mardi 4 octobre 2011
Google is Outing's best friend
Pour la première fois de ma vie, j'ai envoyé un texte à l'International Herald Tribune pour leurs pages Op-Ed. Il n'aura fallu que 24h pour recevoir un mail de rejet. Et ça, ça veut dire beaucoup de choses de la part d'un quotidien que j'adore.
Last february, Le Monde published an interesting article regarding the french obsession about knowing which personality is Jewish. Okay... Apparently, the French google the names of famous politicians and personalities to check what appears first in terms of identity on search engines. Another article from Le Nouvel Observateur also went on wondering who is Jew with similar questions about identities.
In the past two weeks, a debate is happening in Italy as a big bunch of politicians are being outed as homosexuals. The French gay media has been responding with horror, like if it was discovering the issue. And everytime a sex scandals happens in France (which seems to be quite often these days since the DSK Affair), people want to found out the truth about what is not really said in the media. Because private life is so particularly well protected in this country, "Off the record" has become a parallel outlet. And wondering who is gay is a common interest because so few people actually come out. As a result, gay activism is at a standstill in France and coming-out has been erased from the LBTG agenda. Same sex mariage is still not a law, compared with surrounding countries. Not a single deputy at the National Assembly or the Senate with a proper coming-out. It should not come as a surprise that people use their fingers and keyboards to seek who are the most coward people in our gay elite. If they have a pathological fear of their identities, we do not.
Thankfully, there is Google. Google reveals everything you want to know. Each time someone asks Google the Oracle if a very famous actor or politician is gay, the search engine saves the request and the more people ask the same question, the higher the request ranks. It certainly does not answer the question like a statement would but it does shows that you're not the only one asking it. It makes Google coming-out's favorite aggregator. Enter someone's name in the search engine and witness what the power of statistics can do with a simple rumor.
It's fascinating no gay activist group has already used this powerful tool. The vast majority of the French gay and lesbian elite is not out. Worse, they do absolutely nothing for the cause, they stay silent. Some of them actually use the secrecy surrounding their sexuality to impose more taboo on the topic in their political party. They work in education but do not feel concerned by homophobia in school, high school or University. They are CEO's of big companies but endorse bullying and discrimination. They are journalists but subtly avoid any news concerning LGBT matters.
According to Valérie Touranian from ELLE, the DSK case was the catalyst for a change. She said there will be a before and an after DSK but we're still waiting for the "after" part. In France, most leaders insist private life must be preserved. No wonder gay marriage is blocked when LGBT leaders themselves support such a narrow-minded political vision.
So we thank Google for being coming-out's best friend.
Enter the name of the female or male politicians you suspect the most following your gaydar and check the results. The word gay comes first ? Bingo ! But there's more. Sometimes the name of the partner comes right under the word gay. But even don't stop there. On the first page or the second, you'll find a naïve person talking about his encounter on his blog "Wow, I did not know XX was gay ! I met him at a gay club in South of France and he told me he was gay himself !". Or better yet, you'll get the testimony of the hustler he spent time with in 2009 or 2010.
So thank you, Google. Albert R. Hunt said in an editorial in the New York Times: "What electors never forgive is hypocrisy". With a few goodwill, this could be a new golden age for LGBT activism. Everything's there... just reach out for it.
Didier Lestrade is a journalist, author, co-founder of Act Up-Paris and Têtu. He is out as a gay man and as HIV positive.