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Out of the closet, into the frying pan
May 9, 2003 7:20 AM   Subscribe

One of the more interesting Senate races in 2004 is shaping up in Florida, where everyone but the electorate appears to know that Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley is gay. This open secret -- which would help explain how a "dream come true" right-wing politician has a strong gay-rights voting record -- calls into question whether respecting a person's right to "stay in the closet" perpetuates the idea that homosexuality is abnormal. (Via Eschaton).
posted by rcade (80 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
i cannot imagine the twisted, sick, self-loathing that leads a homosexual to associate himself with those would destroy him.
posted by quonsar at 7:28 AM on May 9, 2003


i cannot imagine the twisted, sick, self-importance that leads a journalist to publish a news article based on innuendo and unsubstantiated rumor.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:39 AM on May 9, 2003


Odd. The Republican establishment would prefer he remain in the closet, while Democrats and homosexual rights groups would like him to openly accept his sexuality.

Seems he's reached a sort of natural buoyancy.

Which, in a way, is a very good thing. One's sexual preference shouldn't be an issue when it comes to serving the public as an elected official; no more so than race, religion, etc.

But, as is quite obvious to anyone who bothers to vote, this is clearly not the case in US politics. Foley, however, seems to be forcing the issue by virtue of the divergent platforms of the major parties.

Fascinating.
posted by aladfar at 7:41 AM on May 9, 2003


PrinceValium: If Rep. Foley's sexuality were a closely guarded secret that's known only to his family and friends, I could understand the journalistic reluctance to out him.

In this case, though, it has reached a point that sources acknowledge immediately that a reporter is calling about Foley because he's gay.

At some point, doesn't the press have a responsibility to share a fact that's known to hundreds of politicians, policy makers, activists, and reporters? It seems odd -- and hilariously futile -- to demand that the press respect the public's right not to know.
posted by rcade at 7:47 AM on May 9, 2003


Why do gays never cease in talking about fucking?

Oh, right, because it's the thing that sets them apart.

Which is why it must be reasonable to talk about fucking when conversing about any possible subject.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:01 AM on May 9, 2003


At some point, doesn't the press have a responsibility to share a fact that's known to hundreds of politicians, policy makers, activists, and reporters?

If they're going to run a story about Foley being gay, are they going to run a story exposing most of the other representatives as breeders?

Where does the public's right to know end? If Foley has six toes on one of his feet, does the press have to alert the voters? If his orientation isn't relevant to his service as a representative and potential senator, then it's not remiss of the press not to make a point of it.

On the other issues, it's still an open question to me whether people in the public eye have any sort of moral obligation to come out if by coming out they incrementally advance the public acceptance of homosexuality. I would be loathe to tell an individual that he has to come out so that I might have a slightly lower chance of being discriminated against in the future.

Also, I agree with quonsar about gay republicans, but I'd rather have a more progressive republican in the senate than a less progressive republican.

This situation reminds me of the Feinstein-Huffington Senate race in California a few years ago. It will be interesting to see what happens if Foley's the Republican nominee. The Feinstein camp knew that Huffington was gay, but they didn't say anything. They claim that they kept quiet because it would have been wrong to say anything, but one can't help suspecting that they didn't want to have any gay voters voting for a gay Republican.
posted by anapestic at 8:08 AM on May 9, 2003


Hear hear, anapestic. Considering I know firsthand what a ridiculously painful process it can be, I think everyone, including pubic figures, should be allowed to come out on his or her own terms. To me, "gay Republican" makes about as much sense as "black David Duke supporter," but it's Foley's own private cross. I don't at all begrudge him the confusion and hurt he must feel on a daily basis.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 8:16 AM on May 9, 2003


If they're going to run a story about Foley being gay, are they going to run a story exposing most of the other representatives as breeders?

They do every single day -- a candidate's heterosexual family relationships can be discussed openly in the press, reinforcing the judgment that such behavior is normal.

To me, Foley's outing (and his Senate run) are a good thing because it moves us closer to the point that homosexuality is no big deal. As a Floridian, I'm glad to know the guy is gay and has a strong voting record in that area. If I was more politically moderate, I'd be more likely to vote for him because of this story.
posted by rcade at 8:30 AM on May 9, 2003


grrarrgh00: Just because one is gay does not mean that a person has to fall into the trap of identity politics. Some people can lust for same sex loins while fighting for a government that is just for all. I wish more people had principles, then maybe the gimmegimmie special interest herd mentality found in America would dissipate
posted by bunnytricks at 8:37 AM on May 9, 2003


grrarrgh00,
I think everyone, including pubic figures
Freudian slip or the newest line of superhero dolls from Mattel?
posted by substrate at 8:44 AM on May 9, 2003


i cannot imagine the twisted, sick, self-loathing that leads a homosexual to associate himself with those would destroy him

Perhaps you should spend your time reading, rather than ranting against a group of people you've apparently never encountered.
posted by profwhat at 8:52 AM on May 9, 2003


And I realize that I chose the wrong words in regards to the Republican party, but my point remains true. Just because a person is a member of a racial, sexual, or ideological minority doesn't mean that the person needs to concern hirself with only what's best for hir minority. That's a pretty bestial political path.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:54 AM on May 9, 2003


MidasMulligan has pointed out in another thread that there is no constitutional right to privacy. You can't impeach Clinton for getting a blowjob and then get squeamish because some right-wing congressman has a boyfriend, not if you want to remain consistent, that is.

