Daily Archives: May 5, 2006

I wasn’t planning to quote Mr. Sheri Annis in regard to Mary Cheney. But his skill at disseminating “mainstream” spin is without peer.

“Remember when Mary Cheney was a campaign issue because John Kerry clumsily injected her into the last debate?”

Yes we remember, Sheri — and there was nothing clumsy about it. The Republican party, and its presidential nominee, had made their stand on glbt citizens and taxpayers widely and explicitly known. We were beneath contempt, unworthy of civil rights protection and “a threat to the sanctity of marriage.”
That Mary Cheney was an “out of the closet” lesbian was also widely known, in that her public career began back in the 1990’s when she was hired as a shill for Coors. The beer company was (and still is) run by a family of neofascist fanatics who were not shy about letting it be known that company profits were being used to back anti-gay groups and ballot measures. As a result the gay community staged one of the most successful boycotts in American political history, as gay bar after gay bar across the fruited (in every sense of the word) plain declined to carry Coors. As always money talks and bullshit walks. And lo the Coors family decoded its principles were of less import than profits. A PR blitz was engineered in which a fantasy was confected that the company was now somehow “separate” from the family and as Pravda‘s pet-homo, Hank Stuever noted–

“Before she became a public enigma, she used to earn a nice living as a corporate liaison for Coors Brewing Co., going into gay bars (sometimes with Mr. International Leather 1999, who would wear his chaps and straps, according to the Advocate) to convince everyone that Coors had changed. For a long time, gay people were implored by activists to boycott Coors, based on its funding of anti-gay causes. Mary got in there, talked about Coors’s new domestic-partner benefits for employees. Mary said, here, try a Coors.”

Mary has a domestic partner herself, one Heather Poe, accompanying her on countless public occasions, including the Republican National Convention — though always staying out of camera range for group shots of the Cheney family — which invariably included Mary’s straight sister, hubster and offspring.

What was truly “awkward” was the moment in the “debate” between Dubbya and John Kerry when CBS television moderator Bob Schieffer asked the candidates whether they thought homosexuality was a “choice” or not.

“Choice” is a central tenet of the status quo re same-sexuality. Fascinating in that it logically implies heterosexuality is a choice as well — thus indicating that we are all bisexual in nature (Can’t you just hear Gore Vidal yelling “YES!” while pumping one arm skyward enthusiastically?) and chose what ever gender we desired to have congress with.
Needless to say heterosexuality is never seen as a “choice” by its practitioners, but they all gloss over that.

Mary Cheney was subject to gloss of another sort last night on ABC’s “Primetime” as the ever-“sensitive” Dina Sawyer queried her about her life on the occasion of the book Mary will be shilling this season, Now It’s My Turn. Playing the role of the lesbian daughter of a famous person , Mary was thus required to do double-duty representing both herself (or to be more precise a carefully confected version of same) and the drama of coming out.

She was in her early teens, she writes, when she knew somehow she was different.
“There’s not a moment I can ever point to and say that’s when I knew I was different. That’s when I knew I was gay,” she said. “It just was sort of this thing that dawned on me over time.”

“Tears?” Sawyer asked Mary of the big You Better Sit Down Kids moment with Mom and Dad. Mary had broken up with her girlfriend of that moment and (typically Cheney) was so up she’d totalled the car.

“She first told her mother, Lynne. “And it took a few minutes for mom to understand because I, I think at first she thought it was maybe just the most amazing excuse ever for a car accident,” she said.
But she said her mother’s first reaction was to be worried about the prejudice she would face from other people.
“And she … she burst into tears and gave me a hug, but once I explained to her that it would actually be harder for me to lie about who I am, she came around pretty quickly,” Cheney said.
A few hours later, she told her father. “He’s just this great even-keeled guy, and I told him and his reaction was, ‘You know, look, you’re my daughter and I love you and I just want you to be happy.’ And that was it,” she said.”

No reason for Lynne Cheney not to understand. After all she was the author of a sapphic bodice-ripper called Sisters (now out of print and fetching a pretty price on e-bay because Mrs. Cheney has halted plans to have it reprinted. )

Likewise Daddy Dick was “understanding” as well, in that his assistant when working as Secretary of defense for Dubbya’s Dad was Pete Williams, famously “outed’ by Mike Signorile and just as famously awarded a “reporter” job for that branch of the defense department known as NBC television.

How will Mary’s book do? I seriously doubt there’s as much general interest in her life as there is in the lives of Richard Chamberlain and/or Tab Hunter. But the Log Cabinettes and The Creature From the Blog Lagoon will doubtless kvell over it.

As for the rest of us there’s that nagging “core issue” to get over — whether Mary gives a shit about any glbt person other than Heather.

“I struggled with my decision to stay on the 2004 campaign,” Cheney told “Primetime.” Her personal challenge came when President Bush said the nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.
When Bush proclaimed it in the State of the Union, she refused to go. Mary Cheney, a senior campaign adviser, was finally taking her stand.
“I didn’t want to be there. No one banned me from being there. But I didn’t want to stand up and cheer,” she said.
She says the president offered to let her give a public statement in disagreement, and her father indicated publicly he disagreed with his boss on the issue. She declined but says she did talk with her family about quitting the campaign.
Cheney has had to deal with hearing hateful names about gays and lesbians from the right wing of her own party. And gay rights activists say that Cheney’s silence is just a form of hypocrisy. They even made a milk carton that said, “Mary Cheney Missing.”
She jokes about that. “That’s … ooh, God, that’s a nice picture.”
Her reply to their criticism is simple. “We each have to choose our own path,” she said. “I respect their opinion. But it is not the path that I would choose for myself.”

And so Mary Cheney is what Roland Barthes would call a “structuring absence” in both American culture – and her own life. She “stands for” the “typical” lesbian, while being competely atypical. Consequently she takes political “stands” and makes her “choice” by doing absolutely nothing..

As for that “path” of hers, Randy Newman put it best —

“I may go out tomorrow if I can borrow a coat to wear
Oh, I’d step out in style with my sincere smile and my dancing bear
Outrageous, alarming, courageous, charming
Oh, who would think a boy and bear
Could be well accepted everywhere
It’s just amazing how fair people can be

Seen at the nicest places where well-fed faces all stop to stare
Making the grandest entrance is Simon Smith and his dancing bear
They’ll love us, won’t they?
They feed us, don’t they?
Oh, who would think a boy and bear
Could be well accepted everywhere
It’s just amazing how fair people can be

Who needs money when you’re funny?
The big attraction everywhere
Will be Simon Smith and his dancing bear
It’s Simon Smith and the amazing dancing bear”