Giuliani had what often felt like an almost compulsive need to make a spectacle of himself, whether he was going on a crack buy in dark sunglasses … or dressing in drag on ‘‘Saturday Night Live.’’ … Giuliani practiced politics in a different key, one characterized by brazenness, by shamelessness, by chutzpah.
From tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine piece on Rudy Giuliani.
Is Rudy “shameless”?
Shamelessness? A spectacle?
I’m not a Rudy Giuliani fan, at all. Even in the terrible days after 9/11, I was skeptical. But I don’t understand the continuing, decades-long criticism of his cross-dressing from my fellow liberals, today, years after we first got an eyeful. There are a lot of other more-legitimate criticisms in the Times piece, but transvestism still plays a part.
“He dressed in drag at public roasts and on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ ” The New Yorker tsks.
The Huffington Post wrote an article entitled, Giuliani the Transvestite. (In which the progressive journalist Jeffrey Feldman criticizes Rudy’s “gleeful transvestism.”)
He seems to enjoy dressing as a woman! liberal journalists gasp. Has he no shame?
He is making a spectacle of himself, with all the “drag,” the Times gasps.
Is “drag” really the right word, in 2020?
Well, yes, he does enjoy dressing as a woman.
You can tell, looking at him, when he dresses as a woman.
Is he actually a man dressed as a woman? one might legitimately ask. Or is he just a man in pantyhose and lipstick? Or is he, umm, a woman in pantyhose and lipstick? These are perfectly good questions, and I don’t know the answer. And if he’s not sharing how he feels about this, it remains his own business, not mine.
This is a man who is usually horribly uncomfortable in his own skin, with no real friends, terrible and abusive relationships with women, a pathological and defensive self-righteousness. He is a horrible liar. He’s an awful guy.
But all that slips away when he slips on a wig. He’s never happier than when he’s in pantyhose. See the picture above. He’s free. This is, literally, the only cool thing about him.
Why should we ridicule or criticize this? Or care. This should be only as interesting to us as his favorite baseball team. That is, interesting to those who are interested in Giuliani — interesting to someone who wants to know what Giuliani’s favorite baseball team is, or why he hates ferrets — but not a source of outrage.
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Is Rudy a hypocrite?
But, you object, doesn’t this demonstrate Rudy’s hypocrisy? After all, he is a Republican, and aren’t Republicans anti-gay?
Not Giuliani. He is awful in a thousand ways, but he has never been anti-gay. So why should his cross dressing be considered hypocritical, or even matter? Is it hypocritical for Nancy Pelosi to attend a bat mitzvah, belonging, as she does, to the party of Ilhan Omar?
Yes, some of the most anti-gay politicians are in fact secretly gay, which is hypocritical or desperate, depending on how you look at it. Indeed, a lot of Republicans protest too much and, perhaps, look to the state to protect them from themselves.
Are anti-gay activists secretly gay?
Rick Santorum, the former congressman from Pennsylvania, calls gay rights “a further erosion of this founding building block of society, which is the nuclear family,” without explaining how gay rights would undermine heterosexual marriages like his.
Now that gay marriage is legal, and the public stigma has faded, is Rick Santorum thinking about it?
After all, right-wing heterosexually married politicians don’t want to gay-marry, do they?
Well, maybe they do.
Had gay rights existed when he was a young man, noted James Dobson, the conservative Christian leader, then when he married his wife, “I suppose I would have negotiated our monogamy agreement differently.” Governor Mike Huckabee once acknowledged that, if it had been allowed, he would have come out as transgendered long ago. And Ted Haggard, pastor to President Bush and a determined gay marriage opponent, was dramatically outed a few years ago.
Some of these politicians (including Mike Huckabee) are making this point: “If you don’t have restrictive laws on the books, or restrictive religious precepts, a lot of men, including me, will feel free to do a lot of things that we otherwise wouldn’t do. Protect me from myself. Protect yourself from me.”
But, you know, most men don’t want to use the women’s bathroom. Mike Huckabee does. Maybe he should try to figure out why, instead of legislating against other biological males who, like him, feel like a woman inside.
How should liberals treat anti-gay activists when they are outed?
Liberals should support biological men like Mike Huckabee when they come out of the closet, rather than making fun of them.
Many Republican politicians want to wear women’s clothing and make out with other men, of course, and many more of them want to do it than will admit that they want to do it. Yet when they are exposed by the press, they are subject to ridicule. When Senator Larry Craig was arrested in an airport restroom, where was the compassion for a desperate, closeted gay man? He, along with Haggard, Giuliani and others, are figures for ridicule. What incentive do we have to encourage conservatives to stay in the closet? Shouldn’t these things be met with understanding and sympathy?
I’m writing this from an airport hotel where I’m stranded, waiting for the snow to abate. Behind the front desk, what seems to be a young biological male in a sensible dress greets new guests. He/she/they/zhe is cheerful and professional. No one bats an eye.
The president’s lawyer deserves the same consideration and respect, whatever his other personal and professional failings may be.
Steven S. Drachman is the author of Watt O’Hugh and the Innocent Dead, which is available in trade paperback from your favorite local independent bookstore, from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and on Kindle.