Salon today has an interesting article about celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who is quite gay, and makes it his specialty to try to "out" closeted celebrities. He even basically took credit for outing Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris, and plans to do the same for Anderson Cooper, Jodie Foster, Kevin Spacey, and a whole score of others (is there anyone out there who still honestly doubts the heterosexuality of any of those mentioned anyway?).
The article is interesting to me, though, because it spends 3 pages discussing the politics of outing, and what a controversial and divisive figure Hilton is in the gay community aside from being lauded and celebrated in the media world. I'm not sure what it says about me that I consider myself a total media whore, and gay, and I've never heard of the guy until now.
I have very mixed feelings about outing people, however, but at my core, feel that it's a nasty business and nobody has any right to do it. The one exception I make for that is if you're some kind of politician or Ted Haggard-type figure, and you actually have a hand in making real policy or cultural change, and you're a hypocrite and a liar, then by all means, yes, out them. But if you're Neil Patrick Harris and you're an inconsequential actor on a useless sitcom that no one's going to remember or even think about in 2 years, then who the fuck cares. Leave the guy alone.
"Doogie Howser" star Neil Patrick Harris was a more recent target -- in his attempt to out the actor, Hilton appealed to the readers of his site for photographs of Harris with other men, at one point writing, "Shame on you Doogie! Shame!!!" After Harris came out, Hilton wrote a gloating post: "We are so proud (despite the nay-sayers) in having a hand in bringing about change. We've said it before and we will say it again: the closet no longer exists if you are a celebrity or a politician!" He followed his statement with the names of a dozen celebrities he claims are gay. He told the L.A. Times, "In my own way, subserviently, I am trying to make the world a better place." This raises the question: How does drawing cum stains on Clay Aiken's mouth, crudely scrawling the word "bottom" across a photo of Lance Bass or putting a call out to anyone who has "slept with Neil Patrick Harris" make the world a better place for gay or straight people? And what does it say about the mainstream press that it has adopted him?
Not everyone in the mainstream press is in Hilton's thrall. At a Mediabistro event in New York last month, Us Weekly editor-in-chief Janice Min, talking about how her magazine is dealing with the rising popularity of blogs like his, said, "I love Perez, but this is a guy who draws cocaine sprinkles falling out of celebrities' noses and writes things like 'sucks dick' on pictures of celebs he wants to out."
It's people like this guy that make me really embarrassed to be gay sometimes. I mean, how much shame and self-loathing do you have to feel to engage in this crap, to be so desperate to denigrate other gay people just to have them publically in your company.