Identity politics turns people into one dimensional characters, who must act out a set script. If you’re black or Hispanic, you must be a Democrat, even if you oppose abortion, take a jaundiced view of gay marriage, and want school choice. If you’re a woman, you must support equal pay for comparable work, even if that will destroy the economy and dramatically lessen the total number of jobs available. If you’re a white male, you must be the epitome of all things regressive and evil. Oh, and if you’re gay, you cannot be a principled conservative and must, instead, be humiliated and destroyed:
California GOP Rep. David Dreier and a number of other politicians are the unwilling stars of a controversial new documentary with an explosive premise – it’s time to blow open the closet door on prominent politicians who have hidden their homosexuality while actively working against gay causes.
The film “Outrage,” which opens today at the Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco, presents interviews and documentation charging that a number of prominent legislators – including Dreier, the U.S. representative from San Dimas (Los Angeles County), GOPFlorida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Democratic New York Mayor Ed Koch – have remained closeted while publicly opposing legislation on issues such as same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS funding, and gays in the military.
Liberals frequently confuse their compulsive need to typecast with hypocrisy. Let me set the record straight. Hypocrisy means to advocate one course of conduct or belief for others (usually with a sacrifice to them), while espousing another for yourself (usually to your benefit).
Thus, it’s hypocrisy when Al Gore goes around demanding that we all drive in cars made out of tissue paper, and live in houses that are freezing cold in winter and furnace hot in summer, all the time driving himself in a safe and comfortable SUV, and living in a series of energy-hog mansions. It’s hypocrisy when Michael Moore demands that we all divest from Halliburton, but invests in it himself. It’s out and out lying when Bill Clinton says “I did not have sex with that woman” or John Edwards assures the American people he never had an affair.
It is neither hypocrisy or lying, however, when gay men and women have a principled opposition to same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS funding or gays in the military. These same gay people, after all, are not being accused of sneaking off to Holland to get married, while denying those rights to American gays; of funneling money to those of their friends ill with HIV/AIDS while denying it to others; or whatever would be hypocritical behavior with regard to gays in the military.
Without any hypocrisy, it is perfectly possible to be gay, but believe that marriage is a specific institution unique to men and women. You can hold to that position and still colorably demand full civil rights for gay unions that are then recognized nationwide. Likewise, without hypocrisy, you can be gay, but recognize that cancer or heart disease or some other disease deserves equal access, not just to funding, but to fund raising. And of course, you can be gay and believe that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a workable compromise that allows gays to serve in the military without offending the heterosexual sensibilities that currently prevail in “this man’s Army” — all without being a hypocrite who voices one view and acts upon another.
The film “Outrage,” however, typecasts gays, and denies them the right to examine issues through a lens other than their own sexuality. I say this without knowing or caring whether the men and women named in the movie are actually gay. What I care about, deeply, is the pressure the gay community imposes upon its members to abjure independent thought, and to march lockstep through a series of complicated and contentious issues.
For a community that, a mere 40 years ago, broke free of the shackles imposed against it, it’s a real tragedy that it now insists upon imposing similar shackles upon itself.