Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Charles Winecoff, a TV writer, entertainment journalist, and author of Anthony Perkins: Split Image
, the definitive biography of the Psycho
star. A native New Yorker and avowed, lifelong Democrat, Winecoff never lived anywhere besides Manhattan and L.A. But like many people, 9/11 sent him on what he has termed “an inner journey that was by turns painful, scary, and eye-opening.” Recently, he came out as a non-Leftist on Andrew Breitbart's new website, Big Hollywood, with the essay "The Awakening of a Dumb (Gay) American
." Winecoff compares his experience coming out of the conservative closet in the 21st century with coming out as a gay man in the 1970s.
FP: Charles Winecoff, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
We’re here today to talk about your intellectual journey from Left to, well, I guess we could say “non-Left.” Tell us about your youth and how you became a member of the political faith.
Winecoff: Thanks, Jamie.
I always like to say I was raised by a television set, as many Americans are. Not because my parents were not good parents, but since the atomic age, the TV has become a convenient babysitter for a lot of people. And the TV was certainly always a comfort to me. When the TV was on, I never felt alone. And I grew up not just believing what I was fed by the major networks - this was before we had 300 channels on cable - but really having no other alternative for my information about the world.
I was not unlike the character in Jerzy Kosinski's novel Being There - and not unlike many immigrants, who learn English and American customs from TV series as ridiculous as The Love Boat. So there's an up side to the influence of TV. But for me, it served more as a primer on how to distrust my own country. I learned about America from Walter Cronkite and Jane Fonda – their anti-war stances, that America was imperialistic and culturally arrogant - before I even took an American History class in school. So that really set the tone for my own naive belief system. This was also the era of Watergate, which saturated the news, and as time went on, I came to believe the media image of Republicans as evil and backward, of America as a rigid, conformist, Puritanical nation of religious fanatics – this was a typical urban American upbringing. And especially in the 1970s, in New York City, there was a lot of paranoia about venturing beyond the island of Manhattan, what with crazy Manson types on the loose and rednecks as portrayed in Deliverance. Never mind real people, this was the culture we absorbed. It's amazing how little the climate has changed since then. In fact, it's even more stifling.
FP: Tell us about the book you wrote, what you wrote about and why.
Winecoff: Having been raised by a television set, naturally I was obsessed with Hollywood films and stars. After all, they are America's royalty, unfortunately. I even went to film school at UCLA. Anyway, I was especially fond of horror films, and Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates in Psycho, happened to live about two blocks from where I grew up in New York.
He was probably the first movie star I actually saw in the flesh, on the street - and his performance in Psycho really struck a chord with me. You can read all about it in the book. Flash forward a couple decades: Perkins dies of AIDS in 1992, and through a series of serendipitous events, I get a contract to write his biography. Remember: at this time, "outing" of closeted homosexuals was all the rage, and AIDS still had a huge stigma attached to it - it was like leprosy. So this was touchy stuff, especially given the fact that Perkins had a wife and two sons who were still alive.
I felt enormous pressure to go along with this trend of outing, and I looked up to other gay writers, one in particular who was a bona fide activist and Communist "sympathizer" - in the sense that he viewed American Communists as harmless, misunderstood, counterculture underdogs. So I felt that in order to be taken seriously, I had to attack or criticize American society as well, and present it as the most hypocritical and oppressive society on earth. Not realizing, of course, that in many countries, criticism of one's own country is verboten. Suffice it to say, I editorialized in the text - not very well, I might add - to appease that faction of the gay community who I imagined would be my readers and my champions. To gain their approval. And in my opinion that aspect of the book pretty much backfired. The rest of the book - the life story - was fine, and that's why the book is still in print, but the editorializing stood out like a sore thumb.
FP: Just a second, what exactly did you editorialize about in the text of your book? What themes were you stressing to appease that faction of the gay community who you imagined would be your readers? What were you saying and why? And why were you trying to appease this group? How did it all backfire?
