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.

Why Visibility Matters: Why Robin Roberts is Awesome and A+E Sucks

I hate entertainment news.

A lot.

I don’t care about 99% of the dribble that the American (meaning USA) media passes off as something I need to know or care about. See: Duck Dynasty.

I just don’t care. I mean I care that some ass-hat is getting paid by an hypocritical TV company. Maybe saying that I’m not surprised is more accurate than not caring. Homophobic douche-nozzles are a dime a dozen, and TV channels who talk out of both sides of their mouth are the same.

Which is why I thinking that people coming out should still be news. Robin Roberts coming out this past weekend was extremely important. There is a case for wanting coming out to be “non-news”. And I agree with that, if we didn’t live in a world with Phil Robertsons and companies wanting to profit off of them. Don Lemon stated in perfectly:

Lemon said he was “afraid of people like Phil Robertson who claim to love everyone while simultaneously thinking that everyone’s love is unequal.” Lemon expressed hope that in Roberts’ case, “empowerment will quickly replace fear,” and concluded that if people like Robertson have their rights and those rights should be celebrated, then openly gay anchors like Lemon and Roberts “should be celebrated as well,” and “that’s why it’s still important to come out and say, very simply, ‘I’m gay.’”

We still live in a society where companies and organizations preach tolerance while benefiting off of known bigots.  We still live in a world where LGBT* people are the punchline. In most parts of the world, it’s not safe to be out of the closet. Until people stop getting discriminated against or killed on an institutional level, we need nigh profile individuals to announce their queerness to the world.

Visibility is important. especially in news casting, especially with a show that millions of people watch. We need more Robin Roberts.

I am aware that talking about visibility makes me a hypocrite. I don’t feel comfortable outing myself on this site. I hope to, some day, stand up and be who I am openly and honestly – and do the work that I love. Until then, I look to people like Robin Roberts, Don Lemon, and Billie Jean King for inspiration.

With them, I can see a world where I can be gay and a humanitarian without fear or consequence.

Finding the Good in Gay

Who is a good person? How do we learn what makes up a good person?

As I was writing last week’s blogI couldn’t help but think about my own Catholic education. I attended Catholic school for 12 years. Now while I’m not a practicing Catholic, there were lessons like “do unto others as you would have done to you…” that have shaped my judgement and ethos. But looking back, all of the role models that were presented to me (i.e. Mother Teresa, St. Francis, etc) were from several hundred years ago and/or very very Catholic.

Which makes sense, I’m aware. Going to a Catholic school would tip the scale in that direction.

But thinking through this, I am finally understanding why I have had a hard time reconciling my lesbian identity with my humanitarian one. I never learned about Harvey Milk or Bayard Rustin. Understanding Stonewall was through own research whilst in college. (I know this history is lacking across the board… but I can only speak to my experience).

My Catholic school experience tended to lean towards gay invisibility instead of prejudice. If no one talked about gays, then gays didn’t have to exist or be dealt with. I know that this policy is definitely a lot better than blatant, constant bullying and homophobic remarks; I wonder what if my the idea of who was good was expanded to LGBT* people?

Would acknowledging gay individuals who reflect Catholic teachings would be detrimental to the church? Why is it so difficult for some people to think that LGBT* and humanitarian identities can coincide?

I know that this isn’t just a Catholic school problem. There are 77 countries in the world that criminalize homosexuality. How can LGBT* feel empowered to do good in their micro and macro communities if there are told that who they are is criminal? How can someone see themselves as good-doer if one of their main identities is ostracized by their government and society?

When coming to terms with my own sexuality, there were times when I tapped into my one latent institutionalized homophobia, doubting that I could make a difference or be a good person because I am attracted to girls. Since I am a lesbian, does that mean even if I do good, being gay cancels it all out?

Obviously no. (Most of my Catholic guilt has been eliminated, thank the universe). But there are many LGBT* people who are told that aren’t good people, and don’t have to support to breakaway from their homophobic surroundings.

Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where a queer kid could say they wanted to be the next Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin, Sally Ride, or any of the amazing *LGBT that have shape history?

Wouldn’t it be better to just teach children that being a good person can mean many things, and that they sexuality doesn’t have to influence their moral compass, but it is a part of them that is good?

US Gay Ambassador in the Dominican Republic

CNN reports:

The welcome message from America’s new top diplomat in the Dominican Republic touched on baseball, culture and trade ties. No surprises there. But U.S. Ambassador James “Wally” Brewster brought one thing with him this week that’s a first for a male U.S. ambassador in the Caribbean nation: a husband. “My spouse, Bob, and I have traveled the world, from the far reaches of Asia to the stunning coastlines of southern Europe,” Brewster says in a video introducing himself on the U.S. Embassy’s website.Then husband Bob Satawake chimes in: “But we always return to the beauty of the Dominican Republic.”

After months of pressure from religious groups in the Dominican Republic who protested his appointment, Brewster arrived in Santo Domingo this week to begin his tenure as ambassador. An editorial in the Dominican Republic’s El Nacional newspaper this week discussed proposals Brewster outlined in the introductory video and urged readers to stop focusing so much on the new ambassador’s sexual orientation, even though it has “generated more attention than his diplomatic mission.” His arrival in the Dominican Republic this week was front-page news in many of the country’s newspapers, which also prominently discussed the arrival of his spouse.