Clay Aiken came out. On the cover of People magazine. I know a lot of folks are rolling their eyes, but I've been thinking about all those middle aged ladies who like to listen to Clay. People tend to idealize their cultural heros, so I'm suspecting a lot of “Christian” wimmin are spinning him from scary gay man into doting father who is gay and has a beautiful voice. Like the hairdresser. The choir director. You get my drift.
Pam Spaulding has a term in an excellent post about John McCain …. “professional anti-gay personal homosexualist” In other words, a person who is personally okay with the gays in his or her circle, but publicly supports discrimination by opposing gay marriage, ENDA, repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, GSAs, etc, etc, etc.
This is a common phenomenon here in Pittsburgh. My family, for example, treat me very well and have embraced Ledcat into our lives. They purchase us identical holiday gifts. They always include her in gatherings, both large and small. They do not ask us to hide our relationship in front of the children. But that's different, in their minds, from voting to extend civil rights to all homosexuals. There's a difference.
My neighbors are the same way. No one ripped down our rainbow windsock. They sort of choke on the words to describe our relationship “Your .. umm … friend … said you would buy candy for our fundraiser.” They wave to us and come trick or treating to our door. They would provide assistance in an emergency. Pretty much the modern neighbor relationship. None of them would wish us harm as individuals, but there is no support for us as a group (I've heard the chat and it is about “them” not “us” if you know what I mean).
Finally, there is the slew of socially conservative politicians known as Democrats here in Southwestern PA. The ones who way back in 2006 voted to amend the constitution of our state to ban gay marriage and civil unions. The vast majority who had to play a very screwy game of “I'm for this version, so I can be against the real issue” to defend us. Two years later, the legislation stalled so I suppose that's progress. Our Mayor accepts gay contributions to his campaign, but has yet to follow through on promises to gay up his administration with a LGBT liaison and LGBT advisory board. Owners of bars and taverns and inns who take gay dollars, but targeted a significant ally of our as payback for voting against their interest.
All of these folks — the House Reps, the Mayor, the owners of the bars — like the private relationships with the homosexuals — they have gay friends, gay donors and, probably, gay relatives — but their public agendas are anathema to our community.
So, we cannot be content with this dichotomy. It is not okay. We should not be celebrating stalled legislation. We should not be content that privileged gays — typically, those with money and connections — have access and the buffer of their privilege to spare them the indignities everyday homos endure. The burden is on us to push through this “professional anti-gay personal homosexualist” mentality and unpack the hypocrisy.
The truth is that there are gays — mostly upper-upper-middle class, white businesspersons — who are going to vote for McCain. The economic gains they will see from his Administration cushion the fallout from his anti-gay rhetoric. They aren't going to serve in the military. They have money to pay for health insurance. They can afford enough lawyers to deal with bureaucratic red tape. These are the Robert Traynhams of the world — remember him? The gay man working for Santorum.
Clay Aiken is a new father so his attention should rightly be on his young child. I hope that he moves along the Ellen continuum and uses his celebrity — his relationships — to connect his fans with the issues that impact their personal gays.