When Gay-Rights Advocacy Doesn’t Help

There are a lot of times when gay-rights groups have to carefully pick their battles. As in strategically choosing the year in which to bring their battle in California over marriage equality to the ballot. Or debating whether someone like Jim McGreevey, a philandering disgraced governor, is really a good face for the cause. In recent weeks, a good example was when gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who called a performing artist a “faggot,” got beat up, and later claimed that he was a champion for gay rights. That is, it’s safe to say, a battle the gay community would not have picked. And this week, we have two fresh examples. The first comes in the form of Richard Hatch, the first-season winner of Survivor, who deliberately did not pay taxes on his winnings and therefore had to go to jail. Hatch believes he was sent to prison because he was gay, that he was victim to an anti-LGBT bias on the part of the prosecutor in his case. “I know without question that there are personal issues involved for the prosecutor,” he said in an interview today. “I don’t know why. The prosecutorial misconduct has been egregious.”

The second example of gay-rights advocacy that isn’t exactly the best for the movement that’s come across our transom today is that of Kristian Laliberte, gay publicist and aspiring socialite, who claims he was “assaulted” at the Georgica restaurant, and called a “fag.” (Alternative accounts have Laliberte scamming booze from a stranger’s table, getting caught, going into hysterics, and then instigating a squabble.) Regardless of what actually happened, the young ‘mocialite decided it was an opportunity to fight for the rights of his people. He e-mailed Guest of a Guest:

It’s sad that people think are we “pulling the gay card” a consequence of the fact many heterosexuals think its cool or ok to call gay or straight people a faggot as a joke. It’s even sadder when the word is used as an adjective to connotate “stupid” or “weak” “girly.” But in this day and age to call a gay person a “faggot” as a derogatory slur out of pure hate and prejudice is reprehensible. A lot of my straight friends don’t get why its such a big deal. However if the LGTB community wants to achieve more tolerance and equality, they need to realize that this term is nothing short of saying that homosexuals are second class citizens, that something is wrong with us … Don’t people realize that gays are being hung in Iran or bombed in Israel. People should stamp out hatred whenever they see it, and I was disappointed and ashamed that this certainly wasn’t the case with the staff at the night club.

We were sort of with him until he linked gay people being executed for their sexuality in Tehran with getting into a petty fight over bottle service at an exclusive Hamptons club. See, this kind of thing — like Hatch’s argument and Hilton’s as well — would be a lot more effective if it were about actually helping gay people, rather than helping oneself out of sticky situations.

Kristian Laliberte Learns That Money Can Buy More Than Just Happiness [Guest of a Guest via Gawker]
’Survivor’ Hatch says imprisoned because he’s gay [AP]

When Gay-Rights Advocacy Doesn’t Help