This image and quote recently went viral on Twitter, after Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper tweeted it with the remark: "'I'm Clint F------ Eastwood, and this is what I have to say about gay marriage.' BRAVO."
This quotation from the legendary actor, director and Hollywood tough man came from a recent interview with GQ magazine.
The Money Quote:
These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don't give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We're making a big deal out of things we shouldn't be making a deal out of. They go on and on with all this bullshit about "sanctity" -- don't give me that sanctity crap! Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.
There is something truly beautiful about some straight guys' brazen approach to the topic of LGBT equality. See, they aren't trying to cope with a lifetime's baggage of feeling shameful and unworthy. And they aren't fetishizing the tactic of presenting their views in nice, inoffensive ways that won't scare the straight people. I imagine it never even crosses their mind that they shouldn't scare the straight people. They haven't sent their talking points through the advocacy organization car wash for a nice polish and buff, to ensure that they better appeal to America's soccer moms and NASCAR dads and are respectful of their deeply felt religious convictions.
Sure, carefully focus-grouped messages have their place, most especially when big dollars are spent by groups that still need the people in power to return their calls sometime in the future. This is a legitimate concern, as is the idea that calling opponent "assholes" may not win us many votes.
Bombastic messaging is actually most effective coming from folks who are safe from being dismissed as just another scary "radical homosexual activist!" That label just can't hang very authentically around Clint Eastwood's neck when he's the one calling conservative religious objections "bullshit."
And it got me thinking, so I compiled a top-10 list of some of the fiercest things our straight male allies have said on the topic of LGBT equality. (Warning: some of the content is totally NSFW.)
Comedian Louis C.K. demonstrates aptly how the talking points have left the LGBT advocacy building and reemerged in the popular public discourse. He acknowledges the reality on the ground in a hilarious, hyperbolic imaginary hearing at the Supreme Court. The LGBT equality side makes their well-argued positions, grounded on principles of equal protection under the law, and Louis imagines the opponent's exchange with the Justice. Louis' intonation and vocal inflection makes very clear whose side he's on. The Money Quote: And they ask the other lawyer, and he says, "Your Honor, they're fucking queer! They're queer!" That's it, isn't it? That's the whole... "Well, OK, counselor, but I don't see what that has..." "What are you, a fucking faggot?! Your Honor, you're gonna get a fucking beating... Faggot!" Isn't that the whole argument? Pretty much, Louis, that is the whole argument.
The Family Guy creator, described by Bill Maher on HBO's Real Time as "a big champion of gay rights," (true), responded: "I like a good ass-fucking as much as the next guy! But that makes me gay? Come on, it's the 21st century." The gay blog Queerty remarked, "Awww, look how adorable cute straight boys are when they stick up for us! And then they talk about Supreme Court stuff and whatnot." In February 2010, Macfarlane expressed his support for DADT repeal. The Money Quote: If you're sitting there watching TV in your undershirt worrying about terrorism, worrying about your family and at the same time objecting to the person who's out there, putting their life on the line so that your family will be protected, you're the worst kind of fucking asshole there is.
Republican State Senator Roy McDonald found himself in the glare of a media spotlight when he famously flopped from voting "no" on New York's marriage equality bill in 2009 to saying "yes" to equality in 2011. He explained his change of heart to roomful of reporters. The Money Quote: You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing. I'm tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I'm trying to do the right thing, and that's where I'm going with this.
Following a minor flap over hetero hockey rogue Sean Avery standing up for marriage equality in New York, NBA legend Charles Barkley called bullshit on the "all jocks are homophobes" presumption. The Money Quote: If somebody is gay, that's their own business. But it bothers me how people try to say that jocks are not going to like a gay. ... I think gay people should be allowed to get married and God bless them, that's their own business. Listen, if a guy can't play, that's the only time we don't want to play with him. We don't care about all that extracurricular stuff.
