by Dan Savage
on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 9:49 AM
Discussing the racial and sexual politics of the new documentary Outrage, Ta-Nehisi Coates asks...
My point is one of basic human compassion—I have no idea what was going through Larry Craig's head. I have no understanding of his own private hell. What I know is I watched a "reformed" Ted Haggard and thought he was being torn apart by vultures on the inside.
I'm skeptical of man's ability to bring justice to these people, in this fashion. It smells of divine retribution dispensed by childish mortals. What if the guy you outed kills himself? Can you wash your hands of that? Would you truly feel no guilt?
Larry Craig's hell isn't an entirely private one, which is the point Outrage drives home again and again. Closeted gay politicians like Idaho's Craig and Florida governor Charlie Crist deflect attention from their own homosexuality by assembling rabidly anti-gay voting records. Crist, for instance, supports Florida's ban on adoptions by same-sex couples, endorsed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Florida, and will, if he makes it to the Senate, be a reliable vote against repealing DOMA and DADT and for the FMA. Craig voted again and again against funding for AIDS treatment and research, for the ban on gays in the military, supported an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage. There were closeted gay men at the highest levels of the CDC at the onset of the AIDS epidemic—men appointed by Ronald Reagan—too paralyzed by fear to take action; they were afraid that someone might think they were gay if they so much as lifted a finger against "gay cancer," which lead to the deaths of tens of thousands—hundreds of thousands—of gay men who might have been saved if the government had acted sooner.
Closet cases like Craig and Crist do real harm to the lives of other gay men and lesbians. Families are torn apart, children go without permanent homes, lives and careers destroyed. Crist and Craig may be the "victims" of political outings but let's not lose sight of the real victims here. Crist and Craig have victimized untold numbers of gays and lesbians; some of their youngest victims have surely committed suicide as a result of the culture of rabid hostility and contempt that the Craig and Crist have both worked so hard to sustain—all the while stuffing their mouths with cock.
Outing someone, as I wrote when I helped out one asshole and declined to participate in the outing of another, is a brutal tactic and should be reserved for brutes. Craig and Crist more than qualify. I don't wanna be dramatic, but Craig and Crist have blood on their hands.
And if Crist killed himself tomorrow? Would I feel bad?
Nope. Because Crist is not the victim here, he's the victimizer—he's a brute, a man who has more than earned an outing. And the consequences of his outing—the personal and professional fallout of his own hypocrisy and malice—are on his own head.
And here's the funny thing, Ta-Nehisi: these outed politicians—the Craigs, Haggards, Crists, et al—they never off themselves. Everyone talks about the potential of suicide when a high-profile hypocrite like Charlie Crist is outed. But they never kill themselves, do they? That cocksucker Crist just announced his run for US Senate. Outing "victims" either come out or they burrow deeper into their closets. You know who kills themselves when they're outed? The nobodies rounded up when the police departments conduct stings on cruising areas. Small town newspapers typically print names and mug shots after raids on rest stops and cruisy parks, a practice that has lead to suicides.
But no one gives a shit about these guys—they're nobodies, just small-town closet cases looking for a little cock, not powerful politicians doing violence on a daily basis to gay people and our families while scarfing down cock in toilets and bedding their aides.
It seems to me that your sympathies are misplaced, Ta-Nehisi.