Winecoff: Because the story of Tony Perkins is largely the story of a gay man making a big name for himself at a time when gay people were not really supposed to exist in America - homosexuality was considered a mental illness, or merely a "phase" that some folks hadn't outgrown yet, the result of having a domineering mother and an absent father - naturally, there was a lot of social and psychiatric history that had to be weaved into the narrative of his life.
There's no way to write about being gay in the 1950s without being legitimately critical of the era. But in my research of gay history in the US, usually in quite slanted chronicles, there was often a parallel drawn between the McCarthy "witchhunt" of Communists and the oppression of gay men. This is because McCarthy did want homosexuals purged from the federal government as they were seen as potential risks for blackmail, etc. Be that as it may, the writers generally failed to make much of a distinction between the "commies" and the gays - they're all just presented in these books as victims of rightwing American tyranny.
So for an uninformed reader, such as myself at the time, it's easy to draw the blanket conclusion that America has long been a rightwing fascist paradise where anyone who didn't drive a Chrysler and live in a suburban house with a white picket fence and two kids was a target. I thought Communists were just nonconformists, people who thought differently from rightwing American Puritans - and who, like gays, were punished for their difference.
I knew nothing of the very real history of famine and mass murder in Communist countries around the world. I had no concept of totalitarianism - why would I? - except for a very narcissistic, mythical idea revolving around an imperialistic America that could not tolerate any thought or lifestyle that threatened its healthy, wealthy, post-War image. Unfortunately, this lack of education about world history - and American history - is still very prevalent today. So in the text, I editorialized far too much about "witchhunts" and US intolerance of anyone outside the mainstream - i.e. commies and gays - because that was the narrow focus of the gay history books I turned to.
So basically, I learned my American history from books about identity politics, which again, is still very common today. In the 1960s, Perkins spent several years working exclusively in France - so naturally, I romanticized the European attitude toward homosexuality, and parroted the idea that Europe was some kind of welcoming haven for gays. One of Perkins's friends, however, set me straight on that, explaining to me that the French were just as provincial and bigoted as anyone else, if not more so.
In retrospect, Perkins probably felt freer being gay in France simply because he was so far away from home base and from the studios. Hollywood is certainly no barometer for America as a whole. But just look at how far the American gay community has come since then. I'm not saying it was great to be gay in 1950s America. What I'm trying to say is, my book was saturated with an underlying attitude that America was the most hypocritical, stifling country in the world - the oppressor of the weak - an attitude that was really a product of my own ignorance and media saturation. An attitude that is, sadly, very prevalent today among young urban Americans. Of course, my motivation for expressing this negative point of view was to appear "smart." Yet in reality, America is a country of incredible, rapid change.
Meanwhile, with regard to Perkins the man, I was also torn between two opposing perspectives. Upon initial publication of my book in 1996, there was much outrage that I had dared to illuminate the first 40 years of Perkins's life, which he had lived as a gay man - since he had spent the last 20 years of his life married with kids (before his death from AIDS). The longevity of his marriage - this was no "Hollywood marriage" - belied the common notion that he had turned straight in order to have a "beard" to guard his career, which was pretty much the party line among gays.
By the time Perkins married, his career was on the wane. He wanted to have a traditional family with kids at a time when it was next to impossible for gay people to adopt or anything. So while I wanted to cater to the activists in the gay community, like my friend, and claim Perkins as a gay icon - a figure of gay victimhood - I also had to be fair. The fact that I did not trash Perkins's marriage disappointed some in the gay community. So I realized I really couldn't win. You have to be true to yourself, and forget about the group.
FP: Let’s go back to a crucial time when something could have been done to stop the spread of AIDS in the United States but wasn’t -- because of radical politics. Your perspective on this, as a former gay leftist, would be very interesting and important.
