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29.9.04

More On Outing

There will be yet even more on outing when I post my column from this week's Scarlet. For the time being, Will Baude offers an interesting and unusual explanation for non-consensual outing:

When a given group of people are widely and inaccurately stereotyped, and especially when membership in that group of people is relatively invisible, some folks make the choice (be it bold or foolish) to stand up and say, "no, I am part of the group, and I am not what you would expect."

The next step, and while it is a very dubious step, it is hopefully an understandable step, is to say, "and that man over there-- he is part of the group too! Bet you didn't expect that." It is unsavory to draft other people as unwilling martyrs in a campaign for social acceptance. But when people perceive themselves as leading a social or political fight for their rights, they sometimes act impatiently, and they sometimes tread or try to tread on the rights of others to acheive what they see to be a greater good.


There's some plausibility to this as a rationale for outing, and perhaps it's happened at times during the struggle for gay rights. But I have yet to hear it offered by any of the out-ers whose actions have sparked the most recent discussion of the tactic (though perhaps Baude knows of sources I haven't seen). The message intended by outing is not "look, we're everywhere." It's "this individual* is a hypocrite and a traitor." The aim is not to change people's thinking about homosexuality, but to engineer legislative victories by cowing or destroying some members of the opposition.

*Or in some cases, such as Alan Keyes's allegedly lesbian daughter, "this individual's relative."

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