Just so you know, the Dixie Chicks make me proud to be a lesbian. They are an Axis of Excellent Straight Women. Fending off a hard-charging, devil’s-advocating, Diane Sawyer on a recent Primetime Live, the Chicks stood their ground, and lo, Sawyer was reduced to a Mighty Wind. But more of that later.
Sawyer, the former Nixon speechwriter with the ice-blue gaze, might have fared more mightily interviewing someone with less on the ball. Like, say, Sen. Rick “The P Is Silent” Santorum, when he listed the right to consensual sex within your own home with the other alienating rights to bigamy, polygamy, incest, adultery and the very intriguing “right to anything.”
His remarks in that Associated Press interview have been defended and decried, contextualized and criticized. A polygamist from a breakaway Mormon sect demanded a retraction. Pennsylvania’s other U.S. senator, Arlen Sphincter, defended his junior partner. And according to spokesmeister Ari Fleischer, our Commando in Chief feels that Sen. Sanscrotum is “inclusive.” That’s the Shockenaw Tribe’s word for “little flap on big tent.”
The fact of the matter is, that giant sucking sound you heard was Sanatorium trying to make up to conservatives who were furious at him. He had watered down a provision of the Bush faith-based initiative that would have helped religious groups get government grants. That had won him the praise of the Human Rights Campaign – another reason he had to distance himself by throwing out some gay bait.
But people, not enough has been made of the poor interviewer. In the unedited Associated Press text, not only do you get to see the full shallowness of Sanctimoron’s logic, but you also get to see the dangers of sending a squeamish, apologetic reporter to do a Sawyer-size job.
After trying to get a clarification of “the right to privacy lifestyle” and wading into the ethical quagmire of homosexual being vs. doing, the interviewer asked Sen. Sanctimonious if he would argue “without being too gory or graphic” that homosexuals should not have sex. Incoming! This led the junior senator to an earnest disquisition on marriage and, ultimately, to “man on dog” sex. French poodles have demanded an apology.
While the third ranking senator oozed sadly that the State does not have rights “to limit individuals’ wants and passions,” [the yet was understood] the interviewer struggled to recover: “I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about ‘man on dog’ with a US Senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.”
According to Bill Bennett, odds are that Sawyer would have had a follow-up question, but don’t bet the ranch. Whether it’s rolling around on the floor in Little Havana with Elian Gonzalez, or squinting down Florida Rep. Randy Ball about gay adoption, Sawyer is deeply embedded in Aaron Brown-strength smarm.
Which brings us back to the Dixie Chicks’ historic Primetime win. I admit I did not hear the entire interview, because for a good part of it, my galpal was screaming about Mrs. Mike Nichols on the ABC Primetime comment line. But my highly intuitive Tivo caught it all for my preprogrammed “Gay Pride Highlights” reel.
If you are planning to come out to some family or friend this month, study the Sawyer Inquisition footage for pointers. For what to do when attempts are made to shame you, watch the irrepressible Natalie Maines respond that speaking out is a most patriotic thing do. She is steely, complex, engaging. When Diane presses her to ask for forgiveness, Maines counters by asking for acceptance of an apology already made. She does not ask for forgiveness of who she is. Diane plays a stunned condescension that says, “Gollee, you’re pretty smart for Dixie hicks.” When she tries to get the other Chicks to girl-gang up on Maines, they are not having any of it, and proudly amplify their friend’s remarks. There’s no rule that says you can’t bring a friend to accompany you on a coming-out adventure.
If you need a refresher on how to be a proud fierce lesbian-and in these days of hypermacho in the flyboy zone who wouldn’t?-stick with the Chicks, unrepentant, questioning, wild, patriotic, smart, loyal, honest, successful. Thank god they’re our country girls.