For better or worse, I tend to pay close attention to public figures who come out of the closet. I feel strange about doing so because ultimately, knowing someone's sexual orientation shouldn't change one's perception of them. But instinctually, I find myself drawn to celebrities when they begin publicly identifying as a part of the LGBT community. I believe it's part of human nature to look for images in the media that resemble one's own experience, so that one can feel a sense of belonging that may be lacking in daily life. It's important to be respectful of privacy and individual reasons for choosing not to come out publicly, but I also believe that there's real power in standing up and being counted. I look for images of bisexuality in real life whenever I can, and since most people I know identify as monosexual, I often turn to the media.
So you can imagine my surprise when I was Googling bisexual celebrities yesterday and discovered that, a little more than a year ago, Evangelical pastor Ted Haggard nearly came out as bisexual. I completely missed this news story the first time around, but I'm glad I finally found it, because it counters a concern I've had for a long time: In arenas like politics and religion, many people don't seem to know how to come out as bisexual.
Last Thursday Twitter exploded with the news that House Republican Michele Bachmann, future failed Presidential hopeful, had signed "The Marriage Vow." The 14-point pledge was designed by Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader, a conservative Iowa hate tank that was responsible for recalling state supreme court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality. It includes several disturbing portions, not least of which is the racist preamble that waxes nostalgic about slavery. Candidates who sign the pledge promise to take certain steps to strengthen "traditional marriage"—banning pornography, ending abortion, and denying the legitimacy of all marriages except those between two heterosexuals of the opposite sex. Which is pretty funny, since the Internet has decided her husband is gay.
Rep. Weiner gave us another version, earlier this month, of the near-iconic image of the suffering, strong wife standing by her disgraced man as he calls a press conference to discuss whatever scandal has plagued him. Actually, his wife doesn't even need to be at his press event; the Washington Post will force the image on readers anyway:
So does the media cover the spouses of politicians differently when it comes to husbands?