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the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

This post is not at all colored by the fact that I'd do Mr. Pierce in a heartbeat, gay or no gay

June 1st, 2007 (07:22 am)

Aww, David Hyde Pierce! I love him so much. He "outed" himself recently (which term I put in quotes because he never exactly wasted a lot of energy over keeping himself "in") in what, for my money, was a perfectly brilliant way of handling it: a casual reference to his partner in a standard bio for a press release. Check out the link: I love that link because the headline is all "DAVID HYDE PIERCE COMES OUT OF THE CLOSET!" and then there's this complete cognitive disconnect while you read an entirely unrelated story about Curtains. So by the time you get to the reference to his partner, you're like "...that's it?" And, yes! That's it! Some of us have partners! THE NEWS, SHE IS NOT SHOCKING. And I really like that David Hyde Pierce, who previously basically responded to queries about his sexuality with an archly raised eyebrow and commentary along the lines of "If you can't figure it out you're mighty obtuse I'm not going to tell you," has now taken to referring to his partner in the media in precisely the same way that any other celebrity with a non-famous spouse would refer to theirs.

It is often good to make a big damn deal out of sexuality, to go shouting who we are and our rights as citizens from the rooftops; to make sure our voices are heard and to insist on visibility and acceptance. But it is good in a different way *not* to do that - to live your life just as if your sexuality were a basic part of who you are, with the attitude that you needn't be ashamed of it nor spend a lot of energy defending it. In all honesty, it's how I'd prefer to go about things. The social activist runs strong in me and all, but in my relationship with λ, I feel a lot less like a person Doing a Transgressive Thing Of Great Cultural Controversy, and more like, you know, a person in love with another person. I feel really incredibly privileged to live in Massachusetts, where I can mostly act that way. And I really love David Hyde Pierce for being the first celebrity that I can remember hearing of who "outed" himself in a manner that said, quietly but firmly, that this is not the front-page-of-the-tabloids Big Deal that everyone makes it into. It's a tactic that wouldn't work if it were the only one used, but it's an important complement to more conventional activism, I think. And, in the end, he's got the right to live his life however he wants to and say as much or as little about it as he chooses. It's a neat thing for him to reaffirm that this way.

Comments

Posted by: Spencer Irving (archaica)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 12:09 pm (UTC)

I like how your tags are lolspeak.

I think it's great that we've gone from "ROCK HUDSON IS GAY" to "Yeah, my partner and I ... " dropped into conversation. There's still whole segments of the population for whom that is far more difficult (professional sports, I'm looking at you), but overall society's progress has been good. That seems kind of paternalistic ("wait for it, it'll come some day"), and must be terribly frustrating for a member of the affected persecuted minority, but eventually, society does tend to evolve past its (more visible and egregious manifestations of) prejudices.

Posted by: Spencer Irving (archaica)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 12:10 pm (UTC)
godfather 2 - frankie hose

(Oh, and I really liked "The social activist runs strong in me and all, but in my relationship with λ, I feel a lot less like a person Doing a Transgressive Thing Of Great Cultural Controversy, and more like, you know, a person in love with another person") :)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Nathaniel Wolfthorn (ganimede)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 01:29 pm (UTC)
gay

I was going to say didn't Neil Patrick Harris do something similar when he came out. I know he didn't make a big fuss over it and the story was really that there was no story. I wish there wasn't the need for celebrities to come out though, it shouldn't be a surprise these days.

Posted by: Kare Bear (luvs_chicago)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 04:50 pm (UTC)
Forget Regret

Neil Patrick Harris is gay? Where have I been?

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Michael (ftmichael)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)

Psst ... Love! Valour! Compassion! is a drama and very poignant and touching and moving and powerful and other words like that, but is also very funny in spots, and all the characters are gay and it's not really fussed about. And there is definitely love to witness.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)

I get particularly angsty about it in movies and literature. the number of "gay movies" which do not feature gay bashing, homophobia, or some other gay-only tragedy, can be counted on one hand. on one hand, that's good, people need to be aware of the challenges gay people face. on the other hand, dear god are they depressing.

