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14 november 2004

The Fine Art of Outing

...or, past as prologue

Like a lot of things that the stolid, staid, "moral values" sheep voters find "icky", the concept of outing (as gay) has been taken from its original concept and perverted into something that serves both their xenophobia and their "compassionate" conservatism.

Michelangelo Signorile is largely—and rightly—credited with bringing the concept of outing into the mainstream. Since then, of course, the perception of what it is, what it was meant to be, has become something else. Something that has caused divisions even among gay people.

I think it's time again to remind people what outing is all about. In a world where we know too much about Britney's corroborative efforts towards straight marriage and see far too much of Tara Reid's plastic surgery scars and hear far too much of John Ashcroft's chanteusing, people still screed "respect their privacy!" when it comes to homosex.

And by 'people', I don't mean "also journalists", I mean especially journalists! This is exactly the beef that Mike Signorile had with the supposed objectivity of journalism and other news reporting: the double-standard when it came to homosexuality.

Anyone remember Malcolm Forbes? Anyone remember his place in the History of Outing? I'm not going to launch into an entire history here, because you can check that out in the bio at Mike's site. And while I have every confidence that Mike's take is accurate, go google it and read more. Here's a relevant quote:

Signorile contended throughout that time that the homosexuality of public figures -- and only public figures - should be reported on when relevant to a larger story (and only when relevant).

That's it, folks. That's what outing is all about. It's a call for journalistic integrity. It's about ethics. Many might consider integrity and ethics dead concepts, especially in the media and even moreso in the proliferation of Bread and Circuses blogs, but I don't. Even though ethics rarely wins over making a buck and even though integrity never makes the headlines, what do we have if we don't have those?

So in any case where a public person's sexuality is relevant to a story, that person's sexuality, priorly openly stated or not, should be reported. And if I have anything to say about it (and I do, from this modest-sized podium, at least), it will.

So when you hear of Congress members talking about abridging my rights, implying that I am less and that people like me are less because we're gay, well, how much more relevant can you get?

I welcome the return of outing. Thank you, Mike, for drawing that line in the sand 14 years ago.

Posted by jeff at 14 november 2004 12:31

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