Merv Griffin Was Gay and Everyone Is Freaking Out

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Merv and his horse
In another depressing sign of just how uncomfortable America continues to be with all things queer, the Hollywood Reporter‘s “outing” of host and producer Merv Griffin is sending shock waves through the industry and the press. On Friday, the Reporter printed a story in its online edition headlined “Merv Griffin Died a Closeted Homosexual.” Then, apparently buckling under pressure from “Hollywood titans, advertisers, and lawyers” (reports Michelangelo Signorile on his blog), they pulled the story, which has since reappeared under the new title, “Griffin Never Revealed Man Behind the Curtain,” with significant revisions. (See the blog Queer Two Cents for an outline of the revisions, Canada.com for a reprint of the original story, and Towleroad for a timeline of the events). Reuters picked up the story and just as quickly dropped it, saying it “did not meet our standards for news.” (See this page, where the Reuters story apparently was at one point.)

Griffin’s sexuality was one of those “open secrets” that seem to flourish in LA. As the Reporter points out, there were even two lawsuits which should have made it clear, including one alleging sexual harassment filed by none other than Dance Fever’s Denny Tario, and a palimony suit from a former, er, “assistant.” In 2005 he joked to the New York Times that he was a “quarter-sexual… I’ll do anything with anybody for a quarter,” and told Rolling Stone that if they were inquiring about an 80-year-old man’s sexuality, they should “get a life.”

Why the media continues to act in collusion with closeted public figures is baffling, but sadly illustrative: when John Jon Stewart asks how everybody in the press could have all gotten it so wrong about Iraq, just look over at the group-think that dictates the media’s relationship to gays and lesbians. It’s apparently just understood that you don’t ask the gays the same questions about their personal lives that heterosexuals will happily discuss in detail, and nobody, anywhere, ever, decides to break that unwritten rule. You want to keep your job, you want access, you want to avoid even the threat of a libel suit, whatever. But just as the media’s timidity helped get us into Iraq, it’s helping reinforce anti-gay bigotry. So, hooray for the Hollywood Reporter, and for the internet, where stories can’t ever really be pulled.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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