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11/14/2007

Boston host makes wicked retahded ahgument

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 4-93Boston Herald reporter and local radio personality Michele McPhee is catching some flack for comments she made yesterday that implied gay men are into little boys. Check out this item from the Boston Globe:

WTKK apologizes
WTKK apologized yesterday for a comment by Michele McPhee that seemed to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. McPhee, the brassy Boston Herald reporter who hosts a daily, two-hour talk show on 96.9 FM, was talking about the trend in the fashion industry toward skinny models. After saying that the industry is largely dominated by gay men, McPhee said: "And who do homosexual men like? Little boys." Asked about the comment later, McPhee declined to talk to us. But a station official then issued the following statement: "Michele's comments were made in the context of a fashion industry that designs women's clothes for atypical body types. She regrets if her remarks were taken to mean anything else, as no other meaning was intended."

Now, we understand how one can misspeak on live air, and we often give the benefit of the doubt to personalities in situations like this. But the the thing is, you have to have some sort of thought in your mind to make this sort of a verbal slip. Something made Michele's mind go from gay, err, homosexual men to "little boys." And such a connection simply should not be there.

We're digging for the audio so that we can hear the context for ourselves; stay tuned for that. But if you'll excuse this writer, I must first go buy my partner a toy truck to trick my mind into forgetting that he's actually 30.

The kindest cut of all [Boston Globe]

***UPDATE: We haven't found the 11/13 audio yet. However, in Michele's defense, here is some gay defense that she offered up last month in connection with the Dumbledore "controversy":


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This of course doesn't explain or excuse the comments that she reportedly made yesterday. And she does use the phrase "gay lifestyle" in the clip. But it would seem to show that she does have the ability to recognize a ridiculous gay-related claim when one is made.

**UPDATE2: On the flip side, however, we don't at all like the way she handled the Dumbledore situation on her 10/20 show. While she makes a point of saying she has no problem with gay people, the heterosexist views are certainly on display:


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Most annoying part from the above? When Michele and her caller have an exchange about J.K Rowling "making this up," neglecting to consider that SHE MADE UP THE WHOLE DAMN 'HARRY POTTER' WORLD!!!!!

**UPDATE3: John Gonzalez has more thoughts and insight over at Boston magazine's daily blog.

**UPDATE, 11/16: Michele offers sincere apology: Audio: Beantown host regrets stinky brain fart [G-A-Y]

space gay-comment gay-G-A-Y-post gay-email gay-writer-jeremy-hooper


Your thoughts

Just a thought on the whole "gay Dumbledore" thing -

I listened to these streams with Michelle McPhee and found myself partially agreeing with your criticisms of her, but partly wanting to defend her a bit. Her heterosexist attitude doesn't lie far beneath the surface, agreed, and was as infuriating to me as I'm sure it was to you. The point that she was claiming to try to make, which is that kids are being introduced to sexuality too early, is one that I find less offensive. Note that I mean "sexuality" in the literal sense, and not in the sense of "sexual orientation." The fundamental problem here is that she's equating the two, when the more insightful among us realise that talking about sexual orientation is very different from talking about sex. As far as I'm concerned, for kids to talk about being gay is no different than, say, for young girls to sit around and daydream about their weddings. It's about relationships. But anyway, I'm obviously preaching to the choir here.

Here's what offended me, as a gay woman, about the Dumbledore thing: it was a complete and utter cop-out. I've only read a handful of the books, but most of my friends have read all of them, and according to them, there was no real foreshadowing of his being gay. Sure, it's been written in fanfiction and things, but here's the odd truth about fanfiction: EVERYONE is gay in fanfiction. Seriously. The fanfiction universe is populated mostly by girls (with a few exceptions - I think Stark Trek is probably more male-oriented) who like to write about the male characters in their favourite books/TV shows/movies/animes hooking up. No in-text indication is required for the fans to decide a character is gay. All that's required is their desire to decide a character is gay.

So what irks me to no end about Rowling's revelation that Dumbledore is gay is simply this: he's not. In her head he is, and maybe she had that in mind when writing him, but nothing was made explicit until she'd safely finished writing the books and had therefore relinquished control over the characters. It's like, I'm sure if somebody were to ask F Scott Fitzgerald whether Nick Carraway (The Great Gatsby) is gay or straight, he'd insist he was straight. That doesn't prevent me from reading him as gay. The same is true of Dumbledore, in reverse: Rowling can say he's gay, but she didn't actually put it *in the book*, so there's nothing stopping the rest of her readers from going "yeah, that's what you say."

