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I was surprised and appalled to read this comment from Art Pedroza’s on his new political blog:
I do believe that closeted politicians are being dishonest with the voters. They should come clean as to how they swing. They have to report their finances, they should also let the voters know about this – especially since some voters have a problem with the community in question. In fact your pal Mike Tardif is one of them.
Maybe I’m just somehow misinterpreting this, which is why I open the question to you. What do you think?
The ethics of “outing” GLBTs, as I’ve understood them since first reading Michelangelo Signorile’s writings in the Village Voice decades ago, are disputed, but for political figures they seem to be more or less this: if a closeted political figure is making bigotry against gays part of his or her appeal to voters, then “outing” them is fair because it speaks to the politician’s hypocrisy. If a closeted politician does not make bigotry towards gays part of his or her appeal to voters, then their own sexual orientation is their own business.
(To take a borderline example: I’m not breaking any news here by noting that Rep. David Dreier is commonly understood to be gay despite (so far as I know) his never publicly confirming or denying it; he, however, has a good record on GLBT issues and so Democrats, at least, don’t tend to dwell on it. Some argue that his vote for John Boehner as Speaker of the House is enough of a “betrayal of the movement” to justify his outing; most Democrats, though, seem to think he should be given his privacy.)
This viewpoint has been the opposite of that taken by, say, the Dartmouth Review back when the likes of prominent conservatives Dinesh D’Souza and Laura Ingraham used to run it in their college days, when outing other politically active GLBT college students was used to punish them for taking open political stances on the issue.
(Of course, anyone who was involved in student government back in the day, and it probably is still this way, knows that candidates were often accused of being gay or lesbian regardless of the truth. I recall one race back at Cal State Long Beach where a closeted gay candidate’s supporters were loudly accusing his straight opponent of being homosexual. She did not want to out him. Guess who won?)
The notion presented by Pedroza that all politicians should have to “let people know how they swing” just like they would report their finances — and I would love to see the disclosure form he has in mind — so that bigots would know the truth about them and could make up their mind accordingly is … novel. I mean, really, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone even express this opinion aloud before, let along in print. (Have you?) What I enjoy thinking about most is how far one can take this “reveal yourself to bigots so that they can decide whether to be bigoted towards you” ethos of his. And, again, I look to you for your suggestions.
Does it apply to bloggers and journalists too, I wonder? For anyone who may have any prejudices against it, I admit that I am a vegetarian who likes foreign movies. Out and proud!