When the Times Tried Gay Men’s Souls

From the New York Times, we learned that the cop who was shot to death in the most recent Paris terrorist attack was not only gay but also an LGBTQ activist. Xavier Jugelé, 37, wasn’t just out and proud; he was especially public about it.

As the Times noted, “Officer Jugelé joined protests against Russia’s ban on what the Russians called ‘homosexual propaganda’ before the 2014 Olympics.” (That apparently means that the propaganda was sexually oriented toward propaganda of the same gender.)

One poignant coincidence was that Jugelé was among those police officers who had been sent to the Bataclan Theater on the night of November 13, 2015, when 90 people were slaughtered in another terrorist action. He actually turned up in People magazine for the Sting concert that took place days after the Bataclan reopened one year and one day after the mass killing. “I’m happy to be here,” he said. “We’re here tonight as witnesses. Here to defend our civic values. This concert’s to celebrate life.”


The Times did just that in its story’s first sentence: “He was a proud gay man and a committed policeman.”

Cheers to the reporter, Lilia Blaise, and to all the Times editors who approved that lede. Queerty, when it picked up the story, cited the Times but misspelled Champs-Élysées and left off the accents entirely.

As far as the Times proclaiming the total lack of shame that many lesbians and gay men feel — and have for decades — well, it was not always thus. Frank Bruni penned a recent column about how the Times and all other news outlets took it upon themselves to unsex the famous and enormous chef James Beard. It wasn’t as though Beard was closeted; no, he was forced into an extra-large storage room by news organizations, the Times among them, which purposely failed to note that Beard was as out and proud as Xavier Jugelé. He made no attempt to hide; the Times did the hiding for him.

The same held true for the food critic and chef Craig Claiborne. Claiborne’s column in the Sunday Times Magazine was usually the first and sometimes the only thing I read in the whole paper when he was at his peak in the 1960s and 70s. It would have helped me greatly to have such a gay role model.

By the way, Claiborne was also noteworthy for sticking a gigantic pin in the ass of the late Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who had to be told of the severity of the AIDS epidemic over lunch, at Claiborne’s invitation, when Claiborne informed Sulzberger that he and his newspaper really ought to do a better job of covering the crisis, given the colossal number of deaths in the city and all.

And who can forget William F. Buckley, Jr.’s 1986 call on the Times’ op-ed page for the government to forcibly tattoo all HIV-positive people? Buckley’s clever Buchenwald-based identification system was to have everyone tattooed at the presumed site of the infection: IV drug users would be tattooed on their arms, while gay men would be tattooed on our asses. This piece of journalistic terrorism should never have been printed, and I still hold the Times responsible for its tastelessness, let alone its fear-mongering.

It’s stories like this that have led the longtime AIDS and gay rights activist and professional pain in the butt Michael Petrelis, now based in San Francisco, to advocate for a public apology to be issued by — and printed in — the Times. Good luck with that, Michael.

In/on Pink News regarding the French elections came this choice observation: “Incredibly, polling by gay hook-up app Hornet last month found that despite [Marine] Le Pen’s pledge to scrap same-sex marriage, she is still popular among gay men.” According to one poll, one in five gay men are voting for Le Pen, who is usually described as being “far right” but who actually is more of an undiluted fascist. Le Pen has not stated any plans as yet to ship all the gays to a remote camp (or, in the memorable words of the deplorable Sean Spicer, “Holocaust center.”). That honor would probably first be extended to Muslims, a group toward which Le Pen vents particular vitriol.

From the great Hollywood house rag Variety: “K Period Media, the upstart production company behind the Oscars darling ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ will be producing and financing a drama about gay conversion therapy, Variety has learned. The project, ‘Conversion,’ will center on a religious Midwestern family, grappling with the sexual orientation of its son. The film is told through the perspective of the mother, with a meaty role for its lead actress.”

First of all, calling “Manchester by the Sea” an “Oscars darling” is overstating the case; yes, the picture was nominated for six awards, but it won only two (Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay). Second, by telling the film’s story from the mother’s perspective, the producers have insured that there will be no doubt about what genre the film will fall into. It will be a melodrama. Were it to be told through the son’s perspective, it would have been a horror film — rather like the excellent “Night of the Living Dead,” with the religious fascists taking over where the flesh-eating zombies left off.

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