Thursday, October 8, 2009

To "Out" or Not to "Out"

When I first heard about a documentary called Outraged, I was ecstatic. Here was a documentary which followed the homosexual adventures of various politicians and one Fox News anchor who all lived double lives. The politicians built their political careers around the Republican party’s stance on morality and family values. The news anchor just happened to work for a right wing leaning news network. Meanwhile, in bathrooms and hotel rooms across the country, they indulged themselves in secretive affairs involving same sex partners. For the most part, in addition to living a lie not only to their constituents and their family and friends, they lived a lie to themselves. So repressed was their own homosexuality, they maintained their heterosexuality, and even believed it to a point. Some may say they are victims of societies own judgment regarding homosexuals while others say they are experts at playing the game of politics. However, their homosexual acts are not what this documentary condemns. The betrayal of family members and friends not to mention the harm done to their own marriages is not condemned either. What is condemned is their voting record in regards to gay rights. The controversy stems from hypocrisy. How can a gay man, living closeted or otherwise, continually vote against gay rights? Rights which would benefit those like themselves? This is the Outrage. While rumors, allegations and evidence clearly point to the homosexual tendencies of these politicians, the question raised outside this documentary is this: Is it ever ok to “out” anybody regardless of the situation?

At first glance, I agreed wholeheartedly that these politicians deserved what they got. How dare they deny my rights while they have their cake and continue to eat it, albeit in bathrooms and motels? Let them defend their own actions and piece together whatever is left of their shattered lives. At least the public would know these bigots were not the depiction of upstanding citizens they wanted us to believe they were. Just maybe through some stroke of luck, America would wake up and realize the damage their narrow minded, religious fueled judgments wrecked on everyday human lives by causing these poor victims to remain in the closet. The holier than though types would realize the repercussions of their words. And lo and behold, America would stand up and unite with their gay brothers and sisters and sing a round of kumbaya while flinging open every closet door and yelling, “Come out, come out wherever you are.” Yeah RIGHT!!

Then, it happened. I had to open my mouth to a few co workers and one in particular took me to task for my jubilation. What right did we have to out these politicians? There were certainly gay men and women who felt the same as conservatives in regards to the definition of marriage; that being a union between a man and a woman. Afterall, they were performing a job and that job is to represent their constituents. Their own lives should not seep through and influence their votes. My coworker relayed a scenario where a friend is involved with someone who is having an affair on them. Would I tell my friend about the affair or let it take its course? I professed I would not say anything. I argued that the actions of the “other” person do not affect me or the rights of millions. She shot back, “So you only care about what affects you.” That made me stop and think. “But, they aren’t making laws that affect others,” I said. She went on to compare the situation to another scenario but I had already started examining my own stance on this issue.

I started thinking about my own coming out. While my parents certainly suspected my sexuality, it was an unspoken truth in our household. That is until I started having an affair with a man already in a relationship with another man. The scorned lover connived with his sister-in-law to call my house and out me. My sister was the unfortunate recipient of said phone call. The sister-in-law told my sister to tell me to quit sleeping with her husband. Needless to say I was not sleeping with her husband, but you can imagine the reaction of my sister. Instead of coming to me, she told my father. My father is an ex-marine and had three sons by three different women. I was the oldest. I was confronted by my father when I came home one night, of course from my lover’s house. My father told me of the phone call and told me he didn’t need a faggot for a son, he had two others to carry on the family name. After a few more harsh exchanges where I ultimately threatened to leave, my father told me to not let the doorknob hit me on the way out. I gathered a few things and returned to the scene of the crime. I ended up moving in with this dysfunctional couple until I could straighten everything out. Eventually, I made up with my family and today I share my life with a beautiful man of nine years and both our families have met and get along. My story turned out for the better, but for every successful coming out story there are many more horrible ones to dissuade anyone from “outing” anyone. So now we return to the original question: When is it ok to out someone?

