Politics: Marcus Bachmann and His Complicated Covert Closet
Submission by Canonball Blog‘s James Worsdale
Michelle Bachmann, (frighteningly) as a front-runner in the rat race for republican nomination for president, is drawing attention for her outrageous political view. But, as is true for most women in politics, she’s also getting noticed for so much more, including aspects not quite relevant to the job description. This includes popular punch line, hubby Marcus and his questionable sexuality.
At this point you probably know that Marcus Bachmann is a “therapist” who “cures” individuals of their homosexuality, but, you know, only if they choose that path for themselves. Despicable? I’d say so. Appallingly unscientific? You betcha! Clinically I assume he must have learned everything he knows from NARTH or maybe just from Leo Spaceman. This controversial (putting it lightly) methodology of his is enough to call bluff on any claim to scientific legitimacy for him. It also further reinforces his wife’s political stance on the “issue” of homosexuality. End it there and all would be well, another bigot to add to the list of contenders for the republican crown. Except, well, there’s more.
Limp-wristed, lisp-spewing, sashay-hips-swinging jokes galore for Bachmann. Femininity in his speech and his allegedly good taste in women’s clothing has provided sufficient fodder for the “mainstream” “liberal” media to slap their knees and shoot around their speculative snark. The Bachmann’s marriage has turned into a notorious joke with everyone in on it (even Cher!). The first suggested search on Google after “Marcus Bachmann” is “Marcus Bachmann gay.” I can see millions of Americans now, staring at their glowing screens salivating over potential scandal.
Several sources have posed this question already, but to reiterate, what are we saying by mocking Marcus Bachmann for his “gay voice,” what does that say about acceptable performances of masculinity for individuals who assert themselves as heterosexual men, and what does it say about our attitudes towards the institution of the closet?
The focus on speculating about Bachmann’s sexuality is distraction from a bigger problem, the fact that Michelle Bachmann is a manifestation of a counter-progressive force gaining momentum in reaction to the increased visibility and gaining of rights of the LGBTQ community. Make no mistake in underestimating her appeal for people whose attitudes are shaped by systems of heteronormativity that posit homosexuality and all queerness as a pinnacle threat and a moral abomination. His psychological practice is also in line with this dangerous social force, not to mention at odds with his wife’s alleged economic ideology, but THIS is the thing people should be drawing attention to and attacking: the Bachmanns’ inherent hypocrisy and large scale conning of the American public, not “he talks so gay!” Otherwise we’re just promoting the same narrow-minded and one-dimensional interpretation of what constitutes a homosexual and what constitutes a man, not to mention furthering the line of thinking that gay men are put on this earth to amuse everyone and serve as cultural clowns.
Now that I’ve gotten the mandatory slap on the wrist out of the way, let me step back and minute to consider how I reacted to the jokes, and how I feel about all this now, as a gay man and as a conscious consumer of media messaging. Immediately, I was all about this Bachmann-bashing, this shameless mockery of him as a pathetically closeted Mary, his pretty maids secretly all in a row. I was delighted by the public evisceration of his masculinity with witticism (particularly over twitter! Bryan Safi is kind of a genius). After all, he is married to this conservative demagogue who’d probably be much happier if I was to be burned at the stake (and even then I wouldn’t be as flaming as her husband…bad um TSKS!) (That’s not even close to being true, come on, I wholly unnecessarily referenced Cher in this). Does he not deserve all that he gets even if it compromises my ideas of gender oppression and promotes attitudes that I feel promote it?
Or is it something else? Do I feel okay about this because I think that it’s true? Does all of this criticism of the criticism not even matter because, in this case, it’s on point?
I feel like I’ve been centering my thoughts around the idea that it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not because it’s irrelevant and that there are other elements of the Bachmann situation to be more concerned about that rest less on ambiguity and more on fact. But maybe I need to, at least in part, distance myself from this idea because it is entirely relevant whether or not Marcus Bachmann is a closeted homosexual or has undergone reparative therapy himself. Their very public and very extreme position on my sexuality and my identity would not allow for me to exist safely, productively and happily if they had their way. Why should they make these wildly unscientific and prejudiced judgment calls without having attention drawn to the fact that they potentially could serve as the embodiment of what America would look like if they did have their way with gay people. And, if that is true and they are the example, then isn’t it one that it doesn’t take a body language expert to know that is devoid of chemistry and seemingly devoid of the possibility of sexual energy and exchange?
There, I said it.
To put it in this perspective, placing Bachmann into our ga(y)ze, the joke that the media is making becomes not about the fact that he is gay, but more about the fact that he thinks he’s effectively hiding it from the public. And I don’t know. I feel maybe inappropriately comfortable with this joke. Maybe I’m perpetuating ideas about gaydar or gay face that are subject to error, but as a gay guy in America, I’ve learned that a lot of reading other people’s sexualities is about making judgment calls. You can discuss with them if they’re open and honest with themselves and other people, but someone so closely involved in an institution that drives bigotry and pseudoscience in the name of G-O-D is not going to do that. So we judge. Maybe not the Christian thing to do, but frankly I’m not too concerned about severing ties with the church.
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