Outing Gay Politicians

It's worth listening to this interview with Kirby Dick, about his new film Outrage, which investigates closeted politicians, who presumably are supporting an anti-gay agenda. I think I get the impetus--there's certainly a kind of cowardice at work in being in the closet and supporting homophobes.

That said, I'm deeply skeptical. When white gays compare their experience to African-Americans, the response is often to note that blacks have no closet, and thus no choice about how to live. They're going to experience racism, no matter what. It's a fair distinction and an important difference. But I suspect (though I'm not sure) that it undervalues the way blackness in this country forces you face yourself, while overvalue the virtues of concealing yourself.

I'm in the realm of theory and imagination here--being black is elemental to me, almost in the way that religion is elemental to the devout. I can't imagine myself without it, and more to the point, I think I'd be deeply unhappy if I had to conceal anything that important from my family, friends and colleagues. And it's not just concealing, it's accepting a presumed inferiority, an assumed deviance, and in that acceptance, a spiritual corruption. The closet may be choice--but it isn't one I'd want, anymore than someone who's white wants to afraid of the police.

I find these discussions of who has it worse ("black male/black female" "white woman/poor white man" "gay asian" "straight native American") to be reductive. They smell of my conversations hatched at midnight in Howard's dorms, when I should have been out chasing girls. Who can know what is worse? I'm black and straight and thus would never want to be white and straight, or white and gay. Were I white and gay, I think I'd never want to black and straight. You take life as it comes.

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?

As I said, I'm out of my lane. I'd love to hear from more experienced hands.