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    April 17, 2008

    'Out'-ing absolutely nothing

    Posted by: Chris

    Gayrepublicans 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.

    OutmagAfter 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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    1. Identity doesn't equal politics from The Bilerico Project on Apr 24, 2008 1:01:20 PM

      I was going to post about that Out magazine article about closeted Republican staffers in the village that got a few responses from a few gay blogs like Gay Patriot, Chris Crain, and Box Turtle Bulletin. I agree with them, the article is stupid, but I ... [Read More]

    Comments

    1. Double T on Apr 18, 2008 2:40:16 PM:

      Chris,
      I'm not normally part of your "support group",but I must agree with you on this one. This story was poorly written with very little "meat on the bone".

      I think it would have been far more interesting to interview closeted Republicans and view the world thru their eyes.

      And if you receive OUT TRAVELLER it had an article about travel to DC. The article was basically written around one person, Barney Frank. Don't get me wrong, I love Barney.

      But is OUT just being lazy?

    1. Zeke on Apr 18, 2008 4:54:44 PM:

      Sorry Mr. Crain unlike the previous commenter, I usually agree with you but on this one I think you, like so many others when this topic comes up, seem to have missed an impotant aspect of the article which is the important aspect of the issue. The article was not about closeted gay officials as much as it was about closeted ANTI-GAY officials and the gay people who work for them. When specific people were named, they were examples of closeted gay officials who actively support(ed) and promote(d) anti-gay legislation. If you know of a closeted gay Democrat that supports and promotes anti-gay legislation then you should say so, otherwise you claim that this article didn't talk about closeted gay Democrats is without basis and nothing more than a straw man.

      Some people consider that any gay official who supports, promotes and contributes financially and verbally to the Republican Party, in closeted silence, as it goes on it's anti-gay, scapegoatinb, wedge issue campaign that marginalizes and oppressed gay people and their families, are just as bad as those who are actively involved in writing and promoting the anti-gay rhetoric and legislation. I believe there is a good argument there but we can agree to disagree on that. What I think is unfair to do is say that a closeted person who has never supported or promoted anti-gay rhetoric or an anti-gay agenda should be as much a target for outing as a closeted person who has.

      And to all those people who say that outing has never made a person with an anti-gay voting record become more gay supportive I call bullsh*t. Kolbe, Gunderson and Dreier are but three examples where their pre-outing voting record was 100%, or near so, anti-gay, but was changed considerably after their forced outing. What seems to be a much more accurate statement is that no anti-gay voting record has become more anti-gay after an outing. We won't even get into how many times an outing has resulted in an anti-gay politician being replaced with a gay supportive, or at least less anti-gay, politician.

      Though I agree with you that the article could have been better written and could have used a wider range of sources (like gay Republicans and closeted officials) I disagree with your claim that this article was somehow biased against Republicans because it didn't talk about closeted Democrats. When OUT or some other publication does a story on closeted politicians, friend and foe alike, and they don't mention closeted Democrats, THEN, I will agree with your complaint.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Apr 18, 2008 5:24:16 PM:

      Of course, one must remember that the definition of "antigay" simply means, "not Democrat".

      For example, gay Democrats fully endorsed and supported with tens of millions of dollars John Kerry and his gay campaign staffers like Steve Elmendorf. Gay Democrats, including HRC's leadership and gays working at the DNC, fully endorsed and supported FMA supporters like Inez Tenenbaum and Harold Ford.

      It has nothing to do with gay issues. As long as you are a Democrat, you can be as antigay as you want. Mike Rogers has even openly admitted that he covers up for closeted gay Democrats because it's more important that they keep Congressional seats.

    1. Zeke on Apr 18, 2008 11:07:38 PM:

      ND30, Again, if you know of a closeted gay Democrat that supported DOMA or the FMA or closeted staffers who work for congressmen who did support them then you should speak up now. You bring up Kerry, but as far as I know he isn't gay (closeted or otherwise) so I don't know why you bring him up in this discussion of closeted gay politicians who author or vote for anti-gay legislation. No one's being fooled by your well known bate and switch Republican shilling tactic.

    1. Zeke on Apr 18, 2008 11:08:56 PM:

      "bait"

    1. Chris on Apr 19, 2008 1:04:56 AM:

      Zeke: Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I do understand the focus of the article. At the same time, it was surely relevant to the Tom Foley story to mention there was more than a Barney-like voting record to suggest he's gay. The rumors have been around for years. Acknowledging the rumors isn't saying they're true.

      Also, there's more than one way that a closeted official -- Dem or Repub -- can be hampered by a dual life. Democrats have been rightly criticized for sitting on even basic gay rights legislation over the years -- Foley included. It's at least fair to ask whether being closeted made them shy about giving our legislation priority.

      All that said, my primary criticism was how unbalanced and poorly sourced the article was. Almost 3,000 words and nothing new or insightful.

