April 17, 2008
'Out'-ing absolutely nothing
Posted by: Chris
I almost hate to offer any criticism at all about the new Out magazine piece, "Washington's Gay War," which purports to expose the "ancient hypocrisy" of closeted gay Republicans working in the political world.
That's because the Out of old -- not the engaging, original Out under Sarah Pettit, or its cheeky reincarnation under James Collard, but the "Us/People" years with Judy Weider at the helm -- wouldn't touch politics unless there was a gay-for-pay celebrity somehow involved.
After years of Hollywood pablum, it's at least encouraging to see Out editor Aaron Hicklin paying attention to more serious stories out of Washington. But talk about an appallingly bad job… Author Charles Kaiser ("The Gay Metropolis") was the one tasked with shedding some insight on the phenomenon of closeted gay Republicans. So who did he talk to: Barney Frank, outing activist/ blogger Mike Rogers, an unnamed Democratic political consultant and a gay Washington Post reporter.
What about an actual living, breathing gay Republican (closeted or otherwise)? Wouldn't they be at least relevant? Could Kaiser not find the number for Log Cabin?
The result was a 2,800-word, one-sided hack job that failed to report even one single new fact. J. Edgar Hoover? Terry Dolan? Jeff Gannon? Stop the presses! Kaiser even retells the story about Lee Atwater insinuating then-House speaker Tom Foley was gay (based on his Barney-like voting record) without ever acknowledging the possibility that (hello?!?!) Foley might actually be an example of a powerful Dem who lived a gay double life.
The sole interesting exception was the article's opening vignette, which actually outs a gay Democrat -- not a Republican. Longtime Hill staffer Rob Cogorno was already out about being gay but said he was floored when Barney told a Capitol Hill crowd at Cogorno's going-away party that he hosted (in outrageous drag) the Miss Adams Morgan pageant.
Those of us familiar with the annual MAM extravaganza know how absolutely paranoid many of its participants -- Democrat and Republican alike -- are, so that little story was at least interesting. But how in the heck does it show gay Dems are more out that gay Republicans?
We can only hope that Hicklin stays interested in gay politics and Washington. (I'll admit to being a very irregular reader during his tenure, given my geographic disadvantage.) The magazine length is perfect for truly digging into some serious and interesting stories, but with at least some interest in all sides of the subject and breaking new ground.
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