I think we need to look at the practice of outing political players from a different angle. In 1999, Ken Starr spent upwards of forty million dollars to prove President Clinton got a blowjob from someone other than his wife. We finally got to hear Clinton say, “I did have sexual relations with that woman.” Forty million dollars to learn he actually cheated on his wife. That’s a pretty expensive confession. Now I know some people were concerned not so much that he got the blow job, but where and when he got the blow job. He got the blow job in the oval office while he was supposed to be working. We have heard politicians talking to Oprah or Barbara Walters after their affairs with interns, prostitutes or strippers have been exposed, meanwhile, the wives dutifully stand by their men. I don’t recall hearing much of an uproar over the practice of outing these lying and cheating adulterers. Of course the sensationalism comes in when these unfaithful lotharios claim to be members of such groups as the Family Value Coalition or Protect Marriage or any other far right religious faction. Again the hypocrisy is what drives the outing of these individuals. So, while it is perfectly acceptable to expose straight men who indulge in extramarital affairs, as soon as you slap the words closeted gay on the politician they become a protected class. Granted, the main motivation for exposing these hypocrites is to expose their conflicting voting records. But, as my coworker pointed out, there are gay men and lesbians who don’t share the same beliefs as mainstream gay America. Sometimes, these closeted politicians are not married thus negating the argument of infidelity. So where do we draw the line? Do we only out those who are married? Or those who thrust good ol’ Christian values down our throats? Do we leave the forever single ones alone? I don’t know the answer to these questions. But nonetheless, this is where I state my argument. If we are going to argue the ethics of “outing” a gay politician, then I call for the reevaluation of exposing any politician engaging in what society classifies as “immoral” behavior. As the saying goes, what’s good for the goose is good for the closeted goose. Well I changed it slightly, but you get the point. In other words, instead of looking at it as “outing” it should be classified as any other sex scandal. Until we stop exposing skeletons hiding in a politicians closet that technically have no bearing on their ability to do their job, I say whatever skeleton found is up for grabs.

And back to the question posed to me by my co worker. I have changed my answer to Yes. Yes, I would tell my friend about a cheating lover, spouse, partner or whatever the term du jour. I wouldn’t be a very good friend if I didn’t now would I?


  1. There are a couple of underlying factors here:
    1. If someone is out judging people based on their sexual preferences, to the point of passing laws against that group of people, yet they themselves are living the same type of life...hell yes out them! What right do they have to live the righteous life when they are engaging in same-sex liaisons themselves. That is super hypocritical, to say the least.

    2. If someone considers themselves a 'friend' to someone and is privy to information such as them being cheated on, there is nothing to think about. That person must know - or else you are not considered a friend. That's just the way I see it. If it's simply an acquaintance, then I guess it would matter how much of an acquaintance that person is. I mean seriously. Do they know that they are simply an acquaintance or do they hold your 'relationship' in high regard and trust you as a 'friend'? It matters. Bottom line is if someone I knew was holding information from me like that and called themselves a friend, I would never want them in my space again. It's deceit to keep something that serious in the dark.

    3. Bill, I am so sorry that you had to endure that initial pain with your father/family. But am so happy that you all made it past and are now back to a healthy family structure. I don't think anyone should have to deny who they are a the expense of losing the ones they love.

    4. In my opinion, with Barbara and Oprah interviewing these people for cheating on their wives, yet it being a slight dismiss when a politician has sames-sex relations, shows me that on many fronts, it is still not a recognized 'relationship' if it is not a heterosexual one. Thus, the importance is not as great when a arrogant, bigoted assed politician is hitting switches; yet, a much different story when a man cheats on his wife. Then it's recognized because that is what society deems as a 'real' relationship.

    5. Outing a person simply because you don't agree with their lifestyle and wanting to hurt them is not acceptable. Outing someone to disclose an affair, I think it is mandatory. Any cheating should not be left undisclosed. No matter what the situation. The unwitting person on the other end of that triangle should not have to experience the deceit that accompanies it.

    I think I've talked long enough and hope I haven't overstepped.

    Take care,

  2. Thanks for your comment. I agree wholeheartedly. I must admit that for my own journey in coming out, I look at my outing as a blessing. Although it took years of baby steps, I am now completely out to my whole family and close circle of friends. I have not had to endure discrimination at work or face to face with narrow minded people. I consider myself to be blessed. Thanks again for your comment and I hope you visit often to read what I have to say...