Based on Mike’s blog entry, it sounds like the Advocate’s comments section for his article, Of Pastors and Politicians, are teeming with strong reactions to what he has to say.
My new Advocate column is about what I view as the correlations and differences between the most recent Ted Haggard sex scandal and the Sam Adams (Portland mayor) sex scandal. The reaction to one, I suggest, is really a product of the reaction to the other.
So read and decide. A snippet:
Haggard, though a victim of a homophobic culture himself, is what we want to tell the world we aren’t — and certainly what we want to tell the world our openly gay politicians aren’t. But not being like Ted Haggard doesn’t mean openly gay people, including our politicians, must be — or can be — perfect. We fall into a trap when we hold ourselves to heterosexual ideals, ideals even heterosexuals can’t uphold, particularly when it comes to sex and our sex lives-the very things that make us different. Some of our greatest gay political heroes — from Barney Frank, whose boyfriend ran a prostitution ring out of the congressman’s house, to the late representative Gerry Studds, who was involved in an underage page scandal — have been at the center of sex scandals much more serious than Sam Adams’s. I hate to think where we’d be if, at the time, Frank or Studds had resigned and slunk away. We certainly would have made much less progress. And, when it comes down to it, we’d definitely have far fewer truly human role models.
I have to disagree with Mike on this one, and my answer is based on what it takes to be merely acceptable if you’re black and have a high-profile. Let’s be straight — if Barack Obama had a family like Sarah Palin, would he have had a chance in hell of being elected? Would he be sitting in the Oval Office if he had S.O.B.-worthy public rages at his peers like John McCain?
If you’re black (or a woman) and breaking new ground in a white or male dominated environment you have just about no room for error, because all those who come after you, fairly or unfairly, are often judged by the professional and personal legacy that you, as a minority, leaves behind. I wish this were not true, but it still is.
It’s the whole “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” phenomenon. Not only does Sidney Poitier’s character have to be a model citizen in every way to make the premise of the interracial marriage plausible, he has to be perfect — he is rich, intelligent, handsome, ethical medical expert who serves on United Nations committees, as Roger Ebert said in his review of the 1967 film. Yep, no room for error. The film may be dated, but I guarantee you that in many parts of the country, interracial relationships still guarantee parental fireworks.
So, do members of the LGBT community also have to deal with thet reality of “representing”? Are political dustups of the nature of Sam Adams’s harmful to the community, and thus those in positions as high profile as his should bear that cross of representing the community by being a model public and private citizen?