Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Glass Closet

I'm a little late to this party.

On September 20, Andrea Houston broke this story under the heading 'Why is the CBC censoring Canadians to protect John Baird?'

When a producer from CBC’s The Current asked if I would appear on the show to discuss the politics of “outing” closeted politicians who work against the fight for gay rights, I didn’t hesitate in accepting. 

And I wasn’t alone. CBC also asked playwright and Xtra contributor Brad Fraser, as well as Roy Mitchell, activist and host of Roynation.

But, in the end, none of us appeared on the Sept 17 program. The producers wanted to ensure that there would be no mention of Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

“The implications of this whole thing is really horrifying,” Fraser says. “Our tax-payer funded national broadcaster doing this, it stinks to high heaven.”

In an email exchange, producer Gord Westmacott told Fraser that he must “hold back” from mentioning the names of any specific politicians on air because Baird “has made the choice not to talk publicly about it." 
The story goes on to explain the back and forth of the pusillanimous discussion between Canadian gay activists and the Canadian public broadcaster's scaredy-cats, with multiple references and links to stories about Baird's quite openly gay life, including one with the fabulous phrase 'glass closet'. As in, Baird lives in a glass closet.

OK, I geddit. The CBC is so terrified of further CON cuts that they don't want to rock the boat.

But jeebers, Baird's gayness has been a open secret for nearly two decades.

He first got elected to the Ontario legislature in 1995. My downtown elitist gay pals were soon falling all over each other to tell more and more outrageous stories of where, when, and with whom Baird had been spotted in various (in)famous gay venues.

Of course, I don't know if any of those hilarious stories were actually true, but my pals and their pals were agreed and emphatic on one point -- John Baird is gay -- as has been documented many, many times since.

OK, I also get the fact that Canadians mostly don't give a shit about the sex lives of politicians. And that's good.

But for the CBC to censor itself and Canadians to keep an open secret 'secret' is simply disgusting.

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