Thursday, August 16, 2012

Would You Give a Guy a Foot Massage?


Is John Travolta’s sexuality our business?


I almost did a spit-take when I saw that above the byline of my old friend Mary Elizabeth Williams. Is she actually going to take a strong stance in opposition to the progressive outing mafia, I wondered?

My surge of optimism was short-lived, as the column turned out to fit the usual MEW template: on the one hand, on the other, possibly this, maybe that, views differ, gosh, who can say. Hell, the headlines are probably written by SEO copywriters rather than the columnists anyway, so maybe I can't even give her credit for that.

But since she (or some staff monkey) asked, I'll answer: no. No, the fact that you've paid money to see Travolta play various fictional characters in movies does not buy you access to the details of his private life. The same applies to any celebrity, for that matter. You don't have the right to press-gang him or anyone else you suspect of being closeted, with or without good reason, into service in the It Gets Better navy. I mean, what, he's not important enough as an individual to allow him control over how he presents his own public identity, but he's nonetheless individually valuable to the gay liberation movement because his coming out would mean the world to, uh... some confused, small-town teenager who just happens to be a rabid Welcome Back, Kotter fan? How does that work? Is there a specific quota of out-and-proud celebrities that we're aiming for, at which point the homophobes will realize they're outnumbered and surrender?

It's amusingly ironic, given as how bullying has been such a recent cause célèbre among the same social-media set, but at what point do shitbags like Louis Peltzman achieve self-awareness and realize that they aren't any better, no matter how noble the ostensible cause?