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To “Out” or Not to “Out”

February 23, 2011

I recently posted in response to a recent thread on Bilerico that addressed one person’s thoughts on why it’s important to expose hypocritical “Family Values” individuals.

My first thought, before I addressed this particular post, was that I have family values and I don’t upper case mine because they are just part of my life and part of my work.  I work for the right for same sex couples to marry and/or establish a family with the same rights I have with my husband.  I advocate for the right to marry or not to marry, but to live and to love as we see fit and are able.  Why?  Because I have family values.  And because the right to family and the right to love falls under the heading of sexual freedom as a fundamental human right.  And so I wondered why we give even more credence to the implausibility of referring to “Family Values” when we’re speaking about people who spend all of their time limiting family, trying to establish laws that restrict fundamental human rights and teaching hate and discrimination?

But I digress.

The post was about why it’s important to out those folks whose work and advocacy doesn’t line up with the way they are living their lives – the politician who insists that adultery laws remain on the books in his state while cheating on his wife, the individual who gives passionate speeches about the sins of homosexuality and is caught in a bathroom having same-sex sex.

Sounds pretty nasty when you put the situation in those terms, doesn’t it?

In my post on Bilerico, I said

And yet I still find myself twisting on whether outing is the right thing to do.  Freedom is the freedom to and the freedom not to.  So when we start down this path of outing people for their private lives, even when those private lives are in direct contradiction with the work they do that harms others, are we really doing the right thing?  Didn’t we celebrate the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. TX that affirmed our right to privacy?

I think that if someone was stealing money from a bank we would, without hesitation (I hope!) blow the whistle on them.

These are people who are stealing (or working very hard to try to steal them) our human rights from us. Why would we NOT blow the whistle on them?

I say that with one caveat – I don’t think that any of the outings have done us a whole lot of good, other than giving us an opportunity to congratulate ourselves and laugh up our sleeves or out loud about how hypocritical the individual is.

So what DO we do with that information?  What is the point of ruining someone’s life (even if they are working to ruin yours) if it gains you nothing beyond a moment of glee?

People like Mike Rogers work really, really hard to find that information and get it out there when someone is calling us a thief while they’re stealing from us – but what do we do with that information?

How many politicians who make a career out of stealing our rights have been outed? Let’s start a campaign that works with that information.

I have a friend who uses porn and yet she is adamant that porn should be regulated by the government and she’s very clear about why. The use of porn is, as she shared, something about herself that she doesn’t like and so she would prefer it not be available to tempt her.

I would venture a guess that one of the reasons for the duplicity in these cases (other than to get elected or re-elected) is exactly the same – their homosexual tendencies or actions are something about themselves that they hate and fear and so they work to put more and more legislation in place in the hope that they won’t be tempted to act on a very normal impulse.

But again – what do we do with that information? How are we using is to forward our goals, to make our points about our rights and that there’s nothing wrong with us?

When we point one finger out, three point back. The message that they are hypocrites is often lost in what sounds like vilification of the fact that they like same-sex.  This framing/messaging thing isn’t unique to the LGBT community. It’s a sexual freedom issue that comes up when a politician is caught cheating on his wife too.

So what do YOU think we should do with this information?  “Outing” – whether I ever resolve it in my own mind or not – is a reality.  It happens and it’s going to continue to happen.  So how do you think we can make the best use of these situations?  Is there a frame or a message that should go out consistently when these outings happen?



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