Sounds like a Lifetime movie title, no?
Oliver Sipple was a former Marine who saved the life of then-President Gerald R. Ford. Just three weeks after Ford was targeted by Manson follower Lynnete “Squeaky” Fromme, the President was leaving San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel when Sara Jane Moore, reportedly angry about the government’s domestic “war on the left,” pointed a pistol at Ford and fired. Sipple saw her point the gun and grabbed her arm, deflecting the shot; it missed Ford, hit a wall, and riccocheted into a bystander, slightly injuring him. The Secret Service declared Sipple a hero.
Sipple was gay. He was not out of the closet; his family and his employer did not know, although he had participated in past Gay Pride events. When the national spotlight hit him for saving Ford’s life, Harvey Milk, the openly gay activist who would go on to become a city supervisor before being assassinated himself, contacted newspapers to advise them of Sipple’s orientation. The noted San Francisco columnist Herb Caen published the story that outed Sipple as gay. Sipple sued, but ultimately the courts ruled he was a public figure, presumably by virtue of having saved Ford from assassination, and he did not prevail.
Milk had reportedly said, “It’s too good an opportunity. For once we can show that gays do heroic things, not just all that ca-ca about molesting children and hanging out in bathrooms.”
I think that was an assholish thing for Milk to do. One can make the argument that outing, say, a politician who publicly is anti-gay serves some purpose, but all Sipple did was thwart an assassination of the President of the United States. He didn’t want to be outed, and surely he deserved to be able to keep his private life private. It’s almost as though he was punished for the good deed.