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Michelangelo Signorile has argued that outing a prominent Republican senator would be justified if he has a history of opposing LGBTQ rights.
The journalist, author, and host of The Michelangelo Signorile Show on SiriusXM defended the practice of outing — publicly sharing a person’s sexuality or gender identity without their consent — if it is “relevant” to a public figure’s “work, their role, their power, their influence,” Signorile tweeted last week.
“Some say, well why should the public know?” he continued. “Well, it’s interesting for the public to know if the person is engaging in work that is influenced by their queerness, for example. But more so if the person is working against LGBTQ people it’s relevant.”
Signorile’s comments, which he expanded upon in a subsequent blog post, came after several male sex workers on Twitter claimed that they had been hired by a Republican senator with a history of voting against LGBTQ rights.
Adult film actor Sean Harding first tweeted about a “homophobic” senator on June 4, calling him “no better than Trump,” and accusing him of “passing legislation that is damaging to the lgbt and minority communities.”
Harding added: “Every sex worker I know has been hired by this man.”
His tweets led other sex workers to claim that they had also been hired by the senator, though none shared proof of this on Twitter.
It also led to two hashtags trending on Twitter, one that included the alleged senator’s first name, and another, #LadyG, which the sex workers said was the name they used to refer to the senator.
The claims led some to debate the merits of outing, including whether it was justified if the politician in question had enabled legislation that harmed the LGBTQ community.
Schock repeatedly voted against LGBTQ rights during his six years in office, and denied rumors about his sexuality. He ultimately resigned from Congress in 2015 over allegations of misuse of taxpayer funds, though charges against him were later dropped.
Despite refusing to come out, Schock was spotted last year partying with gay men at Coachella, including photos of him dancing with his hand down another man’s pants, and later filmed putting money in a male dancer’s underwear at a Mexico City gay bar.
He came out publicly earlier this year, saying he regretted “the time wasted in not having done sooner,” but refrained from apologizing for his voting record while in Congress.
Signorile said Schock was “the perfect example of a man who was deceiving the public in so many ways, and eventually the world would see it fully.”
“The closet, for powerful politicians, becomes a sort of practice run at the art of deception on a grander scale,” he wrote. “And when you will sell out your own kind, there’s really no telling how low you will go.”
He added that if journalists had investigated rumors of Schock’s sexuality in light of his anti-LGBTQ votes and ultimately exposed his hypocrisy, “it wouldn’t only have likely stopped an anti-gay hypocrite; it would likely have brought down a man who was spending campaign and taxpayer dollars to live in grand style and luxuriously travel around the world.”
Signorile also referenced Larry Craig, the former Republican senator from Idaho, who was arrested in 2007 after trying to solicit sex from another man in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.
“Like Schock’s criminal activity, Craig’s arrest is the only thing that brought him down,” Signorile wrote. “If not for that action, involving criminal charges and thus a public record, he might still be in office, still railing against LGBTQ people.”
Of the rumors about an anti-LGBTQ Republican senator hiring male sex workers, Signorile reiterated that it would be appropriate to expose the lawmaker’s sexuality if it “is relevant to a larger story encompassing their work, their role, their power, their influence, and is something the public should know.”
“Certainly if they are engaged in hypocrisy, working against the LGBTQ community, it is relevant to report,” he wrote.
Signorile also responded to criticism from some LGBTQ people who oppose outing, saying it “isn’t about indiscriminately ‘outing’ the average person, the private citizens just trying to live their own lives.”
“It’s actually about protecting them from the corruption of those who are public figures — people who go into public life knowing their lives will be open for discussion — who want to deceive people to benefit themselves and their benefactors,” he wrote.
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