The host of The Daily Show is so consistently awesome, it's very hard to single out just one instance. He facetiously explained that he dropped his opposition to marriage equality when it was explained to him he wouldn't be compelled to divorce his wife and marry a dude. A standout moment was when Stewart went one-on-one with Fox News personality Mike Huckabee. Stewart smartly deconstructs all of Hucakbee's hollow talking points. One wonders if Dan Savage was in the Green Room coaching Stewart? When Huckabee explains that 30 states banned marriage equality by voter referendum, Stewart zings him with, "Thirty States had Mike Huckabee on the ballot and they went with McCain. You can't trust the voters. The voters don't know." Oh, burn! The Money Quote: It's a travesty that people have forced someone who's gay [into a position where] they have to make their case that they deserve the same basic rights as someone else. Pause on that. It's a really smart point. I guess Stewart really did pay attention at William and Mary. "Travesty" is a very strong word, and it's the right one.
Like Stewart, it's so hard to pick just one Bill Maher gem. The host of HBO's Real Time has been a constant and bombastic ally to the LGBT community, firing withering barbs at anyone who stands in the way of the community's equality. In 2009 he said on the prospect of Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal, "These people are homophobic, they have an image of one gay couple moving into the neighborhood, the next day waking up to guys rollerblading down Main Street in nothing but a speedo and nun's habit, with a sparkler in one hand, and a penis popsicle in the other." I'm particularly fond of his "take no prisoners" New Rules segment from April 2011: "Now that a Cheney, a McCain and a Bush have come out to support gay marriage, it's your turn, Obama." The Money Quote: More than half the country, 53 percent of Americans support [marriage equality], now that still means 47 percent of Americans are assholes. Bill doesn't linger on President Obama, though, widening the target to the entire "leadership of the Democratic party" for failing to lead the public on the issue of marriage equality. Democrats are stepping up, though. Thursday, the Senate Judiciary committee voted 10 to 8 along party lines to send the Respect for Marriage Act to the floor. The bill would fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and currently has 30 cosponsors. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said that regardless of how this play out, moving it would send an important message to the kids that "it does get better." Now, that's fierce.
Who can tell a soldier who literally fought on a battleground for liberty and justice for all that he doesn't know what that means? Two such men make the list. The first is Iraq war veteran and Minnesota State Representative John Kriesel. He explains that basic training taught him that there are the hard rights and easy wrongs, and that it's easier to go along with the crowd when they are wrong than stand alone for what's right. That day, Kriesel took a "hard right" himself, defying his party, the Republicans, to vote against a gay-marriage-ban amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution. The Money Quote: This amendment doesn't represent what I went to fight for; this doesn't represent that. Hear that out there? [Cheering from equality allies gathered to watch the vote.] That's the America I fought for. And I'm proud of that.
In 2009, the Maine Senate Committee held a hearing before the legislature voted to recognize equality in marriage. Among those who came to testify was Philip Spooner, 86 years old, father of four sons, a lifetime Republican, an active VFW chaplain and a World War II vet. The Money Quote: A woman at my polling place asked me, "Do you believe in equality for gay and lesbian people?" I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that; it made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, "What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?" The simplicity of Chaplain Spooner's message made it a national sensation, and rightfully so.
Nineteen-year-old Zach Wahls testified before the Iowa state legislature in opposition to a proposed marriage equality ban in 2009. In three short minutes, he left the country with the impression of a young man who is forceful, passionate, charming, smart and ambitious. And the idea that LGBT Americans were unfit to parent was left in ruins in his wake. There's nothing bombastic here (because Zach's mommas raised him right) but a profoundly touching, heartfelt testimony. The Money Quote: But in my 19 years, not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple. And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.
And for the mother off all messages least likely to be adopted by an LGBT advocacy organization, look to Williamsburg, Brooklyn hipster, Occupier of Wall Street and comedian Jamie Kilstein of Citizen's Radio. In one breathless, three-minute rant, Kilstein decimates every conservative religious objection ever proffered. It will clear the room at any average focus group in no time flat, but it's 100-percent awesome sauce. It's hard to find an excerpt that does it justice, so find a full transcript here. The Money Quote: You give me one valid argument beside, "But God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Really? Because by the looks of it, Adam and Eve fucked up big-time, and maybe Adam should have explored other options. Thank you, Jamie, and all our heterosexual male allies who stand up and say, "Right is right." Let's hear it for the straight boys.
This is a expanded version of a post that first appeared on the Daily Kos blog.
Follow Scott Wooledge on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Clarknt67