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04/06/2009

'Out,' except for the whole out part

by Jeremy Hooper

Is it wrong, or even offensive, for a gay magazine whose title is intrinsically attached to the concept of LGBT people living their lives without hesitancy to include a non-out person among their list of "the 50 most powerful gays and lesbians in America"? That's the question we're asking upon seeing the number three entry on Out magazine's annual Power50 list:

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Power 50 List [Out]

Sure, there's a conversation to be had about the politics of outing. But to us, this is a different story altogether. This is a conversation about whether or not it's fair to the other people on this "power" list, especially the ones who ranked below the not-out personality, to be told that their public openness is an inconsequential element. Isn't public freedom a KEY element of this sort of list? And isn't Out sending a mixed, possibly hypocritical message to Out readers by saying that someone who has never publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation is the queer community's number three dude?

To us, it seems kind of like Fortune feting a financially bankrupt businessman, Real Simple honoring a project that's Very Complex, or Southern Living espousing the virtues of a bagel. But that's only our opinion. What do you think, dear readers?

*Oh, and Anderson's not alone. As AfterElton's Lyle Masaki points out, Matt Drudge and Barry Diller are both on the list as well.

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Your thoughts

I support the outing of people who are also anti-gay and in positions of power (Roy Cohn, etc), which was a conclusion that wasn't easy for me to reach, but people who just have their own ideas of privacy and personal life...I have to respect that.

I can't wait for Anderson Cooper to come out, if he is gay. I've had a crush on him ever since high school when we was on Channel One news.

Posted by: zortnac | Apr 6, 2009 4:23:41 PM

Well again, to me this is less about outing and more about honoring the folks we do have.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 6, 2009 4:28:03 PM

I would like to see list point out more of those who are out and provide pride for the community.

The way list is now reminds me of the cheapness of a Perez Hilton blog post.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Apr 6, 2009 4:30:05 PM

...I took some time wondering why I wrote that, why I said I "can't wait" for him to come out, if he is gay. Is it weird to enjoy seeing people you admire come out as gay? Do I like it because it's...self-affirming? Sort of like, "yeah, one more for our side!"

Makes me think, I guess.

Posted by: zortnac | Apr 6, 2009 4:36:12 PM

Andy Cooper may or may not be gay - but since the list is a "Power” List he has in fact used his "Power" to fight for the GLBT cause which could justify his ranking.

Posted by: Alonzo | Apr 6, 2009 4:43:07 PM

Yeah, I'd agree, and I guess what you're getting at is that this list is almost more of a function of popularity and celebrity, or which face sells more issues, and less about substance of said list?

Posted by: zortnac | Apr 6, 2009 4:43:19 PM

Does anyone else wonder what goes through his head every time he's forced to deal with CNN guest favorite Tony Perkins?


Posted by: zortnac | Apr 6, 2009 4:51:12 PM

Interesting list, but I was most surprised by Matt Drudge.

Posted by: Craig | Apr 6, 2009 5:16:04 PM

I'm not sure I'd refer to Jodie Foster as "openly lesbian" either.

Posted by: Eric | Apr 6, 2009 5:36:26 PM

Wait.....Matt Drudge isn't actually out???

Posted by: Rhea | Apr 6, 2009 5:57:01 PM

One more thing - I would like to see our magazines focus on lgbts who are doing good things but may not get as much attention as an Ellen DeGeneres or Melissa Etheridge. Sometimes I think this community has an obsession with celebrity status that's just nauseating.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Apr 6, 2009 6:25:46 PM

I think your issue is the lesser one. Outting innocent people is wrong, but now it's done so casually, a major magazine can do it in a massive feature. You ignore that and want to rate people according to their out status? Please.

Posted by: Wilberforce | Apr 6, 2009 7:26:48 PM

My question is: what out person deserving of recognition got bounced off the list in order to make room for the not-out (but very yummy) AC??

Posted by: Matthew in Boston | Apr 6, 2009 7:33:59 PM

While I have not seen the paper version of this story, If OUT is selling this as people who are ""the 50 most powerful gays and lesbians in America"" (your quote) then either the magizine is "outing them" since they imply that they are gay and lesbian or someone in the fact checking/proof reading departments messed up. By billing the list as "gay and lesbians" you would think that bit of a person's story would be public knowledge. If it is not, then the people included do not meet the qualifications perhaps have cause for a libel suit against the magazine. If someone is not gay or lesbian, then they don't meet the criteria as mentioned in the above quote,they should be listed as "friends and super supporters who are not gay and lesbian"

Posted by: Bob Miller | Apr 6, 2009 7:50:02 PM

Wilberforce: I purposely took a value-neutral position on the oft-discussed issue of outing ethics so as to instead discuss the concept of including people who, gay or not, are not publicly out. In this case, I found it to be the more interesting issue to take up, whether it is is "lesser" one or not.

