Tuesday, July 25, 2006
by Wayne Besen
A few years ago, my boyfriend (now an ex) and I walked into a chain bookstore while on vacation. Only minutes before, we had mended fences over a fight about nothing. While traversing the maze of books, my boyfriend noticed an unusually hot young man staring at me. "Do you know him?" he irascibly inquired, threatening an end to our fragile ceasefire. Before I could answer, the mystery stud bounded in front of us and blurted out, "You're Wayne Besen, aren't you?"
I nodded and the young man lit up and in a very Kathy Bates moment gushed, "I loved your book, Anything But Straight! I'm your number one fan!"While looking directly in my eyes and pretending my partner was invisible, the number one fan became a number one flirt. While I was certainly flattered, this adulation wasn't adding to the duration of my relationship.
I bring this up to make a simple point: The public eye rarely helps private relationships succeed. If someone like me had my relationship threatened on a few occasions by foam-at-the-mouth fans, imagine how it must be to carry on a normal relationship if you are mega-stars like Ellen DeGeneres or George Michael?
The GLBT community is in a Catch-22. For public relations reasons, we need to showcase our most glamorous marriages, yet, by nature, these relationships are the ones most likely to get burned out by the inferno of the spotlight.This was painfully driven home this week when Julie and Hillary Goodridge, the poster couple
in the successful Massachusetts gay marriage suit, called it quits. The Goodridges were among seven gay couples whose lawsuit, Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health, fueled a national firestorm on this issue.
The two women were attractive, professional and dream spokespersons for our movement. They lived in a charming Victorian house and were even raising a young daughter. In short, they were perfect on paper. But we all know how easily paper burns when thrown on a fire. We owe these women our gratitude for their courage and resilience in fighting for our freedom to marry. But, their "amicable" split reinforces the necessary danger of placing the spotlight on "perfect couples."
Even more disappointing, crooner George Michael
, who is scheduled to marry his boyfriend Kenny Goss this year, is embroiled in a new sex scandal. The London tabloids are having a field day because Michael was allegedly caught in the fields with his pants down. Despite damning pictures, right now, Goss is still standing by his man.
Courting couples that eventually spiral into double trouble is nothing new. In the early 1990's, millions of gay men latched on to the illusion of perfection offered by the buff bodybuilder boyfriends Bob Paris and Rod Jackson-Paris. Bob was a former Mr. Universe and Rod was a strapping blond model. The musclemen even wrote a book together, "Straight From the Heart: A Love Story," that was described in the El Paso Herald Post as "Heartwarming," and in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as, "Compelling...Soul mates tell their story of love and take a stand for gay self-esteem."
When the heartwarming story soon turned to heartbreak
, many people in the GLBT community felt as though they had been let down. But in retrospect, the odds of this couple succeeding were not very high. Every move they made was magnified and they were surely subjected to countless temptations as they traveled across America.
On a much larger stage, America witnessed the implosion (or was it an explosion) of Ellen DeGeneres's doomed relationship with Anne Heche. Heche soon went from lesbian activist to the wedding chapel...with a man. The right wing group Focus on the Family exploited the break-up by hiring Anne's mother, Nancy Heche, to supposedly show that gay people can change. To Anne's credit, she denounced this opportunism by saying that "the ex-gay even...make me sick."
The right wing's desire to take advantage of the Goodridge break-up and Michaels' affinity for doing the nasty in nature is running into a wall called reality. It is hard to make the case against the longevity of gay couples when straight couples are dramatically stealing the spotlight.
For example, New York Giants football star Michael Strahan is in the middle of a bitter divorce
with his sexy wife, Jean. He is accusing her of spending profusely and she returned fire by saying that he had engaged in an "alternative lifestyle." Strahan had to go on a sports radio show to deny he was gay. Meanwhile, all of the aforementioned domestic disasters are mere warm-up acts for the utterly spellbinding Christie Brinkley/Peter Cook train wreck
It seems that placing a spotlight on stable marriages too often makes them unstable. Maybe we are better off without unrealistic model marriages or former models preaching matrimony. If the past has taught us anything, it is that relationships in the public eye too often turn into eyesores.
Wayne....a point of information
I have been friends with Nancy Heche for 25 years (don't know Anne). Focus did not hire Nancy to exploit her daughter. Nancy wrote to them and told them about the death of her husband to AIDS, son's tragic car crash and death, as well as Anne's relationship with Ellen. They hired her to tell folks how a mother can find God's grace in moving forward with her life in the midst of family issues and tragedy. And by the way, Nancy's older daughter died of cancer in January. She has seen and experienced it all
posted by Jeff Winter, at
Yeah... but she is now known as a headliner at the Love Won Out Day of Hate. LWO will continue to point the fingers at the parents, upset the special little gay guests of honor, and spread false information in hopes of a big conversion of another J. Paulk. I know, my parents took me to one a few years ago - and I have never been more "cruised" by a bunch of guys on the stage running the event. I was uncomfortable and there only because my mother begged me to go. I have no desire to be straight, and am proud that my parents worked through the self hate brought upon them by these unacredited book and video salesman feeding off each other.
I ve never heard her speak, but I hope she tells her audience all about the values of her family unit, the child abuse, AIDS, and molestation....Love Won Out had nothing to do with making bi?gay??? Anne go straight (or whatever she is) Stay home Mom - Anne's not happy with you -and neither are we.
posted by , at
It that is the case, Jeff, I feel very sorry for Nancy that she has been exploited so. She should really stand on her own two feet and get away from this manipulative and hate-filled group. Please tell her, that they are not her friends. They are merely using her.
Also, I'm sorry for her loses. I know how horrible it can be to lose someone you love.
posted by jekelhyde, at
"Focus did not hire Nancy to exploit her daughter. Nancy wrote to them and told them about the death of her husband to AIDS, son's tragic car crash and death, as well as Anne's relationship with Ellen. They hired her to tell folks how a mother can find God's grace in moving forward with her life in the midst of family issues and tragedy."
Really, Jeff W?
Perhaps you can explain why (since she's only there to tell about a mother moving forward) she went to Maine to campaign to overturn a law that would "protect people from discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and credit based on their sexual orientation"?
That doesn't sound like "moving on" to me. That sounds like anti-gay bias and hatred so strong that she's willing to go out of her way to SUPPORT DISCRIMINATION. Even Jerry Falwell isn't opposed to non-discrimination laws.
I hope that you are just misinformed, Jeff, and are not here trying to sell a lie.
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