IUC Exclusive: The Ethics Of Outing…Please Read This!
My regular readers have noticed that since the passage of the vile hate legislation, Proposition 8, in November, I have been outing prominent figures more often than Angelina Jolie adopts babies (speaking of Angelina, she may be a phony, but at least she had the courage to publicly reveal her bisexuality).
My decision to out people like Jake “Toothy Tile” Gyllenhaal, Will Smith and others has sparked an ethical debate about outing. In a previous post, I explained that I can no longer remain silent while hundreds of teenagers kill themselves each year because they are gay and tens of thousands more are suicidally depressed. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control/Massachusetts Department of Education Youth Risk Behavior Survey (1999), 33% of gay youth will attempt suicide and gay teen suicide attempts are four times that of heterosexual youth.
I believe that if these youths and their tormentors knew that their role models (athletes, actors and talk show hosts) were gay, it would go a long way to eradicating the homophobia and the shame. I especially believe that straight, progressive people like myself have an obligation to devote as much effort to stamping out homophobia as we did to combatting segregation and Apartheid in the 20th century. Where were most of the straight liberals, especially in California, when Prop 8 was marching to victory last year? Out knocking on doors for Obama, whose victory was a foregone conclusion. Brave.
There are many good reasons why gay people choose to remain in the closet (family, employers, religion) and I would never advocate outing the everyday citizen whose decision to come out is a very personal one. But when public figures choose to remain closeted, those who profit from their deception, especially those who go to absurd lengths to present a straight front, then I believe they are fair game.
There are those who will argue that my rationalization is simply an excuse to gain notoriety, even though I chose to disguise the names of the many gay Hollywood actors I discovered when I infiltrated Scientology a couple of years ago posing as a gay actor for my book Hollywood Undercover, despite the fact that naming names would have guaranteed an international bestseller. Proposition 8 changed everything. When I realized that the Mormons and other hatemongers were headed to victory while most of Hollywood’s closeted actors remained silent, I was shocked.
Whether or not people doubt my motives, I would like to share a very poignant comment I received this weekend from an IUC reader named Tom:
“Great job Ian. I couldn’t agree with you anymore. If anyone recently saw Prayers for Bobby which was a true story, people would understand what you are saying. It happens everyday. I just wish I had gay heros to look up to when I was a kid. Movie stars and Baseball players were my outlet when I was a kid. If just one had stood up and said I am proud to be a gay man, my childhood may have been a little less difficult. I commend you and I hope what your doing convinces these celebs, especially Jake, how much they could help. There is certainly more to life than money. Powerful studios like Disney are the real bad guys. For sure the Homophobic money hungry men who run these studios could care less about kids like Bobby.”
That’s enough to convince me to keep up my mission, even if I have to spend every dime I have defending myself against lawsuits.
Peace out, Ian