The Jesse Helms: I'll stop talking about fucking when you stop beating me up for holding hands with my boyfriend.

It's all very well and good for self-righteous closet homophobes to say, as anapestic does, "why not out all the straights too," but it's just denial. The straight men and women I know who are comfortable with their sexual orientation nod and affirm my involvement in gay politics. No, it's not your issue, but that doesn't make it any less critical for those of us who are confronted with the wider freedoms allowed straight people in every aspect of society. Get over yourself.
posted by divrsional at 9:04 AM on May 9, 2003


Just because a person is a member of a racial, sexual, or ideological minority doesn't mean that the person needs to concern hirself with only what's best for hir minority. That's a pretty bestial political path.

It depends on what is meant by "what's best" for the minority. As an example, a lot of African Americans don't agree with affirmative action, so they might not ally themselves with a political group that promotes affirmative action. On the other hand, if the same group was in favor of a return to slavery, you probably wouldn't find many converts.

For conservative gays, it's not always easy to figure out just how much antipathy the Republican party feels towards gays. I've asked some of my friends "How can you belong to a party when you know that the majority of the people in your party would be just as happy if we all vanished from the face of the earth?" There are large elements of the Republican party who truly despise homosexuality and want to see it become or remain illegal. When I see people like Senator Santorum, I have a lot of trouble understanding how my friends can be associated with his party just because they want lower tax rates.
posted by anapestic at 9:09 AM on May 9, 2003


It's all very well and good for self-righteous closet homophobes to say, as anapestic does, "why not out all the straights too," but it's just denial.

I am neither closeted nor a homophobe. I'll admit to self-righteous.
posted by anapestic at 9:12 AM on May 9, 2003


To me, Foley's outing (and his Senate run) are a good thing because it moves us closer to the point that homosexuality is no big deal.

The Republican Party as ultra-right wing is a product of the latter half of the 20th century. It wasn't always that way. So the other good thing about Foley and those like him would be to pull the party back toward the center. Anapestic, your friends might be trying to change the party from within.

disclaimer: I am SO not a republican. But I hate watching the party that gave us Abe Lincoln turn into the church lady's wet dream
posted by whatnot at 9:15 AM on May 9, 2003


Where does the public's right to know end? If Foley has six toes on one of his feet, does the press have to alert the voters?

Well, if the issue of having six toes on ones' feet were being argued before the Supreme Court and the candidate might have to vote on a law criminalizing same, yeah, I think the voters should know. At the same time, I don't discount the motives of the press, which are usually more about getting it first than performing public service.

And profwhat, I'd be careful assuming one's familiarity with a given demographic based on their colorful speech. I was going to say something only a little less intense than what quonsar (who I will bet money is as thoroughly familiar as the rest of us with the Andrew Sullivan phenomenon) did. Thing is, I can imagine the motivation, because just like Clarence Thomas or J.C. Watts, any gay man who can successfully walk that tightrope of personal predelictions and party-line ideology is going to get much more attention, and a faster track, for his career because he's exploiting a very basic age-old political concept: tokenism.

If a gay man can use that to advantage and somehow wind up flying under the radar to reform the party from within, great, but so far I don't see that happening anywhere. Links, anybody?
posted by soyjoy at 9:16 AM on May 9, 2003


"Just because a person is a member of a racial, sexual, or ideological minority doesn't mean that the person needs to concern hirself with only what's best for hir minority."

Yep. And who says voting Democratic is "what's best" for hir minority in the first place? Maybe some [insert racial-gender-or-sexual-minority here] think that a smaller, less intrusive government, the right to bear arms (against a would-be basher), and support for race/gender-blind policies would be a Good Thing. I know I do.

(Thank you for the gender-neutral language, BTW.)
posted by Asparagirl at 9:21 AM on May 9, 2003


Well, if the issue of having six toes on ones' feet were being argued before the Supreme Court and the candidate might have to vote on a law criminalizing same, yeah, I think the voters should know.

But that's addressed by his voting record.
posted by claxton6 at 9:25 AM on May 9, 2003


substrate: Superhero dolls, definitely. Don't make me link to the scatological dolls Bifurcated Rivets pointed to this week.

bunnytricks: I think "identity politics" is a vague, broad, inaccurate term used as (allrightI'llsayit) a straw man for putting down a lot of legitimate causes and feelings. A degree of self-interest is intrinsic to democracy; it's only when self-interest runs contrary to the common interest that democratic ideals are endangered. And de-legitimizing self-interest when it relates to issues fundamental to one's life seems wrongheaded to me.

