Jon-Marc McDonald

Jon-Marc McDonald

Jon-Marc McDonald attending the Ghost Town cast and crew party on September 13, 2008, New York City
Born (1976-09-20) September 20, 1976
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Baker, publicist, blogger, political activist, former campaign manager

Jon-Marc McDonald (born September 20, 1976) is an American-born publicist and political activist. McDonald gained national attention when, at the age of 21, he simultaneously came out of the closet as a gay man and resigned as campaign manager from the 1998 United States congressional campaign of conservative Republican candidate Brian Babin.

McDonald went on to work in communications for Barnes & Noble and then as the Corporate Communications and Marketing Officer of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Currently McDonald owns and maintains a website devoted to baking that has received widespread media attention. He also writes a political blog that was transformed in late 2008 into an online diary of McDonald’s daily journey since learning that his partner of eight years, to whom McDonald was joined in a Civil Union, was thought to be in the final stages of AIDS. Spotting Love, a play based upon the diary, premiered as part of New York University's 2010 Creating Original Work season and is currently being adapted into a screenplay. McDonald currently serves as the publicist for the estate of Rue McClanahan.

The 2016 selection committee for the International James Baldwin Conference, hosted by the American University of Paris,announced that McDonald will present his paper, "Relatively Conscious: the Enduring Rage of Baldwin and the Education of a White Southern Baptist Queer," at the annual conference in Paris, France on May 27, 2016. McDonald will also chair a panel discussion entitled "Baldwin's Rage and Ethics."

Early life

McDonald was born in Fort Worth, Texas to Lyn and John McDonald. He has one younger brother, Grant. McDonald is the grandson of the late James E. Coggin, an influential Southern Baptist minister.[1]

McDonald attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he majored in history.[2] He was the president of his freshman class, an electoral commissions member and served as a representative on the student government.[3][4][5] McDonald writes of his college years "Baylor is a really conservative school in a really conservative town in a really conservative state. And I was doing my best at pretending to be a really conservative student with a really conservative girlfriend studying really conservative things. But I had a secret."[6]

Political controversy

At the age of 21, McDonald resigned from the 1998 United States congressional campaign of Brian Babin, Republican candidate of Texas's 2nd district.

After working on the campaign for three months, McDonald, who is openly gay,[7] abruptly stepped down, citing "irreconcilable differences" with Babin over the issue of homosexuality. According to The Dallas Morning News, McDonald announced his resignation via press release without discussing it with Babin, and his sudden departure left those in the campaign shocked and confused.[8][9] In the press release, McDonald wrote "There comes a time when your convictions take precedence over your job, your title and your status."[10]

McDonald generated further press coverage when he stated in an interview after his resignation that Babin thought "homosexuals should be shot", a claim Babin adamantly denied. In some press reports, Babin claimed that McDonald was not the campaign manager, but instead a "volunteer coordinator", also a paid position.[11] An article by Hastings Wyman of the Southern Political Report suggested that McDonald was forced to resign by the local media threatening to "out" him.[12]

The resignation received widespread national media attention because of the sensationalistic way it transpired.[13]

McDonald (left) served as a marshal for the large New York City demonstration against California Proposition 8 on November 12, 2008.

McDonald's account of the resignation varies somewhat from the reported accounts. On his political website, Screaming from the Rooftop, McDonald recalls the resignation by cryptically writing in his blog "...after a series of events I resigned from the campaign." Later in the same post McDonald claims that he was "...the youngest campaign manager working on a federal level campaign" in the 1998 United States midterm election cycle and describes his motivation for originally taking the job by writing that he "decided to briefly return to the closet in exchange for the superficial satisfaction of doing something that no one else [his] age was doing."[14]

Post political career

After his resignation, McDonald returned to Washington, D.C., where he lived prior to the campaign. In 2001, McDonald moved to New York City where he worked in communications for the book retailer Barnes & Noble before being hired as the Corporate Communications and Marketing Director for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).[15] On September 8, 2001 McDonald produced a fashion show featuring Hong Kong designers at New York Fashion Week for the HKTDC.[16][17]

In 2006, McDonald began Bake It Til You Make It (BITYMI), a culinary multimedia website that, according to the site's "About" page, is "a journey through the culinary world with some political and social commentary along the way." BITYMI also features many videos starring McDonald, four of which are featured as favorites of Bon Appetit.[18] McDonald is a self-taught baker. Many posts on BITYMI are devoted to McDonald's experiments in the kitchen.[19] Allie Demet of The Badger Herald writes that "McDonald is equal parts humorist and baker—he’s smart, snarky, sassy and downright hilarious. But what I appreciate most about him is that he’s a seriously good baker who takes himself and his trade lightly."[20]

Personal life

On November 12, 2008 McDonald served as a marshal for the large New York City protest march against California's Proposition 8.[21]

McDonald at the Rally for Marriage Equality in New York City on December 3, 2009.

