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Outing America

The issue of gay versus straight has been one of intense media entertainment and satisfaction since Ellen Degeneres came out publically on her television show in 1997. At the time, her outing essentially destroyed her career, and the show was cancelled, making her unemployable for nearly ten years until the public came around to the idea of gay celebrities—and whether or not they can be accepted in society. When the documentary “Outrage” came out in May 2009, the same issue has been brought to the forefront of society—and it seems that society is still dealing with the same issues more than ten years later.

Now, more than once, according to “Outrage,” it has been found that politicians fought long and hard against gay relationships—only to later declare, or be outed, as to their own gay or lesbian orientation. To begin with, the documentary could not be more aptly titled. While the premise of “Outrage” is that of, essentially, recounting hypocrites, by name, and outing them, the simple ideal that these politicians, whether or not they are hypocrites, has to be taken into account.

While the reasoning behind the documentary is sound, the literal outing of the politicians is more a violation of basic human rights than one deserving of media credit. The question arises, then, whether or not the media has the right to discuss a person’s orientation if that person is already being discussed in the news. The truth is that no one is exempt from being reported upon. However, there have to be some limits as to what is considered news and what is considered gossip for the sake of entertainment.

Rolling Stone Magazine, who often prints the “coming out” of celebrities, of their own recognizance, cites that “you can’t deny the grave implications of the blatant hypocrisy on display. This film is a muckraking provocation whose time has come. ” While many media outlets, like NPR and the Washington Post are taking this same position, without literally printing names, Rolling Stone is blatantly and vehemently on the documentary’s side.

But, their reasoning is not that the public has a right to know who is gay and who is straight in Hollywood, instead, they are citing that due to the hypocrisy of the politicians, the public undisputedly deserves to know. Indeed, it can even be said from this statement that because the politicians on display fought so long and hard against gay rights, when undeniably they too were gay, the public should be well aware of who is pulling the legislative strings, and even more well aware of who pulled those strings with hate in their hearts for their own orientation kept secret.

Still, despite the hypocrisy of the politicians, however horrible it may be deemed, the issue of sexual orientation and outing them truly comes down to one of civil rights. Is it legal to out someone who is gay? Yes. However, it can be looked at as defamatory in nature if that outing isn’t done on their behalf and it might have an impact on not only their life, but their career as well. Who is to judge what another might find worthy of their affections? Even more, who has the right to judge them openly by telling others, in a blatant and breaking-news manner, of their orientation?

The truth is that despite what a politician, or anyone for that matter, says about sexual orientation, it is their right to declare their own orientation to the public. The media is, especially now, so interested in breaking stories such as these that it very nearly takes away the rights of others—whether or not what they print or say in a televised manner is true. The issue of sexual orientation should be left alone, and not used to sell stories for entertainment purposes.

Especially in the case of these politicians, what “Outrage” did is to essentially create a witch hunt, marking them as the dirtiest of hypocrites and making them seem as if their choice to be gay is a sinful one. Further, the truth is that despite whatever dirt has been dug up on these politicians, no one can determine their sexual orientation except them. Some people go their whole lives believing themselves to be straight, while hating the gay community profusely, only to, later in life, come to terms with their own sexual identity.

The scene in American Beauty, where the strict military dad believes his neighbor to be gay, and only then, comes to terms with his own life and sexual orientation—believing for the first time that he can be accepted for who he is—stands out in pop culture in this example. Sexual identity is the very core of the human being, and not only defines who a person is throughout their life, but whether or not they feel comfortable with that identity. Anything that can rip this truth out of someone, despite their wrongdoings in the past, is a violation of the very thing that makes up America.

Overall, the theory behind “Outrage” is a sound one—however, their premise essentially destroyed the very foundation of what it means to be human. The true outrage, here, is that this movie has been allowed out. And, if something such as this could be released, what will the next entertainment piece bring? While it can be said that the public has the right to know who is a hypocrite, especially in the powerful positions that the politicians hold, the public also has the right to understand that this is wrong.

Outing someone is not a joke, it is not meant for entertainment. And, to use sexual orientation in this manner marks the end of the civil rights that placed America above other, less civilized, countries. Bibliography. Dick, Kirby. (Director). (2009). Outrage. Amy Ziering: Magnolia Pictures. Travers, Peter. (May 7, 2009). Outrage. Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved from the world wide web on June 8, 2009 http://www. rollingstone. com/reviews/movie/26845684/ review/28065110/outrage

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