Lynn Liccardo and I had a brief exchange that actually veered briefly into the unpleasant...for which I am deeply apologetic.
She did a blog post in which she happened to mention that one long-standing actor on a soap was openly gay, and had been discussed as such in two celebrity autobiographies. A commenter on her website took her to task for the "outing", and promptly listed--unfounded--the names of other actors and actresses he thought were also GLBT.
I was upset, and said so on Usenet, because: (a) the actor Lynn spoke of has never (to my knowledge) given a public statement on his sexuality, and (b) letting that comment stand may have further outed a host of others.
Outing can be painful and injurious. While I wish we lived in a world where everyone just wanted us to have someone to love...and didn't care about the gender of that someone...we don't. There may be powerful consequences for outing.
But, here are a couple of interesting outcomes of the discussion:
(A) First, I was wrong to accuse Lynn of outing...since she has source material that put the material in the public domain...and I publically apologize;
(B) in the ensuing Usenet discussion, it became clear that MOST of the regular posters there were not aware of the actor's sexuality. Which raises the important reminder that "outing" is not an absolute concept, but a relative one. In the case of this actor, the autobiographies were likely read by a different audience than soap viewers.
I don't know what to do with that "relative outing" idea, except to urge caution to all of us. Before you spread the tale, make sure there is a need to spread it. In the end, what purpose is served? I haven't figured that out.
(C) I contributed to the outing (and likely continue to do so here--despite my attempt to be indirect--because some folks will now visit Lynn) by quoting the whole thing on Usenet. At this point, I'm putting this all out there because I'm interested in the opinions of others. Am I too hung up about this outing thing?
(D) Then, at the bottom of it all, I get angry. Why does this matter? Why is this an issue? Still? Will it ever NOT be an issue?
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