TURING: The business of outing

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

By all means, out someone if he or she is a hypocrite; just don’t call them gay.

It is nothing short of a comical irony. Ted Haggard, the ex-televangelist, and once the self-appointed spokesperson for Jesus Christ, has all but disappeared from public attention.

Only a few months ago, he was reviled not just by the gay community for his blatant homophobic preaching, but also by intelligent people at large for his inability to handle rational criticisms and arguments (remember the infamous interview with Professor Dawkins?) and even by some religious circles for his, shall we say, unconventional methods of preaching the gospel.

And yet, only a few months ago, famous he certainly was, particularly among the social conservatives in the US.

Thanks to the idiot box, millions of Americans did tune into watch his shows, like it or not.

He held close ties with the Republican Party, the neoconservative hawks in Washington and at Fox News, and even had the respect of other right-wing televangelists.

All his fame came crashing down when he lost his self-proclaimed moral authority to a drug-dealing male prostitute, from whom he is alleged to have solicited drugs and sex, as the latter decided to ‘out’ Haggard to the world.

Millions of conservative Christians winced.

Fox News and fellow televangelists immediately distanced themselves from him, as did the Republican Party.

Tabloid journalists were feasting just as late night comedy shows famously laughed out the pretence of it all.

The LGBT community was respectfully mute about it – and rightly so. After all, he’s just been exposed as the fraud he is.

Be that as it may, some within the gay community, including your columnist, were deeply uncomfortable for two reasons.

There is something extraordinarily vulgar about being a homosexual yourself in private, and conducting blatant homophobic campaigns in public, mostly in the name of money, politics and fame.

One wonders if such a life of falsehood and depravity is worth living.

Putting aside the ethics of outing someone, the kind of attention this draws to the LGBT community is not necessarily positive, and often in fact seems to be negative.

For example, the tabloids had a jolly good time calling Haggard the ‘gay’ televangelist; but the image of an infamous homosexual as a duplicitous drug-dealing sex-maniac is the last thing the gay community wants.

We’ve had enough gay-bashing for two millennia, thank you very much.

Your columnist, in his inaugural column, argued that private matters should remain precisely that – private.

And nobody has any business interfering with the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

So, it makes no sense if you want to out people such as Peter Mandelson, Jodie Foster or David Hyde Pierce, who admirably keep their private and public lives separate, and who do not have anything to say for or against the gay community.

To expect every famous gay personality to come out in support of gay rights is unreasonable, and quite frankly, ridiculous.

This rule of thumb seems reasonable enough. But, when it comes to deceitful men like Haggard, or more recently, Alexander Cheuv, is it not well worthwhile outing them?

Yes, though not as gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgendered.

The LGBT community is composed of people who are comfortable with their own sexuality or gender-identity, and have no qualms declaring so in public.

There is nothing more insulting to the gay community than labelling a man like Cheuv as ‘gay,’ inasmuch as it would be painful for the lesbian community to label Madonna or Britney Spears as lesbians just because they smooched on MTV music awards.

Your columnist believes that those people unfortunate enough to be in the closet, by definition, cannot claim to belong to any of these communities, although they deserve all our support and encouragement to come to terms with their sexuality and/or gender-identity, and while doing so, to become comfortable with their true self.

So, how exactly do we ‘out’ someone, without calling them gay or lesbian?

Just call them hypocrites, and that’s that. They have no place in the LGBT community.

Once outed, even the gay press should stop paying undue attention to these hypocrites, and denounce them as opposed to everything that the community stands for.

They insulted us in the past by preaching against us; but it is nothing compared to the insult we face if anyone claims that they are a part of us.

And if anyone claims the latter, the responsibility befalls the gay press to deny, and condemn the monstrosity outright.