RALEIGH, N.C – At the age of 86, former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) passed away at 1:15 a.m. on July 4, according to John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center.

During his three decades of service in the U.S. Senate, Helms quickly attained the moniker of “Senator No,” because of his history of opposing almost every proposal sent to him. Helms was a staunch, anti-gay opponent of LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS funding. He retired from the public service in 2003.

“I had sought election in 1972 to try to derail the freight train of liberalism that was gaining speed toward its destination of government-run everything, paid for with big tax bills and record debt,” wrote Helms, in his 2005 memoir, “Here’s Where I Stand.”

“My goal, when my wife, Dot, and I decided I would run, was to stick to my principles and stand up for conservative ideals.”

Helms was raised in Monroe, N.C., near Charlotte, in a conservative and traditional Southern family. He entered public life in 1950, volunteering for the U.S. Senate campaign of segregationist Democratic candidate Willis Smith against moderate Democrat Franklin Porter Graham. In the 1960s he became a conservative commentator for WRAL, once suggesting that a wall should be built around the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican two years before his 1972 bid for the Senate.

“Jesse Helms’ legacy is one of hatred, homophobia and racism. Although not its intent, that legacy has made our community stronger and more able to forcefully respond to bigotry and prejudice. As a community, we are more committed than ever to securing full equality for all GLBT people,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

Helms joins the ranks of other legendary U.S. politicians who died on the Fourth of July, including Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.


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Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

3 replies on “Anti-gay ‘Senator No’ passes away (video)”

  1. Jesse was like others who fight outside what they’re afraid people will find out about them inside. I’ll always believe that Jesse Helms was a closet case, so afraid of his own closet door being opened, that he proceeded to help others nail theirs shut … so they wouldn’t tell what him and Jesse did out back when they were growing up :o)

  2. I wish I could say something nice about the passing of Senator Helms—that is the custom—and no matter how hard I try to forgive him I can not more forgive him any more than I can Hitler for murdering 6-million Jews, gay people, elderly and handicaped people. Jesse got on my bad side long ago and managed to always be on my badside. I might add Fred Phelps also is on my badside and in my book Fred and Jessee are in the same boat and are the best of soul mates.

    Jesse’s self-righteousness bigotry killed more people than Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot put together. His apologies were too much too late and his willingness to change did no good because the boat had already gone over the dam.

    What President Reagan fail to do because he thought that HIV was a gay disease which it never was—Jesse and the people who elected him –added insult to injury. When HIV could have been contained and prevented from becoming a world pandemic that it is today—Jesse had to get hung up on persecuting gay people.

    Jesse was the epitomy of hypocrisy. He had a very close relationship with Armistead Maupin whom he loved like a son. Armistead is an openly gay man and the noted author of TALES OF THE CITY.
    I agree with Robert Smith that Jesse was probably a closet case—and a dangerous one at that. It is time that we route out such people for the good of our community to prevent them from doing us the harm that they do. We have seen the harm that they do and can do since the McCarthy which hunts. Roy Cohn was as gay as they come, had several affairs with men but he denied he was in both the language of McCarthy and himself a “commie pinko pervert’. We owe much of the problems today to the late Senator McCarthy and as usual–one of our own–Roy Cohn. McCarthy got his persecution of gay people joined by Presdient Eisenhower–and that was the beginning of do not ask do not tell business. While Armistead readily admits to his relationship with Jesse —he has never related if they ever had sex together.

    IF there is anyone out there who had sex with Jesse now is the time to speak up. He needs to be exposed if for no other reason for the damage he did to all of us as well as the straight community who also was HIV positive. Those who are so homophobic need to be exposed just as the rpreacher and the Governor of New Jersey were. Exposing hypocrisy is the best way to combat those who do or would do us harm.

    Jesse to me is just as low life as Senator Strom thurmond was —-who raped a black female servant and then denied it for most of his career as well as did very hurtful things to his half black daughter. Love is blind and that is the only way that I can see her forgiving her father for all the damage that he did to the black community. Shakespeare was right—if the Lady doth protest too much—there is probally a good reason and that reason is that Lady is a hypocrit and is probably doing what she protests so loudly about.

  3. I wish I could say something nice about the passing of Senator Helms—that is the custom—and no matter how hard I try to forgive him I can not no more forgive him anymore than I can Hitler for murdering 6-million Jews, gay people, elderly and handicaped people. Jesse got on my permanent bad side long ago and managed to always be on my badside. I might add Fred Phelps also is on my badside and in my book Fred and Jessee are in the same boat and are the best of soul mates.

    Jesse’s self-righteousness bigotry killed more people than Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot put together. His apologies were too much too late and his willingness to change did no good because the boat had already gone over the dam.

    What President Reagan fail to do because he thought that HIV was a gay disease which it never was—Jesse and the people who elected him –added insult to injury. When HIV could have been contained and prevented from becoming a world pandemic that it is today—Jesse had to get hung up on persecuting gay people.

    Jesse was the epitomy of hypocrisy. He had a very close relationship with Armistead Maupin whom he loved like a son. Armistead is an openly gay man and the noted author of TALES OF THE CITY.
    I agree with Robert Smith that Jesse was probably a closet case—and a dangerous one at that. It is time that we route out such people for the good of our community to prevent them from doing us the harm that they do. We have seen the harm that they do and can do since the McCarthy which hunts. Roy Cohn was as gay as they come, had several affairs with men but he denied he was in both the language of McCarthy and himself a “commie pinko pervert’. We owe much of the problems today to the late Senator McCarthy and as usual–one of our own–Roy Cohn. McCarthy got his persecution of gay people joined by Presdient Eisenhower–and that was the beginning of do not ask do not tell business. While Armistead readily admits to his relationship with Jesse —he has never related if they ever had sex together.

    IF there is anyone out there who had sex with Jesse now is the time to speak up. He needs to be exposed if for no other reason for the damage he did to all of us as well as the straight community who also was HIV positive. Those who are so homophobic need to be exposed just as the rpreacher and the Governor of New Jersey were. Exposing hypocrisy is the best way to combat those who do or would do us harm.

    Jesse to me is just as low life as Senator Strom thurmond was —-who raped a black female servant and then denied it for most of his career as well as did very hurtful things to his half black daughter. Love is blind and that is the only way that I can see her forgiving her father for all the damage that he did to the black community. Shakespeare was right—if the Lady doth protest too much—there is probally a good reason and that reason is that Lady is a hypocrit and is probably doing what she protests so loudly about.

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