Love him or hate him, blog-reading Washingtonians know Mike Rogers. And his handiwork can be seen in some collapsed careers. Rogers is that boogeyman that closeted gay politicos fear — at least the ones who support measures or the machinery hindering gay equality.
Some would criticize his online outings as disrespectful, counter-productive or worse. Others, such as Rogers himself, would argue that exposing a closeted gay legislator who would cast a vote in support of prohibiting same-sex marriage — or the closeted gay aide of a straight legislator casting such a vote — is simply a public service, with the outed having hanged himself on his own hypocrisy.
Beyond BlogActive, the site Rogers employs for such outings, there is more to Rogers.
”The reality is BlogActive is not a huge part of my work — the huge part is Web organizing,” he says. ”My first job in the movement was as development person at the Harvey Milk [High] School in New York City. As a result, I’ve been conscious of working to give people voice. I saw [the Web] as a great tool…. That, to me, is the biggest thing on the Web: empowerment of voices.”
He grants, however, that it took him a little while to join the party: ”I wasn’t that connected. For a long time, I didn’t have a computer at home. I was not that much of an early adopter.”
Once he found his footing in the virtual universe, Rogers immediately set to work with what he terms ”mini campaigns,” such as ”Stop the Box,” an effort with others both online and in-person to get rid of a mammoth vending machine in Adams Morgan.
From his home in Northwest D.C., Rogers runs a mini empire of sites under the banner Page One News Media, but he points back to BlogActive when looking for the work of which he says he’s most proud. It’s not a grand outing to rattle the halls of power, however. Instead, says Rogers, he’s more proud of the time he didn’t destroy someone’s closet.
”I think the story I’m most proud of gets lost,” he says, bringing up the name of Paul Koering, a gay Republican state senator in Minnesota. After receiving some photos of Koering in a gay bar, coupled with the fact that Koering was coincidentally sponsoring legislation that would increase fines for capturing such unauthorized images, Rogers called Koering. That initial contact could have been the start of animus, but instead it was the beginning of a friendship.
”This is an example of someone I felt was on a path where it would be better to support him on his journey than to out him.”
That feeling paid off with Koering shortly thereafter casting the sole GOP vote against amending the Minnesota Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. He came out not long after, and fended off a Democratic challenge to his seat.
”Paul Koering is the highest-level, out, gay, elected Republican official in America,” says Rogers. ”I helped him come out on his own terms.”
For a selection of Mike Rogers-sponsored sites, start by visiting www.pageonenewsmedia.com.