Back in the early 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic was just starting to break out in the three gay communities (San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York), David Horowitz was one of the few individuals who stood up and publicly opposed gay leaders' efforts to subvert the public health system and conceal the nature of the epidemic. Specifically, in the name of "gay liberation," gay leaders denied that sexually transmitted AIDS was almost exclusively caused by promiscuous anal sex, refused to close sexual "bathhouses" which were the breeding grounds of AIDS, opposed testing and contact tracing which were the traditional and proven public health methods for containing epidemics, and promoted the false idea that AIDS was an "equal opportunity virus" when in fact it was a virus threatening very specific communities -- gays and intravenous drug users.
For speaking truth to gay power, Horowitz was widely condemned by radical activists who demonized him and caricatured his warnings as, among other things, homophobic prejudice. As Horowitz has written in these pages, the success of the gay radicals resulted in a ballooning epidemic that has killed some 300,000 Americans, the majority of them young gay men. The AIDS catastrophe, as he wrote in “A Radical Holocaust,” a chapter in The Politics of Bad Faith, is “a metaphor for all the catastrophes that utopians have created.”
It is interesting that the most basic facts that Horowitz articulated at that tragic time, and for which he was so viciously demonized by radicals, are today considered to be just standard truths about HIV and AIDS. And yet, there has not been one mea culpa targeted in his direction by those who pointed accusatory fingers at him, but who sacrificed countless lives for the idea. Nor have the traditional public health methods that would have contained the epidemic – testing, contact tracing etc. – been restored. Instead, drugs have been substituted for behavioral changes.
One of the reasons that there is no apology or admission of guilt by the radicals is because they continue to dominate the media culture, which is why the lies continue, along with the needless deaths. Somehow it is all the fault of Ronald Reagan, etc.
Could you kindly comment on this phenomenon and give your perspective on some of the themes I have raised?
Winecoff: Yes, and if I'm not mistaken, Mr. Horowitz is in good company because even Randy Shilts, who wrote the groundbreaking And the Band Played On, his chronicle of the AIDS epidemic, addressed the issue of the gay community not closing the bathhouses simply out of political correctness - and he, like AIDS activists Michael Callen and Richard Berkowitz, took a lot of flack for it.
I recall visiting a friend in San Francisco in the early '80s, when AIDS was a rapidly spreading menace no one knew much about yet, and seeing posters all over the place to keep the bath houses open - or risk being thrown into a concentration camp by the Reagan regime. This was the kind of leftwing fantasy that was, and is, so typical. Watch out, or those evil Republicans are going to get you. But again, as a young gay man, I deferred to this fear-mongering - even though, in my gut, the rationale not to close the bathhouses struck me as strange, wrong - even kind of crazy. But what did I know? I wasn't a political or community leader. So mentally, I bowed to the greater gay community, which I assumed must know better than I, and went along with the fantasy logic of persecution, which I assumed muct be correct.
I figured they knew something about Ronald Reagan that I didn't know. And again, in the popular culture, "conservative" equals "bad." On the other hand, the gay community also took it upon itself to educate people about the disease and to raise awareness, while the government moved at a snail's pace. So that was a huge effort - and a necessity. It's just sad to think that some gay leaders thought anonymous sex and bathhouses were the "gay culture" that had to be protected from the "rightwing nuts" - to quote Peggy Lee, "Is that all there is?" - as opposed to protecting the actual gay people, who were put even more at risk by their choice.
I hope we have come to like ourselves a little more than that by now. The gay community has come a very long way very fast. Just in my lifetime alone, America has done a real 180 in how it perceives and accepts gay people. It's generally much easier today for a gay person to come out, and there are plenty of examples in the popular culture of healthy gay couples with children, etc. So there's a lot to be proud of.
That said, I do think the gay community in America is kind of stuck. They still rely on an old way of doing things - militant tactics leftover from the '70s and '80s, as seen in the recent fracas over Proposition 8 here in Calfornia - that perpetuates an awful lot of animus. It's almost as if the gay community, which is generally affluent, doesn't know how to do anything but play victim. We're way past that. People say, "But there always needs to be a vanguard." Well, the vanguard has to adapt too, to different circumstances. What worked in 1977 doesn't necessarily work in 2009.
