Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Those Living In Glass Closets Should Not Throw Stones

The outing of Grey's Anatomy star T.R. Knight by costar Isaiah Washington in an unprovoked outburst during a press conference at the 2007 Golden Globe Awards in which he falsely denied having called Knight a “faggot” during an argument on set, as well as the very moving sight of a visibly shaken T.R. Knight responding to it on Ellen Degeneres' show, has prompted me to dredge up an old e-mail exchange with my good friend Brendan Keefe, responding to his blog entry Closet Cases, itself commenting on a 20 Oct 06 Salon article titled The glass closet about the Mark Foley incident asking the question: “As Foleygate shows, Washington has a unique definition of what it means to be ‘openly gay.’ Should the media keep playing along?”

The answer is, accoring to Salon:

Within the mainstream media, the general standard for reporting on the sexual orientation of those who are at least partially closeted is a combination of newsworthiness and the guideline used by many gay activists, the "Barney Frank rule." Based on a rationale offered by Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Massachusetts Democrat, when he threatened to release a list of closeted gay Republicans in 1989, the "Frank rule" maintains that outing is acceptable when done to a closeted public figure who is working against the interests of the gay community at large.

I agree with that rule. Here is my story:

When I was hired by a Defense subcontractor, in order to obtain a needed security clearance for my job, I was forced to go from office to office telling coworkers whom I hardly (at that time) knew that I was gay. This was presumably to forstall any risk to being “blackmailed.” It was deeply embarrassing for me to inflict my private life without context or prior acquaintance onto unsuspecting colleagues left speechless by my spontaneous need to confess. I might well have rung a leper's bell first to let them know I was coming.

Before you get too outraged, remember that the only reason I even had this “privilege” at all was because only months before, the gay news magazine Advocate featured a cover story by maverick columnist Michelangelo Signorile exposing the Pentagon's then active purging of gay personnel, even as one of its assistant secretaries of defense, Pete Williams, was gay and appeared to be accepted as such by then President George Bush and then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. The subsequent worldwide attention put Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney on the spot, who refused to fire his outed gay underling and offered the following explanation:

I have operated on the basis over the years with respect to my personal staff that I don't ask them about their private lives. As long as they perform their professional responsibilities in a responsible manner, their private lives are their business.

Cheney's statement upended overnight the witchhunt of civilian gays in the Executive Branch and, together with the timely intervention of the openly gay Mass. Rep. Barney Frank and the very strong support of my employer (for which I will be forever grateful), I got my security clearance and enjoyed seven very successful years in the Defense industry.

Now that I have switched to the Entertainment industry and want to marry my longtime “domestic partner”, as the State of California labels him, I am stopped by the likes of David Dreier.

According to Wikipedia, my fellow Californian David Dreier, Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since January 1981 representing the California's 26th congressional district, who at one time was so powerful that he was slated under Dennis Hastert for Majority Leader, voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (signed into law by President Clinton), against gay adoption, and against inclusion of homosexuality as a protected status in hate crime and employment discrimination legislation.

That track record has proven too much for his political opponents, gay rights groups, and most recently Hustler magazine, who have “outed” him as a homosexual.

Rep. Dreier has yet to comment on his sexual orientation. But Mr. Dreier, when you voted against my would-be marriage, you gave up your right to privacy. It is no longer your right to hide the truth, and no longer your privilege to be the first one to tell it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

LA Times: At Least He Didn't Have Sex!

The Los Angeles Times has suffered these last three months a precipitous drop in quality. We now awaken each morning to garish fonts and tabloid fare. The front page, once the near-exclusive domain of international news, is awash with anecdotal “human interest” stories. The news is laced with editorial. The editorials seem designed more to shock than enlighten.

Today (21 Jan 2006) brings an editorial so morally strange that you need to read the entire piece to be sure it is not intended ironically. Titled Bush's fourth quarter, the Times argues: “As the president prepares for the State of the Union, the biggest issue facing the U.S. is his own credibility.”

Leaving aside the absurd subtitle that George Bush's personal credibility is somehow more important to Americans than the fact that our soldiers are dying in an unpopular war in Iraq, the paragraph below (clearly meant without irony) is a moral scandal:

To be fair, this is never an easy time for a second-term president. Bush is in the uncomfortable position of having to rely on the likes of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr to define his legacy. But then, at least he's not spending his days forced to deny having sex with "that woman," dealing with allegations that he illegally funneled arms to a Central American insurgency or fending off efforts to get at his incriminating tapes.

No sex for President Bush? Our country has lost over a trillion dollars (yes, that's about $10,000 for every tax-paying American) on George W. Bush's Iraq adventure. For that amount of money, I would have slept with him myself!

But not for the 3000+ troops who have died so far. That price would be much too high for me to live with. “When Clinton lied, no one died” started as a cute bumper sticker a few years ago. It doesn't seem so cute anymore.

That President Clinton was impeached and President Bush has not (yet) been is says a lot about American politics. That the Los Angeles Times editorial board has favorably compared the staggering and ongoing loss of blood and treasure with an Oval Office escapade by President Clinton says a lot about the L.A. Times.

Perhaps they should have put the editorial in all capital letters, like ‘DEVIL WINDS’ STOKE FATAL FIRE. It would have had a lot more credibility.