Yes! d00d. I love me some Lost and Delirious, Songcatcher, etc, but the fact that all the lesbian movies seem to end with someone committing suicide, having their schoolhouse burned down, etc. gets to be a drag. I understand that such angst is part of a Serious Gay Issue - no, despite the ironic caps, I really do - but no one has ever burned down my schoolhouse, you know? Like, I think movies propagate this idea that the life of a gay person is all travail and toil. It reminds me of how in high school, terribly naive and ignorant about myself and my sexuality, I thought I would just rather stay closeted than deal with the pain and suffering of being gay in this society. Happily, it turns out that the pain and suffering, though not entirely negligible (I really wish my mom's side of the family would come to my wedding, or at least would stop signing anti-gay-marriage petitions), definitely does not outweigh the happiness of being who I am and loving who I love. I think there should be more movies like that. ::nods::

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)

(By the way, I should clarify: in high school I thought that if I were gay I would rather stay closeted. I had no idea I actually was gay. Once I actually started to figure that bit out, I never seriously considered staying entirely closeted.)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)

Basically I agree with this whole comment. Whenever people ask me "when I came out" I'm like uhhhhh... I don't... know?

Posted by: erindubitably (erindubitably)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
:)

I totally had to crtl+f to even find the mention of 'partner' in that article. Good on him, that's totally classy and awesome.

Posted by: LizMcK (mckennl)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)

Um, as someone pushing fifty who was out when y'all weren't even fetuses, can I sort of call bullshit on all this?

Classy? Awesome? As opposed to what? The activists who literally put their lives on the line every day to be out when it wasn't so easy? The ones like Quentin Crisp who got the shit beat out of them on a daily basis because they weren't in the closet?

I'm not expecting every queer to be an activist. But it's sort of irking to read a thread where it sort of seems like y'all are patting yourselves on the backs for NOT being activists, when it was activists who put their asses on the line to make the cozy world you live in now.

Pierce could have come out years ago, stunned no one, and made a difference. He could have come out and said, you know, I'm in the public eye and as such, I have this special power! I can show all your parents that queers CAN have happy, fulfilling lives. Instead, he -- as nelly as they come, by the way, and fooling no one except high school kids -- waited until it was nice and safe and then just slipped it in under the radar.

Mind you, I have nothing against him, and I support him coming out, but you won't find me lining up to valorize the way he's done it.

Posted by: erindubitably (erindubitably)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)

I don't think anybody who has responded to this thread is denying the fact that activists and people who are out there openly making a difference are worthy of admiration and respect as well. Obviously the world wouldn't be the place it is today had they not stood up to be seen. However, not everyone is an activist. Not everyone wants to fight and scream, and I don't think it's entirely fair to say that just because DHP didn't want to become an icon it means that this means less.

Personally I'm not patting myself on the back at all... I just wanted to comment on the fact that our society has come so far that someone can slip something small into a press article and have that be it. I think it shows progress, and a great step forward, and I fully acknowledge and appreciate the people who had to go through a lot of shit to get it this way. Maybe our generation is spoiled and can't truly appreciate what it was like... but we can realize how lucky we are to live now and see these signs of change for ourselves.

In no way do you have to praise DHP if you disagree with his course of action, but just because he took the slower, quieter road does that make him a bad person? He's a celebrity, yes, but also a regular guy, and who can really blame him for that? I guess I respect any statement, no matter how small or belated, of 'this is how I am'. I'm happy for him, and I do think it's classy and awesome for him to finally say something instead of living his whole life without saying anything.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)

I don't know. I suppose I may have let the fact that I adore the man tint my perception of what it was that I was appreciating about this. I do take your point that in comparison to earlier activists who literally put their lives on the line, this kind of looks like shit. But... I don't know. I want to live in a world where gay people DON'T have a responsibility to be all Gay Pride in everyone's face all the time just to have our rights be ensured. I want to live in a world where being gay is no bigger or smaller a thing than being straight. I'm not saying people shouldn't take great joy in being gay, nor that they shouldn't talk about it as much as they want, but that "as much as they want" is the point. I do think we've all got the right to have our sex lives be as private as we want them to be. It's not just an issue of being harassed or not; it's an issue of how much you want your personal life on display, you know? He's always been a guy who's been pretty closed-mouthed about his personal life with the media, and I think that's his right. So - I don't know. I'm torn. On the one hand I agree with you. And on the other hand I respect him for behaving as if his sexuality is not a big deal and for making it clear, in his own quiet way, that the media has no right to make it a big deal unless he says go.