Also, the gay community rarely gives society at large any credit for how far it has come in accepting us. Some gay activists I know continue to treat their straight friends and acquaintances as if they're a bunch of backward, knuckle-dragging ingrates. It's very patronizing. Personally, I think it's time for the gays to take stock of how much they have gained over the past forty years - which is to say almost all the same rights as heterosexuals - and try a new tack.
An effort needs to be made at this point to make friends with our fellow Americans, stop the us-against-them attitude, and show some mutual respect. Because we all need to work together. Yes, gay couples in The Netherlands may have full marriage rights already - but they also have hostile Islamic immigrants to contend with, who, from what I have read, are starting to destroy what was once considered a gay paradise. So if we are to keep advancing, and living the lives we want, we need allies here at home. I'm tired of the complaining. I want to see gays show a little more generosity towards their fellow Americans. Because they - we - are not the enemy. And this no time for confusion about that. There are imams in mosques all over the place - in Nigeria, in the UK, even in Canada - who regularly call for the death and beheading of homosexuals. But for whatever reason, the gay community here in America seems to take no offense. This is a growing problem that really needs to be addressed, because everyday it gets a little closer.
FP: Let’s talk about 9/11, it would change you forever.
Winecoff: Okay, deep breath. I had just left New York for LA when we were attacked. LA felt like a ghost town that day - nobody was driving, no cars on the street, dead. It was very eerie. And like everybody else, I was glued to the news, trying to make sense of what was happening. As it turned out, Anthony Perkins's widow, Berry Berenson, was on board American Flight 11, the first plane to hit the WTC. I was stunned, and very saddened. That was the first victim I learned of who I had some sort of connection with - I learned of others later - and I was overwhelmed by the cruelty of her death. It seemed so incredibly unfair. I couldn't stop speculating what the last 45 minutes or so of her life might have been like.
Meanwhile, right away, friends began forwarding me emails from MoveOn.org, urging Americans to look at ourselves and ask ourselves why we were objects of such hate. So no sooner had we been attacked, and were all trying to process what had happened, than the indoctrination began. A very well-organized, well-orchestrated indoctrination. It struck me very clearly that groups like MoveOn.org were making a concerted effort to undermine Americans' natural grieving process - in essence, to remove the emotion from our response to the attack, and thereby defuse our power. Because there is power in emotion. And there's knowledge to be had from grief.
Understand, I had never heard of MoveOn.org before. Under normal circumstances, because my friends belonged to this group, I probably would have signed up myself. Because they were against Bush and against Republicans and against all the things the gay community was against. But suddenly, for the first time in my life, I saw how the Left operates - in this telling, well-organized response to 9/11. It was quite chilling to realize that these believers, the kind of people I had been raised to trust, were actually not on my side. They were not treating me, or any other American, with respect. They were simply trying to make us doubt ourselves, second guess ourselves, with an email campaign intended to "correct" our thinking immediately after the attack - grieving process be damned.
That's when I realized something was rotten in Denmark. I don't like being told how to think. I don't think too many people do. A couple years after that, my book was republished - and I had the opportunity to add an epilogue about Mrs. Perkins's murder, which I very much wanted to do. I very much wanted to try to recreate, as best I could, what that terrible, last flight must have been like. I felt I owed it to her, and at the time it felt to me like a hugely political thing to write about - because by 2005, after the re-election of Bush, it was already a big no-no to talk about 9/11 anymore. It was considered "fear-mongering" to bring it up in conversation. 9/11 had fallen into the category of Neo-Con Conspiracy and was being buried under all the complaints about the war in Iraq and how our civil liberties were being taken away. I just wanted to remind people that someone's life had been taken away, never mind the alleged civil liberties abuses. Civil liberties don't mean anything if you are not alive to enjoy them. It was amazing to me how quickly people were forgetting that, in all the politically correct hysteria. And the fact of who had done this was also getting blurred, with conspracy theories and self-hatred. I wanted to remind people who had done this. Radical Islam had done it. And radical Islam wasn't done with us yet. It still wanted gay people dead.
