The story line in Doonesbury's comics this week has been a press conference where Governor Romney is ostensibly answering questions related to an incident in prep school where he led some of his buddies in an attack on a fellow student who had bleached his hair and acted in a manner that they considered flamboyant. There was another story of the Governor taunting another student by saying, "Atta girl" when he spoke in class. The Governor does not deny these incidents. He simply says he does not remember them. He also offers another defense. To wit, since these students were in the closet about their homosexuality, how could he know?
Objection, your honor- It's irrelevant and immaterial. I am a big fan of the "It Gets Better" campaign. One thing that I think goes unmentioned in it, however, is that many straight kids also get taunted on the "suspicion" that they are gay. Indeed, how often do you see the word "accusation" used in a sentence with "gay" or "homosexual." So, the teenage Mitt may not have thought in his mind "gay," he might have thought "queer" or "the kids a pansy."
When I was in college, I heard the phrase, "You're in the closet until you tell your mother." Mom, if you're reading this, I'm not gay. Last night, watching game 5 of the Rangers Devils, there was a guy with bleach blond hair in a ponytail sitting next to me. I think he is gay. I don't know for a fact. I didn't ask him. When he talked about how much he liked hockey, I called bullshit and he admitted it was bullshit. We played a couple of games of pool.
We form opinions about others. We're human. Twenty years ago, I was touring the country performing Moliere for high schools. The frilly shirts, the tights, the high heels, and foppish mannerisms garnered many snickers when I walked through the halls in costume. What really upset me, however, was that the male romantic lead was very effeminate. When he would profess his love for the ingenue, the kids would laugh hysterically. They were laughing solely because in their minds there was no way this guy could possibly be in love with a woman.
It took these students mere seconds to make this judgement. Governor Romney expects us to believe that he formed no opinion of the sexuality of his victims because they were "in the closet." Not credible.
A couple of years ago, I was talking to a guy in a bar, and he said something along the lines of, "So you're gay, . . ." I told him that I was not. He replied that he did not mean to insult me. I said that he hadn't insulted me, he just said something that was not true. Moments later he called me gay again. When I reminded him that I was not he again apologized and said he did not mean to insult me. this time I said that he had not insulted me by calling me gay, however he was not listening to me and that was insulting.
I've digressed and rambled. The point that I wanted to make was that in the 60's when the incidents occurred at Romney's prep school, very few people in the gay community would dare be open about it, but that wouldn't prevent the bullying criminal assault described by the accounts. These students could have been straight and would have been assaulted on suspicion- after all, if she floats she's a witch but if she drowns congratulations she was innocent.
Why do his classmates remember the incident with remorse and call it vicious, while Romney can't recall?