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Monster in the closet

By |2017-10-31T06:33:57-04:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

Outing is in the news again. Speculating bloggers and pundits are aflutter with questions of Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman’s sexual orientation.
Is he or isn’t he? And does it really matter?
Coming out is a highly personal event. So long as LGBT people aren’t afforded equal protections, coming out remains a risk. Many states don’t have sexual orientation and gender identity included in their anti-discrimination laws (Michigan is one of them. Contact your representative and ask them to co-sponsor State Rep. Chris Kolb’s (D-Ann Arbor) bill to add these protections today) which means LGBT people face the real – and legal – possibility of discrimination.
Outing someone before they are ready can be an incredibly painful and destructive thing to do. The Human Rights Campaign believes that sexual orientation should not be used as a weapon. However, it seems there are some political and public figures who are in the closet, yet working directly against the aim of equality for LGBT Americans.
Not surprisingly, outing these folks has become a high priority for some gay activists.
The April issue of GQ features a big article on outing allegedly gay Republicans. In it, openly gay United States Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), is quoted as saying, “Remember, what these people are saying is we’re bad people. What’s being outed here is hypocrisy, not homosexuality.”
Conservative gay pundit Andrew Sullivan is quoted in the same article saying, “I don’t think there’s any doubt that some people have put themselves in a very troubling position. But the right thing is to feel extremely sad and angry that these people, whoever they are, have not stood up for what’s right, and yet also feel sad and angry that other gay men are persecuting them. I mean, hypocrites have human rights, too.”
True, but these particular hypocrites are making decisions that impact the lives of LGBT people directly, whether its in thwarting LGBT inclusive anti-discrimination law or pushing anti-family marriage amendments. Closeted public figures are putting themselves in the line of fire of this very heated culture war. The expectation of privacy is not the same for a public figure as it is for a private individual.
It is incredibly disheartening and confusing to have LGBT people working in tandem with the anti-gay right to curtail the rights and dignity of LGBT families.
But what does outing accomplish? Does it expose the individuals as hypocrites and cause them to lose credibility? Is it just intended to hurt their careers? Or is it to make them see the error of their ways by living out Audre Lorde’s claim that “your silence will not protect you?”
RNC chair Ken Mehlman isn’t the first person working against LGBT equality to be accused of fouling where he sleeps. He won’t be the last either. Whether it’s an effective or moral tactic, outing anti-gay politicians is in.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.