On December 3, 2009 McDonald attended the Rally for Marriage in New York City, holding a sign that read "If I'm found guilty of stabbing my girlfriend I can marry her but if I love my boyfriend, I can't marry him? Is that right, Senator Monserrate?", a reference to convicted then-New York State Senator, Hiram Monserrate, who voted against same-sex marriage legislation on December 2, 2009.[22]

McDonald occasionally serves as publicist for his good friend, Michael-Leon Wooley. On August 12, 2008, McDonald announced on his baking website that Wooley performed We Have To Change at a fundraiser for the then Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, in New York City. The song was written specifically for the fundraiser by Henry Krieger and Bill Russell [23][24]

In late December 2008 McDonald began a series entitled Angels I Don’t See on his blog, Screaming From the Rooftop. The series chronicled McDonald’s personal journey after learning that his civil-unioned partner of eight years had AIDS. McDonald learned of his partners status on Christmas Eve, 2008 while at his partner's bedside at the hospital, a revelation that his partner kept from McDonald for many months.[25]

McDonald writes of the sudden and rapid deterioration of his partner that he was "watching the love of [his] life waste away from the plague in the supposed non-plague years".[26] McDonald's brother, Grant McDonald,then a junior at New York University's (NYU) Playwrights Horizons Theater School, adapted the writing for the stage and a 45 minute original production, entitled Spotting Love, premiered as part of NYU's 2010 Creating Original Work season and is currently being adapted into a screenplay.[27][28][29]

On January 7, 2011 McDonald posted that he would lead the publicity and marketing efforts on behalf of friend Michael J. La Rue and the estate of Rue McClanahan for ten auctions to be held throughout the United States to sell McClanahan’s belongings as, according to McDonald, was McClanahan’s wish. In addition McDonald will assist with the publicity for a documentary about the actress, release date unknown.[30]

The 2016 selection committee for the International James Baldwin Conference, hosted by the American University of Paris, announced that McDonald will present his paper, "Relatively Conscious: the Enduring Rage of Baldwin and the Education of a White Southern Baptist Queer," at the annual conference in Paris, France on May 27, 2016. McDonald will also chair a panel discussion entitled "Baldwin's Rage and Ethics."[31]


  1. "Coggin, influential pastor, dead at 86", Baptist Press, 3 December 2007, retrieved 2008-10-22
  2. "Election losers crying foul", The Lariat, 1 May 1997, retrieved 2008-10-23
  3. "Some Desire 24 Hour Study Hall", The Lariat, 30 January 1997, retrieved 2008-10-23
  4. "MLK Observance Still An Issue", The Lariat, 16 January 1996, retrieved 2008-10-23
  5. "Universities remember Judge Baylor during Traditions Week", The Lariat, 27 February 1997, retrieved 2008-10-23
  6. "John McDaniel, Jannette Barber and Dreams of Another Time and Place", Screaming from the Rooftop, 2 October 2008, retrieved 2008-10-23
  7. "Letter to the Editor", The Advocate, 30 January 2001, retrieved 2009-09-16
  8. "U.S. Briefs", PlanetOut, 25 August 1998, archived from the original on May 5, 2000, retrieved 2008-10-22
  9. Hillman, G. Robert (25 August 1998), "Congressional challenger's top aide resigns", Dallas Morning News, retrieved 2008-10-22
  10. Max B. Baker; Laura Vozella (30 August 1998), "The Insider Report: If they had made one, he would know", Star-Telegram, retrieved 2008-10-23
  11. Bernstein, Alan (25 August 1998), "CAMPAIGN 98 / Campaign Notebook", Houston Chronicle, retrieved 2008-10-22
  12. Wyman, Hastings (1998-09-14), "Texas Governor's Race: Rehearsing for the Millennium", Metro Weekly, Capital Letters, Washington DC
  13. Ryan, Thornburg (25 August 1998), "GOP Aide Resigns From Texas Campaign Over Boss's Views on Gays", The Washington Post, retrieved 2008-10-27
  14. "I was Mark Buse", Screaming from the Rooftop, 23 September 2008, retrieved 2008-10-22
  15. Londner, Robin (11 June 2001), "McDonald to push HKTDC's message", PR Week, retrieved 2008-10-22
  16. Bailly, Jenny (1 September 2001), "Asian Chic at Fashion Week", Fashion Windows, retrieved 2008-10-22
  17. "Party Reports: 09.03.01 to 09.09.01", BizBash New York, 3 September 2001, retrieved 2008-11-09
  18. "Bon Appetit Favorites". Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  19. "Bake It 'Til You Make It". Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  20. Demet, Allie (27 May 2009), "Epic Fail: Sarah (not Sandra) Bernhardt Cookies", The Badger Herald, retrieved 2009-05-30
  21. Towle, Andy (13 November 2008), "NYC Protest and Civil Rights March Opposing Proposition 8", Towleroad: More than Gay News for Gay Men, retrieved 2008-11-13
  22. "Joe.My.God", Joe.My.God, retrieved 2009-12-04
  23. "When You Wish Upon A Frog", Bake It Til You Make It, retrieved 2009-12-18
  24. "Hear 36+ Hours of Obama-Themed Original Music (650+ Songs)", Daily Kos, 5 September 2008, retrieved 2008-12-18
  25. "Angels I Don't See", Screaming from the Rooftop, retrieved 2009-02-02
  26. "Angels I Don't See, PART XVIII", Screaming from the Rooftop, retrieved 2009-05-30
  27. "Rescue Agreement Theatre", Rescue Agreement Theatre, retrieved 2011-06-20
  28. Greenfield, Beth (April 1–7, 2010) [2010], "It's Here, it's queer", Time out New York (757): 83
  29. Werner, Annie (March 31, 2010) [2010], "NYU Facebook Events Roundup: Improv, Asians, and Greek Week", NYU Local
  30. McDonald, Jon-Marc (7 January 2011), "On Dreams Fulfilled: My Lifetime with Rue McClanahan", Screaming from the Rooftop, retrieved 2011-01-12
  31. "The International James Baldwin Conference" (PDF). “A Language to Dwell In”: James Baldwin, Paris, and International Visions. American University of Paris. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
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