It's a gay un-pride parade with these 10 horrible homosexuals
Of the 24 MacArthur “genius” grants awarded last week, three went to gay men, a disproportionately high ratio seen by some as further evidence that gays are smarter than everyone else. And though the science on that theory is probably a little flimsy, one thing is certain: “We gays” love to celebrate the exceptional among us.
Who wouldn’t want to belong to a club that counts Michelangelo, Walt Whitman, Alan Turing, Steven Sondheim and Adam Lambert among its members? But just as we venerate our heroes and saints—the Harvey Milks, the Anderson Coopers—we also tend to turn a blind eye to our villains and douchebags.
Homosexuality shouldn’t come with a free pass. So in the interest of fairness, we dug deep to compile a totally subjective, all-time-non-definitive list of the 10 worst gays in history.
10. Peter Thiel
Perhaps the most outspoken member of America’s new tech aristocracy, Thiel made $55 million from his co-founding stake in Paypal when it was acquired by eBay in 2002. The enterprising Stanford graduate then turned his initial success into a $1.5 billion fortune with a string of remarkably successful tech investments, most famously Facebook, where he served as the initial outside investor. So why did Thiel make our list (other than jealousy)?
When he isn’t extracting cash from his Silicon Valley ATM, Thiel spends his time proselytizing the gospel of radical libertarianism, barking about the impossibility of reconciling “democracy” with “freedom,” organizing events for gay Republican organizations like GOProud, filling the coffers of Tea Party windbags like Ted Cruz, encouraging smart kids to drop out of school, and investing in a floating neo-Utopian island called the Seasteading Institute, where presumably he and his fellow one percenters plan to retreat when they decide to shrug the atlas. That’s if the singularity doesn’t wipe us all out first.
9. Jerome Robbins
A legend of Broadway and ballet, Jerome Robbins will be remembered as one of the most brilliant and innovative choreographers of the 20th century. Too bad he was also a world-class asshole. A relentless taskmaster in the rehearsal room, the self-hating closet case tended to command fear, more than inspire respect, from his dancers.
During rehearsals for West Side Story, he famously berated actor Larry Kert in front of the cast for being a “faggot” in an effort to butch up the star’s performance. Another revealing story that appeared in The New Yorker in 2001 had Robbins walking backwards downstage during a Broadway rehearsal. No one in the cast warned him that he was about to plummet into the orchestra pit—they just let him fall and reveled in the schadenfreude. He was that kind of guy. But Robbins’ most shameful performance came in 1953, when he “named names” before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, including actors, playwrights, filmmakers and dance critics. In selling out his closest friends, Robbins was able avoid the blacklist, but not this list.
8. Ken Mehlman
As a strategy for success, it’s straight out of a Machiavellian playbook. Attach yourself to rising power, do whatever it takes to win, then after you’ve acquired the desired money, power and success, rebrand yourself as a heroic champion of everything you once denounced. Such is the strange, sad case of former RNC chairman Ken “Kenneth” Mehlman, who has trumpeted himself as a “leader” for gay marriage since coming out in 2010.
Mehlman was in power at the very same moment his party doubled down on anti-gay rhetoric—in fact, he approved it, sitting idly by while his GOP colleagues moved to deny their spokesman his basic civil rights. Mehlman left politics to work for a private equity firm, and it was only then, ensconced comfortably in Manhattan, that he made his brave decision. Many see the former chairman’s advocacy as a mea culpa, atoning for years spent sleeping with the enemy (probably literally at times). But the timing only highlights the self-serving transparency of a sniveling strategist. Mehlman could have used his power and influence to effect change when it actually mattered—or resigned in protest—but instead blew his chance to become the hero he now so desperately pretends to be.
7. James Buchanan
Gays with a sweet tooth for historical revisionism often work overtime to “prove” that everyone’s favorite president, Abe Lincoln, was secretly a friend of Dorothy. Parsing elliptical passages from personal letters a century-and-a-half old, these historians suggest that if you squint hard enough, Honest Abe starts to look like a closet case for the ages. But America already has an indisputably gay president (whom Lincoln just happens to have succeeded). The evidence is all there: James “Doughface” Buchanan’s intimate relationship with Alabama Senator William Rufus King was so obvious that Andrew Jackson and other politicos of the era referred to them as “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy.” Buchanan once wrote in a letter that he had “gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any of them,” fretting that he’d have to marry an old maid instead who would hopefully “not expect from me any ardent or romantic affection.”
