“You’re not going to the bar tonight, are you?”
“Yeah, why not?”
“There’s a serial killer loose. You don’t want to be the next victim.”
“That guy in Florida?”
“Yeah. But he’s on the run.”
“So, you think that this nutjob in Florida picked Louisville out of the entire US to come to, and out of all the gay bars here, he’s going to be in the one I’m going to, and out of the hundred guys there, he’s going to choose me to pick up and kill, even though I’m married and would say ‘no’ to going with him.”
“It could happen.”
The killer in question was Andrew Cunanan, best known as the murderer of Gianni Versace, and my friend refused to go out until Cunanan killed himself a week later. Although Cunanan had already killed four people and was on the FBI’s top ten list, it was the shooting of Versace on the streets of Miami that made Cunanan feared nationwide. Gay clubs reported a drop in attendance, as men stayed away, wary of being Cunanan’s next victim.
Interestingly, the same response didn’t occur with the arrests of gay serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Aileen Wournos, John Wayne Gacy, and Dean Corll. It’s assumed that gay men and women reasoned that the bad person had been caught, so there was nothing to fear, even if, unaware of the killer’s presence, they hadn’t been fearful before. There couldn’t be another one out there, another psychotic queer with issues to act out. (In fairness, though, lesbian Wournos killed men, so there wasn’t a reason for women to worry.)
These deranged killers haven’t done anything to further the LGBT cause. It’s not a news flash to say that, gay or straight, there are some rotten people out there, making all of humanity look bad. Of course, serial killers would be at the top of the list, but others, supposedly upstanding citizens, can do even more damage to a cause than the madmen and criminals.
Undoubtedly, there is a difference between bad queers and queers who are bad. Lindsay Lohan, although nowhere near the level of Wournos or Dahmer, is the top queer (or is it bisexual?) who is bad at the moment. Lohan, whose relationship with Samantha Ronson has been the subject of considerable tabloid fodder, has bounced in and out of jail and rehab with more frequency than Wendy Williams changes wigs. George Michael has been arrested for soliciting a cop in the men’s room and for DUI, while Boy George was sentenced to 15 months for “imprisoning” a male prostitute by handcuffing him to the wall. My favorite drag queen of years ago, Brandi West, was convicted of murdering her roommate.
Still, the distinction between bad queer and one who is just bad is one of intent. Lindsey Lohan has problems, undoubtedly, but they are those of her own making, a manifestation of the demons that she has been fighting for years. One could argue that Michael and Boy George are just idiotic, musical accomplishments notwithstanding. A bad queer, however, is one who hurts the LGBT cause, whose actions either stem the tide of gay rights movements, perpetuate unflattering stereotypes, or make us look insincere.
Take the case of Ken Mehlman, who came out of the closet in August. Mehlman served as President Bush’s Campaign Manager in 2004 and as Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2005 – 2006. The 2004 campaign, if you recall, was when the President called for a Constitutional amendment allowing marriage only between a man and a woman, because “marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society.” Of course, he forgot to mention that marriage’s cultural and religious roots involved dowries, arranged marriages, and no hope of divorce if dad picked you a loser, but why be picky when you’re trying to scare religious conservatives into getting to the voting booth?
The polls in early 2004 showed that people cared most about the war/homeland security, health care and the economy, followed by the usual list of concerns — education, tax reform, Social Security, and the environment. Gay marriage didn’t make the list until the President’s party put it there, by adding planks to their party platform calling on the president to defend marriage and by Bush telling Congress in his 2004 State of the Union address that “our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.”
However, the concern isn’t Bush’s abuse of the LGBT community to illicit votes; it is the participation of a gay man in selling us out to get some personal power. And make no mistake, Mehlman’s actions were about getting power: winning the election insured that Mehlman would become the Republican’s poster boy for awhile. While Mehlman has said in recent interviews that he struggled with this direction of the campaign, he obviously didn’t mind it enough to walk away. Nor did he mind enough to say to his boss, “Hey, I’m gay and this is my future that you’re screwing.” Mehlman says now he was confused about his sexuality. Yet, there were big bucks to be made and elections to win by trampling his now-embraced family, so why bother taking time to get un-confused?
Perez Hilton, in my opinion America’s most embarrassing queen, has no such excuse for his behavior. Hilton has been in court so frequently that you would think he was one of Michael Jackson’s doctors. He sued the operations manager for the Black Eyed Peas following an alleged attack, prompted by Hilton calling will.i.am “faggot”. (Hilton has since apologized for his use of the derogatory slur). Further, he’s been sued by Colin Farrell, Samantha Ronson, Zomba Label Group (a part of Sony BMG), Universal City Studios, and photo agency X17Online, most often for copyright infringement.
This all just shows he is a queer who is bad, though.
Two traits prove that he is also a bad queer. First, he’s irritating. Certainly, lots of queens are irritating, but Hilton irritates by perpetuating the stereotype of the self-righteous, superficial, and laughable flamer. This isn’t an indictment of flamers, just self-righteous and superficial ones. At no time did these traits become more evident than in his treatment of Carrie Prejean, a Miss USA hopeful, when Hilton “judged” the pageant. Prejean responded to Hilton’s question about gay marriage that she believes marriage should be between a man and woman.