Matthew: I wouldn't be the one to answer the question of who should be included instead. Like Alvin (a. mcewen), my list would be based on different criteria. That's not to slight the Out list's criteria, as there is certainly value in it. It's just to say that my skill set and my daily gay dealings out me more in tune with a different sort of list.

Bob: "the 50 most powerful gays and lesbians in America" is how they describe it.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 6, 2009 8:11:54 PM

I'm cool with AC (or is it AC/DC?) being outed. I agree with Keith Olberman...if he'll talk publicly about the other very private matters in his life -- especially the suicide of his brother (who is no longer here to defend himself - does AC have the right to speak for him) -- then he can talk about the "intensely personal" matter of being one of us.

To be honest I'm cool with anyone being outed. Because no one screams when someone is "outed" as straight.

Posted by: Thomas | Apr 6, 2009 8:26:51 PM

I am curious as to the reasons Cooper was chosen as the third most powerful. Having not read the article yet, I'm not really in a position to judge.

I think closeted gay people can still contribute a lot to the LGBT community... some do it as a way of acknowledging that their sexual orientation is indeed important to them...

However, if you are thinking in terms of role models for other GLBT people who need help coming out, non-out people probably are not the best choice.

Posted by: Stephanie Silberstein | Apr 6, 2009 8:28:39 PM

I agree completely.

This is, or should be, a list of people who actually have coming out stories about overcoming the hurdles of life in a homocentric world.

The only thing they can teach is, well, just shut up and everything will be alright.

Posted by: Taylor Siluwé | Apr 6, 2009 8:40:46 PM

Stephanie: The criteria, according to Out, was: (1) Political clout; (2) cultural resonance; (3) individual wealth; and (4) current personal profile

I should note that this is not AT ALL to slight anyone's contributions. Like Zortnac, I've been a fan of AC's work since his Channel One days. He surely fits the criteria nicely, and would be a perfect high ranker if he was a publicly out gay man. But at this point, he is not. Personally, I think that should be a total deal breaker for a list of "the 50 most powerful gays and lesbians in America" printed in a magazine called 'Out.'

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 6, 2009 8:55:24 PM

"To be honest I'm cool with anyone being outed. Because no one screams when someone is 'outed' as straight."

Perhaps that's because we generally don't have to worry about anyone wanting to judge us or beat us up or kill us because we're straight.

While I believe that more out people is a good thing, I also believe the decision to come out should be made by the individual, and no one else.

Without regard to that, I think your point is very valid, Jeremy, for exactly the reasons you stated.

Posted by: Bonnie_Half-Elven | Apr 6, 2009 10:45:56 PM

Yea, Bonnie, I def. fall more towards your side of the outing spectrum. Once outing stories make their way to the mainstream, I will comment on them because it becomes almost impossible not to. But I personally don't out.

That being said, I do think there is a big difference in outing and simply bringing up sexuality with a public person. I used to get SO ANGRY with Clay Aiken when he'd act like an entertainment reporter was out-of-line for merely asking him about his love life.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 6, 2009 11:04:27 PM

"I used to get SO ANGRY with Clay Aiken when he'd act like an entertainment reporter was out-of-line for merely asking him about his love life."

I think if you're famous and a private person, there are ways to politely deflect questions you don't want to answer.

Posted by: Bonnie_Half-Elven | Apr 7, 2009 1:08:31 PM

My roommate somehow ended up with an OUT subscription. Ironically, it comes wrapped in opaque plastic.

Posted by: Garet | Apr 7, 2009 3:15:04 PM

"The criteria, according to Out, was: (1) Political clout; (2) cultural resonance; (3) individual wealth; and (4) current personal profile"

Which is why AC belongs on this list. This isn't a list of the 50 famous people with the best coming out stories. Anderson is gay and he has some measure of power -- hence, he belongs on a list of powerful glbt people. To leave him off the list would be to honor the closet, which is something Out should never do. If we know someone's gay (and we absolutely know this about AC, who was much more visibly out until he got his CNN gig), then we should state that as a true fact whenever it's relevant to the conversation.

Posted by: Jon | Apr 9, 2009 12:41:56 PM

"To leave him off the list would be to honor the closet"

I'm, not sure I follow that logic, Jon.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 9, 2009 12:54:48 PM

i think its a horrible thing to out someone even if they are gay and talking anti gay. A magazine has no right to out anyone. People have a right to express what they think and we often complain as gay and lesboan people that we are treated poorly so why do this. The democratic party is the worst at this they come to us and say we love gay people then turn around and use a lesbian as a wepon even against her will Think of Ms. Chenny. If we want to be treated with respect we MUST respect others even those we do not agree with. You cant win a pissing contest with skunks Dwight D Esienhower.

Posted by: molly | Aug 11, 2009 4:10:30 PM

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