Today I had the distinct pleasure of seeing “Outrage,” the new documentary out this week that takes aim at politicians and public officials, alleged to be gay, who have been leading double lives — playing gay in private while simultaneously voting against equal rights legislation. Doing one thing in private while railing against it in public is so not cool.
The film’s on-screen “sources,” credible names like Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin; Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank; ex-Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe; CNN commentator Hilary Rosen; and ex-HRC head honcho Elizabeth Birch — plus staffers and ex-lovers of the exposed — name names. But they certainly don’t out simply for the sake of outing. As radio commentator Michelangelo Signorile has so eloquently put it, this film isn’t about outing. It’s about reporting the truth about people who are gay but who have used their power and privilege to deny rights to gay people.
I’ve never been one to support outing. But there is a limit to personal privacy when your actions — limiting marriage to straight couples, banning gay adoptions, allowing employment discrimination to persist, and voting against funding for AIDS research and prevention — are injurious to millions of Americans. “There is a right to privacy, but not a right to hypocrisy,” House rainbow-striper Barney Frank succinctly puts it.
Those among the “named” have been named before, and they’re really no surprise: people like airport-loo-toe-tapper Idaho Sen. Larry Craig; chief-of-staff-dater Calif. Rep. David Dreier; frat-boy-lover Louisiana Rep. Jim McCrery; phone-sexer Virginia Rep. Ed Schrock; and in the most egregious and bizarre example, Florida Gov. Charlie “i’ve-started-dating-a-woman-because-there’s-an-election-coming” Crist, whose personal life — and his record of finding girlfriends just as a campaign or appointment looms — truly defies any explanation.
The other very shameful theme that rises to the top is the widely-known reality that the GOP excludes its gay members, or those rumored to be gay, from rising to any position of leadership. Gazillion-term Congressman David Dreier, being too “moderate,” was cited as one example of this. To be sure, it’s their party, and they certainly have a right to run it the way they choose, but to do so at the expense of ordinary Americans is shameful. The mainstream media doesn’t have a stellar record, either: “There exists a brilliantly orchestrated conspiracy to keep gay and lesbian politicians as closeted as possible,” begins the film.
The film could have gone on for days naming names. There was no Mark Foley and no Aaron Schock (though, to be fair, the rumored-to-be-gay Illinois congressman just entered office, but he has already voted against expanding hate crimes legislation to include LGBT people). But Outrage is sure to serve an important purpose in bringing anti-gay hypocrisy to the fore, and hopefully a gay politican or two out of the closet. Here’s hoping for a sequel.
My recommendation: run, don’t walk.