Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why doesn't John Baird just get it over with and tell us he's gay?

This is a pretty good profile by Linda Diebel in today's Toronto Star of federal Tory cabinet minister John Baird.

I once shared drinks with Baird back in 2004 along with my then-young Tory boyfriend and a few other gay Tory acquaintances at Toronto's Byzantium. He's a sweet guy and obviously very talented at his chosen profession as political pit bull. Before then, I had little awareness of the large numbers of gay Tories out there. Those in the know will be aware that the friends of Baird quoted in the piece are gay themselves: Jaime Watt, Bob Richardson...

Yet the article remains decidedly in the closet - there's no clear indication that Baird is gay himself. Too bad. Instead, we only get the following lines:

"[Baird]'s single, lives in a Nepean townhouse characterized by Richardson as "a permanent bachelor pad" with his grey tabby, Thatcher."

And most interesting is how Prime Minister Stephen Harper has no problem letting Baird escort his wife Laureen to events in the capital.

"Mrs. Harper is fantastic," says Baird. "We get along fine."

It's interesting that Harper, with a reputation for being quite regressive on gay issues, seems to have no problems with such an arrangement.

Baird states that he has no plans to run for Conservative leader one day: "I don't have any plans. I think some people probably think about that. I don't."

A possible leadership bid would be one major reason for Baird to remain discreet about his queer sexuality, with his party still dominated by Stockwell Day types. Yet if running for leader isn't in the cards, why can't Baird just come out publicly? It would do the queer movement enormous good to have such a high profile and capable politician come out in the Conservative Party.


Unknown said...

Thank you! Why does he hide it, and why does nobody say anything. I've seen him prancing around Fashion Cares and that was the first time I realized it.

It's probably a dirty little secret they want to keep away from their base.

Jennifer Smith said...

I was thinking the exact same thing reading that article. Hell, it read like an old interview with Liberace. "Knows how to listen"? A "bon vivant"? What is this, the '50s? I was waiting for them to call him "theatrical" and start talking about how much he loves his mother!

I guess it's his business, but I can't help feeling sorry for the guy. What happens if he falls in love and wants to get married? I just think it's sad that the Conservatives are still the kind of party where it's considered a huge political liability to be publicly gay - even for someone as successful and powerful as John Baird.

Anthony said...

because politicians personal lives are nobody's business but their own.

Why didnt you out the Liberal members of parliament who have chosen to keep their personal lives private?

As far as I am concerned, this whole post is one big fat cheap shot.

Dan said...

I've wondered about Baird's ongoing bachelorhood, but I've never said anything because, well, I don't know for sure and it's not really my business any more than the questions surrounding Bill Graham were my business.

Matt Guerin said...

Why did he agree to the profile interview piece in the first place, Anthony, if he was going to keep a major part of himself out of it? Or perhaps he never mentioned it, and the reporter (who I'm sure knows full well as do all of the Ottawa press gallery) decide once again to omit any mention of it, or even ask the question because it's still considered something to legitimately hide, rather than the innocuous fact it is.

I guess I just think differently than conservatives like you and he, who think it's something to be hidden or shaded or invisible, like a liability, or a card that should never be played. To me, there's nothing to hide so why hide it? I can ask that question if I wish, and you'll call it a cheap shot and take the opposing view everytime, that's what you do. Congrats.

Should Peter Milliken come out publicly too? Sure why not.

wilson said...

'It's probably a dirty little secret they want to keep away from their base.'

Seriously, we know, and we don't care.

Anthony said...

I love how I am assumed to be a Conservative because I believe that someone should be allowed to keep their sexuality out of the public spotlight. Liberals are allowed to argue for the right to privacy Matt...

Coming out of the closet is a personal decision. It took me til I was 22. I have friends who are still in even going into their 30s.

From the perspective of a journalist, reporters could have asked Baird to comment on the punishment of Diane Ablonczy or the cuts to the Divers/Cite going on here in Montreal. After all, Baird's sexuality is no secret to the Press. However, Baird made a personal decision that his sexuality had nothing to do with his position. And frankly, there is nothing wrong with that.

It is not up to anyone, media especially, to out anyone. It's unfair to them and extremely irresponsible. Most gays and lesbians choose to be out. Others choose not to be. Respect that choice dude.

Kirbycairo said...

I find it very sad that a gay man can be so politically regressive and downright evil. One day it will properly come out and he will lose his 'conservative' status and hopefully lead a sad and lonely life as one of the worst politicians canada has ever seen.

Éric said...

Is that true about Peter Milliken? When I lived in Kingston and the same-sex marriage debate was happening, I wrote him a letter urging him to vote in favour of it if it came to a tie vote. I have the reply he sent to me somewhere. Gives it a slightly different context.

Jennifer Smith said...

I think the difference here is that there are and have been several openly gay Liberal and NDP MPs, but the only Conservative I can think of is Scott Brison - that is, before he left the party and became a Liberal.

Numbers aren't exactly high enough anywhere to draw definitive conclusions, but it would seem to me to indicate that being out is acceptable enough in the other parties for it to be a personal choice.

With the Conservatives, I wouldn't be so sure.

Unknown said...

It's funny. I had thought the gay movement and society had reached a point where it didn't matter what someone's sexuality is. Mr. Baird is gay, so what? Remember it was Trudeau who famously said the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation... nor does the media. If Mr. Baird wishes to out himself to the nation, that is his prerogative. Otherwise, quite frankly, who gives a hoot? He should be judged on his performance as a minister and member of parliament, not on who he may or may not go to bed with.

Wally Moran said...

Some of you people assume, mistakenly, that conservatives inherently dislike gay people.
That's presumptuous and actually quite nasty when you think of it.
Most of us have gay friends - it's hard not to these days - and have no problem with it. What we DO have a problem with is the ongoing politicization of your sexuality.
While we may accept you as gay, that doesn't mean we're the least bit comfortable with it. It's foreign to us, I'll go as far as saying distasteful. But it's your lives, not ours, and we can accept that, until your political people attempt to force us to accept, promote and outright condone your lifestyle. THAT, for many of us we do not and cannot accept. I say that in the hopes that many of you will give it some thought and serious consideration as you strive to be better accepted by the straight world.
I suspect that Baird does not 'define' himself by his sexuality, as do many gay people. Thus - and it's his choice entirely no matter what some of you say/think/believe - to live his life as he pleases.
If he wants to leave his sexuality an open question, that's HIS business, not yours.
Most of this discussion sounds like a bunch of old time housewives gossiping over the back fence.
I'm not impressed by it.
That being said, I hope no one is offended by my frankness here, it's my hope to inject another viewpoint into the discussion.