This is partly for a very good reason: A great number of public people are gay. A great number of public people are obviously gay and for so long we’ve been complicit in pretending that they’re not. And, indeed, it may not matter that they are. Except for the dark and dismal air of dishonesty and subterfuge—which, of course, in politics is business as usual, gay or not.
I have no idea what Sonia Sotomayor’s
sexual tastes might be—if any. (Though asexual, once an acceptable status, is now pretty much understood to be a cover.) The evidence is wish-washy. No children. Vagueness about an early marriage. A lot of pictures with nieces and nephews—a standard cover. Yes, apparently, a present relationship. But then there’s you-know-who in Chicago
, with her unconvincing escort. We have become very savvy and sophisticated and doubtful about this stuff.
But should we know?
(Sotomayor and her niece; AP Photo)
One effect of not knowing about all the people in politics who are gay is that we now assume everyone who isn’t obviously hetero is gay. So the reason to know is, well, to know—and then not to assume that everybody is dissembling. Though they probably are.
I don’t know, for instance, if Condi Rice
is gay, though I don’t know anyone who doesn’t assume she isn’t not gay.
Does it matter if she is—Condi or Sonia? Does it matter if we assume they are when they aren’t?
Obviously, at this point in time, there are policy reasons for wanting to know which team a person is on. It is hard to escape the fact that in political life one’s loyalties, on this issue, are going to be in demand, or, severely tried. Indeed, as to the latter, it has been an open secret for a long time that the Republican Party, especially its operatives and consultants, seems to be disproportionately gay. Something about self-hating gays drawn to the gay-hating party, no doubt.
The retiring Justice Souter, everyone seems to assume, is gay. So there are many people who believe he ought to be replaced by a like-minded person. As it happens, there is reason to believe that Sotomayor, among the possible nominees, was one of the least likely to be gay, which might have helped her case.
I don’t care (really). On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind knowing. I wouldn’t mind not having to wonder. And—so shoot me—knowing does explain a bit, fill in the picture, round out the profile. And, again, it certainly is something that comes up a lot. Inquiring minds do want to know.
We have now opened up these confirmation hearings to just about everything. They are really about prying and ferreting and insinuating, but mostly about a whole bunch of pointless stuff.
So why not ask something that people actually care about?
More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well there, I asked the question. It might as well be asked. It is being asked. It’s the question mark about every single public person without a spouse or children or a big time social life.