As a member of the Republican Party, Foley aligns himself politically with a group of people for whom sentiments like these are part of the mainstream ideal. Prominent members of his party would have him ignore some of his most private, deeply held bendings towards happiness for the rest of his life and live a sham (if he is, in fact, gay) in the name of morality. I'm sorry, but that makes no sense to me.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:33 AM on May 9, 2003


Does anyone honestly expect frightened lesbian and gay kids to feel at home in the world without a few uncomfortable confrontations between society and conflicted individuals such as Foley? I agree in principle that people should come out of the closet when they're ready, but no one told him to get into politics. Forced outings strike me as one of the messy but inevitable consequences of our political system. If you want freedom, take responsibility.
posted by divrsional at 9:34 AM on May 9, 2003


Asparagirl: I'll take Buffy over the Second Amendment, any day.
posted by divrsional at 9:36 AM on May 9, 2003


In this thread first mention of 'fucking':
Why do gays never cease in talking about fucking?

Oh, right, because it's the thing that sets them apart.

Which is why it must be reasonable to talk about fucking when conversing about any possible subject.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 4:01 PM GMT on May 9

Now, who's obsessed?
posted by dash_slot- at 9:42 AM on May 9, 2003


Why do gays never cease in talking about fucking?

Because we've shed Purtian mores at last, and are tapping our feet (FOR ACTION) waiting impatiently for you backward breeders to catch up?

Of course, straights never cease in talking about fucking, either, you just do sublimate it by splashing sexy hets all over billboards, and tv, and movies, and magazines, and textbooks, and ...
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:52 AM on May 9, 2003


Sorry MidasMulligan but there is a Constitional right to privacy.
posted by filchyboy at 10:20 AM on May 9, 2003


"Asparagirl: I'll take Buffy over the Second Amendment, any day."

Why not both? (Personally, I'd take Faith. Yum.)
posted by Asparagirl at 10:20 AM on May 9, 2003


Yep. And who says voting Democratic is "what's best" for hir minority in the first place?

Unless you travel in circles where sudden termination is inconceivable and benefits like health insurance and retirement plans are taken for granted (as, say, Mary Cheney does), unequal treatment is unquestionably the key issue. Gays of a certain income level and social class are essentially on a par with their straight counterparts, and people who don't have to worry about suddenly losing everything they have often find it easy to forget that others do.

While I don't have figures to back me up, it seems clear that most coupled gays will not save nearly enough money under GOP tax plans to remotely compensate for the benefits and security we can't hope to secure while they're in charge. And some of us who aren't coupled think the money's less important than an acknowledgement that the protection of the law is a right and not a privilege for citizens and taxpayers. (That point may be lost on those who are privileged already.)
posted by Epenthesis at 10:32 AM on May 9, 2003


Well put, Epenthesis.

"Well, he framed me for armed robbery, but man, I'm aching for that upper-class tax cut."
posted by soyjoy at 10:47 AM on May 9, 2003


"smaller, less intrusive government"

From the Republicans??? Maybe it's less intrusive if you're a huge corporation. Otherwise, government is bigger and MORE intrusive under the 'cans. Don't tell me you still believe Bush is a "compassionate conservative," too.

[/derail]
posted by callmejay at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2003


The people have a right to know, claims the article. Do we? I think what we have a right to know is that Foley obviously believes and practices the privacy of sexuality and sexual orientation. It's not my cup of tea at all -- I think he's boring, ass-backwards, and uninteresting -- but his message is pretty clear: it's not our business. He's just a different sort of gay from the sort of gays I hang with. I mean, the man got a 56% pro-life voting record from the Pro-Life Voter's Guide, and he's a strong supporter of "school choice" and faith-based organizations (AKA government-funded church non-profits).

I don't really think there's a "right to know" in cases except where A) any sort of crime is committed or B) the person is an asshole and deserves to be taken down (and I'm with quonsar).
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:10 AM on May 9, 2003


on topic:
More on the right to privacy and the right to publicity here. I was being ironic about MidasMulligan, btw, ftr, duh.

off topic:
Faith, double yum. But neither she nor Buffy ever uses a gun.
posted by divrsional at 11:25 AM on May 9, 2003


Oh, and "gay" is not a noun.
posted by divrsional at 11:27 AM on May 9, 2003


Oh, and "gay" is not a noun.

While the prescriptivist in me would like to agree with you, I believe that you have already lost this battle. Most gays (including me) happily use it as a noun these days.
posted by anapestic at 11:30 AM on May 9, 2003


Cue Margaret Cho's mother: Is he de gaaaaaay?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 12:09 PM on May 9, 2003


"Just because a person is a member of a racial, sexual, or ideological minority doesn't mean that the person needs to concern hirself with only what's best for hir minority."

Yep. And who says voting Democratic is "what's best" for hir minority in the first place?... (Thank you for the gender-neutral language, BTW.)


Aargh. If you want gender-neutral language, use "they/their," which is part of the language we already have, rather than "hir," which is a made-up word which will never gain currency and simply adds to the impression that feminism = crackpottery.

Oh, and "gay" is a noun. If you think it's not, you'd better also use "agenda" as a plural. And "bead" to mean "prayer."
posted by languagehat at 12:14 PM on May 9, 2003


languagehat, I understand just what you're getting at, but you know very well that if Asparagirl had said "doesn't mean that the person needs to concern themself" or "doesn't mean that the person needs to concern themselves," someone else would have jumped all over her (hir?) for that nonsensical-sounding construction. I'm all for using they/their whenever the noun-pronoun disagreement can be glossed over, but this is one of those occasions where there's just absolutely no good solution in English. I probably would have opted for "person...themselves" and taken the lumps, but it's still jarring, and not really much of a better option than "hirself."

