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July 26, 2004

More on outing

MAJeff, the official homo on the DailyKos blog, has a great post on the Big Gay Controversy of the moment--the outing of gay staffers who work for anti-gay lawmakers (as I commented on last week). If you think Virginia is for Haters is tough, check out BlogActive, run by Michael Rogers--who has now replaced Michaelangelo Signorile as political outer-in-chief. (Don't miss the post about Rogers' beating O'Reilly at his own game.)

Having had my own first-hand view of the twisting of healthy sexuality that invariably comes when power heads into the Capitol Hill closet, I am unconflicted on this issue. The people outed recently aren't just closeted--one has even modeled in his underwear for a gay weekly--but leading double lives. And as the editor of the Washington Blade stated in an article in yesterday's NYT, the media have no obligation to protect anyone's double life. The idea that they do rests on a fundamental misunderstanding that MAJeff brilliantly lays bare: the idea that sexuality is a private matter. To quote MAJEff:

The larger point here is that heterosexuality is far from private. It's publicly enacted every day. Every time a married woman refers to herself as "Mrs. So-and-So", she's coming out as a heterosexual. When straight folks talk about their spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends, they're publicly enacting their heterosexuality. When the men on this site swoon over Stephanie Herseth, they're making their heterosexuality public. I'm not complaining about that, I'm just putting forth some of the ways that heterosexuality--as a social construct and a personal "lifestyle"--is far from private.

In the same way, when the people who have been outed belong to gay groups, when they frequent gay restaurants and bars, when they bring partners in public, they're making their homosexuality public.

What happens is that sexuality gets conflated with sexual acts alone. When I state on this site that I'm gay, I have told you absolutely nothing about what I do or don't do in bed. That part, for me, is private. My overall sexuality, however, is not. I'm part of a public community. I take actions in public settings; I frequent gay establishments. These are public, and they are related to my sexuality.

What many people need to understand are the myriad ways that sexuality is publicly enacted--and enforced. Sexuality is more than what we do in bed. It shapes so many other areas in our lives. Often, we aren't aware of the ways these things are done. But, just because we don't see them doesn't mean they don't occur.

While words like "Gay Uncle Tom" are undoubtedly hurtful, the metaphor is on target. The Times seems to sympathize with the "chilling effect on how many people navigate their lives, professionally and socially." I would hope so. The DC gay scene for too long has been happy to quite literally sleep with those who sleep with the enemy. That's the crux of this--as Republicans come to get us where we live, so the gay community is hitting the henchmen of the haters where they live.

We are talking here about people who are complicit with a political movement that would deny them--and all gays--full citizenship. For most of these lawmakers, their position rests on a denial of our full humanity. There will always be people who want to kiss the boot as it stomps on their face, to paraphrase one of the comments on Kos's site, so I don't really need to know much about how these staffers defend their choices. What I do know is that any argument about "trying to change the Republican party from the inside" rings more hollow at this moment than ever it has. Just ask any Log Cabin Republican you know--after years of laboring under the "change from the inside" delusion, they are faced with a party that has made it clear it doesn't want them. Or us.

I've read recently, on several VAhaters posts, that "the only good fag is a dead fag." While perhaps most Republicans don't go that far, it is clear is they believe "the only good fag is a silent fag." This new round of outing is about denying collaborators of their silence--and thus their utility to the masters they serve. Just as I intended with the Virginia boycott, these outings are a clear signal that we as a community are fighting back with whatever means necessary. Given the stakes, I find the moral calculus behind this new round of outing unassailable.

Posted by jay at July 26, 2004 10:39 AM | TrackBack
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