Does anyone, infamous or not, deserve to be outed? Do they have the right to privacy, but not a right to hypocrisy,” as openly gay Rep. Barney Frank believes?
“Outrage,” a new documentary from filmmaker Kirby Dick, takes issue with the secret lives of closeted gay politicians–especially conservative Republicans who outwardly oppose gay rights. See the “Outrage” trailer here.
It’s long been considered socially unacceptable to “out” closeted gay politicians. “Outrage” makes the argument that when they take positions harmful to millions of gay people, it’s unacceptable to let them stay in the closet. “Traitors to their people” is how one person in “Outrage” describes politicians who live gay lives in secret while campaigning and voting against gay rights in public.
The film features interviews with former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey; Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff (who tells the story of how he met FOX News anchor Shepard Smith in a gay bar); David Phillips, the DC IT technologist who tells his story about sleeping with Sen. Larry Craig in graphic detail); muckraking BlogActive blogger Mike Rogers, journalist and author, Michelangelo Signorile, and many more.
The public has developed an increasing appetite for private details in public lives, and the press are no longer sticklers for convention. Bad news for closeted conservatives.
If a closeted politician or religious leader is too outrageous in his condemnation of homosexuality, he may well find himself in the daily paper or headlining the six o’clock news. This is what happened to the Rev. Ted Haggard, a fundamentalist minister who was head of the largest evangelical church in America, and a powerful voice for evangelicals nationally.
Mike Jones, the male prostitute Haggard paid for sex and drugs, said he made his outing allegations against Haggard in response to Haggard’s political support for a Colorado Amendment 43 on the November 7, 2006 ballot that would ban same-sex marriage in that state. Jones told ABC News “I had to expose the hypocrisy. He is in the position of influence of millions of followers, and he’s preaching against gay marriage. But behind everybody’s back [he's] doing what he’s preached against.”
Catholic leaders–including bishops and cardinals–were also exempt from public scrutiny until the advent of the clergy sex abuse scandal broke everything open. Since then, such powerful figures as Legionaires of Christ head Fr. Marcial Maciel, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer of the Archdiocese of Vienna, Austria and Archbishop Juliusz Paetz of the Archdiocese of Poznan, Poland have all been dragged into newspapers with accusations they abused young priests, seminarians, monks and youths.
Michelangelo Signorile is a gay American writer and national talk show host. His article, “Cardinal Spellman’s Dark Legacy” was published by New York Press on April 23, 2002. Read the whole article here. It details the hypocrisy of New York Archbishop Francis Cardinal Spellman’s known, but closely guarded, gay life.
“Two Sundays ago,” the article begins, “the rector at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Monsignor Eugene Clark, gave a homily that inspired the kind of PRIEST BLAST GAYS headlines that New York’s tabloids thrive on. Standing in for the embattled Cardinal Egan, Clark blamed the sex abuse scandals on gays, railed against homosexuality as a “disorder” and said it was a “grave mistake” to allow gays in the priesthood.”
“Yet, among the several skeletons in gay-basher Clark’s closet is that he in fact dutifully worked as secretary for one of the most notorious, powerful and sexually voracious homosexuals in the American Catholic Church’s history: the politically connected Francis Cardinal Spellman, known as “Franny” to assorted chorus boys and others; who was New York’s cardinal from 1939 until his death in 1967.”
“The archconservative Spellman was the epitome of the self-loathing, closeted, evil queen, working with his good friend, the closeted gay McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn, to undermine liberalism in America during the 1950s’ communist and homosexual witch hunts.”
“During Spellman’s reign and long afterward, all of New York’s newspapers in fact cowered before the Catholic Church. On Spellman’s ordered New York departmen stores–owned largely by Catholics–pulled ads from the then-liberal New York Post in the 1950s after publisher Dorothy Schiff wrote commentary critical of his right wing positions; Schiff was forced to back down on her positions.”
“In the original bound galleys of former Wall Street Journal reporter John Cooney’s Spellman biography, The American Pope–published in 1984 by Times Books, which was then owned by the New York Times Co.–Spellman’s gay life was recounted in four pages that included interviews with several notable individuals who knew Spellman was a closeted homosexual.”
“Among Cooney’s interview subjects was C.A. Tripp, the noted researcher affiliated with Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey of the Institute for Sex Research, who shared information that he had on Spellman regarding the prelate’s homosexuality. In a telephone interview with Tripp last week, he told me that his information had come from a Broadway dancer in the show One Touch of Venus who had a relationship with Spellman back in the 1940s; the prelate would have his limousine pick up the dancer several nights a week and bring him back to his place. When the dancer once asked Spellman how he could get away with this, Tripp says Spellman answered, “Who would believe that?”
“U.S. ambassor to Ireland and friend of the Church, William V. Shannon, reviewed The American Pope for Book Review. Shannon’s review was scathing, attacking Cooney for even bringing up the subject at all: ‘Prurient interest in the sex lives of public figures serves no useful purpose.’”
“A Jesuit priest wrote a letter to the Book Review, published a few weeks later: “Cardinal Spellman’s sex life does not matter, but (his) homosexuality does…It matters to thousands of people whose jobs, relationships and whose very lives are threatened because of their sexuality, all the while being forced to view and eat the hypocrisy of their church. And it enrages people that church men and women can retain their jobs, hiding behind their clerical and religious statutes while their own people suffer persecution, disease and discrimination.’”
“Sadly, the Jesuit’s words still ring true today, almost 20 years later. While Spellman has long been dead, his legacy of hypocrisy lives on: there are closeted homosexuals –often condemning ‘sexual immorality’ publicly while having gay sex privately–throughout the uppermost echelons of the church today.”
My personal opinion: the Censor Libororum feels closeted lesbians and gays are entitled to their privacy whatever their personal opinions…. the threat of “outing” a relationship or sexual situation has been used by unscrupulous or jealous people for revenge, profit or politics. It happened to me. (See my LCSW post on June 10, 2006 – “Edward Murphy of The Stonewall Inn” for another example.)
However, if elected leaders and members of the hierarchy are sexually active gays and lesbians, and homophobic in public statements, I firmly believe they should get the hook out of the closet, and join the people they are condemning at the pillory.