After Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) lost all credibility and any respect he might have still enjoyed from American voters over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh with a tantrum that inspired more eye-rolls than cheers during the confirmation hearing, a common criticism of him by those who disagree with his policy views is emerging. Comedian Chelsea Handler made that particular criticism obvious on Thursday.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) October 11, 2018
On Friday, Graham was stopped at an airport and asked by a reporter to respond to the tweet. Graham seemed largely unconcerned with it.
‘It’s a free country. She can say what she wants to say, I don’t care. She knows nothing about me. To the extent that it matters, I’m not gay.’
Graham has become less the maverick who once stood up to the GOP in their worst moments and refused to simply go along, but he’s correct in his response, especially when he said “These comments…I don’t know how this makes us a better country.” They don’t.
Using “you’re gay” as an insult against people in order to shame them makes a statement, and it’s a statement that anyone who brands themselves an ally or progressive politicly should not want to make. Following Trump’s disastrous appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin, those same types of jokes abounded on the internet.
At the time, writer John Paul Brammer said of the jokes and images about Trump and Putin:
‘Concern over this kind of humor isn’t being raised to protect Trump or Putin from mockery. These are two of the most mockable people on the planet, and it’s hard to think of anyone more deserving of being pilloried. Nor is it about being precious or being offended just for the hell of it. It’s about calling a spade a spade: homophobia is not suddenly cute or acceptable when it’s Democrats who trade in it. These jokes are homophobic, full stop.
‘Sure, Trump and Putin probably hate being depicted as gay lovers. But let’s stop pretending that’s a good justification, or that calling them “gay” is radical somehow because they don’t like gay people. This isn’t any different from how the word “gay” has historically been used as an insult. Many insecure, homophobic straight men hate being called gay because they hate gay people. That’s always been the case. It’s why “gay” is such a popular insult in middle school. The crux of the insult doesn’t change just because it’s coming out of the mouth of someone who has gay friends; that’s not how this works.’
“You’re gay” is not an acceptable joke to a punchline. No LGBTQ ally should think that it is. A person’s sexual identity belongs only to them and is no one else’s business unless that person chooses to come out. Lindsey Graham is right, there is no “extent to which it matters” whether or not he is gay.
Featured image screenshot via YouTube