"Deep down," Signorile tells the closeted
, "you know you have no 'right' to be where you are, that you were shoved in your closet a long time ago.
Some have long-term partners who are equally closeted at work--a particularly painful and awkward position as the gay-marriage debate ratchets up: "We're the D.C.
It might be tempting for groups on the other side of the political aisle to dismiss closeted gays and lesbians in Washington.
What may ultimately empower the current group of closeted gays and lesbians in Washington is the fact that debate over the Federal Marriage Amendment has exposed a rift among Republican lawmakers.
"Here's an actor who lived his whole life openly [and is now] living with a guy who's closeted
," Tewksbury says.
The Sergeant (1968)--Back in the days when it was permissible to show gay characters only if they offed themselves at the end of the movie, we got closeted
Army guy Rod Steiger feverishly planting one on a repulsed John Phillip Law.
Dave Lohse, sports information director for the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who worked in public relations at the 1988 Olympics, was encouraging: "Both Greg and I were closeted
gay men in 1988.
In essence, sexual McCarthyism is the kind of outing that closeted gays and lesbians have lived with for years, something straight politicians have had little firsthand experience with.
"Closeted politicians will feel more threatened, but not the rest of us," he says.
The willingness to discuss the private sexual lives of straight politicians may serve to remove lingering discomfort with talking about the sexual orientation of closeted gay politicians.
A March 1990 article in Time magazine, which actually first coined the term outing, condemned the practice, saying no one had the right to sacrifice the lives of closeted gays to an intolerant society.
(In both cases, however, neither man made much of an attempt to hide his private life.) Also telling, Signorile says, is that no major news outlets wrote editorials condemning those stories (although the Wenner stow did spark debate within the journalism community about journalistic ethics) or other articles discussing possibilities that a closeted public figure might be gay.
Where gossip columnists used to invent heterosexual love affairs for stars known to be gay, various media now either refuse to print such stories or, as was the case with a formerly closeted Ellen DeGeneres, coyly speculate about a star's sexuality.