Tuesday, October 26, 2004

That's what Michael Rogers at BlogActive is promising a few politicians in the next day or two. Is it hype? Or is it the richly-deserved humiliation of hypocrites who deserved to be outed?

Stay tuned.

... ... ...

... Well... I was about to publish this entry without further comment, but decided that maybe I should add a few words about outing.

I'll start right off by saying that I'm of two minds about the subject. While I think it's unhealthy and sad, I have no problem if a person wants to live his or her life in the closet. Let me add that I include political figures -- even political figures who lack backbone on gay rights issues -- in this category. In that regard, I haven't been wildly enthusiastic about the recent outings of a few high-level Republican Party and congressional staffers. I'm not saying that some of those outings were unqualifiedly wrong, but they make me a bit uncomfortable.

Then there are the villains. These are the people who actively use homosexuality as a political tool, but partake of the fruits (errr... no pun intended. Really.) of a more tolerant society... or skulk around the bushes at its fringes. These are the men and women who verbally gay-bash by day to win votes, then sip a cocktail with a same-sex companion by night. These are the people who deserve to be outed. Michael Rogers has caught a few of them in the recent past, and I hope he's about to reveal another couple.

While I'm on the subject, let me tell you the story about the time I was outed. Sort of.

As you probably know -- because I'm famous, and you're therefore fascinated with my life -- I used to be the top aide to a not-particularly-pro-gay state legislator. I didn't come out to myself until I was in my late twenties, and my very Type-B personality wasn't conducive to making a big public announcement about my self-revelation, so I just sort of let word seep out.

Around this time, my boss had a political rival who was rumored to be gay. But rumors are easy to spread. Even one person who claimed to have known him didn't confirm that The Rival was gay... although he told me that The Rival was known as "Missy" in their circles, supposedly for his prissiness.

Whatever. I just kept living my life. And then one night I pulled my car into the parking lot of a gay bar and saw The Rival's car.

I sat behind the wheel and thought about the consequences for a moment. Yes, word of my homosexuality was making the rounds through the political community, but I did not yet think it had reached my boss, and I had no idea how he'd react. On the other hand, if The Rival was in that bar, he couldn't really say anything; we would have what amounted to the sexual version of Mutually Assured Destruction. On yet another hand, what if he had just wandered in, either supporting a gay friend or completely ignorant...

I parked my car and decided to split the difference between fear and pride. I would go into the bar, but I'd play it very casual. As if I was completely ignorant. Just in case.

I spotted him out of the corner of my eye when I walked in the door, leaning against the cigarette machine. (Remember those? Good times... good times...) Playing it cool -- as if it was my first time in the bar, and as if the bar was just some neighborhood tavern, which, in a sense, it was -- I caught the bartender's eye and prepared to order.

That's when the bartender hollered, "Hi, Rob! The usual?!!"

The Rival was gone when I finally got the courage to turn around.

Later that night, I managed to relate the story to a couple -- man/woman, that is -- I was close to, who were also close to my boss. They thought it was funny and, more importantly, assured me that the boss knew all about my little secret and was still comfortable with me. A few days later, my boss showed that.

We were at a political event at a conservative church, and The Rival and his cohorts were working the crowd. I couldn't quite hear what they were saying, but there were a lot of fingers pointing in my direction. I knew, without question, that I was being outed.

On the ride home, my boss said, "You seemed to be quite a topic of conversation this afternoon."

I swallowed and stared ahead at the road.

He smiled, shook his head, and chuckled. "So... they call him 'Missy,' huh?"

We never really talked about gay issues in the years after that, but his voting record on those issues improved. I was given some credit in the political community, but I really think that, as times changed and gay men and lesbians became more visible, he came to see that many of the stereotypes and much of the misinformation he grew up with was false. Times changed, and he adapted. That was my lesson on the power of visibility.

As for the Political Rival, I think we all really know that he didn't accidentally stumble into a gay bar that night, right? Well, he got married a few years later and seems to be living a typical suburban existence these days.

But would you really be surprised if they still call him 'Missy' sometimes?