    1. Double T on Apr 19, 2008 11:51:49 AM:

      North Dallas,

      I followed your link, "Go Away Kid, You Bother Us ".

      You should write children's fairy tales. Adults with fully developed minds see all the cracks in your spin.

      So, LCR, should turn away any press that disagrees with them?

      Lovely. That really shows the convictions behind their beliefs.


    1. North Dallas Thirty on Apr 19, 2008 7:11:45 PM:

      ND30, Again, if you know of a closeted gay Democrat that supported DOMA or the FMA or closeted staffers who work for congressmen who did support them then you should speak up now.

      Absolutely not.

      How a person chooses to vote and live is their own business. Even if I disagree with them, that is no reason at all to take away their right to discuss their own sexual orientation with whomever they see fit on their own terms out of some sense of spite on mine.

      And as for bait-and-switch, that accusation is quite amusing in regards to this.

      Your first statement (emphasis mine):

      The article was not about closeted gay officials as much as it was about closeted ANTI-GAY officials and the gay people who work for them.

      Your next statement:

      You bring up Kerry, but as far as I know he isn't gay (closeted or otherwise) so I don't know why you bring him up in this discussion of closeted gay politicians who author or vote for anti-gay legislation.


      Notice how "gay people who work for them" immediately vanished.

      Mainly because it demonstrates the hypocrisy of gay and lesbian Democrats and liberals who attack anyone who works for an "antigay" Republican, but who work for, vote for, and fully support and endorse Democrats who brag about having "the same position" as politicians who they scream are "antigay".


      Now, to Double T:

      So, LCR, should turn away any press that disagrees with them?

      There is a rather substantial difference between "disagrees with" and "has demonstrated a lack of journalistic integrity, a strong bias, an inability to be factual, and a willingness to use extralegal, if not criminal, methods to harass others because of their political beliefs".

      Roughly put, it's the equivalent of giving Fred Phelps a pass to an HRC press event.

      Do you think HRC should be forced to do that? I don't.

    1. Double T on Apr 19, 2008 10:39:52 PM:

      N.Dallas

      "disagrees with" and "has demonstrated a lack of journalistic integrity, a strong bias, an inability to be factual, and a willingness to use extralegal, if not criminal, methods to harass others because of their political beliefs...

      Thank you, you've just described FOX NEWS.

      yes, I'd give F.Phelp a Media Pass. He's going to report what he's going to report whether or not if he's there.

      Maybe he would learn something.

      NEWS....FLASH....THE..COLD...WAR...IS...OVER...FILM..AT...ELEVEN

    1. RJP3 on Apr 21, 2008 11:26:45 AM:

      Chris - you spend too much time tolerating those insiders at the MAM Contest. Have attending in 2000 when it was still very underground and cameras (media and personal)were fully banned.

      I had never truely been so disgusted at the behavior of some gay men - until the Miss Adams Morgan event.

      Rich, spoiled. powerful men in hiding.
      Disgusted then. Disgusted now.
      I am sure you fit right into that elitist tribe.

    1. Craig Ranapia on Apr 21, 2008 3:10:17 PM:

      Meanwhile, I wonder when OUT is going to be balancing the hand-job cover profile of Greg Berlanti with a hard-hitting expose of Hypocrisy (Beverly) Hills? Or would that story hit a little too close to home for Aaron Hicklin's social life?

    1. Chris on Apr 22, 2008 4:04:28 PM:

      RJP3: There's a big irony to your assertion that I ever "tolerated" the insiders at Miss Adams Morgan. In fact, way back in 2002 I ignored claims that this massive event -- one of the biggest each year on the gay D.C. social calendar -- could somehow be "private." I published photos from inside the event -- asking consent from those photographed -- and editorialized in response to subsequent complaints by organizers. The next year, MAM tried to ban the gay press, so we stood on sidewalks outside and photographed those who arrived and reported the results of the contest.

      Even today, some MAM particpants want the event to become completely open to the press and others remain paranoid and insist that it be "private." So the reality is that I have done more -- hands down -- than anyone else from the outside to pressure organizers into relaxing their rules; hardly "tolerating" a bunch of gay rich insiders.

    1. LCRW on Apr 26, 2008 12:52:23 AM:

      Somehow our chapter gets a free copy of Out and Out Traveler monthly. I glance through them for about a minute then chuck in the recycle bin (Who says Republicans are not environmental friendly?)

      Who reads Out anyway? Its garbage.

    1. Double T on Apr 26, 2008 4:44:32 AM:

      LCRW,
      Who reads OUT?
      Apparently someone at your chapter.
      Check the closet back issues.

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    1. Baby Games on Aug 1, 2011 4:08:06 AM:

      somehow be "private." I published photos from inside the event -- asking consent from those photographed -- and editorialized in response to subsequent complaints by organizers. The next year, MAM tried to ban the gay press, so we stood on sidewalks outside and

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