The Power Of Coming Out And The Power Of Outing


Trailer from 'Outrage,' a documentary about political outing.

Today, as the Supreme Court hears its second important case on gay rights in as many days, I'm thinking about all the gay people who came out of the closet, who brought us to the point where this could happen.

Because unlike those who are black, or women, gay people could hide. For a very long time, that's what so many of them did. They had some very good reasons to do so, because to acknowledge their sexuality risked the love and support of their families, their jobs, and even a place to live.

And yet, so many did, anyway.

I believe that, left to our own devices, the human impulse is toward authenticity. But in so many people, that impulse becomes distorted when overwhelming pressure to meet cultural norms is brought to bear. Once you can't even admit who you are to yourself, what do you have? Self-hate and loathing.

I'm so proud of each and every individual, alive and dead, who found the courage to be themselves.

This scene is played out in so many American families, every single day. Each coming out in past decades made it easier for the men and women who followed, to the point where kids are now coming out at younger and younger ages. Families are stepping up to show their kids they will always love and support them -- not all parents, but a lot of them. The possibility for evolution is strong once parents see just how many gay people there are.

I'm convinced that having so many closeted Republicans is a big part of what distorts our politics. If you've ever read David Brock's "Blinded By The Right," you know how hard it is to be gay -- and a conservative political operative. You just can't reconcile the two and stay sane.

You would be surprised by some (but not all) of the names. Men who, if not actively involved in suppressing the rights of gay Americans, are more than happy to support the party which then does it in their names. They raise money for that party, they get out the votes, and they do "everything but." Seems like a technicality to me.

For far too long, the Beltway's gay culture has been ruled by a gentlemen's agreement: If you don't come after us, we'll leave you alone. This has resulted in a world where prominent wingnuts attend cocktail parties with their boyfriends, then wake up the next day and raise money to support the same party that oppresses gay people. Talk about cognitive dissonance!

I encourage gay Beltway Democrats to think a lot harder about that rule. Those Republicans aren't leaving gays alone, they're oppressing them behind the scenes. Maybe if we out those prominent gay Republicans, we could have a more humane political system where lying isn't a core value.

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