That nice Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air, whom I have met and think is a very sensible man on the whole, has some thoughts about a documentary called Outrage that purports to out closeted gay Republicans, which was brought to his attention by the perpetually outraged Rick Moran, who spotted a post about it at Towleroad, a blog for gay men (which is so unreadable due to its chic grey-type-on-black-background that it constitutes a very minor threat to the republic — although suddenly I’m very curious about what brought Moran there).
I gather both Ed and Rick think the purpose of the documentary is to shame the individuals profiled in particular and embarrass Republicans and conservatives in general.
Well, yes and no.
I think it’s really a healthy declaration on the part of the lesbian and gay community that there are some vipers we will no longer shelter in our bosom. What with them being poisonous, and all.
This is really pissing off the vipers and their claques and dupes. They are slithering all over everywhere looking for pits to hiss in.
Closeted gays and lesbians generally truly are dangerous vipers to open gays and lesbians wherever we encounter them. When my late life partner of over 20 years, Margaret Ardussi, was dying, two of the three medical professionals who were vicious to us were women who tripped my gaydar. One was as conspicuously a dyke as it is possible to be without wearing explicit slogans. I think they were cruel as part of their “Being mean to this couple proves I’m not a lesbian” act. (The third was a nurse who was just a garden-variety narcissist who felt the need to shame and put down everyone in eyesight. I got someone else assigned in her place.) In contrast, straight people were very respectful of our relationship once they knew we were a couple and quite obviously touched by our devotion to one another.
Oh, and just so you know, the more anti-gay you are, the more certain most homosexuals become that you are putting on an act to keep the world from finding out that you are gay. This certainty is based on the extraordinarily high correlation we have observed between anti-gay behavior and getting caught in, well, gay behavior.
The example that looms largest in my mind is former Congressman Robert Bauman, a Republican, whose defeat I covered on election night from the party for Democrat Roy Dyson. Well, I was a reporter for the Harford Democrat, and Bauman had been caught soliciting sex from a teenage boy during the campaign, so it only stands to reason I was assigned to be at Dyson’s party rather than the one for the incumbent, Bauman. As a member of Congress, Bauman was vehemently anti-gay as part of his cover by day, but cruised Capitol Hill gay bars at night — which Bauman described in detail later in his autobiography. The anti-outing ethic of the time allowed him to get away with this.
The demise of this ethic is about halting outrageous exploitation and abuse of the lesbian and gay community.
The fact that people gays don’t like are humiliated by this is icing on the cake.
Also, there’s a point Ed and Rick raise that I would like to clear up. I think there is a longstanding misunderstanding about what gays and lesbians mean by, “My sexual orientation is my private business.”
We mean, “You don’t get a vote on whether or not I’m gay.”
We do NOT mean, “We have vowed silence about every aspect of our sex lives and will do our utmost to conceal from you that we are homosexual.”
We have NOT vowed silence or concealment because sexual orientation is NOT private.
Heterosexuals are shoving their sex lives in our faces every minute of every day. Every sentence with any of the following words is an announcement about your sex lives: “My girlfriend/fiancee/wife, my boyfriend/fiance/husband, my daughter/son/child/children, my date, my engagement, my wedding, my marriage, my blah blah blah blah.” Your engagement and wedding rings announce your sex lives. “Mrs.” in front of a woman’s name announces her sex life. You never EVER shut up about your sex lives.
Yet somehow, when YOU do it, you don’t think it’s sexual. When WE do it, it is. What’s up with THAT?
There’s another aspect to the belief that homosexuals alone are supposed to hide every possible detail of our lives that would reveal our sexual orientation. When you have to hide that much of who you are, it is enormously alienating to other people. That’s because one of the easiest ways to connect to another person is to ask them about the people they love — if they are dating, engaged or married, and/or have children. Lesbians and gays who are hiding their sexual orientation are forced to fend off these efforts at connection, or to poison the connection by lying. That’s just wrong.
Whether or not they are aware of doing this, most people have their antennae up all the time sensing everything they can about the people around them, including their sexual orientation. This is another way that sexual orientation is never private. Being forced to conceal every aspect of such a fundamental part of your being, which people figure out anyway, is horribly destructive and painful. That so many lesbians and gays still feel they must do this is what is an outrage.
I do think Outrage should have outed Democrats, too, in addition to former New York mayor Ed Koch. For example, in the early 1980’s when I was a reporter, another Maryland member of Congress was in a scandal after returning from some feminist conference or other with a woman from Australia who drove a number of her staff members to resign. I definitely thought then that she was a lesbian, as did the politicians I spoke with at the time, all Democrats. I think anyone in the state who hadn’t figured it out before did then. So in 1986 when Linda Chavez ran against her for Senate and tried accusing her of being a lesbian, due to this woman’s popularity, the nearly universal response Chavez got was, “Shut up! We already know and we’re fine with it! Now go away!” That woman is Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D, Maryland). More details are here and here. Mikulski is the poster politician for the benefits of outing the closeted.