Odd. I've read two articles about outing in the mainstream press this week. One, a column by Danny Westneat, columnist for the Seattle Times, the other an article from Fox News online about the editor in chief of the tabloid Star deciding that they would no long speculate on the sexual orientation of celebrities. I had thought that the issue of outing in the press had been settled, but it appears that only applies to the gay press. The mainstream press has just woken up to the issue. It appears that conservatives like to have some closeted homosexuals hanging around, just as they like some Uncle Tom African Americans within reach. Best of all, they like those homos whose sexual orientation is an open secret, such as the daughter of Dick Cheney or political strategist Arthur Finkelstein, who married his "longtime companion" in a civil ceremony in Boston last year. That way the neocons get to sound progressive, they get to say that sexual orientation is a private matter and nobody's business. That's what they say in public, in private, however, they acknowledge that homosexuality is a bar to advancement and the best that homsexuals can expect in the corridors of power is the position of Machiavellian consultant ala Arthur Finkelstein, Terry Dolan, or Roy Cohn. They simply don't want to think about it. I've had several conversations with conservatives who like to dance around the issue of sexuality and engage in "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" banter. Sometimes they want to apply their fantasy to your relationship (I have a friend who does this to me all the time and it drives me crazy). If you show up on the arm of your same sex partner at some event or other, they want to ignore the elephant in the living room, and reduce the relationship to "friend" or "companion" in that special Victorian sense. They want to be able to define the relationship so that they can both accept the exterior and deny the reality, or fit you into their fantasy. In any event, they want to be in total control of all information.
It is an interesting phenomena of psychological bracketing akin to "compartmentalization." There are also those, usually of an older generation, who consider gay sex to be on a continuum of sexuality, that it is a taste of something obscene in an otherwise heterosexual orientation. They go in for boys every once in a while, but they regardthemselves as "normal", i.e., straight.
These are the most dangerous to the gay community, because they are prone to transfer their guilt and self-disgust onto other homosexuals, their envy for the gay life, and their fury that they are unable to participate in it openly, onto the gay community itself. This is when outing is most effective. We saw this last year in the case of Ed Schrock, an otherwise straight man who cruised gay chatrooms and voted against gay civil rights. This was outing at its most effective.
On one level I agree with the editor of the Star. While gay movie stars are not in a position to harm the gay community as a whole, they are in a position to reinforce the idea that hiding one's sexuality is normal. I believe that if one lives in the public arena, one shouldn't have the expectation of that level of privacy. Your sexuality is no more a private matter than who you marry. What you do in the privacy of your bedroom, whether one is a top, or a bottom, however, is, and should remain, private.