So why aren’t LGBTs erecting statues in his honor? The problem is that Buchanan was probably the worst president in American history. At the most fraught political moment of the 19th century, he failed catastrophically at fostering reconciliation between the free North and slave-holding South. Then he blamed the secession on Northern interference with slavery in the South. At the time, many came to refer to the Civil War as “Buchanan’s War,” laying the responsibility for America’s bloodiest conflict at his gout-swollen feet. Our ineffectual 15th president died a lifelong bachelor in 1868. “I am the last president of the United States,” Buchanan often worried out loud in the depths of political despair. The last gay one, anyway.
6. John Galliano
Resembling the love child of René Descartes and the Mad Hatter, the eccentric fashion designer with the stupid facial hair is not without his attributes: the meteoric rise in a highly competitive industry, the panache for self-promotion, the aesthetic flair. Unfortunately, get the guy a little tipsy and he tends to expose himself as a Jew-hating Hitler lover.
In 2011, a hostile and intoxicated Galliano was caught on video at a restaurant in Paris engaging some Italian tourists in a pleasant conversation about his apparent love for Hitler, which included the statement “people like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed.” He was later arrested for making anti-semitic remarks, a crime in France. Promptly fired from his job at Dior, Galliano offered a statement of apology, claiming that he had only himself to blame. His career stalled, Galliano made matters worse when he was spotted in New York City a short time later dressed in what can only be described as “hasidic chic.” If he isn’t intentionally offensive, we must have a first-rate masochist on our hands. Either way, in the immortal words of Heidi Klum, auf Wiedersehen.
5. J. Edgar Hoover
At this point, J. Edgar Hoover’s homosexuality is less an open secret than a burlesque act. The running gag, of course, is the former FBI director’s rumored penchant for lady’s clothing, but the reality is no laughing matter. A closet case with an obsessive interest in the power of secrets—and the control they can exert—Hoover ran the FBI less as a public investigative agency than a secret gestapo force. Using his influence to spy on anyone considered “subversive,” including civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Hoover worked with Roy Cohn and Joseph McCarthy during the “lavender scare” to root out homosexuals in the government, forcing Eisenhower’s hand on an executive action that made homosexuality officially illegal for federal employees.
Meanwhile, Hoover’s private life was dominated by his relationship with long-term lover Clyde Tolson, whom the notorious FBI Director saw every single day for decades and bequeathed his estate. Hoover never admitted his sexuality or the nature of his relationship publicly. If the neurosis of staying in the closet had a face, it would be the paranoid, control-freak mug of J. Edgar staring back in the mirror.
4. Jörg Haider
When not railing against the dangers of immigration and Islam, attempting to reduce unemployment benefits, or making qualified statements about the unheralded efficiencies of the Nazi party, fascist Austrian politician Jörg Haider liked to party at gay clubs with Teutonic twinks. At least, that was the last place the former Freedom Party leader was allegedly seen before he crashed his car and died extremely early one morning in 2008, at the age of 58. The married Haider always claimed heterosexuality, but his relationship with his 27 year-old protégé Stefan Petzner raised plenty of eyebrows. After Haider’s death, Petzner took over the “Alliance for the future of Austria” and admitted that their relationship “went far beyond friendship.”
Born to parents who were active Nazis, Haider was the face of Austria’s extreme right wing. He was unapologetic about accepting large sums of money—millions—from both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, even going so far as to visit Hussein on the eve of the 2003 Iraq war. Reaffirming the xenophobia that characterized his politics, Haider’s last speech was a warning against the dangers of bilingualism. A believer to the end.
3. Roy Cohn
All but immortalized as a gay Mephistopheles in Tony Kushner’s epic Angels in America, Roy Cohn is one of the most transparent cases of self-loathing gay hypocrisy in the modern era. Cohn’s reign of terror began early, when he was hired as Chief Counsel to Joseph McCarthy during the senator’s drawn out communist witch hunt. Most perversely, Cohn played a central role in drumming up the “lavender scare,” claiming that homosexuals were at risk of blackmail from communist infiltrators. He and McCarthy were responsible for the firing of numerous gay federal employees and for cultivating an environment of toxic panic for homosexuals in all levels of government.
After leaving public service, Cohn went into private practice with a bizarre roster of clients that ranged from Donald Trump to Studio 54 impresario Steve Rubell to the Catholic Diocese. He became a member of the reactionary John Birch Society in the 1960s and was a staunch supporter of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Because of mounting evidence of ethical impropriety, Cohn was disbarred just before he died of AIDS in 1986.
