On outing

The other day, a friend told me about the soon-to-be released documentary "Outrage" about closeted gay politicians, many of them conservative and ostensibly supportive of the anti-gay agenda. In its review of the film, NPR mentioned that it included such high-profile Republicans as Charlie Crist (Florida governor and newly-minted candidate for US Senate) and the infamous Senator Larry Craig. Because both of these politicians are married and neither is openly gay, NPR deemed it inappropriate to run the review as-is, and edited it to remove the references, thus igniting a storm of debate and controversy.

I am personally deeply uncomfortable with the practice of "outing" politicians and other public figures in the pursuit of an agenda. Yes, I find the hypocrisy of closeted politicians selling out their fellow homosexuals nauseating. I find politicians being hypocritical nauseating in general. But "outing" politicians is just a gay-specific form of the politics of personal destruction, and it is vindictive, immature and unlikely to sway disinterested parties to one's side.

Further, if the gay-rights agenda is to succeed, it should succeed on its merits. Anti-gay discrimination is wrong, and has negative consequences. But we didn't have thousands of supporters at the LD1020 hearing a few weeks ago because we exposed the anti-gay side as being full of homos. We did it because we as a movement have been coming out of the closet ourselves, and have been doing the work of showing our friends, family and coworkers that we deserve the same rights and respect as anyone else.

In response to Dan Savage (who doesn't know me from a hole in the ground), I know some of the people who are outed are vile and ugly people. I dig it. But that doesn't mean that we should debase ourselves by behaving in an ugly manner ourselves. I share Ta-Nehisi's skepticism.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with almost everything you say on this subject. I can see that someone may indeed be closeted and not have come to acceptance of their psychological makeup. It is deeply disturbing such a person would be publicly shamed, especially if s/he were (conventionally) married, possibly with children involved. Humans are complex beings, and no one is perfectly at home in his/her skin in all aspects of life. I find it incomprehensible that the gay community isn't aware of how very damaging these forced "revelations" are to the community's image.