The Dying Political Tradition Of Avoiding The Gay Question
The late New York Mayor Ed Koch, who died Friday, never answered one way or the other the question of whether he was gay, though he'd cheerfully berate reporters for asking it. But Koch may be the last public figure to have succeeded in such evasions. Two factors — changing attitudes toward LGBT people and a shrinking zone of privacy — are making answers like his harder and harder to manage for public figures. And Koch himself was increasingly asked the questions directly, and in mainstream forums. Just last month, the The New York Times' Gina Bellafante took a look at the issue under the headline: "Judging Mayor Koch's AIDS Record, Whispers Aside." Bellafante writes of a new documentary on the former mayor that Koch "is asked to address questions surrounding the longstanding interest in his sexuality. He responds as he has done for a long time now, declaring that it is no one's business. He argues that his engagement with the issue would set a precedent for gross intrusions into the personal lives of political candidates, a bit of narcissistic posturing that seems to ignore the extent to which that field has already been trampled by mad dogs and wild horses."