Politics, Sex and the Closet

There’s a lot of buzz among political junkies about Outrage, the new documentary by filmmaker Kirby Dick that premiered across the nation last week. The film explores the prevalence of politicians who remain closeted about their sexuality and whether their choice harms the LGBT community.—-

The film provides circumstantial evidence to “out” several politicians including Florida Gov. Charlie Christ, a possible GOP presidential hopeful in 2012; California congressman David Dreier; and ex-New York Mayor Ed Koch.

So far the movie hasn’t hit any Cincinnati cinemas but it likely will be available through Netflix and at video rental stores shortly.

Just like Dick’s previous film — 2006’s This Film Is Not Yet Rated, about the motion pictures rating board — Outrage delves into a topic that many people would like to remain private. The practice of outing an unwilling individual is controversial, even among gays and lesbians.

Most media outlets subscribe to the theory that unless a secretly gay politician actively promotes anti-gay legislation or sentiments, thus raising the question of hypocrisy and a double life, their sex life should be off-limits to public scrutiny.

Dick’s film argues that even closeted politicians who don’t endorse anti-gay issues might be fair game because their secrecy reveals something about their personality. Also, those pols may be unwilling to support legislation that they otherwise might, becoming an impediment to progress.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from an interview with Dick from Salon.com:

Q: You also seem to argue that the closet produces a specific kind of hypocrisy, or that it produces a profound personality distortion that makes the hypocrisy more severe.

A: It does. People have made this calculation to go into the closet, and oftentimes they have lied to their constituency for decades. They absolutely do not want this light to be shone on them, and they'll do anything to prevent it, including voting much more strongly against gays and lesbians than they really want to. Most anybody who's in the closet — if they had their choice, if they could be out, if there were no homophobia in this society — would naturally vote pro-gay and pro-lesbian.

Given Cincinnati’s history as a conservative bastion that birthed Article 12 while also electing several closeted politicians over the years, the film definitely provides food for thought.