Florida Gov. Profiled in Film About ’Outing’ Anti-Gay Pols

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday July 14, 2009

Anti-gay politicians who work against equality for GLBT Americans seems like a bewildering contradiction, but according to a little-seen documentary by an openly gay filmmaker, it's not so very unusual.

And as audiences in Florida will have a chance to see for themselves, Kirby Dick's newest film, "Outrage," includes Governor Charlie Crist among a plethora of other politicians who either have come out themselves, or who are the subjects of "is he or isn't he?" speculation.

A July 13 story in the St. Petersburgh Times, carried online by tampabay.com reported that in Tampa Bay, residents wondering about their governor will have a one-night-only chance to see the film and decide for themselves whether Dick makes his case.

"Outrage" will be screened as part of a monthly film series at Tampa Pitcher Show, after which a discussion led by the president of the Hillsborouogh County Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender and Allies Democratic Caucus, Sally Phillips, will take place.

The film series is sponsored by radio station WMNF (88.5 FM), the article reported, quoting Rob Lorei, the station's news and public affairs director, as saying, "Frankly, we didn't pick it because of Charlie's involvement" but rather "because it's a hot topic right now."

Added Lorei, "There seems to be a lot of talk about sex and (politicians)."

Indeed, the article noted that sex scandals--gay and straight--just keep rocking the GOP, from former Sen. Larry Craig's arrest for allegedly coming on to a male undercover officer in an airport men's room two years ago to last month's back-to-back heterosexual affairs to which prominent Republican politicians Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina, and Nevada's Se. John Ensign admitted.

But, the article said, there's a double standard at work: gay sex makes a scandal that much more scandalous.

For GLBTs and many Democrats, that's not because gay sex is more shocking than the heterosexual variety; rather, when GOP politicians engage in gay sex and then vote against gay rights, gay health issues, and gay families, it ushers in a whole new factor: that of hypocrisy.

Openly gay Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank appears in Dick's film, and he also had an interview with Gentlemen's Quarterly on a number of topics, including that of outing anti-gay politicians who are, themselves, closeted gays.

Rather than seeing such outings as an invasion of privacy, a June 8 Raw Story article noted, Frank places public exposure of closeted gay pols who work to oppress gays in the same arena as exposing other forms of hypocrisy.

Examples: "...if a leading antiabortion person had a family member with an abortion," says Frank in the GQ piece.

"Or vice versa, or if a Democrat's a tax evader. It's hypocrisy," Frank asserts, going on to say, "You know, I differentiate between secrecy and hypocrisy. I think it becomes a problem when you're a hypocrite and you're a gay-basher."

The Raw Story continues with an extensive quote from the GQ interview, in which Frank draws a distinction between closeted gay Democratic politicians and those belonging to the Republican party.

"Hypocrisy means that they're antigay," Frank tells his interviewer, setting out the difference between "secrecy and hypocrisy."

Adds Frank, "Sure there are closeted Democrats. There are closeted Republicans. What we're outing is hypocrisy. I want to go after their hypocrisy, not their privacy."

When the GQ writer asks, "But aren't closeted Democrats in a sense being hypocritical to what the party stands for?" Frank answers, "No.

"Look, the party doesn't stand for everybody announcing his or her personal sexual orientation. The party stands for public policies that say you don't discriminate."

In a May 18 Orlando Sentinel "Movies with Charlie Moore," the documentary and what it implies about Crist are addressed point-blank.

Reads the article, "'Hearsay,' it may all be. But the film puts a lot out there, it's basically all ABOUT outing Charlie, and 'outing' doesn't imply concrete proof."

Notes the column, "The film ventures far and wide, from New York Democrat Ed Koch to GOP Fla. congressman Mark Foley (barely mentioned), leaves out WHY James McGreevey was hurled from office in New Jersey, and comes back to Charlie."

Continues the essay, "It dawdles in the gay media hothouse of Washington (Shepard Smith, take a bow), quotes gay journalists and gay activists and a psychotherapist (Gay? Perhaps.) on the peculiar sort of self-loathing that would drive someone with same sex proclivities into the arms to the sworn enemies of gay people, embracing the right wing culture, even leading the battle to make gay marriage or gay this or that a useful wedge issue for Republicans (many GOP campaign advisers are either interviewed as gay or outed by journalists specializing in that sort of reporting)."

The column goes on to note, "A 'Roy Cohn' thesis is set forth--gay denial, gay self-destruction, gay rationalization that it takes more guts to stay deeply closeted and yet out front as anti-gay, either in Congress or advising people in government on how to scapegoat gay people to reach the rabble."

Addressing the central paradox of GOP anti-gay pls who are gay themselves, the column reads, "There's an implied reason that so many of these 'hypocrites' go GOP--they're living a lie, so they don't actually have to believe any of the talking points they use to get elected.

"And AGAIN Outrage comes back to Charlie," the article notes.

However, the column posits, "It shouldn't matter.

"All that does [matter] is Charlie' Crist's track record in public life--the way he's spent his career not sticking his neck out, 'auditioning' for that next job--be it governor, John McCain's running mate, or now, the U.S. Senate.

"Who cares if he REALLY wishes he was auditioning for La Cage aux Folles? Or Guys and Dolls? Or Kiss of the Spider Woman?" the article adds.

"The evidence is weak, circumstantial, but there's a lot of it, making it too substantial to simply be dismissed."

In the film, Crist is given heat for not opposing an amendment to the Florida constitution that bars gay and lesbian families from access to marriage.

People interviewed in the film speculate that Crist, by speaking out against the amendment, could have stopped it--but he didn't.

The film also points out that Crist--a bachelor when he was elected governor of Florida, but publicly involved with a woman by the time John McCain was looking for a running mate--was married in December of last year. Crist has said that he will not seek re-election at the end of his gubernatorial term, but will run for the Senate instead.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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