I guess I tried to get at this in part in my last paragraph, where I said I liked his way of handling it as a complement to more traditional activism. But without more traditional activism this wouldn't do a damn thing.

Also, I think there have been some misconceptions in the media about to what degree he tried to hide his sexuality. What he had basically done for years is kind of summarized in one oft-repeated quote on the Frasier message boards [oh lord I don't believe I just copped to knowing that]: "My life's an open book, but I'm not going to read it to you." He lived with Brian whasisname for years, he thanked him in Emmy speeches, he dedicated his performance in Curtains to him. He never tried to hide his sexuality. He just never made a hue and cry of it. I guess, to me, he symbolizes the sort of society I'd like to live in, where the hue and cry isn't necessary, where everyone can get married and no one will flinch when they see two men holding hands. I know the activism has been so so necessary, and I admire it tremendously because I find it hard to put my own life in an activist context that way. It feels like making my own life into a piece of political kindling. I don't want λ and me reduced to "a lesbian couple", I don't want us to be reduced to our respective genitalia/genders and for people to think of us first and foremost as women who have sex with one another. I want us to be Kylie and λ. And yet it's the activists who came before who made it possible for me to experience that as much as I have. I think what DHP's coming out with so little fanfare really stirred up in me is that I wish things were as easy as he's made it seem. I think I got proud of him for making things seem easy. Which, you're right, probably doesn't make much sense.

That got really long and probably really boring. I apologize.

(One parting shot, though: he confused the hell out of the media with the way he handled it, and seeing their scandalmongering get cut out from under them and reading the confused and therefore hostile statements - "he carefully buried the reference to his partner in the sixth paragraph..." - leaves me highly amused.)

Posted by: LizMcK (mckennl)
Posted at: June 1st, 2007 10:51 pm (UTC)

I wasn't really responding to you or the original post as much as to the whole sense I got from the comments. And! There's no need for an apology -- instead, thank you for your thoughtful response!

As for the whole "private" life thing: I guess it seems to me that straight people rarely act all coy about who their partners are with the explanation "It's not just an issue of being harassed or not; it's an issue of how much you want your personal life on display, you know?"

How often and in what fashion my partner and I have sex is my private life. That TDO is female and that she is my partner is, basically, not private.

It's not private when some dude comes to the house to sell me a new roof and I tell him I need to discuss it with my partner when SHE gets home, yknow? It's not private to the guy at the bank who helps us with our joint accounts. It's not private when she had surgery and her dad told somebody I was her sister just to *insure* that I could get back there to see her because at that point, you're totally relying on the kindness of strangers.

I could go on and on but I think you get the gist.

Everyone has to do what they feel like they can, and dude, every little bit helps. That he's out is great. I'm impressed that he thanked his partner at awards ceremonies, I think that's awesome.

As for the political kindling thing, I don't think that's what happens. I don't think people go all pervy and sexual. I think that knowing you humanizes their idea of "lesbian." AND! Polls back me up: PEW! PEW! PEW!

(I happen to think the numbers are a LOT higher than 4 in 10, btw, but people just don't know it.)

Posted by: Underwear Ninja (chavvah)
Posted at: June 3rd, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)

I don't want λ and me reduced to "a lesbian couple", I don't want us to be reduced to our respective genitalia/genders and for people to think of us first and foremost as women who have sex with one another. I want us to be Kylie and λ.

You mean you don't want me to refer to your upcoming wedding as LESBIANPALOOZA '07? ;)

Posted by: Angelina Ballerina (greenovalfruit)
Posted at: July 1st, 2007 05:05 am (UTC)
Rainbow - Gays Everywhere!

That has to be THE best icon, ever.

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