While AfterEllen.com is not in the business of outing those who are stuck in the closet, we generally aren’t faced with many women in entertainment who are obviously gay but promote an anti-gay agenda. Fortunately, we have filmmakers like Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated) to show the world how hypocritical some politicians are.
You may have already heard about and been looking forward to Dick’s new film, Outrage, a documentary about gay politicians who live their lives in the closet and support anti-gay policies, after NPR’s review of the film sparked controversy among many LGBT blogs and the writer of the review himself. While outing people is obviously not the most journalistically ethical thing to do, reviews of the film have prompted many to wonder where major media outlets draw the line when it comes to exposing elements of people’s private lives.
Why is it ok to talk about John Edwards’ extramarital affair before he publicly admitted it happened? And, when closeted politicians like Florida governor Charlie Crist and former Idaho Senator Larry Craig have already been the subject of media scrutiny after their private lives contradicted their policies — is there a reason to keep them in the closet?
Elizabeth Birch, on board of directors for National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
In out journalist Nathan Lee’s original review of the film for NPR, he mentioned Crist and Craig, since they are targeted in the documentary. (Crist still strongly backs a ban on gay adoption, for the record.). NPR removed the names of the politicians, citing a “long-held” policy:
NPR has a long-held policy of trying to respect the privacy of public figures and of not airing or publishing rumors, allegations and reports about their private lives unless there is a compelling reason to do so.
Lesbian blogger Pam Spaulding was one of many that took NPR to task following the edited review (FYI: “MSM” is mainstream media):
This is the real outrage — the MSM’s pervasive homophobic double standard of protecting closeted pols as a private matter while deeming the personal lives of straight pols fair game — a theme woven throughout the film — is proven yet again.
The Advocate also mentioned some hypocrisy on NPR’s behalf, when they discussed Wanda Sykes coming out on one of their programs by asking whether Queen Latifah would follow suit. Last time we checked, Latifah has not commented publicly on her sexuality.
While Lee’s chopped up review does show a need for NPR to rethink their policy on some level, a piece by my NPR dreamboat Terry Gross went further into the film, which I will be seeing when it opens in Chicago this weekend.
On Fresh Air, Gross talked to Dan Gurley, a man who oversaw some of the most vile anti-gay propaganda for the Republican National Committee before being outed by a gay blogger. He was soon after booted from the RNC and turned his life around: He now works for Equality North Carolina.
While pushing people out of the closet should not be necessary, those who work to prevent gays from obtaining equal rights while living a secret gay life deserve just that. Dick’s film is needed now more than ever, as the fight for equal marriage is heating up across the U.S. We need to be passionate, involved and certainly know who our friends and enemies are politically.
The film features interviews with openly gay politicians as well, who discuss many of the closeted folks the film outs as well as other hypocrisies that run rampant in Washington.
In an interview with Suicide Girls writer Fred Topel, Dick put his reason for making the film simply:
I cannot believe that in 2009, that everyone wouldn’t say, “100% rights for every citizen in this country.” I’m baffled by it. I think that should be the position of everyone and there should be no equivocating, no “this has to do with religion,” anything like that. If you’re denying rights to a portion of the population, it’s wrong. That has to be changed. That has to be called out.
Director Kirby Dick
For more on Outrage, check out the film’s website.