this post could alternately be called, "Why are we our own worst enemy?"
In a recent Towleroad article, GLAAD anounced why it chose to ignore Kirby Dick's documentary "Outrage" at the GLAAD Media Awards. The movie centers on outing closeted politicians that, while having sex with men secretely, also pretend to be Family values and work to block pro-gay legislationand persecute the gay community. GLAAD's response to why they did not include it in their film festival was this comment:
The GLAAD Media Awards are about elevating and promoting the fair, accurate and inclusive stories of LGBT issues, people and allies that have increased awareness, understanding and respect for our lives and our pursuit of equality.
Outrage is a fine movie and an important one that focused attention on anti-LGBT politicians whose efforts put our community and our families in harm’s way. But the GLAAD Media Awards aren't the Academy Awards, they are about highlighting media that move America by telling the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people - not those who run from who they are.
The decision to come out as LGBT is an extremely personal one that benefits the individual and the people who know them. While there is certainly an argument that is made for speculating on the sexual orientation of anti-LGBT politicians in an effort to hold them accountable for the harms they inflict on our community, that sort of speculation doesn't promote awareness, understanding and respect for our lives and thus does not fit the criteria for the GLAAD Media Awards.
Outrage had been controversial film from the word go. There are many out there, Like GLAAD, that don't feel that involuntary outing is EVER a good thing. However, after reading this Towleroad article I was moved to write about it...but, I needed to watch the movie first and see what all the fuss was about.....Oh my....after seeing it I HAD to post. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops!
I have really struggled the last two days in how to present this...because I don't want to completely parrot the movie or there would be no reason for you to see it. Plus, I had to come to terms with my own feelings about outing people against their will. In addition to what I present here...the movie contains so much more. My opinion will follow after discussion of the movies content and you will see why. Needless to say...GET THIS MOVIE!.... Netflix it, watch it in ten minute chunks on Youtube...whatever you need to do to get it...you need to see it to understand why things are so bad for gays in American politics.
The film begins with Republican Senator Larry Craig and his vehement denials that he is a homosexual, even after being busted by a policeman while attempting to solicite sex in a bathroom stall. What I did not know, was that this was not the first time that Larry had been in this position. In 1982 there was a similar scandal involving sex with Pages. Larry weathered that one by coming out vocally against the charges. But thats not the end of Senator Craigs escapades...
One David Phillips tells the story of meeting Senator Craig at a nightclub/bar when he was a younger man. Senator Craig took Phillips home with him and had sex with him in his families home. After he was done, Senator Craig then told Phillips, " Remember, you never saw me, you've never been here.". ....followed up by, "Remember, I can buy and sell your ass a thousand times."
To me, this quote was the most illuminating in the entire movie because it showed the level of remove our leadership has from being a "representative of the people". People are not a commodity to be purchased.
Craigs voting record is a horror show. He voted NO on domestic partnerships twice, No on gays in the military also twice, NO on gay marriage three times, and no on ENDA also three times. He voted NO on hate crimes protections four times and NO on HIV/Aids bills a whopping eleven times over his voting career.
But elicit sex with men in public restrooms got a resounding YES!
David Catania, who you will remember as standing up to Catholic Charities in Washington D.C.'s marriage equality struggle, had this to say about Craig and others like him:
The fact that Senator Craig, and those like him, can engage in homosexual activity one minute, and then try to write us out of existence the next....There is no punishment harsh enough as far as I am concerned.Mike Rodgers of BlogActive, outed Craig in 2006 and figures prominently in the movie as a man with a mission to out all politicians, like Former Senator Craig...regardless of their political stripes.
Many people look at the Bush Cheney administration as being one of the darkest times for gay and lesbian politics... but what NONE of us knew is that their 2004 campaign manager was a gay man by the name of David Mehlman. Mehlman worked to elect Bush on a very conservative platform...one of the tenents of which being a staunch resistance to gay marriage. So we have one of the worst anti-gay presidents being helped to office by a gay man who knew quite well what he was doing.
The Reagan Years:
The movie also discusses the Reagan years and Terry Dolan, President of the National Conservative Political Action Commitee. This man was responsible for raising money for conservative candidates and causes, while he was himself gay. Remember that, during these years, so many were dying of AIDS and the president wouldn't even say its name let alone do anything to help. In addition the head of the N.I H., responsible for acting on infectious diseases..himself also gay...refused to move on AIDS for fear of being outed......Fan frigging tastic....
The film also outs Representative Jim McCrery (R) of Louisiana. McCrery regularly sought out men at a Sigma Nu frathouse for his sexual encounters. His voting record is as awfull as Senator Craig's. He voted NO on HIV/AIDS support five times, NO on gays in the military twice, NO on gay adoption twice, NO on hate crimes legislation three times, and NO on gay marriage SIX TIMES!....but, of course it was YES to cruising college guys on the side.
