This popular post was originally published here.
Liberace, Paul Lynde, the Village People and other gay entertainers were popular for basically two reasons: they were perceived as harmless, and many people didn’t realize they were gay. Yes, today we’d say anybody who didn’t know that was pretty dense, but until quite recently, homosexuality was so unmentionable that – well – people just didn’t mention it. And in the public mind, what wasn’t spoken of simply didn’t exist. To the degree that their existence was acknowledged at all, it was rendered less threatening by being reduced to stereotype.
Now, gays in the military, I suppose, could do some harm. After all, they have guns. But this doesn’t seem to be what worries most of those who oppose letting gays serve openly in our armed forces. Polls overwhelmingly show that those serving in the military already know there are gays among them, and that many of them know exactly who they are. As long as they lie about who they are, there seems to be no problem.
They are supposed to keep quiet about themselves. And they must never, ever screw up. Straight people are allowed to make mistakes, or to do even truly evil things, and nobody says, “What else could we expect from them?” But whenever a single, solitary gay or lesbian person anywhere does anything wrong, gays and lesbians everywhere are guilty.
In her latest syndicated column, conservative diva Ann Coulter holds up Pfc. Bradley Manning, leaker of sensitive government information to WikiLeaks, as the “poster boy for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’” She hints that as goes Bradley Manning, so must go every gay man or lesbian in uniform.
Now, conservatives used to condemn groupthink, asserting that human beings must be seen as individuals rather than as members of a collective. This sort of stereotyping is beneath them. Ms. Coulter was a keynote speaker at this year’s Homocon, a convention of gay conservatives. She is hardly a homophobe. The precarious reasoning in this latest column is, quite frankly, beneath her.
Coulter asks, “have you seen a picture of Bradley Manning? The photo I’ve seen is only from the waist up, but you get the feeling that he’s wearing butt-less chaps underneath. He looks like a guy in a soldier costume at the Greenwich Village Halloween parade.”
In other words, he is a typical gay man. Which means, evidently, that so are all the others.