Even If They Are Assholes: Do You Have the Right to Out People?

Warning: This post is full of conflicted feelings and was written in a stream of consciousness fashion. I don’t apologize.

Like I mentioned last week –  visibility is important. However, when journalist Italy Hodd basically outed Rep. Schock (R-IL), I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. Yes, Schock is a raging homophobe, his political history pretty much sums it up:

  • Schock voted against adding sexual orientation to the already-existing hate crimes law.
  • Schock opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
  • Schock opposes the repeal of DOMA.
  • Schock is against gay marriage; and
  • Schock is for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would add language to the US Constitution banning gay marriage and likely striking down every gay rights law and ordinance in the country.

Some of the arguments supporting outing him I find ridiculous and nonsensical. The America Blog states:

Now, one could argue that being gay can bring with it scorn and prejudice, thus the newly-outed gay person could be harmed by the revelation about their sexual orientation.  But don’t blacks and Jews and Latinos face scorn and prejudice?  A reporter wouldn’t hide any of those features of a congressional candidate, so why hide the fact that he’s gay?

If people don’t want the gay rights movement compared to racial and ethnic equality movements, then we shouldn’t use the same logic as a way to out people. Racial oppression and queer oppression are two separate entities. And if one more person compares being LGBT* to having red hair, I will run screaming into the night.

Obviously I don’t want a self hating gay to be in a position to continuously oppress me, but outing him doesn’t make any past differences, or change that he’s a douche. Yes, he is in the public eye, and in turn has an obligation to not play into the terrible notion that being gay is something that is shameful. Does the revenge of outing him equal out his past transgressions? A lot of people are saying yes, but I’m not so sure.

Being out not in the public eye can be difficult. My non-profit is definitely not even close to being a household name, but that would ultimately be the goal. Do I have an obligation to out myself then (I would actually want an answer to this)? Should we shame Sally Ride for coming out posthumously because she wanted to protect her organization?

I wouldn’t want to be outed because someone views me as technically being hypocritical by working in anti-gay country. Yes I’m not actively working on anti-gay policies, but I am working within a system of government that actively oppresses LGBT* individuals. Someone could easily argue that my hypocrisy should be ‘outed’. I definitely do not compare my work to Schock’s work in Congress. But it could be if one was so motivated.

I don’t have a clear definite feeling of Right or Wrong when it comes to this topic. Some days I have thought ‘Just out the bastard’ while other days I have been more concerned about the societal implications of free-range outing ‘famous’ people, whether they are homophobic or not. I guess the closest thing to a  reasonable conclusion would be:

Outing a famous person is never an obligation, nor should be avoided it at all costs. It is an opportunity that comes with a great deal of responsibility attached. Dragging someone through the mud because they are gay is just as bad as the person hiding ones orientation as something shameful.

Making someone’s sexual orientation into a national pariah story should not be the goal- positive visibility  should be.

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