2. Jeffrey Dahmer
The many depraved exploits of notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer are nothing short of legend. Over 13 years Dahmer murdered, raped and often ate (in that order) 17 men and boys, engaging in acts of such unspeakable sexual horror that the Marquis De Sade would grow queasy at their description. Operating out of his bachelor pad of hell in urban Milwaukee, Dahmer would bring home men he picked up at local gay bars, drug and strangle them, then perform sex acts on their corpses (presumably without protection). Body parts were stored in his refrigerator, corpses were stashed in the bathtub or underneath his bed—until he could dissolve them in vats of acid. And in a gruesome coup de grace, Dahmer would often fry up some of his one-night stands for a midnight snack.
After he was caught, Dahmer confessed to his crimes in disgusting detail and was sentenced 16 terms of life imprisonment. He was killed by a fellow inmate in 1994, but not before being born again through Christ (soul = saved). Dahmer was most certainly gay; whether he was human is a different question.
1. Ernst Röhm
If there is anyone who could make an out and proud gay man consider ducking out of the next pride parade, it has to be big gay Nazi Ernst Röhm. Not only was the rotund reichsdeutsch one of the central architects and power brokers of the National Socialist Party, he was actively out and proud of his homosexuality, seeing it as a superior way of being.
A right-hand man to Hitler, Röhm was the leader of the Sturmabteilung (aka, the SA) which served as the Nazi party militia, a position the fuhrer had personally requested he fill. They were so close that Röhm was the only Nazi allowed to call Adolf by his first name. Under his command, nearly all the leaders of the SA were gay, fulfilling Röhm’s vision for a Sparta-like military force with noble, masculine homosexuals at its core. Today, it seems absurd to imagine a powerful Nazi militia populated by German homosexuals. And it kind of was then too: the SA was known and even ridiculed by the left for its overt gayness.
With the SA growing as a rival to the emerging Nazi hegemony, leading Nazi official Heinrich Himmler drafted fallacious documents claiming Röhm’s big gay army intended to overthrow Hitler. The result was the infamous Night of the Long Knives, during which Röhm was arrested and executed, the SA stripped of its influence and the Nazi party unified. After that, the Nazis were, shall we say, less welcoming to open homosexuality. The unsettling historical connection between fascism and homosexuaity found it’s fullest expression in the unabashed pride of this wicked gay Nazi, earning him the distinction of Worst Gay Ever. He’d probably be into it.
The following opinion(s) were not solicited by the author and aren’t the views of Vocativ, but we love hearing from our readers. So please send us your points of view at MyPOV@vocativ.com. Maybe we’ll make it a part of the piece.
Vocativ reader Nicholas Molodyko wants to add an 11th entry to our Worst Gays list. Here is his point of view:
11. Glenn Greenwald
An Internet troll famous for his “sock puppets,” Greenwald, the one-time litigation attorney who broke the Edward Snowden-NSA story, uses journalism to push his nihilistic anti-American and anti-Semitic narratives to his creepy cult. Greenwald is a hate-oozing douche, a pathological liar and a bully. When faced with questions about discrepancies and problems in his stories, Greenwald’s responses are insulting and patronizing. Most journalists won’t stand up to him—the professional consequences of fighting off his bullying followers and rebutting all of his lies are too overwhelming. He continues lying and bullying without recourse.
Greenwald claims he lives in Brazil since he is unable to marry his partner, David Miranda, in the U.S. Greenwald is perched in South America where he attacks America rather than fighting the good fight for marriage equality in the U.S. It is more likely that he lives in Brazil to avoid paying dozens of IRS and New York tax liens. In August, Miranda was detained for nine hours at Heathrow airport under a U.K. terrorism law. He was returning to Brazil from Germany where he stayed with Laura Poitras, the filmmaker who helped Snowden spill his secrets. On what planet would the British just wave the guy through with a smile and wishes for a good trip? Greenwald caused a big stink and even wheeled out his spouse on national TV. The story unraveled, as do most of Greenwald’s, so that those readers who bought the details in the beginning and moved on, didn’t benefit from the truth in the end that Greenwald had pimped Miranda to carry stolen national secrets across continents. Nothing says “I love you” like putting your husband at significant risk of incarceration. Our prisons are full of drug mules.
Nicholas Molodyko is a writer, editor and musician. He resides in Chicago.