Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Silly Sully

I'm not a TNR subscriber so I can't actually read it, but I got my daily spam from TNR informing me that Sully has an article titled "Out Rage" with the subheading "Why outing gay public figures is a terrible idea."

I don't know what's in the article, but I wonder if he addresses the time he wrote this:

In politics, Brazile is not alone. There are almost no heterosexual politicians who aren't married, divorced, dating or openly straight, and I know of few who would object to being asked if they were heterosexual or dismiss it as nobody's business. But among homosexuals, it's still a different story. To be sure, Representative Barney Frank lives up to his name. And even Republicans, like Representative Jim Kolbe, of Arizona, or the former Jesse Helms adviser Arthur Finkelstein, are increasingly matter-of-fact. But others equivocate. In Clinton's cabinet, almost everyone is married or divorced, but for two who aren't, Donna Shalala and Janet Reno, their orientations are shrouded in deep ambiguity. In a recent issue of New York magazine devoted to "singles," former New York Mayor Ed Koch was invited to write his own personals ad. This is what he wrote: "White Male, 70-something former C.E.O. and practicing attorney. . . . Have belatedly concluded that everyone, straight or gay, needs a partner in life. How'm I doing?" What on earth are we supposed to make of that? Surely no heterosexual wanting to find a partner in a personals ad would feel the need to conceal the sex of the person he is looking for. Why? Koch could have refused to join in the magazine's game, retaining complete privacy, or he could have written an ad clearly looking for a woman. Instead, he chose to play Kinda Ask, Sorta Tell.


Perhaps I should be clear here. I don't believe in "outing" people. But I don't believe in "inning" them, either. I have no evidence that, say, Donna Brazile or Ricky Martin is gay or straight. But I do know that their studied avoidance of the subject, along with their eager divulgence of any number of other private matters, invites an obvious and legitimate question. And, yes, it is legitimate. There comes a point, surely, at which the diminishing public stigmatization of homosexuality makes this kind of coyness not so much understandably defensive as simply feeble: insulting to homosexuals, who know better, and condescending to heterosexuals, who deserve better. It's as if the closet has had every foundation and bearing wall removed but still stands, supported by mere expediency, etiquette and the lingering shards of shame. Does no one have the gumption just to blow it down?

So, Sully raises questions about people's "ambiguous" sexuality, says he has no evidence that they're gay (if he did have evidence would he have not included their names in the article?), then says he's against "outing," and then suggests that someone should blow the closet down.

...here's the article.