Although the recent Miss USA/gay marriage debacle the media has offered both Perez Hilton and Carrie Prejean the opportunity to continue discussing the issue, neither should be a spokesperson for either side of the debate.
In the past week Perez and Prejean (with help from the 24-hour news networks) have refused to let the controversy die down. Each is taking advantage of the situation to further their respective careers, or as they would likely put it, to speak out on this important civil rights issue.
In the aptly titled MSNBC article, "OMG Perez Hilton! Won't You Please Shut Up?" Helen A.S. Popkin blames the internet for turning Perez Hilton (real name Mario Lavandeira), "the gossip blogger who built a career by drawing male genitalia and cartoon cocaine on celebrity photos" into the media's go-to spokesman on gay rights. She says that what everyone seems to be forgetting is that back in 2005, gay rights activists were actually at war with Hilton because he was using his increasingly popular celebrity blog to "out" celebrities he thought were gay but still in the closet.
Popkin references a 2006 Salon article, "Perez Hilton's Gay Witch Hunt," which explained how many believe his outing campaigns against Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris are what forced them to publicly admit that they are gay. Author Japhy Grant quoted Hilton as saying, "In my own way, subserviently, I am trying to make the world a better place."
This raises the question: How does drawing cum stains on Clay Aiken's mouth, crudely scrawling the word "bottom" across a photo of Lance Bass or putting a call out to anyone who has "slept with Neil Patrick Harris" make the world a better place for gay or straight people? And what does it say about the mainstream press that it has adopted him?
Since then, Hilton has become more of a celebrity himself, which is why he was chosen as one of the judges for the Miss USA pageant in the first place. However, in interviews with most of the major news networks this week, Hilton eagerly took the opportunity to paint himself as a crusader for gay rights, commenting not only on the question he asked at the pageant, but advocating for gay marriage as a homosexual man. It's rarely noted in these interviews that the man who called Carrie Prejean a "bitch" and a "cunt" and continues to pepper his website with penis doodles hasn't been sanctioned by anyone as a spokesman for the gay community, or people who support same-sex marriage.
James Rainey points out in todays L.A. Times that Hilton originally seemed most upset that Prejean hadn't stuck to the pageant code and concealed her beliefs. He suggested she should have answered, "I should represent all Americans and I'm not here to talk about politics." But Prejean changed her tune as well once it became apparent that her answer was becoming much more than "a YouTube moment." She originally lamented to Fox News, "If I had any other question, I know I would have won." By Tuesday, she had realized, "I think that I was the one that was blessed enough to get this question ... I am so blessed that I was able to speak my mind, my thoughts, my convictions in front of millions of people."
Just imagine what would have happened if a contestant representing some other god-forsaken state had gotten the question! We just wish it would have gone to the 2003 Miss California, Nicole Lamarche, who is now a pastor. In one of the most eloquent commentaries on the issue, she explains that the section of the Bible that condemns gays contains many rules most Christians no longer follow. "The truth is that it is difficult to know for sure the intentions of the biblical authors, but we do know something about God," she writes. "Those of us who know God through Jesus of Nazareth know that he went to great lengths to express God's love to people who were labeled as outcasts."
Prejean has been embraced by Christian conservatives, despite the fact that she, like Hilton, has little qualification to represent an official stance on gay marriage. She's never said that she spent many hours considering the issue before forming her opinion, that's just "how her family raised her." Maybe before making Prejean the spokeswoman for their cause, those against gay marriage should check out radio host Jay Smooth's hilarious video blog below (via Feministing), in which he explains that Prejean's answer was so poorly phrased that it can actually be interpreted as a statement in favor of same-sex marriage.
OMG! Perez Hilton! Won't You Please Shut Up? [MSNBC]
Perez Hilton's Gay Witch Hunt [Salon]
When Opportunity Knocks, Beauty And The Blogger Take It [The L.A. Times]
The Truth About Perez Hilton & Miss California [Feministing]
Quotables: Nicole LaMarche [Evil Beet Gossip]