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COMMENTARY: Given the chance, would you or could you “out” someone?

There was a whole lot of discussion in our home this week about whether or not we have the right – or as some would say – the responsibility -- to “out” someone. Is this something we in the gay community are required to do? And are we especially required to do it when the person in question is a closeted gay and works against the gay community?

What I’m asking is this: If you knew a politician or a religious leader was working tirelessly against the gay community – and you knew this person was gay - would you think it was your responsibility to “out” this person? Would you be angry enough or self-righteous enough to believe that you had any right to make sure people knew this gay-bashing politician was in fact – gay?

Let’s make it more personal. If the man or woman you’re sleeping with is a closeted gay – and they left you and started sleeping with a person you don’t particularly care for – would that be a reason to out the closeted person? Would you or could you be spiteful enough? Would your own pride matter that much?

Then I have to ask you this: In outing this person, what would really change? Who would benefit from this act of betrayal? You? The person you’ve outed? The people who have slept with the outed individual? The families of everyone involved? The gay community?

I understand that if someone is having sex and living a life that is opposite of who they really are – it’s already out there in the universe. People already know – if only the two people involved – people know. But – do we – as a community - have the right to make it public?

The person who outed me did so for reasons I have yet to understand. I thought she was a friend. No one benefited from it and I most certainly denied every word she said. It didn’t bring me out of the closet; it sent me further into the closet, and I’ve never quite trusted people in the same way since that moment in my life.

I came out on my own years later – but the betrayal of this person still stings. It wasn’t her life – it wasn’t her story – it wasn’t her place to make any decisions about my life, my family, my future.

I’m not judging one way or the other. I understand the frustration of listening to politicians or religious leaders who are so into gay-bashing and all the while my gaydar is ringing like crazy in my head – and I think … If only someone would out this jerk. And then I think – hmmm, remember how you felt when you were outed? And then I think – yes, but I was only hurting myself – not the entire gay community.

I understand the frustration – I just don’t believe I could ever –in good conscience – out someone. What about you?

Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab, can be found HERE.