June 2, 2006

Queers should shun Cheney, McGreevey

With the summer will come the publication of two opportunistic books aimed at the queer community—the Vice President’s daughter Mary Cheney’s Now It’s My Turn and disgraced ex–New Jersey governor James McGreevey’s The Confession. My fellow queers, I implore you: If you need to satisfy your morbid curiosity, take these books out of the library. Don’t give these two traitors your hard-earned cash.

Yeah, I know—better late than never, yada yada yada. The Human Rights Campaign even issued a statement: “Mary’s presence’s on the national stage…is most welcome and has the potential to be a transforming moment for all Americans.” They are being far too generous. I’m with outspoken queer columnist Sukie de la Croix, who refers bluntly to the title of her book: “Honey, you had your turn, and you blew it big time.”

Indeed, Mary Cheney’s silence has infuriated the queer community for years—too long for her to make up for it now (hence de la Croix’s comment). It seems clear to me that she wants to have her cake and eat it, too—that is, participate in the most queer-hostile administration since Reagan ignored AIDS for eight years and still have the support of her people.

Her people? Dan Savage may be right when he declares that there’s no monolithic queer community, but I believe there is a queer community of some sort, and I’m proud to be a part of it. Mary Cheney is not a part of it. “If your dad were not Vice President, would you be in this party?” ABC asked Cheney. “I don’t tend to like hypothetical questions,” Cheney responded. I have a hypothetical question for you, Mary: Why are you such a spineless wimp?

Cheney didn’t ask to be in the public eye, but neither did Maya Marcel-Keyes. The lesbian daughter of the famously homophobic Alan Keyes couldn’t abide by her father’s repugnant politics and was kicked out of the house for it. The queer community came to her rescue: almost immediately, the Point Foundation, an academic scholarship program for LGBT teens, gave her money to go to Brown. Like Marcel-Keyes, Cheney was never going to hurt for cash. The publicity generated from her coming out alone would have saved her from the poorhouse. “It would be great to have the luxury of being a one-issue voter, but I [don’t],” Cheney says. Fine. Just don’t expect the community that rallies around this single issue to support you.

Far worse is former New Jersey governor James McGreevey, who was forced out of the closet by a lover who threatened to expose him. Sure, that’s the kind of role model we want for young gay kids: someone who lied to his constituents and loved ones rather than make the sacrifices braver queer people make every day.

I would understand if McGreevey were simply waiting for the right time to come out, like Rosie O’Donnell (love ya, can’t wait to see you on The View!), but give me a break. Queer columnist Steve Yuhas writes that McGreevey’s coming out “was a cowardly attempt to deflect attention from a scandal-laden administration.” I don’t even give McGreevey that much credit. He came out because he was backed into a wall, then decided to make the most of it by pandering to his new “community.”

The fact that McGreevey referred to himself as a “gay American” in his resignation speech didn’t bode well. I have never heard another person use that term. While I prefer “queer” for its inclusiveness, I respect others who choose to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or, well, anything else they care to mention. But referring to himself as a “gay American” at his wife’s side? What were we supposed to infer from that? That one can be gay while in a heterosexual union? Of course, this was before McGreevey and his wife began the divorce process. The ambiguity was so his PR consultants could plan his next move.

I don’t consider myself a radical, really. But my fellow queers have been so good to me that I hate to see opportunistic figures like Cheney and McGreevey trying to worm into our ranks. There are plenty of people trying to jump onto the queer-rights bandwagon—hell, Paris Hilton led the Pride Parade in L.A. last year, and she’s actually homophobic. (Case in point: that “eww” she uttered at the thought of two men kissing on The Simple Life.) But they can only join our community if we give them our support.

So the next time you’re at the bookstore, pass up Now It’s My Turn and The Confession. Try Dan Savage’s The Commitment, or George Chauncey’s Why Marriage? or Gay New York. The queer community has never been stronger, and with strength comes buying power (don’t forget Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, basically an hour-long infomercial for a manufactured “lifestyle”). Don’t give the likes of Cheney and McGreevey your money.