Does anyone really care anymore who is and who isn't gay? As long as there seems to be some sort of perceived "power" with motives good or bad placed in the outing, together with the fact that we seem to still have the Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy not only in our military but in Hollywood and in Politics...I say the answer is "yes."
On a recent national level we had Perez Hilton making an attempt to out New Kids on the Block's Jonathan Night mimicing a similar tactic used by Out Magazine's placement of Anderson Cooper and Jody Foster among its list of Power Gays--just say it and maybe the celebs will nibble the bait. None of these three bought into it though. But is the motive here pure? One most definitely could and should argue the importance of the LGBT community being connected with role models of this magnitude, but just like the motivation of papparazi, one finds the real reasons suspect.
And what about politicians? Any sort of hypocricy among our public figures should be the basis for outing. If a lege is against gay marriage and that lege is a closeted gay Republican then I would say, "yes, out him." But in like if a lege is into cracking down on tax offenders and she hasn't paid her own taxes for years, then she needs to be "outed" for that too.
Not many know this but KnowThyNeighor stopped a very dangerous and major public outing of Massachusetts legislators back in 2006 after the failing of the infamous "yes, yes, no" vote "procedural" strategy. The fate of Same Sex Marriage was in play then and very tenuous. Tom Lang was approached by the Editor of an LGBT Newspaper asking for the names of two additional people who would go on record to support the sexual orientation of a specific state legislator that this Editor intended to drag through the coals. When I asked why this was in the works, I was told, "because we want those other 'closet cases' in the State House to understand that they need to do what we want them to do."
To this day I still do not know if MassEquality or our lobbyists were behind this or if it was solely a roge attempt by the news publication, but it was dangerous on many levels. The most important was that this lege was well respected within a group of other legislators who I suspected might indeed use this "public attack" as an excuse to not side with us--in other words, this lege was part of a block vote. I knew the personalities of this group very, very well and was astonished that this Editor or the MassEquality Coalition had not taken that into consideration. Thank God I was able to stop this and in the end of the 45 minute conversation was even threatened with, "if I regret listening to you on this, then I am coming after you."
This piece of history hits right to the heart of the whole public outing idea and begs these questions... Is outing a good thing? Does the end justify the means? What are the consequences, as there are always consequences? Are LGBT Leaders justified to use the outing process as a means to intimidate or blackmail if the end legislation or policy is a valuable one, one that will secure equality for future generations? How can LGBT keep the motives pure? Why is it really so difficult for us to be public about our sexual orientation? And how do we as LGBT people (out or not) take the power away from those who use our existence as a means of control?
Tom Lang, Co-Director