Oh, and Elton John, You’ve Tarnished Your Crown
OK, so I’m not thrilled about the answer either, but Hilton was delusional to not realize that some of the women wouldn’t share his personal perspective and that his job as a judge was to evaluate how articulately the women had expressed themselves. To make matters worse, after insuring that Prejean lost, Hilton shot off his mouth about how bad her answer was. Be the bigger man and let the woman lose with dignity. Prejean shouldn’t have lost the crown over this. She should have lost it for the sex tape she made while pleasuring herself.
More troubling, though, is Hilton’s insistence on outing gay and lesbian celebrities and athletes. Hilton has said that he feels that it furthers LGBT causes when we can show the extent to which we exist, and that hiding in this day only furthers the idea of shame for being gay. He is absolutely right. Yet, such reasoning fails to recognize that some individuals have good reason to hide.
Hilton outs people without regard to the personal or professional damage that might result. Parents may learn from tabloids about their child’s orientation, and advertisers and sponsors may reconsider contracts. Fans might abandon the outed person. For actors, the types of roles offered may change, while athletes can expect increased tension in the locker room. Granted, Hilton’s first grade teacher probably knew he was gay, but for others, the process of coming out can be long and painful. Regardless, it is always personal, and not the sort of thing that one wants to share with loved ones via a gossip hack.
Elton & Rush — strange bedfellows. Strange, indeed.
Elton John’s first grade teacher probably knew he was gay as well, but John wouldn’t admit it publically for another 30-plus years. Since then, he has been elevated by some onto the throne of Queen Queer, and he made a notable appearance on Will and Grace as the head of the gay mafia. So, why then would John agree to perform at the wedding of a man who spews anti-gay rhetoric, Rush Limbaugh? You all know the answer, so say it with me: a million dollars. Just two months after the married John sang for Limbaugh and his fourth bride, Limbaugh commented on the court’s decision regarding Prop 8 in California: “They seek to impose their perverted views, their depraved views on family and marriage… Marriage is a union of a man and a woman…This is about destroying an institution.” In fairness, though, Limbaugh has spoken in support of civil unions. The back of the bus.
John also wasn’t fazed by the fact that the ceremony would be officiated by Reverend Ken Hutcherson, a well-known anti-gay activist who has opposed both gay marriage and the Matthew Sheppard Act. John’s husband David Furnish has since told Peoplethat John’s goal was to mend fences. However, mending fences involves dialogue and a sincere effort to understand opposing viewpoints in order to reach a desirable outcome. It doesn’t involve being the hired help at a society wedding. Perhaps if John made a substantial donation to the Human Rights Campaign, say in the amount of a million bucks, some of that tarnish will be knocked off his crown.
John, Hilton and Mehlman are hardly the only LGBT individuals that have made the fight for equality more challenging. One might notice that few women are discussed here, but assuredly, there are bad lesbians. I could discuss Mary Cheney, but you can just reread the section on Ken Mehlman. Except Cheney was out the entire time she was supporting and working for the administration that made her relationship a political tool.
Also bad are the countless women who have played the lesbian chic game. No one is saying that women shouldn’t have the opportunity to explore with whomever they choose, but don’t announce that you have given up men forever only to dump your girlfriend a few weeks, months, years later for some guy. It just reinforces the idea that homosexuality is a choice. True lesbians will tell you there’s no choice about it.
I harbor no delusions that I am perfect. I can be stubborn and impatient, and I fail at taking serious issues with the stony-faced somberness that is requisite for “serious issue meetings”. On very rare occasions, I have gotten so mad that I made students cry — and not just the one I was yelling at (they’re college students – I’m not making six-year-olds cry). Plus, my husband will tell you I never shut a damn drawer when I’m done with it.
You’re not perfect either, but whatever our flaws, most of us don’t work to hurt our own best interests. I heard a few years ago that researchers found that farmers usually vote for candidates that support legislation that would hurt the farming industry, because they support the candidates on other issues. The LGBT community stands behind those who stand behind us. We support candidates who will work for us and with us. We stand beside our heroes and idols. Most importantly, we support one another on those painful nights when rejection, hatred, isolation, and prejudice have fractured our spirits. This sense of community has seen us through rough times, so it’s disheartening to see one of our own make life harder for us all.
Perez Hilton is right about one thing: there are more gay celebrities now than ever. Maybe the time has come to be a little more discerning about the ones we support.
Bill T. Jones
Cheers, Queers to LGBT honorees. In December, choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones will receive the nation’s highest artistic honor, the Kennedy Center Honor. At last August’s Emmy Awards, three out of the first four awards went to “the gays”: Glee‘s Jane Lynch and Ryan Murphy and Modern Family‘s Eric Overstreet, who is straight but plays gay Cameron. Add two-time winner Neil Patrick Harris (guest actor on Glee and a shared award for special class programming for the Tony Awards. Don’t ask — I don’t know what a special class show is, either), and it was a good night for gays and lesbians.
Here’s Mud in Your Eye to rapper 50cent, who Tweeted “If you a man and your over 25 and you don’t eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. LOL.” (sic) Yeah, encouraging suicide is so damn funny, cent.