In 1991, I visited New York for the second time. I'd come in 1988—I shit you not—specifically to see Madonna in Speed-The-Plow, which led to an eye-popping trip that made me want to return ASAP. It took a few years, but I got my chance when my boss, a literary agent, brought me for a major book convention. I don't remember what it was, but I met macho adventure writer Dale Brown, who undressed me with his eyes. (Or, wait, maybe I was walking around naked in my mind?)
In my off-time, I wandered the Village (it was sooo cool then), and was ecstatic to encounter the now-infamous OUTpost/Queer Nation installations that consisted of Xeroxed Absolut Vodka-type ads outing several major celebs. "ABSOLUTELY QUEER" they screamed of Jodie Foster, Merv Griffin, Ron Reagan, Tom Selleck (he sued), Whitney Houston, Debbie Reynolds, Sherman Helmsley, Greg Louganis, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta and...James Baldwin (just to stack the odds, I guess). Others were named, but I forget who and/or can't figure them out from my pictures. (I'd also forgotten that at least some straight stars were also "inned," with Paula Abdul and Mel Gibson identified as "ABSOLUTELY HET.")
I admired the project. I admired outing. I still do. I just don't think whether you're gay or not is a personal issue when stars are happy to chat about every other, much more deeply personal, aspect of their lives, and I'll never agree that the fact that someone's gay is any more damaging a factoid than some of the horrifying stuff printed on a daily basis about straight stars.
It's also important politically. Otherwise, you get people like Danny Bonaduce, who on March 31, 1991, was arrested on assault and battery charges for punching a transvestite prostitute and who within the year was making fun of the incident at comedy clubs, claiming he had no choice but to slug Darius Barney once he "realized" the chick had a dick. (I had the distinct displeasure of meeting him backstage before one of his shows in Chicago around the same time the OUTpost posters went up, only to be enraged by his virulently homophobic routine. I've only rarely ventured into comedy clubs since then.)
I bring this up because the debate rages on, as Perez Hilton mercilessly not only outs Clay Aiken again, but goes to great lengths to back up his assertion. He goes too far in some of his mean-spirited posts (and in his expectation that stars are sticks in the mud if they fail to "get" his humor), but Perez is right when it comes to this kind of thing. It's ridiculous and it's wrong when adults behave as if being thought gay is a revelation that they have feet of clay. It shouldn't be such a feat for Clay or any other grown-up to be honest about being gay.
When the "ABSOLUTELY QUEER" posters went up, The Village Voice reported on it, as did The Advocate and apparently The Globe mentioned Plaintiff Selleck. But now, 16 years later, there isn't that much documentation about the action. When Perez Hilton outs someone, even when he's just kiddin' around, it's read by well over a million people. A day. For that, I can forgive his misspellings and occasional excesses.