January 3, 2008
Bill O’Reilly likes the Gays just fine, provided they stay in the closet
Christie Keith has a great piece up at After Elton: The Closet’s Last Champion: Why Bill O’Reilly wants you to shut up. Here’s an excerpt:
It’s easy to say, if you’re a straight, white man with his own TV show, that sexual orientation isn’t important, and there’s no reason for people, famous or otherwise, to discuss it. But the closet doesn’t work that way. Queer invisibility leads to a culture of alienated teens growing up thinking no one else feels the way they do, unhappy marriages based on lies, the fear of exposure to friends, family, and colleagues, and no actual relationships with real gay people to counteract myths and propaganda. And the harm the closet does to our civil rights is incalculable.
As Harvey Milk said nearly three decades ago, coming out is one of the most powerful things GLBT people can do to promote our equality. Time is proving him right: A 2006 study found that 70 percent of straight adults know a GLBT person, and more than 80 percent of all lesbians and gay men consider themselves to be out. That visibility has meant an increase in support for GLBT civil rights and equality. People who have a gay family member or friend are far more supportive of lesbian and gay equality in marriage and adoption rights, and far less supportive of a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
With such a strong correlation between straight support of our civil rights and knowing a gay friend or family member, O’Reilly’s nostalgia for the closet looks less like the desire to return to a simpler, more innocent age and more like what it is: Second class citizenship.