Friday, July 16, 2010
When I got to be 13, in 1953, it dawned on me that I was gay...I look back now and realize exactly how hated gay people were then, when I was a kid. You have to remember that in 1954 Eisenhower signed an executive order that singled out gay people as security risks... worthless... a threat.
Barney Frank (D-MA)
As a heterosexual man, I never (in a million years) dreamed that watching openly gay men "call out" closeted gay men for 90 minutes could be so intriguing. Then I saw Outrage (2009). At times it resembles gossip headlines that I only read while I'm paying for ice cream and cookies at the checkout stand, and this certainly can be a sweet attraction for an American audience (the gossip, not the dessert). However, its real substance homes in on powerful political leaders who consistently vote against gay rights legislation (from same-sex marriage to hate crimes to HIV/AIDS to same-sex adoption) while at the exact same time lead a "private" gay sex lifestyle. Nothing like seeing power-hungry-deniers-of-equality get caught with their pants down...literally.
Outrage is a mix of personal coming-out narratives, from leaders like former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey and Arizona congressman James Kolbe, and awkwardly adamant denials, from folks like Florida Governor Charlie Crist to Idaho Senator Larry Craig. The former make your heart search for feelings of what it would be like to live in hiding, while the latter make your inner McCarthyite shine. The story of Crist, who is currently in the fight of his political life in his quest for the US Senate, is especially illuminating. After his 6-month marriage in the late 70s (his wife was a lesbian), he claims to have gone on a 20-year "monastic" dating fast. Two separate men (who did not know each other) had separate stories of sexual flings with Crist 5 years ago with identical details. Crist, of course, denies all these allegations while voting down any and every possibility of same-sex equality, including gay adoptions in Florida.
Protests from the right of the political spectrum have inevitably followed Outrage. Perhaps it focuses too much on conservative politicians, but to be fair, this hypocritical scenario can only really be manifested in the Republican Party who has skillfully used the gay rights issue to win major elections. Many political leaders, especially in the past decade, have used this very issue as a sanctified weapon to bludgeon their "immoral" opponents. By day, these leaders live out of the adrenaline of their power and fame, echoing family values rhetoric in their campaign advertising, on the floor of Congress, in their churches and in every interview. By night, they shed their heterosexual costumes for their own sexual adventures.
Outrage, out on DVD, definitely gets an EasyYolk recommendation because it invites us all to more compassion, self-reflection and, yes, righteous outrage. Most of these chronciled men, in their 50s and 60s, grew up in an era when being gay was truly the most leprous of existences (as it still is very much today). These men have lived their whole lives in utter fear that, someday soon, they would be found out and all of their achievement, ambition and dreams would be ruined. A wretched existence of hiding and shame. However, their aren't too many stories as redemptive in our culture as those told by gays and lesbians who have boldly come out to their families, friends and, in the case of these political leaders, to the entire nation. The liberation and healing they all experience through an authenticity they never fathomed is at the very heart of the story we Christians call "gospel."