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ethics, outing, and gay young republicans

Posted by pocochina on June 13, 2007

Say there’s this guy, and he’s starting out a career as a paleoconservative political operative.  He’s worked for a group that’s so right-wing they’ve actually been classified as hate groups by the SPLC (and as far as this hippie is concerned, if the SPLC’s word isn’t law, it should be), and he’s waved a “Straight Pride” banner in a counterprotest against LGBTQ rights.  Now he’s working for Tancredo, who has a rating of zero from the HRC.

Oh, and he’s just started coming out to friends and family.  You find out.

So do you out him?  Is it ever right to reveal something that, in the hateful world we live in, could really seriously hurt someone, when their secrecy doesn’t hurt someone else?  Was his secrecy hurting anyone directly or indirectly?  Is it okay, because he’s a hypocrite?  Does even worrying about outing lend legitimacy to the Neanderthal idea that being gay is bad and should be kept secret?  It’s politics, so does the obvious disconnect between his private life and his candidate’s platform makes his sexual orientation fair game?  What about an anti-abortion activist who’s oops, had an abortion?  (Or, for that matter, an anti-abortion nutcase president who paid for his girlfriend’s abortion?  Hypothetically, of course.)  Is she fair game?  Is that too far, because abortion is a medical procedure?

God, I don’t know.  I’m doing a lot of thinking about the Ted Haggard dust-up.  And I struggled with that, a lot.  I don’t think Mike Jones (the sex worker who outed him) did the wrong thing.  I think he was ethical, and moral, and brave.  In that case, Haggard was obviously working against Jones’ civil rights.  Jones stated in an interview that he felt he had a moral obligation to step forward due to Haggard’s vicious anti-gay politics, and he also took a huge personal blow – indiscreet sex workers don’t get much work.  But still, I tried to keep a lid on my schadenfreude.  (Selfish reasons, of course.  Karma is real, folks.)  I do, honestly, wholeheartedly, believe that someone’s place on the Kinsey scale at any given moment isn’t my business until he makes it my business – and yet, someone who’s perverting Holy Scripture (yes, I do think there’s a theological argument for tolerance, for the record) and causing harm to countless gay kids in his care, to support his and his associates’ rabid hatred deserves to have his hypocrisy exposed.

Do I even have a stake in this discussion?  I’ve never had to come out, and given my age, it’s more and more unlikely that I will ever have to.  And even if I did, I wouldn’t lose my best friends, or my family, and probably not my job either.  I guess that’s the major thing keeping me from saying “hee!  Republicans are stupid out with them all!”  I have to recognize my privilege here, or my reasoning isn’t worth shit, in my not so humble opinion.  But it’s still my country, which I love, and my government, which I hope one day to join with pride, so I’m going to try to do this right.

So now back to our hypothetical closeted politico.  He’s eighteen.  And by all reports his father is slightly to the right of Ghengis Kahn.

Does that change the answers to all the questions above?

He’s a kid.  He’s a kid.  He’s a fucked-up kid.  He can’t even buy a drink in the gay bars he’s sneaking into.  (Yes, I’ve been to those gay bars, and yes, they card.  For the record.)

Who is actively working to “fight the left,” wants other queer people to “go back in the closet,” and wants to get a racist, misogynist, homophobic shitstain elected president.  (Not a Tancredo fan, myself.)

But still a kid.

Dan Savage – whom I adore, all political writers and sex writers should bow before him – posts his take here http://slog.thestranger.com/2007/06/tyler_whitney_just_18_and_already_outed (one day I shall figure out witty link text).  His position on outing is that “outing is brutal, and it should be reserved for brutes.  Tyler Whitney qualifies.”  Dan’s obviously more qualified than I am to comment, being a political writer and sex writer and out gay man.  He qualifies Whitney as a brute based on the extremism of his politics, and the postulate that anyone young and gay in America today understands the political climate and the risk they take when then enter anti-gay politics.  I also am attracted to his position because it acknowledges the weight placed on members of the media when they discover someone’s previously-hidden sexual orientation, without placing an all-out ban on outing.

If he were working for a Democrat, or even for the less-than-total-wingnut Giuliani, if he hadn’t waved that “Go Back in the Closet” sign or run a hate group at college, nobody would care, except the nutcases he’s supporting now.  It wouldn’t be news, it wouldn’t be such vile hypocrisy.  He’d be a kid in politics who happens to be gay.  He wouldn’t be actively hurting other gay people with his politics, so it wouldn’t be anyone else’s business.  (Screw him for making it our business, anyway.)

If this story hadn’t blown, Whitney wouldn’t be the first DC politico to have one Prada-clad toe out of the closet.  Maybe his out status will make him one of the few, the proud, the minority rock stars on the Right (see:  Phyllis Schlafley against the ERA, Michelle Malkin coming out in favor of internment, Clarance Thomas and his decisions which hinder progress toward racial equality, Ann Coulter against everything good and just and true).  Maybe he’ll have a dark night of the soul and soften, if not totally change, his politics.  Maybe he won’t.

ETA:  an LJ cut, and also this link http://pridesource.com/article.shtml?article=25528 to the paper that broke the story.  They had confirmed some time ago that Whitney was gay, but sat on the information until he was outed on a conservative blog.

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