OK, now what were we talking about?
posted by soyjoy at 12:51 PM on May 9, 2003


The Jesse Helms, meet Elsie Wayne.
posted by mw at 12:54 PM on May 9, 2003


Why is everyone so literal on MeFi, but only when they feel like arguing a point? Here's mine:

"Gay" is not a noun in my personal dictionary because I'm not "a gay." I'm a human being who has a lot of interests and passions and psychological depth, even. Sex is one of them.

Language is politics. The meaning is the use.

My sexual orientation is, as someone pointed out earlier, NO BIG DEAL. It's a part of who I am, not the whole. Therefore I may be gay, but I am not "a gay" and never will be. Use the term happily, and I'll happily continue to seek the freedom to safely integrate the whole of my life in this weirdly diverse yet intolerant society.

A society epitomized by people like Foley.

(Languagehat: I support the evolution of the language. But I will never spell "all right" "alright." We can still make choices.)
posted by divrsional at 12:55 PM on May 9, 2003


At the risk of contributing to the already-significant derailing of the thread...

If you want gender-neutral language, use "they/their," which is part of the language we already have, rather than "hir," which is a made-up word which will never gain currency and simply adds to the impression that feminism = crackpottery.

I think you're missing the point of the word, languagehat. "They/their" is a fine solution when one wants to avoid specifying gender or resorting to "he or she/his or her", but it's ultimately a matter of convenience and elegance. "Hir," on the other hand, is a deliberate tool to avoid specifying any gender (aka, denying the gender binary). It's as much a political statement as a pronoun.
posted by hippugeek at 1:12 PM on May 9, 2003


soyjoy, divrsional: Well put, each of you. It's nice to see a language disagreement not degenerating into catcalls and feces-flinging for a change.

soyjoy: I agree it's one of those awkward constructions, the kind that make me earn my pay as an editor, but to my mind anything is better than "hir" (or its equivalents).

divrsional: I support your right to avoid "a gay," which sounds silly to me too; actually, it's hardly ever used that way, only in the plural ("Gays march to protest..."). But bear in mind (re "Language is politics") that the impact of language tends to follow, not precede, the impact of the world that it mirrors. Case in point: the word "secretary" carried a considerable degree of respect until the late 19th century, as long as it denoted a well-paid job done by men; when women took over those jobs, the pay and respect went down, and the word became correspondingly devalued. For that reason secretaries insisted on being called "administrative assistants" so they'd get more respect. Guess what? Didn't happen! "Administrative assistants" are not taken any more seriously than "secretaries" were. The moral is: concentrate on changing the world, and don't worry so much about the words.

And I agree with you about "all right."

On preview: hippugeek, I'm not "missing the point of the word," I just disagree with it. Or, to put it another way, I don't think it's a word. You say "It's as much a political statement as a pronoun"; I say it's purely a political statement, and I stand with Orwell on distorting the language for political purposes.
posted by languagehat at 1:24 PM on May 9, 2003


Bringing up fucking when talking about gardening, or perhaps driving one's kids' to soccer practice, is inane.

From the weblog comments linked in the post:
NEWSFLASH : Senator Byrd jacks off with his left hand to inter-racial porno movies, news at 11.
pitufo | 05.08.03 - 11:59 pm | #

NEWSFLASH : Atrios likes to have rough sex while reading Instapundit, news at 11.
pitufo | 05.09.03 - 12:26 am | #

This is the point where the privacy argument is both appropriate and a canard. I don't want to see two gay men fucking each other in the mall any more than I want to see a straight couple doing it. But, this whole aspect of the privacy of sexuality doesn't come into play when straight folks decide to hold hand in the mall, or flirt or whatever. In those cases, their heterosexuality is quite public. But, the argument that being gay should be a private thing doesn't acknowledge these public displays of heterosexuality. That's where the common refrain of "go back in the closet" comes from. Public space, for folks that use this line (and many others who get very uncomfortable) is reserved for straight folks. This is also where "privacy" arguments serve the function of maintaining heterosexist society. It was the point of the Pat Parker poem I linked to far far above. (there are always multiple things happening in these situations...reject either/or thinking.)
MNJeff | Homepage | 05.09.03 - 3:38 am | #
So, sound and fury over a sex life because there should be no sound and fury over a sex life?

This sexual posturing is flaunted because, again, it is what sets them apart. The critics are quick to lash back, TV style,cliche driven and parroting whatever sound bites they may remember.

If you and your friends where talking about basketball, why would your Linux geek friend bring up Linux?

When talking about a great recipe, why would your Linux geek friend bring up Linux?

Why do homosexuals insists are bringing up fucking at every opportunity?

Because they can't hold hands in public?

No, because fucking men defines them

As Linux may define an Open Source zealot.

Just don't bring up Linux or fucking when you serve me my french fries.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:30 PM on May 9, 2003


No, because fucking men defines them.

Your fixation on fucking is bizarre, but at least it lives up to the pseudonym.