So I wrote the new epilogue - and I also got to revise the rest of the text, which proved to be a real eye-opener. Re-reading the whole book after several years, I was really shocked by the overall tone of the book. My own knee-jerk editorializing was very snide and venal - in many asides about the "hypocrisy" of my own country and our supposedly rigid society, and of course towards conservatives. Now, don't get me wrong, when Tony Perkins was a young gay man in the 1950s, homosexuality was considered a mental illness and gay men were routinely baited and jailed, bars were raided, and so on. It was a dark time in American gay life. So a certain amount of criticism was appropriate.
However, I felt I had really overdone it - and without any real understanding or perspective. So I took the opportunity to cut much of that out, and try to make the text more balanced. Because I was so shocked at my own mindless anti-Americanism. And I never even considered myself anti-American! But I saw how indoctrinated I had been, mostly by television - it had simply become second nature to me. Is America perfect? No, of course not - what place is? But we do have the ability to change - and we have changed, with regard to minorities (just look at our President) and gays - whereas all kinds of truly horrific physical abuses, not theoretical ones, are still systematically perpetrated today against gays and other minorities in places like Iran, Gaza, and so on.
FP: Indeed, leaving the Left is torture for a believer. Membership in the political faith is very much a need to belong. It’s not about the facts. It’s about a social life and also about the terror of losing that social life – losing one’s reputation and standing in the eyes of one’s comrades and so-called “friends.” Can you identify with that as you are describing the “need to feel included”?
Winecoff: Sure. When everyone around you, and all of your friends, do nothing but complain about what they don't have - as opposed to reminding themselves of all the things they do have - you go along with it. It's peer pressure. And when there's never any alternative to that, you believe it's totally justified and normal. I used to believe the popular adage that a gay person voting for a Republican is like a Jew voting for a Nazi. Mind you, I never met any Republicans - except my grandfather, who always described himself as a "skeptic." But now, having recently befriended a number of "conservatives," I realize that's most definitely not the reality. Most Republicans and conservatives are actually just kind of normal - middle of the road, and not homophobic at all. They are not religious fanatics. Rather, they believe in individual freedom, without government intervention or meddling. They believe in personal choice and personal responsibility. Many of them actually consider themselves socially "liberal," like me, but are very concerned about national security - an issue which has, sadly, been tainted as "rightwing." The picture you get from watching television is that conservatives are corrupt, hypocritical, bigoted Evangelical Christians. Newsflash: conservatives are a lot more diverse than that.
FP: So for many years after 9/11 you kept your opinions to yourself?
Winecoff: Well, after 9/11 I really began to view things differently, I started evolving. You could call it growing up. I could no longer just spout the party line that everything was America's fault, and leave it at that. That's a convenient excuse people use to dismiss unpleasant reality and get on with their day. That just didn't cut it for me anymore. Meanwhile, the attitude among most people I knew was increasingly self-hating - terrorism was entirely our fault, Bush's fault, and the jihad was somehow justified. Friends would make gloating jokes when Americans were beheaded, as if to say, "See what an idiot Bush is." But no one seemed to care about the people whose heads were actually sawed off.
As for the myopic view that all this was just Bush's fault: In 1989, I worked at a book publishing company in New York in that distributed Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, and we were targeted in the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa. You could not imagine a more harmless, old-fashioned workplace - and yet the FBI had contacted our Editor-in-Chief, we had to hire an armed guard, and the company name had to be removed from the lobby directory. This was 20 years ago. None of us knew what a fatwa was then. Today, everyone in America knows what a fatwa is - and we shouldn't. That kind of barbarity should not be part of our culture. Yet here we are, absorbing it - accepting it.
