Joel Paul risked it all to testify in support of Anita Hill in 1991.
“I received numerous death threats at my home. I received letters that were slipped under the door of my apartment,” he explained. “I was told by a reporter that my home was bugged, that my phone was bugged. She told me not to go home. She said the Republicans on the committee were circulating a book with information about my personal life that they were planning to out me at hearings.”
Paul is a lawyer, author, and professor at UC Hastings College of Law. In 1986, his friend Anita Hill told him about being sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas when he was her supervisor.
“I was the first person to come forward to corroborate her story. I felt she was telling me the truth, I knew that she wasn’t politically motivated in any way,” he explained. “I didn’t realize when I came forward that nobody else would come forward.”
Paul received a phone call the morning he was set to testify threatening that if he went through with it, he would be publicly outed.
“When I got to the hearing, they were not going to out me because the Democrats had made a deal with Republicans that the Democrats would not bring up anything having to do with Clarence Thomas’ pornography collection in exchange for which the Republicans weren’t going to ask me questions about my being gay,” he explained. “I said to the senators at the time, that’s ridiculous. I’m not afraid of being outed.”