Thursday, February 5, 2009

This week's "Strip Sense" installment

Here's this week's column. I'm not sure that "enjoy" is the right word this time out.

Yes, Las Vegas, There Is Homophobia

From Lance Bass to yours truly, gay hate still abounds here


A few weeks ago, the Review-Journal’s Doug Elfman wrote something shocking. Or, rather, it was shocking to me, and it was even more shocking when it drew no more attention and, thus, was not shocking to anyone else in the national media.

Elfman had interviewed Lance Bass, the former ’N Sync band member who came out on the cover of People magazine in 2006 and recently appeared on Dancing With the Stars. Bass offered this revelation: “Every other day, I get called a fag, and get threatened to be beat up. There are still some really, really ignorant people out there. … This is right to your face.”

Several friends and two readers of this column e-mailed Elfman’s piece with the same question: “Do you think this is true?”

It was a strange moment, because my initial reaction, too, was that Bass must be exaggerating. But then I’ve followed Bass’ public life for many years, and he never struck me as the sort to make plays for sympathy or to make strident remarks of any sort.

Oh, and one other thing. I get that, too. Yes, here in Vegas.

What I go through is not nearly at the level that Bass describes, but I am nowhere near as well-known. And I suspect the extent to which you are the target of anti-gay slurs or threats is proportional to how prominent an openly gay public figure you are.

There was a time when such a concept was a novelty to me. I’ve been out for my entire adult life and, for most of that, have lived a charmed gay existence. I was 19 when I told my parents and disclosed my sexual orientation to the readership of the student newspaper at Northwestern, where I went to college. My first resume, the one that got me my first newspaper job in ultra-conservative Rockford, Illinois, included my membership in the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

It wasn’t until 2005, when my partner, Miles, and I started our celebrity-interview podcast, The Strip, that I realized I had been sheltered. We debated early on how “out” we ought to be, but I insisted it made little sense to hide and, besides, the world had caught up. What could possibly happen?

Read the rest HERE


Ray said...

Even here in San Francisco, I'll get "fag" yelled at me, my partners and friends, at least once every couple of weeks. Until violent homophobes are allowed to be captured and put down like rabid animals, we'll have to live with the risk of them randomly lashing out with verbal and physical violence. Such is life. I'm told that most African-Americans are familiar with this sort of problem (even though some deny the parallels... but that's another homophobia story altogether...).