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CatWoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-07-06 11:39 PM
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Open the closets on Capitol Hill
Oct. 7, 2006 | In 1960, when Gore Vidal ran for Congress, his Republican opponent tried to spread word that Vidal was a homosexual. This was not, strictly speaking, news. Vidal had written one of the first explicitly gay novels in American literature ("The City and the Pillar") and had never been at great pains to conceal his private life. But in trying to fan the flames that Vidal himself had ignited, J. Ernest Wharton ran up against a strange conundrum. The same media outlets that would have jumped all over a heterosexual scandal turned strangely mum the moment homosexuality entered the picture. For the New York Times and the Associated Press and Time magazine, this was the love that could not speak its name.

And still can't. In the swirl of controversy surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley and his overtures to congressional pages, one thing has been clear all along: Foley's offenses have nothing to do with being gay, everything to do with being a pedophile. And one thing is emerging with new clarity: The mainstream media's treatment of gay politicians is essentially unchanged from when Gore Vidal ran for office 46 years ago. This long-standing policy of nondisclosure can now safely be called a disservice -- to gay people, to voters, to the politicians themselves, to everyone. It must change.

Since Foley came to Washington in 1995, his sexuality has been, as they like to say, an open secret. For those of us working on Capitol Hill at the time (I was a Democratic communications director), it was common knowledge. And yet, outside of the alternative or gay media, you would have been hard-pressed to find a newspaper or wire service or radio or television network willing to mention it. Even during Foley's abortive 2003 U.S. Senate bid, when rumors about his private life reached such a pitch that he felt obliged to dismiss them as "revolting and unforgivable," the mainstream media refused to do what they had done so gleefully in the case of Gary Hart or Bill Clinton. By common consent, and with an almost audible sigh of relief, they eschewed the bedroom bivouac, the morning-after stakeout, the bimbo safari. They crept back into the night, like skunks at a garden party.

This bizarre reluctance to positively identify Foley as gay -- a reluctance so uniform as to qualify as a code of conduct -- has been explained away as chivalry, as delicacy, as respect for privacy. It is none of these things. It is an inherited squeamishness, the relic of an era in which homosexuality meant secrecy and shame.
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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 12:25 AM
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1. And for a different perspective...
Edited on Sun Oct-08-06 12:50 AM by chill_wind

Edit to add: I'd prefer both the media and the government stay out of the bedrooms of law-abiding Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.

I tend to agree with the poster in the other thread who points out Foley was first and foremost a predator. His gay-ness is a non-issue.

I strongly *disagree* with the poster (deleted) who advocated that the government should have a role in forcing out closeted gays. I feel the same about any suggested media "role".

While it happens that I'm not gay, this is all starting to take on McCarthyistic whiffs of something in a different direction I think we can all live without.

just my 2 cents.
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