Gary Cathey was one of the men who had an sexual relationship with McCrery at the Sigma Nu fraternity house. After the death of one of Cathey's friends to AIDS complications...he decided it was time to out McCrery so he went to the advocate who printed the story. oddly..Cathey was the one who recieved the backlash and McCrery continues to serve in the House. In fact, he is getting close to retirement completely unscathed by the scandal.
Representative David Dreier (R) of California is the ranking republican in the House Rules Committee.....he is also reported to be gay and in a relationship with his Chief of Staff Brad Smith. Mike Rodgers uncovered that they often traveled together...one day apart, and on the government dime to locales like: Micronesia, Malta, India, Spain, Australia, Nepal, Chile, Greece, Russia, New Zealand, Italy, and Jamaica.....WOW! sounds like the worlds longest romantic getaway to me....don't you think their might be some rules about this?...Hmmmm...
His voting record belies his percieved sexual orientation. NO on ENDA twice, NO on gays in the military twice, NO to domestic partnerships four times, NO to gay marriage three times, and NO to HIV/AIDS support TEN TIMES!....but...YES to romantic getaways with your also closeted partner. Representative Dreier also had the gall to say on radio, "I'm voting for ALL the people.".....heh...yeah right.
Representative Schrock was also outed by Mike Rodgers of BlogActive after tapes of Schrock on a gay phone-dating service, surfaced. The tapes contained explicit dialogue describing the type of man he was looking to hook up with, and what type of sex he was looking for.
Representative Schrock's voting record: NO on domestic partnerships, NO on gay marriage twice, NO on hate crimes legislation.....but YES to phone sex hookups. After being featured by Rodgers on BlogActive Schrock resigned, even though he never acknowledged whether or not the recordings where his voice.
Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, had quite an extensive segment in the film. His extramarital affair with David Rothenberg before becoming mayor is detailed. Also detailed is the fact the Rothenberg was asked to leave town so that he would not become and embarrasment to Koch... who also made it impossible for Rothenberg to get work in New York thus ruining his life as well. Rothernberg told a friend that this was the the incidence of homophobia that hurt him most because it was at the hands of someone he had loved. Later...Rothenberg attempted to contact gay activists in New York in an attempt to out Koch. But he recieved physicall and financial threats such that he left New York fearing for his safety. Rothenberg later died of AIDS complications.
Act Up founder Larry Kramer makes the claim that Koch did nothing to help the gay community when AIDS struck. He is quoted:
San Francisco AIDS organization was getting money from their mayor in huge amounts. We weren't getting anything and it pissed me off more and more and more because we all knew he was gay.Koch takes offense at this characterization and points out that he was the first mayor to even appear in the cities pride parade and that he helped introduce a bill outlawing discrimination based on sexuality in New York City.....I Personally, will cast no judgements on Mr. Koch for his voting record, only his conscience can speak for him in this regard....but I do think Mr. Rothenbergs memory deserves better and his story needs to be part of the record.
And now the centerpiece of the movie:
This is the segment that is truly frightening. Florida Governor Crist is responsible for upholding Florida's ban on gay marriage and gay adoption and the appointment of some rabidly conservative State Supreme Court justices. In addition....he has been reported as having relationships with at least two men while at the same time projecting the image of the "Bachelor" Governor.
Governor Crist has been linked to a "Young staffer" who was, at that time, working for Katherin Harris. His name was Jason Wetherington. Wetherington made admissions to having a sexual relationship with Crist and that after his election to Governor he had hoped for an appointment in his administration and to continue his sexual relationship with Crist. The Governor was also linked to a man by the name of Bruce Carlton Jordan, a "veteran Republican pilot". The girlfriend of a friend of Carlton testified in a deposition that Carlton confessed to having a sexual relationship with Governor Crist. Crist himself, denied ever even knowing Carlton... a fact which Carlton's father contradicted, saying of Crist and Carlton, "They were longtime friends."
Crist's exbeard...er girlfriend Kelly Heyniger, was approached by the filmmakers for a comment and was told by her:
I think I should just keep my mouth shut...Call me in ten years and I'll tell you a story.My favorite quote from Crist:
I believe that marriage is a sacred relationship between a man and a woman. I've always felt that way and I still believe that now. Marriage is a relationship like my mother and father had, like I had....until I got divorced.Heh...O.K....that comment taken by itself is enough to elicit chuckles. Heres the scary part....Crist is a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President in 2012... O.O (yikes!)
James McGreevey and Dan Gurley:
There were also impassioned appearances by former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey and Former Republican National Field Director Dan Gurley, both of whom are now out of the closet by their own hand. Both gave their perspective on what lead to their decision to come out...whether it was McGreevey's affair with Israili Defense Force veteran Golan Cipel....or Gurley's decision to come out rather than be forced out in Mike Rodgers blog. Both gave their perspectives of what its like to be in the closet and attempted to illuminate the tortured thinking of a closeted gay man in politics.