Forgive me, I've got too many literature degrees and it's gone to my head. But the fact is, what Rowling says about her characters after her characters have been released into the world is moot. Everyone will read the books differently and their readings will be equally valid interpretations of the text. In a few months, people will have forgotten the whole gay-Dumbledore thing; if anything, it'll be a footnote in ten years that people learn, chuckle about, think "heh, I didn't see it that way. . . I guess I could if I go back and look for it, but whatever." And they'll go on thinking whatever they want to think.

The point is: Dumbledore's not gay. Rowling just says he is. And to be frank, I'd prefer it if she either hadn't bothered making the claim, or if she'd written properly into the books. Her post-mortem claim that "he's gay, kids!" is about as useful to me as two farts in a jam jar.

Posted by: Sarah | Nov 15, 2007 9:51:32 AM

Sarah: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. And I mostly agree with much of what you say. And yes, the hypocrisy of automatically equating gay relationships with sex is what is so annoying. Nobody ever does this with any storybook princess and their prince charming.

However, I do find your separating of JK Rowling from her characters a little odd. She's not an outsider who is saying that she interprets Dumbledore to be gay. Dumbledore is wholly borne out of her brain! In her mind as she was creating this world, Dumbledore was a gay man. There may have been others who she intended to be gay as well. It doesn't mean she had to make such obvious. But if she says it was there, I think we owe it to her to believe her.

You say:

"So what irks me to no end about Rowling's revelation that Dumbledore is gay is simply this: he's not. In her head he is, and maybe she had that in mind when writing him, but nothing was made explicit until she'd safely finished writing the books and had therefore relinquished control over the characters."

Again -- it's true that she didn't say anything about it until after the books. But when she was asked a direct question at the Carnegie event, she gave a direct answer. And in her mind, Dumbledore's sexual orientation was the reason why he never got to be with his true love, so it did, apparently, factor into her story.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 15, 2007 10:05:04 AM

I see what you're saying and I hope that you're right. I mean, I'd like Dumbledore to be gay. He seems like a pretty rad character. He'd definitely got my vote for heading up those meetings where we discuss our Agenda (I keep waiting for an invite to one of those - they must have an out of date address on file or something. . .).

But here's another way for me to state what I was saying before. Take Michelle McPhee's statement from the original post - "And what to homosexual men like? Little boys." So she says that on the record, and the public responds by pointing out that her comment was profoundly offensive. She responds by saying, effectively, "that's not what I meant."

So let's give her the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe her intentions weren't to be offensive and heterosexist. This guy seems to believe that to be the case: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/blogs/boston/2007/11/14/michele-mcphee-wtkk-and-what-happened-yesterday/

Frankly, I don't care whether or not she meant to be offensive. I don't care what she had in mind when she made a statement equating gay men with pedophiles. What I care about (and what infuriates me) is that she made a statement equating gay men with pedophiles. The fact is, she was offensive. I don't care about what she "meant to" say, I care about what she said.

There's a parallel with Rowling. I don't care what she had in mind when she wrote Dumbledore. I care about what's actually in the words on the page that she published. And according to the people I know who have read the books, there's nothing in those pages to indicate that he's gay. So in the books, he's not gay, the same way that Michelle McPhee's statement will always be a homophobic statement no matter how she tries to recontextualise it.

Did you see that episode of Law and Order where the ADA gets fired, and her last words to her boss are "Is it because I'm a lesbian?"? There had been nothing at all in the show to indicate that she was gay. It was a cop-out as well, in almost the same way. It's like, "If you're going to make her gay, make her gay."

(Sidenote: And seriously, if the Law and Order people were going to bring in a lesbian character or two, couldn't they have gone with the far sexier, more obvious candidates?

http://forum.connpost.com/societyscene/27chmhpic.jpg
http://eur.i1.yimg.com/eur.yimg.com/i/fr/tv/s/convi11.jpg

All the gay girls I know were convinced those two were getting it on offscreen!)

Apologies for the ramble - I'm hoping I don't sound like too much of a snob with this. I just feel like so much of this stuff is tokenism and it drives me nuts.

Great blog, by the way. I read it regularly though I haven't commented before.

Posted by: Sarah | Nov 16, 2007 12:58:16 AM

Well Sarah, I certainly hope you will comment more. You have thoughtful things to say.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 17, 2007 11:49:45 AM

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