Why is that act the one that defines them? I think their experience is shaped more by the treatment they receive from society than by a physical act they spend at least 99 percent of their time not doing (leaving out the occasional overachiever).
posted by rcade at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2003


Languagehat:
"Gays march to protest" sounds condescending to my ears, especially compared to "Lesbians and gay men march to protest . . ." It was the people who marched, not one specific DNA marker.

It's not been my experience that "most gays" use the term that way. I've been out, socially and politically, for 27 years, and I've consistently observed that people who use "gay" as a noun are neither gay nor particularly gay-friendly. How's that for distorting language for political purposes?

I'm not sure I could have been clearer about my commitment to changing a world in which homophobia is acceptable. However, I hate to bang my head against the wall. Regime change starts at home, so I repeat: "gay" will never be a noun in my personal dictionary.

/end of derail (for my part)
posted by divrsional at 1:52 PM on May 9, 2003


languagehat: Point taken. I disagree, but there you are. (I hope my previous comment didn't sound as condescending to you as it now does to me. Apologies, if it did.)

Just don't bring up Linux or fucking when you serve me my french fries.

Is this really a problem where you live, The Jesse Helms?
posted by hippugeek at 1:56 PM on May 9, 2003


No, because fucking men defines them

Passive language is lazy and dishonest. You have defined us as the group that fucks men, technically accurate but misleading. We are the group which would like to be able to fuck men -- or, given the opportunity, love them -- without drawing criticism for not hiding all evidence that this is what we actually want.

Why do gays never cease in talking about fucking?

The record will show that there was no mention of any sexual act whatsoever in the link or in this thread until you brought it up.

But to be fair, we do talk about it quite a bit. And to be even more fair, it is at times an act of spite and defiance, a stick in the eye of the people who hold the trump card of belonging to a bigoted majority. You don't like it? Well, maybe when the country treats us like human beings we'll give it a rest.

Oops, it's five. Time to go get me some ass.
posted by Epenthesis at 1:57 PM on May 9, 2003


I'm here for you, Epenthesis.
posted by divrsional at 2:17 PM on May 9, 2003


The Jesse Helms,
What defines you as a heterosexual?

And I've got divsrional's, uh, back.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:22 PM on May 9, 2003


new meaning to the term double post
posted by divrsional at 2:31 PM on May 9, 2003


Oops, it's five. Time to go get me some ass.
posted by Epenthesis at 1:57 PM PST on May 9


I'm here for you, Epenthesis.
posted by divrsional at 2:17 PM PST on May 9


The Jesse Helms,
What defines you as a heterosexual?

And I've got divsrional's, uh, back.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:22 PM PST on May 9


Indeed.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 2:32 PM on May 9, 2003


Wait ... I'm confused ... who is Jesse Helms obsessed with fucking? Does it have something to do with Linux??
posted by grrarrgh00 at 2:36 PM on May 9, 2003


Still didn't answer my question, TJH. Indeed, indeed!
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:39 PM on May 9, 2003


LINUX IS NOT GAY!!!!
posted by divrsional at 2:43 PM on May 9, 2003


Come to think of it, this thread resembles the abortion debate. Abortion is a symptom of unwanted pregnancy. Outing is a symptom of the closet.

Closet=bad, so demolish the closet.

Yes, indeed.
posted by divrsional at 2:49 PM on May 9, 2003


Humor is a cast for sadness, and I find it disheartening and ridiculous that someone's sex life can be political fodder. Whatever the political affiliation or sexual preference.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 2:52 PM on May 9, 2003


On that, TJH, we can agree. Unfortunately, that's not the world we live in. If it's the one you live in, would you mind opening the cross-dimensional portal for about a billion fags to walk through?
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:01 PM on May 9, 2003


Humor is a cast for joy in my life. I laugh during sex sometimes. It makes me happy. And my sex life is not an "affiliation" or a "preference." It's part of who I am, so it's difficult to think of Foley's orientation in any other way. Sorry you think that's ridiculous or disheartening, but I feel the same about your view of humor and sex.

FACT: People are beat up and discriminated against because they love people of the same sex.

FACT: Politicians are in a position to help promote social change.

OPINION: Lesbians and gay men should shut the fuck up.

Please give me a fact to support your opinion.
posted by divrsional at 3:05 PM on May 9, 2003


"Gays march to protest" sounds condescending to my ears, especially compared to "Lesbians and gay men march to protest . . ." It was the people who marched, not one specific DNA marker.

So how is it condescending for gay men and not for lesbians? "Lesbian" is, after all, a noun. In fact, almost every other group is referred to by nouns: African-Americans, whites (or, if you prefer, Euro-Americans), Jews, Albanians, you name it. I don't mind your using whatever term you prefer, of course, I'm just curious about why you find it so offensive. (I don't use it myself, but I'm old-fashioned in many ways.)

And people, I think you're wasting your breath (or fingers) in arguing with The Jesse Helms. The whole subject clearly terrifies him.
posted by languagehat at 3:43 PM on May 9, 2003


The Jesse Helms:
Meet me behind the woodshed later, and we can talk about how the gays always talk about fucking.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:56 PM on May 9, 2003


There was an article on k5 recently on marijuana laws. The discussion pivoted around a marijuana march, where a number of the participants of the march 'toked up' before the march, as security as been tightened these last few years. Generally, they would smoke during the march.