McGreevey himself says he knew he was gay from a young age, so he went and looked up what it meant to "be gay"....the messages that he recieved where that it was a "curse and an affliction", leading to his life in the closet. I can sympathize with Mr. McGreevey because I think we all know how that feels....its not hard to go down the road he did...you just have to follow societies signposts and ignore the ones in your heart. Great discussion was also given to the spouses of the men who live these lives and the pain that they go through....It can't help but be tragedy for all concerned. McGreevey discussing the decision to come out:
Dammit...You know what the right value is? The right value is truthfullness...the right value is honesty. The right value isn't living someone else's truth...its living your truth.Media Coverups:
Oh boy this one gets the kettle boiling. if ever there was the notion that American news is censored, this proves it. Whether it's the Downplaying of gay media personalities like, Foxnews star Shepard Smith.....or more recent attempts to keep Anderson Cooper in the closet(fat chance), the credibility of mainstream newmedia gets a bodyblow here.
The worst example of this is the segment of Bill Mahar on Larry King. On it, he outs Ken Mehlman of the Bush/Cheney campaign. The movie shows the unedited section in which Mahar specifically mentions that Mehlman is gay and then the version that they aired with Mehlman's name removed. Some may call this sensitivity....I think it further advances the idea homosexuality is a taboo topic and a shame to those associated with it. Don't the American voters deserve to know that one of the most anti-gay administrations was helped to office by a gay?...that is censorship...not sensitivity.
famous quotes and my conclusion:
This movie got ALOT of people hot under the collar. "How dare you out them without there consent!" they said. Even in the movie, Andrew Sullivan is qouted as:
I just feel sympathy for them. I think every gay person know what it's like to have your privacy ripped apart.This is an understandable opinion, but these men are not living nuetral lives...they are actively working to persecute a community they should be defending. As much as I believe that forgiveness is a requirement for a healthy soul, its very hard to forgive someone while they are still hitting you...As is the case with Governor Crist. To me, when you cross that line......you deserve to be outed. When you make the statement, "I can buy and sell your ass a thousand times".....you NEED to be outed. As Barney Frank put it:
There is a right to privacy but not a right to hypocrisy. It is very important that the people who make the law, be subject to the law. People who are not subject to the laws, will make harsh laws because they don't have to live with them.Rich Taffel, a former Executive Director for The Log Cabin Rebublicans tried to give the reasons that some politicians remain closeted. he qoutes their attitudes to him as an out gay man as:
Rich your a weak gay because you came out. I'm a stronger person because I remain, not part of a gay, liberal community. I am still a conservative and I am everything I want. I dont puch my agenda on anyone and straights don't push their sexuality so why should we?And on the other side of the coin Elizabeth Birch, former Executive Director of the Human Rights Campaign, had this to say about the internal pressure gay politicians face:
I've literally had members of Congress crying in my arms because they don't know how to come outI think most of us understand that feeling well but these individuals often consider themselves at a remove from the rest of the American public...as Former Senator Craig's comments demonstrate. David Catania further illustrates this in a comment about Mary Cheney:
If she were stripped of her fathers title, she would be subjected to the same gratuitous discrimination that affects so many gays and lesbians in this country. She is protected by her position and her money.
Why these men feel it necessary to come out against gay people while they themselves are gay was touched on by Michelangelo Signorile, who admitted that when he was young, to combat the comments that he was a gay, he used to help the neighborhood bullies pick on other gay kids so the attention wasn't on him. But as former Mayor of Tempe Arizona, Niel Giuliano added later:
Every act of violence against gay, or lesbian, or transgendered people...usually starts with some form of, very visible, and very loud defamation.And many of these men have done exactly that, through their speaches and through their voting records. Our lives literally depend on the truth being told. Money is becoming the new monarchy...again...in America.
History often points out that we are our own worst enemy...from the homosexuals in Hitlers cabinet who encouraged that other homosexuals be purged from the Reich....to men like Roy Cohn, another closeted homosexual who helped Joseph McCarthy persecute homosexuals in the 50's...and now to men like Governor Crist who have no problem enjoying clandestine relationships in the same breath that he bans gays from marriage and adoption.....The closet kills.
Mike Rodgers says in the film:
I'm going to tell people who these horrible traitors are...and they are traitors to their people. I believe that....and I felt that it was time to start reporting that as hypocrisy. Not outing people who are gay but reporting on individuals who are working against the community that they then expect to protect them.The result we hope for would not be shattered lives, but something Rich Taffel expresed:
I think in the cases of the members of Congress...they do change their voting record, because once your out of the closet, your delusional thinking falls by the waysideSo Should they be outed? I believe so...I think it should be shouted as loudly as it can be, and the word spread to anyone who will listen. Especially given todays political events in gay marriage and federal trials. We deserve justice....not revenge....just a simple setting things right. Hopefully we can find that in the honesty of disclosure. Come out! Come out! Where ever you are!
So... thank you so much GLAAD for bringing this movie to my attention by your ignoring it. You have shown us yet another example of how in colusion large gay organizations can be, with the powers that want to keep all this hidden.....I recommend this movie to all my readers.....Don't let this topic remain in the closet.