Today is national coming out day.
I’m hetero. But I’m highly supportive of GLBT rights. I’ve never been able to figure out why I should care what two consenting adults do with each other, or how they get their jollies. I’ve never been able to figure out why some people want to limit other people’s joy, when that joy does no one any harm. In general, I’d say I am about as pro-GLBT rights as anyone.
There’s one topic, though, that I do disagree with some of my GLBT friends on, and that’s outing.
Obviously, I support the idea of people being free to out themselves. I would wish for a day when being ‘out’ is no big deal. But that day, obviously, is not here.
I oppose outing of other people. ANY other people. Now, most of us will have no problem with this idea for most people … most of us would not out a friend. Where it gets controversial, among pro-GLBT people, is when we talk of outing of anti-GLBT people, especially when those people have some power (politicians and clergy, in particular).
Some will argue that, since those people have the power to hurt GLBT folk, and use that power in that way, then outing them is only exposing their hypocrisy, and outing them is therefore justified.
But just as I support the right of a friend to be private about his/her sexual life, so I must support the right of my enemy to be so private. Noam Chomsky said “If we don’t believe in the right of free speech for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all”.
I feel that one could substitute ‘privacy’ for ‘free speech’ in the above. In America, we have a system for depriving people of their rights. It’s called the criminal justice system. It is, I know, a system that is far from perfect, but it is the system we have, and it is one area where the USA is better than a lot of other places (not the best place, for sure, but not nearly the worst). People are deprived of their rights when they are convicted of committing a crime. Being a jerk is not a crime. Being a hate-mongering jackass is not a crime. Crimes are defined in the penal codes of the country and the various states. Until someone is convicted, he or she should have the right to privacy, no matter how hypocritical they are; just as they should have the right to speak, no matter how obnoxious they are.