A point was brought up similar to what I was brow beating earlier. Focus on the freedom, not the direct result of the freedom.

Mixing sexual innuendo, or outright joyous boning, together with political suffrage is disastrous, in my view.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 4:04 PM on May 9, 2003


Languagehat: Because "lesbian" is a noun. "Gay" isn't. "Fag" is a noun. Let's use that. Actually, in all-gay social situations, I sometimes say "dykes and fags." Or "queers." I believe African Americans do something similar.
Which only encourages this derail: African-American was an adjective. African American (without the hyphen) was a noun. Then I was told that the African American style council wanted the hyphen gone altogether. Seems hyphens are demeaning. I don't recall the specific logic, but it's their identity.
Interesting point: why doesn't "queers" sound wrong to my ears? It's the same issue. Of course I would never say "I'm a queer," either. Must be that appropriation of the language issue.
posted by divrsional at 4:19 PM on May 9, 2003


Confusing political discourse with fucking in public is pretty disastrous as well, TJH.
posted by divrsional at 4:33 PM on May 9, 2003


I wish more political groups would encourage joyous boning.
posted by modofo at 4:45 PM on May 9, 2003


Confusing political discourse with fucking in public is pretty disastrous as well, TJH.
posted by divrsional at 4:33 PM PST on May 9


Oops, it's five. Time to go get me some ass.
posted by Epenthesis at 1:57 PM PST on May 9


I'm here for you, Epenthesis.
posted by divrsional at 2:17 PM PST on May 9


The Jesse Helms,
What defines you as a heterosexual?

And I've got divsrional's, uh, back.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:22 PM PST on May 9


Indeed.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 4:45 PM on May 9, 2003


You continue to fail to make your point, TJH. Seems a shame.
posted by divrsional at 4:51 PM on May 9, 2003


COUNTERPOINT:
I'm straight, and I talk about fucking all the time.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:19 PM on May 9, 2003


I loooooooove fucking.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:20 PM on May 9, 2003


You continue to fail to make your point, TJH.

Yeah, The Jesse, I think it's not just the people you're constantly quoting, but a lot of us here whom you're relentlessly confusing with this stuff.

This thread, like all of them, has joke comments and earnest ones. Sometimes the joke comments make a point obliquely; other times they just help with the overall rhythm and flow of the thread. Quoting back joke comments and then pretending they make your serious point for you ... I don't get it. How would that work? Or is it a joke?
posted by soyjoy at 8:26 PM on May 9, 2003


quonsar: i cannot imagine the twisted, sick, self-loathing that leads a homosexual to associate himself with those would destroy him.

I cannot imagine the twisted, sick, self-loathing that leads anyone to assume they have the moral authority to decide for another human being what's best for that person. How about instead you mind your own fucking business, and let Senator Foley mind his.
posted by JollyWanker at 6:48 AM on May 10, 2003


YO! Wanker! A whole lot of twisted, sick, self-loathing people have decided for a very long time what's best for ALL homosexuals is for them to shut the fuck up. Senator Foley has chosen to be a public official. If I thought his coming out would engender any kind of pain even REMOTELY like the pain of getting beat up, killed, and PUBLICLY humiliated 24/7 for one's entire life, as many lesbian and gay teens and even adults have to experience, then I would back off. He is being asked to give up a tiny shred of his privacy as a consequence of his life choices. Boo fucking hoo.
posted by divrsional at 9:28 AM on May 10, 2003


Yes. Since many other people have suffered greatly, it is acceptable to coerce you to suffer, as long as your suffering is not as great as others'.
posted by kindall at 10:27 AM on May 10, 2003


Not for one single solitary person I've ever known—and I've known many gay men and lesbians in my life who have struggled with this and then come out—has the ultimate consequence of coming out been suffering. The suffering is what he is going through now. No, I don't have a right to speak for Foley. But neither do you. I can just tell you my experience. Telling the truth is always better for everyone in the long run. Lies are ALWAYS the problem.
It is amazing to me the deep-rooted defensiveness of the straight community. Being honest about being gay does not hurt you or anyone else. It's the lies that hurt.
posted by divrsional at 11:24 AM on May 10, 2003


Yeah, it's real "defensive" of me to want to let a guy decide for himself whether he wants to make his sexuality a campaign issue, or stand on his record. Sheesh.

One assumes that whether Foley fucks men or women is of little relevance to his ability to perform his duties as a U. S. Representative. I didn't want to know that Bill Clinton likes to diddle chubby interns with cigars and I don't particularly care that Mark Foley likes men, either. There is such a thing as Too Much Information. I mean, if it's so important, then maybe every candidate's sexual orientation should be printed on the ballot, just so nobody forgets.

Surely if one is for gay rights, then one would be inclined to look favorably on Foley regardless of where he likes to dip his wick. And if one is against gay rights, one doesn't need to know that Foley himself is gay to rule out voting for him. What you're saying, in essence, is that it is good for people to be encouraged to vote for or against Foley because he is gay -- which is, to be blunt, the only reason anyone would bring it up in the context of this election. The information is useful to a voter only as a predictor for how he'd vote on gay issues, and we already know that.

