Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Out, out damn star

CLICK to enlargeWell, I’ll say this about “Out” magazine, its editors are ballsy. The (primarily) gay men’s mag put Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper on its The Power 50 issue cover. OK, that’s not entirely true. The editors put models wearing Jodie and Anderson masks on its cover, with the headline “The Glass Closet: Why the Stars Won’t Come Out and Play.”

Now, don’t get me started on the irony of a magazine called “Out” putting celebrities who aren’t out on its cover. Should we start call the glossy “Outed” now instead? But more significantly, the move signals a dramatic shift in the long-standing policy in the major gay (not to mention mainstream) press of not outing closeted celebrities.

The ethics of outing are always tricky and intensely personal. I’m willing to bet that none of us would have wanted to be outed on the cover of a national magazine. Still, there is a strong and important tradition of outing people whose private sexuality poses a direct contradiction to their public policy (i.e. the Ted Haggards of the world). So do the same rules apply to public figures like Jodie and Anderson who are openly supportive of the gay community, but steadfastly refuse to address their own sexual orientation?

Regular readers here will note that I’ve mentioned Ms. Foster frequently and also made not-so-veiled reference to her orientation, her longtime partner and her need to go ahead and publicly accept the toaster oven already. But I draw a distinction between what I do on this little blog and what a huge, national magazine does (aside from, you know, the much bigger budget). My blather on this site is akin to water cooler talk. It’s glorified gossip with a heaping dose of snark and (hopefully) a little dash of insight. But what a magazine like “Out” does is public record which also requires public responsibility.

In our effort to hasten society’s acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, are we sacrificing those among us who simply aren’t ready, or willing, to have their private lives become public spectacle? Then again, in refusing to be open with their lives are these stars undermining the largely unspoken political statement regular Janes and Joes make every day by simply living their lives honestly?

Right or wrong, publicity stunt or earnest discourse, “Out” should definitely get people talking. Let’s just hope it’s not cheap.

p.s. As long as we’re picking bones here, hey “Out,” why only 13 women in a list of 50 powerful gays? And only two (no-brainers Ellen No. 3 and Rosie No. 6) in the Top 10? Plus, Anderson ranks No. 2 and Jodie only No. 43? Must everything be a boys club?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

>>But I draw a distinction between what I do on this little blog and what a huge, national magazine does. But what a magazine like “Out” does is public record which also requires public responsibility.

Exactely. It's called making a distinction between Journalism (with a capital J) and the speculation/gossip each one of us are allowed to induldge in in our free time.

>>>In our effort to hasten society’s acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, are we sacrificing those among us who simply aren’t ready, or willing, to have their private lives become public spectacle?

Agree, 200%.

And I'll go further by saying that with doing this we're setting our rights back.

delurk said...

"Out" should be ashamed.

red said...

I think "Out" crossed the line. Whether or not someone fully supports gay rights or not, it does not mean that they are ready to come out. Coming out is a very emotionally and psychologically draining time, a magazine does not have the right to do that. It's one thing to say "I think they're gay and here's why" it's another thing to flat out say "Not ready to come out? Don't worry I'll do it for you"

Leila said...

OUT clearly cares more about the bottom line than its core constituency. Disappointing. I hope Jodie Foster says absolutely nothing. Now THAT would be fun - in an ironic way of course.

Anonymous said...

Your snark is sensational and your gossip is glorious and your but his was one of the best things you've ever posted. So well said - the media gay or straight mainstream or counterculture seems to have lost any sense of ethical journalism. But you said it better.

Anonymous said...

Foster and Anderson do benefit from heterosexual privilege in that they actively conceal their homosexuality. They benefit -- have it both ways -- at the expense of so many others who can't pass. Kind of like Democrats who say they support gay rights but actually vote against them (e.g., espouse civil unions, not marriage, because they're 'still not there yet'), stars with an open secret bank on being able to pass as straight to the masses and not having to pay the economic and social price of being really out.

So, I think they need to be called on this. Their 'neutrality' about their sexuality isn't innocent. They're doing something very active.

Also, I think it reinforces the construction of homosexuality as shameful when we don't report on someone's homosexual practices, affectations, etc. I mean, a star's heterosexual practices and so on -- normative or not -- are never concealed in this way. Why is it that someone's heterosexuality (their marriage, children, etc.) is ALWAYS visible and present, and not someone's homosexuality?

Anonymous said...

Well said, Ms. Snarker. OUT is certainly walking a tightrope on this one. There really won't be that many people who are 'shocked, shocked I say' surpised about this(IMDB Boards aside). Also, thank you for pointing out, lesbians have a long way to go to achieve equality with the gay men in terms of power. IMHO, Jodie should be higher than #43!!!

Bainshee said...

I'd laugh my ass off if either Anderson or Jodie sued Out and won.

Out is nothing more then the Gay Enquirer.

Anonymous said...

The difference between your "water cooler" blog and the Out article on the Glass Closet is that Michael Musto is a reporter. Foster and Cooper's orientation is not rumor nor speculation. He, and other reporters, have known about the sexual orientation of these two for years. (And yes, I know some of those reporters, and I live in NYC where Cooper is out and about at gay bars occasionally.) And saying that it's so awful for a reporter to report that someone is gay, is to say that being gay is shameful. It's certainly not shameful, and I, for one, reject the notion that saying they're gay (which is beyond denial in the cases of these two) is reprehesible. Anyone so upset by this should take a good look at the celebrity mags they read. Does gossiping about Britney (who clearly isn't "out" about having lost her mind) any different?