Michelangelo Signorile Takes on Newsweek’s “First Gay President” Cover

By Daniel Borgen, PQ Monthly

Did you catch this yesterday on the Huffington Post? Writer, talk show host, and all around smarty-pants Michelangelo Signorile took issue with Andrew Sullivan‘s cover story on Obama–the one where Sullivan dubs Obama the “first gay president” because of his evolving views on same sex marriage.

What ensues in Signorile’s editorial is a bit of a smackdown between a couple of gay titans–he certainly gets a handful of digs in–but, overall, he offers a succinct, intelligent analysis about why (he thinks) much of the community is getting carried away with Gay Marriage Fever ™.

Some highlights:

“I realize that this was decreed by Newsweek, and far be it from me to take such decrees lightly. I, too, was among those pointing to the president’s great leadership last week, writing that he liberated himself and many others by coming out of the closet on marriage equality. But honestly, the “first gay president” label just doesn’t work, no matter what rhetorical device you employ. And it makes us gays seem silly and starved for validation.”

“Barack Obama didn’t grow up immersed in gay culture or understanding the gay experience, and he had no such connection to the gay community, a constituency within the Democratic Party that is loyal and raises lots of money. For almost four years the president, for political reasons, didn’t say he was for marriage equality. Then, after being pressured by gays, and after many in his own administration couldn’t hold back their own support for marriage equality, the president announced his support in the midst of an election campaign.”

“Now, I’m certainly not one of those who claimed that the president’s coming out for marriage equality was not valid because it was ‘cynical’ politics. Gays should be so lucky to have politicians cynically pushing for our rights. The president did a great thing, and I salute him for it. But I don’t see him as having any greater connection with the gay community than a great many other heterosexual Americans.”

Signorile also goes so far as to accuse Sullivan as being starved for attention. (Ouch!)

Anyway, read the whole thing here. He gratefully lays out the president’s accomplishments, some of his less-than-stellar moments, and ends by ostensibly asking us all to pause for a moment and catch our collective breath.

(And, to be fair, lots of other people are making the same point.)

What do you think of Sullivan’s moniker? Fair? Over the top? Weigh in below!