To the editors:
I am writing in response to the debate regarding outing and Michael Flores’s attacks on the lesbian and gay community newspaper Outlines [Letters, May 24 and June 7 and 21].
“Outing”–publicly revealing a person as lesbian or gay–has become an emotionally laden issue arousing terror and anger, because it is layered on top of another societal phenomenon–homophobia.
Homophobia is the hatred and fear of lesbians and gays. It is a societal disease which creates hatred and bigotry as the response to other people’s love for each other.
The outing furor reminds me of an incident I experienced in college. The Gay and Lesbian Illini had declared a “Wear Blue Jeans if You’re Gay Day” at the University of Illinois. A classmate of mine whined how he had come to class, realized what day it was, and had turned around and gone home to change out of his jeans. He was so pissed at being inconvenienced by those queers. His revulsion and fear of being identified as gay hit me like a blow to the stomach. His words revealed his bigotry and his hatred of me, my community and my decision to love women.
Extremely emotional responses to outing strike me the same way. The only reason someone like Flores could be so terrified of being identified as gay is that he regards gayness as a horrible stigma, rather than a positive, acceptable choice. Bigotry, pure and simple.
When homophobia disappears from our society, outing will be akin to reporting other details of a person’s life, such as their astrological sign, or how many children they have–details they may prefer to keep private, yet unlikely to raise the type of furor outing does today.
As regards Outlines–it is a newspaper of the lesbian and gay community. It entertains, challenges and occasionally angers me. It reflects me and my culture. I often don’t agree with opinions expressed in its pages, but they are the opinions of writers committed to the lesbian and gay community, and thus, for me, worth listening to.
When bigots like Flores can’t stand our lesbian and gay culture, our newspapers, our bars, etc, it shows me we are surely headed in the right direction–toward creating a society where homophobic views such as his are unacceptable.