My point is: the jihad against us did not start in 2000. It had been building for a long time. But by 2005, I didn't know anyone who could have a civil discussion about this - everyone always flew off the handle about the Iraq War - so I kept my thoughts to myself and just watched as everyone around me became more and more obsessed with Bush-bashing and less and less concerned with the fanatics who had actually slaughtered 3000 innocent people in my hometown - and were still calling for our heads. It was very, very frustrating.
FP: You took a scary step in Dec 2008. Tell us what happened and the reaction of the community that witnessed your thought crime. Give us the details of what happened and how the events unfolded. Your own psychological and intellectual state as well.
Winecoff: Well, after eight years of more and more stifling political correctness - eight years during which people I knew had basically forgotten all about 9/11 and no longer felt any need to be vigilant - because they were far more focused on getting George Bush out of office than anything else - I really began to feel isolated. I felt like I was the only person in all of Los Angeles who was concerned about national security. I felt completely isolated, completely alone, helpless. So I read a lot of books to try to understand what was happening in the world out there.
Finally, I picked up a copy of Brigitte Gabriel's book, They Must Be Stopped - and learned about her grassroots organization, ActforAmerica.org. I was thrilled to think there was a group out there still keeping its eye on the ball, and giving a voice to people like me who wanted to support legislation, etc. to combat the jihad. So at Christmas time last year, in lieu of presents, I gave gift donations to ActforAmerica. Well, the silence was deafening. You would have thought I'd made donations to the KKK. Not one friend or family member acknowledged the gift - and one friend actually wrote me a rather angry email.
I doubt very much that donations to the Human Rights Campaign or GLAAD would have been met with the same response. And the irony is that Islamic supremacism is one of the biggest enemies of the gay community. You would think other gay people would be supportive. But no. In some weird way, I think political correctness has made many gays and lesbians mistake Islamic supremacists for fellow victims in the fight against oppression - rather than recognizing them as the actual oppressors who believe gays should be annihilated.
Anyway, needless to say, I was a little shook up, and hurt by the reaction. So I sat down for several very long hours and wrote a letter to my friends and family explaining to them why I had made the donations, why I thought the organization was important, why I was still concerned about terrorism, what I had learned about radical Islam over the past eight years, how I had evolved politically, why I thought we still needed to be vigilant - I just got it all off my chest. It was really like coming out of the closet for the second time, but even more difficult.
Coincidentally, I also heard that Andrew Breitbart was launching Big Hollywood, a website to give the silent, conservative underground in LA a voice. So, since I was fired up and fed up with being silent, I mailed him a copy of the letter and asked if he thought it could be turned into something. Long story short: the letter became my debut blog, “The Awakening of a Dumb (Gay) American” - and I'm happy to say the response was terrific. People really responded positively, and supportively. So that was a great way to kick off the New Year.
FP: So are you now, for the second time of your life, “out” and trying to be proud?
Winecoff: Yes, I am "out" now, I have continued to blog - and I am trying to be proud. It's really important for like-minded, "conservative" people to know that they are not alone. There are a lot of people in LA who secretly still have common sense, but are muzzled by the political correctness that is so overwhelming in this town and elsewhere. You learn to suffer in silence. I really have come to believe we have a serious problem with free speech now, because a good percentage of the population has been bullied into self-censorship. This isn't right. I shouldn't feel afraid for expressing an opinion, not in America. And yet I do feel afraid, even still. Everytime I post a blog, I panic. Then it passes. People, particularly younger people, really need to re-learn the meaning of tolerance and how to reach across the aisle in civil debate. Diversity isn't just skin color. It's ideas too. But once you have spoken up, and have met other people in the same silent boat, you can't go back to hiding and pretending. We need to be able to celebrate our freedom of speech, not be frightened of it. Also celebrate our pluralistic society, flaws and all. So yes, I am out and trying to be proud. Just like everyone else.
FP: Were you hurt by the friends who abandoned you because of your political differences? Tell us about some of the friends that abandoned you. By the way the community treated you. Many leftists had to go down this path of being made into a non-person by their communities once they abandoned the faith (David Horowitz, Phyllis Chesler, Ronald Radosh, Eugene Genovese etc.).
