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Op-ed: The Newest Trend in Tabloid Slams Will Hurt Celebs — And You 

Op-ed: The Newest Trend in Tabloid Slams Will Hurt Celebs — And You 


Last week the tabloids claimed Kris Humphries was antigay; this week they're claiming the basketball player who was dumped by Kim Kardashian after three months of marriage is actually a homo himself. Their proof? He watched Sports Center and ignored his wife. They didn't have a lot of sex. He likes nice clothes, gets pedicures, even once helped a dude shave his pits. (Admittedly, that last one does sound gay, but remember, this is the same family in which Kourtney gave Khloe a naked vag bikini wax, in the kitchen, while on camera).

What is most alarming about this new story is not the possibility Humphries is gay. Trust me, gay guys all over the country are hoping it's true (just ask, and I'm betting anyone who knows Humphries thinks it's all a ridiculous lie. I don't really care either way.

The alarming thing about this new Star article (which may or may not have been PR fed by the Kardashian Industrial Complex and is rapidly spreading over the interweb as you read this) is that it's among a rash of recent media reports in both mainstream and less than reputable tabloid style operations that seem to use being queer as a way to denigrate a public figure. Even in the day when the No H8 and It Gets Better campaigns are ubiquitous, when Ellen and Rosie and Rachel all vie for TV power and even some schools in the most conservative states have gay-straight alliances -- even today, somehow alleging that a person is queer or trans is a socially acceptable way to undermine their power, position, or authority. Worse, it's a way to functionally position blame.

Case in point? Demi Moore. After weeks of speculation about an Ashton Kutcher cheating scandal, as soon as Moore finally pulled the plug on their marriage, the gossip sites went crazy. Star, Radar Online, Gawker, and thousands of bloggers reported that it wasn't Kutcher's alleged philandering that put a dent in that relationship but rather that Moore is, as Gawker called her, "an unstoppably horny bisexual lust goddess who requires an open relationship."

That sympathy women across America had for the 40-something Moore evaporated overnight as the media affirmed every stereotype there is about bisexual women being relentless sex machines who can't commit to a man or a woman. The sources? Always anonymous. Suddenly, the allegations that they had an open marriage, that Moore was bisexual, that Kutcher wasn't the only person philandering in that marriage spun the entire media perception -- America's feelings -- about this woman, her work, her life, and her family. She is no longer the victim women identify with.

Moore wasn't the only wanton woman who was punished for her supposed queerness in the media this week: So too was Ginger White, the woman who came out and alleged she had a 13-year-long affair with presidential candidate Herman Cain. Just days after White came out about the alleged heterosexual affair, several blogs, including Cainblog and Tea Party Nation, reported that White had a sexual relationship with another woman -- her former business partner Kimberly Vay -- and, of course, White's an unemployed single mom too. (Nothing trumps simple queerness like being an unemployed single mom who is also bisexual.) While ABC News broke the story of Vay and White's business breakup, nowhere does it say the two women were lovers. But that hasn't stopped bloggers from detailing every bit of their past, including photos of Vay (a bodybuilder) in a bikini, and using this bad breakup as proof that White is a gold-digging bisexual nutjob. No one can say whether Cain is behind this hatchet job (though Politicoreports that the Cain campaign did purchase ad space on Google so ads appear whenever searches type in Ginger White).

At this point, whether bad journalism, PR spin, or a desperately flailing presidential campaign is to blame for these "stories," it's a sad sign for all us when gay shame -- or even the slight allusion to queerness -- becomes a common media tactic to discredit public figures. Everyone loves a salacious story, and when celebs are as gorgeous as Demi Moore and Kris Humphries, it's easy for queers to hope they're batting for our teams. But those same stories many devour in the tabloids and blogs simply undermine the fight for LGBT equality and further isolate public figures who haven't yet figured out how to come out.

DIANE ANDERSON-MINSHALL is executive editor for The Advocate.Follow her on Twitter at @DeliciousDiane.

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