This strategy has always seemed especially idiotic to me. The logic goes, "If we can convince people that admired historical figures were gay, then they will like living gay people more." Sorry, guys, but you're going about this all wrong, so stop dragging historical figures out of their
closets graves like so many weak-wristed zombies.
The people that you need to convince—the conservative homophobic Americans who live in places that burn down the Sally Beauty Supply in the strip mall because "homos are hairdessers"—are just going to think that you're a bunch of crack pots. And really, you are. Yes, there are plenty of people who were outed after they died (J. Edgar Hoover for instance), but that doesn't mean that there were all these closet cases hiding out in history books. In many cases, there is little historical evidence to support the claims. And even if there are detailed records of same-sex action, our modern notion of "gay" has only been around since the middle of last century. What these people lived is as different from modern gay life is as an outhouse is from your Church Personal Cleansing Spa Bidet Seat Washlet.
But yet, Larry Kramer persists, calling Lincoln gay as a five dollar bill and citing historical evidence that may or may not exist, and the only thing he has managed to do is piss off the very people who we need to vote for our civil rights. However, working those people into a froth for sport sure is a lot of fun, and if that is what Elton was doing by saying Jesus was "a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man," then we applaud him. There is nothing these people hold dearer than Jesus and saying this shit is like the gay equivalent of when Jerry Falwell goes on CNN and accuses us of causing 9/11. It's not helping the cause, but it's fun.
Really, no one cares if Jesus was gay or if Lincoln liked twinks or if Christopher Columbus slept with his first mate. Actually, most of us would prefer to not think of any of these people having sex. If the gays want to convince middle America (and all the homophobes who live right here in New York) that gay is good, then we need to get some of the people they actually care about to come out. You know, the ones that are still alive. How about a NASCAR driver, a noted country singer, a flamboyant figure skater, several Republican political figures, or a national news anchor? What about you? Are you out to everyone in your life? Even if you're straight, have you told your gonzo relatives you support gay marriage? Being visible is the best thing we can do to change people's mind, and yes, having famous gay people that the public admire is definitely a great tactic. So how about we all agree to stop digging up dirt on the dead ones and start dishing it on the ones still alive?
[Image via JP Puerta's Flickr]