Winecoff: Well, like I said, the silence is most deafening. It's as if people - so-called "liberal" people - don't want alternative points of view to exist, so they don't acknowledge the difference. Very much the way gay people were forced to live in the shadows in the 1950s. Suffice it to say, it's just become a little strained with some people. My father did thank me for the letter and for explaining myself. But at a certain point you can't keep living your life to please other people. You have to be honest with yourself and learn to trust yourself. And you make new friends.
FP: Sorry for asking this question, but it seems essential that, in this interview to get to know you and to get a grasp of how your experience affected your life, it be asked: How has becoming an anti-Left gay person affected the personal side of your life in the context of relationships etc? Can you talk a bit about this area of your life in a way that is comfortable for you and which reveals the personal obstacles, if they exist for you, of being a gay anti-leftist or conservative, or whatnot?
Winecoff: Let me clarify: I consider myself an Independent - socially liberal, except when it comes to national security. And I've discovered that, if you actually talk to them instead of relying on MSNBC for your information, this is how a lot of "conservatives" really feel, certainly in Los Angeles. I've only been "out" as a "conservative" for a few months, so it's still new to me - I was "passing" for a very long time, nearly a decade. But so far, so good. There has been the odd kerfuffle.
I'm fortunate in that I have been with the same partner for several years now - a Democrat who has common sense and who has allowed me, and even encouraged me, to be myself. That is a great gift, let me tell you. I understand dating in this town can be quite tough for gay Republicans. And judging from what I overhear at parties, etc. I have no doubt that's true.
The gay community as a whole really needs more of my partner's attitude - we need to be able to agree to disagree. This is America, nobody should feel pressured into silence. That's just wrong. And gay conservatives need to speak out, now more than ever. It's been tougher for me "coming out" to friends - many of whom first knew me when I was totally in the dark or still "passing" as a good Leftie. Honestly, I hate all the labels. I am, as Debra Burlingame puts it, evolving. We need to be allowed to evolve.
But I also think it's a natural progression in life to become more "conservative" (for lack of a better word) as you get older. So why fight it? Embrace it! Contrary to popular belief, there are Republicans and conservatives and moderates within the gay community, but many of them are silent - the Democrats and Leftists have co-opted the gay community, which normally prides itself on its diversity. Gays and lesbians need to rethink diversity - and realize it does not just apply to the color of your skin or what's between your legs. It should also apply to what is inside your head.
No one should be afraid to express an opinion or an idea. No one should be ostracized or called names for that - and no one should understand this better than gay people. The American gay community needs to stop pretending that it is oppressed - and start reaching out to its fellow Americans, straight and Christian and Mormon and everything else. Just in my lifetime, I've seen Americans come a long way in changing their attitudes. Heterosexuals are not as backward as many in the gay community insist upon treating them. There is common ground. And with the enemies we face abroad - and even within - this is no time to be self-segregated. I really wish the gay community here would get over itself and use its energy to help gays and lesbians in the Middle East, where there is real oppression, wiretapping, torture, and very often death. We don't realize how lucky we are.
FP: What are you future plans?
Winecoff: Well, because of my blogging, 2009 has been an exciting year so far. I feel like I can breath again. And I've met a lot of new and very interesting people. I intend to keep writing and I am hoping to organize an event for the gay community here in Hollywood - to give them a chance to hear Brigitte Gabriel speak about the treatment of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people in Lebanon, Iran, Gaza. She's on board, we are just working on a date. In addition to being a powerful speaker, Ms. Gabriel is gay-friendly, a lot of fun, smart, open - and I have no doubt the boys will love her when they meet her. Time to bust some stereotypes. Plus I think it will be eye-opening for a lot of people. The gay community in the US has won so many great and heartbreaking battles. We really need to find it in our hearts to show some gratitude - as we continue to press for full rights here at home (we're not far off) - and share our wealth and freedoms with the LGBT communities is less fortunate countries.
FP: Charles Winecoff, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.