Michele Bachmann's political future looks perilous as the Minnesota U.S. Rep. faces insurgent Democratic challenger Jim Graves. Regardless of whether she wins reelection next month, Bachmann will always be known for the anti-gay initiatives she helped initiate in DC as well as her home state, where voters will also decide in November whether to pass a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.
That referendum, says Bachmann's openly gay step-sister Helen LaFave, is the Republican congresswoman's "very, very sad legacy."
In a rare interview, LaFave describes to the New York Times' Frank Bruni how she and her partner of nearly 25 years, Nia, have been hurt by Bachmann's Jekyll and Hyde attitudes. On the one hand, Bachmann is always respectful of LaFave and Nia's love, but then turns around and calls homosexuality "personal enslavement."
[LaFave] couldn’t believe it when, about a decade ago, Michele began to use her position as a state senator in Minnesota to call out gays and lesbians as sick and evil and to push for an amendment to the Minnesota constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage: precisely the kind of amendment that Minnesotans will vote on in a referendum on Election Day.
“It felt so divorced from having known me, from having known somebody who’s gay,” said Helen, a soft-spoken woman with a gentle air. “I was just stunned.”
[The women] never hid their relationship from their families, Nia said, though they also didn’t force long-winded discussions about homosexuality. Their philosophy, she said, was simply to “put it out there, show ’em who we are and love ’em where they’re at, and everything will fall into place.” Their goal was one of “killing them with kindness.”
They thought that was happening. At get-togethers, Nia received hugs from Michele, who traded an “I love you” with Helen, as the two always had.
LaFave, a Democrat who voted for President Obama in 2008, also describes how in 2003 she wrote a letter asking Bachmann to back off her homophobic platform. "You've taken aim at me. You've taken aim at my family," she wrote. Bachmann never responded to the letter, either in ink or in person. The divide is simply ignored, she says.
Who could have predicted that 7-year old beauty contestant Alana and her family would use their televisual platform to celebrate LGBT inclusion, as they have with Alana Boo Boo's openly gay "Uncle Poodle," Lee Thompson?
Now Thompson himself is speaking out, and his remarks are actually quite profound.
In an interview with the Georgia Voice last week, Thompson, 29, first explains the origins of "Uncle Poodle," telling the paper it all started with Boo Boo's pageant coach.
"We were at practice one day, getting ready for a pageant. Her coach was talking about her gay friends, and she said, ‘I love all my poodles.’ Alana thought she was really talking about dogs. She wanted to know how many poodles she had, and what were their names,” Thompson said in his sit-down with Topher Payne. “And I said, ‘No, Alana, she’s talking about gay people.’ Well, that did it. All gay people are poodles to her now, and I’m her number one poodle.” Boo Boo would then use the p-word to describe Anderson Cooper, who was at that point about a month away from officially coming out.
Thompson later discussed how he and long-time boyfriend Josh married in August, surrounded by friends and family, something many may assume would cause a stir in the deep south. It didn't. Not in Midgeville, at least, and Thompson says all the acceptance he has experienced comes from the fact that he accepts himself.
"I’m gay, but I’m as redneck as I can get," he says. "f you want people to accept you, you have to show you don’t have a problem with yourself and just be up front about who you are. If you do, you earn people’s respect. If everybody would just go on and do that, ignorant people couldn’t cause so many problems. I know this is how I was born and I don’t need to explain it to anybody. I live my life for who I am. That’s why ‘Born This Way’ is gonna be my next tattoo."
If anyone has a problem with him or the other few dozen LGBT people in the area, he doesn't know about it: "If there’s people who have a problem with [homosexuality], they keep it to themselves, just like if I have a problem with them, I keep it to myself.”
Uncle Poodle isn't the only LGBT person on a Georgia-based reality show. AMC's Small Town Security, which takes place in Ringgold, Georgia, features Dennis Croft, a transgender man who is the force's Lieutenant and another example of how being open and honest about ourselves can help open other people's minds and hearts.