Once, Foley's opponents would have stopped at nothing to know that every registered voter in the state of Florida knew he was gay. Today, they know that strategy won't hurt him enough to be worth spending the money on, and in fact might well backfire on them. Surely this is an improvement from days gone by.
posted by kindall at 7:56 PM on May 10, 2003


Back on track, I'm not entirely convinced that "the Republican party" is anti-homosexuality any more than "the Democratic party" is pro-homosexuality. These groups are called "umbrella" parties for a reason, and that reason is that they unite large groups of people who disagree with one another on many issues in order to achieve political power.

For example, most libertarians are fine with homosexuality, just as a great many unionised urban proletarians (one of the voting bases of the Democratic party, let's not forget) aren't. Why ignore both groups when determining the stance on homosexuality of either party? It's probably more accurate to say "The Democratic party has found that it can ally itself with members of the "queer" subculture in order to win power, while the Republican party has ceded that voter base in favour of others," rather than "All Republicans call gay people 'faggots' and hate them secretly except when they're useful political pawns!!! Only Democrats like gay people!!!"

Nuance, folks. Remember it? Fun as tribalism may be, it tends not to really accomplish anything, as this thread is beginning to show.

As for Foley being a gay Republican, I second the voice of the poster earlier who said that they hoped it would help bring the Republicans back to the centre on social issues, away from the last three years of Dubya's pandering to SoCons.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:11 PM on May 10, 2003


divrsional: YO! Wanker! A whole lot of twisted, sick, self-loathing people have decided for a very long time what's best for ALL homosexuals is for them to shut the fuck up. If I thought his coming out would engender any kind of pain even REMOTELY like the pain of getting beat up, killed, and PUBLICLY humiliated 24/7 for one's entire life, as many lesbian and gay teens and even adults have to experience, then I would back off.

Yo, Divrsional: you're blinded by your own prejudice ('cause, ya know, there's only one kinda gay, right?).

You have no more right to decide for Senator Foley if and when and how much of his private life will be a part of his public persona than the "twisted, sick, self-loathing people" have a right to tell ALL homosexuals to shut the fuck up. You simply can't have it both ways - either everybody has to leave everybody alone to just live their lives, or they don't. It's not up to you to decide when the rules apply, and when they don't, based on your apparent disklike of gay men like Foley who refuse to follow the "lifestyle" agenda of people like you who define yourselves by the number of cocks you sucked at the last White Party. That whole line of lookingglass logic - "You must be gay as I define it!" - is so hypocritical it's nauseating.
posted by JollyWanker at 10:13 AM on May 11, 2003


didja hear the one about the catholic abortion clinic doctor?
posted by quonsar at 12:16 PM on May 11, 2003


[tried to post this morning but MeFi was down]

Pardon my previous shrillness. Clearly this is an issue I feel strongly about.

What you're saying, in essence, is that it is good for people to be encouraged to vote for or against Foley because he is gay -- which is, to be blunt, the only reason anyone would bring it up in the context of this election.

That's not what I'm saying at all, but thank you for the opportunity to clarify. Based on his general political stance, I would never vote for him, regardless of his voting record on gay rights issues.

What seems to get obscured here, and I've seen this happen on other MeFi threads, is that no one is coercing anyone. It's simply not possible. I suppose if there were a group of militant underground queer activists operating in a repressive society like Nazi Germany, they might resort to 1984 style coercion to get someone to admit to being gay. If I'm not mistaken, some conversion therapy procedures involve similar techniques to get homosexuals to deny their feelings. There is no question, however, that Rep. Foley will acknowledge his sexual orientation on his own terms.

All that we here on MeFi can do, and all that the journalist who wrote the article can do, and all that even Foley's former friend Tracy Thorne can do is to weigh in with an opinion on Foley's silence, and the lie that silence sustains. I think the closet is a damaging lie and I will always say so. Do I have compassion for the human being behind his charade? Absolutely. Is it a form of what Tibetan Buddhists call ruthless compassion, an instinct to call bullshit when I see it? Yes it is.

It also strikes me that calling someone sick and twisted for expressing that opinion is not unlike calling someone unpatriotic for condemning the war. We can moan all we want about opinions we don't share, but I say goddess bless america for being a place where that's a legitimate part of the political process.

JollyWanker: Some of what I've written above answers your truly entertaining post. Thanks for the best laugh I've had all week. Not only have I never been to a "White Party" I never even remotely suggested anything about Foley's "lifestyle." The "lookingglass logic" is all your own. Enjoy.
posted by divrsional at 4:48 PM on May 11, 2003


The "closet" metaphor seems to me to be increasingly flawed and unconvincing as the years go on. If I (hypothetically) like to be whipped, but don't tell everyone about it, am I "in the closet" about my desire? After all, the mainstream cultural assumption is that people are vanilla. Isn't allowing other people to believe I'm vanilla a betrayal of everyone who enjoys S&M activities? After all, the only reason they can't be open about what they enjoy is the attitude of mainstream society. Don't I have a duty to open people's eyes to the fact that people like me exist? What if I (again, I stress, hypothetically) like to fuck sheep? Is there a sheep-fucking closet that society keeps all the sheep-fuckers in?

