Reagan’s funeral & that’s fine, but his feeble attempts at revisionist history are not.The suggestion that RR’s dismissive attitude toward the AIDS epidemic was the result of a grave error in judgement due to the lack of important information is patently ludicrous.Was it a pre-meditated decision& not to act based on malice toward gay people? You bet it was.RR’s attitude toward the AIDS crisis was the result of his own personal feelings combined with the… Read more »

Jason K.
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Jason K.

This blog is verging on entering the WeHo Confidetial territory by posting d-level news stories of individuals who want social media likes and attention rather than working on any real issue whatsoever.