Howard Dean has said that he was uncomfortable with homosexuality when the civil unions issue came up while he was Governor of New Hampshire. He didn't want to talk about it and he certainly didn't seek to become a gay rights icon. But he decided that he couldn't in good conscience refuse to sign the legislation that made it legal.
He paid the price for that conscience. His next race for governor was marked by an extreme smear campaign that tried to portray him as an agent of the Homosexual Agenda. Yet, despite all that, he won re-election. I suspect a big part of his victory was his willingness to explain honestly his position on the issue and his thinking behind his actions. Even people who disagreed with him admired him for his forthrightness.
A hero is not simply someone who does something heroic. A hero is someone who overcomes weakness and adversity, both external and internal, to do the right thing. Some of the greatest heroes were people who lead otherwise unremarkable, if not questionable, lives (think Oskar Schindler). Yet when the time came for them to make The Big Decision they made it correctly.
Those are the people I admire. Those are the people I hold up as examples of good human beings.
Leave the "infallible hero" ideal to the right. Let them elevate a nothing like George W. Bush onto their pedestals. They are worshipping false idols.
I'll take fallible heroes everytime. They give me hope that I could someday be a fallible hero as well.