At one time, it was useful for gays to proclaim that they are gay because most people in America didn't even know any gay people, so it was easy for them to be xenophobic. This is much harder when you know people who are gay because it makes you go "Hmm, I guess they're just as normal as my own whip-craving, sheep-fucking self." I get all that and I understand why there used to be some pressure for gays to go public. But when my 70-year-old conservative Christian father knows his neighbor is a lesbian and still invites her over for dinner occasionally, I think that battle has been won. He's too old and set in his ways to be convinced that she's not going to Hell (or for that matter that there is no such place), but he is aware that she is a person and treats her with about as much respect as he does anyone else who isn't him. My dad is about the last person in America to even notice any social trend, so if he's on board this train, chances are good that nearly everyone else is too. Sure, there's work to be done in providing gay couples with rights equivalent to those of heterosexual couples, and there is still a vocal minority who objects to anything but heterosexual relationships, but the vast majority of people are aware that gay people exist and are okay with that. With that attitude in place, I predict the Fred Phelpses of the world won't be able to stand in the way of the public's inherent sense of fairness, now that that train has left the station. Given that, I am not sure that "coming out" serves nearly the purpose it once did.

In short, I think that society is on the verge of eliminating the closet entirely -- probably within the next generation -- and that it will happen even without much additional high-profile comings-out and other gay activism. Very soon if not today, if you don't talk about your sexuality, it's as likely to be because you don't think it's anyone's business as it is to be because you're afraid of how the people you know will react. The former is not a closet, it's merely the exercise of the right of privacy that we all enjoy, the right to say "My sex life is none of your damn business."

I may, of course, be a complete optimist, but if I am, it'd be the first time ever. I am generally very cynical about people, since most of them don't think exactly like me, which generally makes them unworthy of my respect.
posted by kindall at 6:05 PM on May 11, 2003


But when my 70-year-old conservative Christian father knows his neighbor is a lesbian and still invites her over for dinner occasionally, I think that battle has been won.

Great. The battle has been won, then, in your father's case. Or at least in the case of your father vis-a-vis this particular woman. But I fear you're wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy over-generalizing from this (and maybe some other things) to make an unconvincing case that the struggle of homosexuals to be taken seriously by mainstream America is now over and done with - and yes, I'm talking just about perceptions, not even touching the more entrenched rights issues.
posted by soyjoy at 7:48 PM on May 11, 2003


since most of them don't think exactly like me, which generally makes them unworthy of my respect

Benefit-of-the-doubt interpretation: Do I hear irony?

I respect YOUR opinion in any case, and your right to have it. Obviously, however, I disagree.

Matthew Shepard did not die hypothetically. The guys who yell "Faggot" from a speeding car as they drive past a group of men I'm walking with are not hypothetical. The intense peer pressure that adolescents feel to conform and not be in any way "gay" is not hypothetical.

I'm really glad that in your comfortable complacent way you've decided the LBGT rights movement has achieved its goals. God bless your naive hetero ass. When you are no longer uncomfortable about people coming out of the closet, then we will in fact have gotten where we want to be. The world is a lot bigger and meaner than you seem to realize.

In fact, the entire "right to privacy" argument has always bothered me. I hear echoes of "Love the sinner, hate the sin."

Oh, and there was some discussion of the rather bizarre (and revealing) bestiality analogy here.
posted by divrsional at 8:00 PM on May 11, 2003


I wouldn't say there's irony there -- more like gentle self-deprecating humor.

I didn't say that the battle had been won, I said we're on the verge. Last I heard, the guys who killed Matthew Shepard went to prison for two lifetimes apiece, which is right where they should be (if not dead). The judge threw out the lame "gay panic" defense McKinney's lawyers tried to come up with. Compared to people being able to beat and kill gays and get away with it, which is how it used to be, this is a vast improvement. Hell, less than fifty years ago the British government famously drove Alan Turing to suicide by forcing him to take drugs to "cure" his homosexuality (not that that has anything to do with the situation in the US except that attitudes in both countries were probably roughly equivalent at the time). We've come a long way since then (in basically just two generations) and in another generation, I predict the job will be all but finished. On a per capita basis, gays will be no more villified than, say, Asians.

All I'm saying is if a man doesn't want to make his sexuality a campaign issue, he has the perfect right not to do so, and he doesn't have any less of a right to do so because he's gay. Being born homosexual does not obligate you to solidarity with the Gay Agenda (tm) any more than being born heterosexual obligates me to beat and kill queers.

I am completely flummoxed that anyone would argue that a gay man should not have a fundamental right that a heterosexual man has, that Foley's individual right should be sublimated for the benefit of people this man does not even know. It's laudable if he does so, but is it a moral imperative? I can't see it that way.

Not for one single solitary person I've ever known—and I've known many gay men and lesbians in my life who have struggled with this and then come out—has the ultimate consequence of coming out been suffering.

If it's not scary being out of the closet, then there is no closet. The whole reason people stayed in the closet was that they knew they'd lose their friends, their jobs or worse if they came out. It's certainly not true today that everyone is guaranteed to be able to come out without consequences, but if a gay person can say that they don't know one single person who suffered when they came out, then even allowing for the fact that the country is not culturally homogenous, that fabled closet is looking like more and more of a chimera.
posted by kindall at 12:25 AM on May 17, 2003


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