White House sticks it to that right-wing congresswoman who cried about the Respect for Marriage Act

It is a sad fact that progressive presidents will almost never get the respect they deserve because progressive reporters — most journalists in the MSM, I believe — are too worried about being accused of favoritism toward the home team.

So they will nearly always, unless forced to do so by circumstances, prop up bad right-wing arguments while downplaying progressive accomplishments. It’s how reporters prove their “I’m balanced” bona fides.

One of the things that Biden and his crew are better at than Clinton and Obama’s people ever were — and don’t get enough credit for — is in winning the war of perceptions. Biden and his people are not afraid of making the GOP look as foolish as it tends to be.

Or, as Brian Tyler Cohen notes on Twitter:

This is amazing: President Biden invited the gay nephew of the Republican Congresswoman who cried over marriage equality to the White House to watch him sign marriage equality into law.

Indeed, it is amazing.

How naming the James Webb telescope ignored important history around LGBT issues

The New York Times’ Michael Powell is described on that newspaper’s web site as “a national reporter covering issues around free speech and expression, and stories capturing intellectual and campus debate.”

But if you follow Powell’s writing closely, it’s clear through his choice of topics that his sympathies lie with those who think “wokeism” has run amuck, even as he buffers his personal biases in the anodyne language many mainstream media reporters use to seem as if they are neutral when they are not.

Powell clearly thinks that undergraduates and grad students at, say, Sarah Lawrence or Yale Law School being inflexible in their beliefs — inflexibility in personal crusades being a hallmark, for many, of being university students — are a greater threat to free speech than Elon Musk pushing a fascist agenda on Twitter. This is a hallmark of a different kind, that being the tendency of well-to-do white guys at the New York Times to see every bit of pushback against their beliefs and history as a threat to civil society.

Powell has piece up today that has great personal interest for me as a gay man who’s experience all manner of discrimination:

NASA’s decision to name its deep-space telescope after James E. Webb, who led the space agency to the cusp of the 1969 moon landing. This man, they insisted, was a homophobe who oversaw a purge of gay employees.

Hakeem Oluseyi, who is now the president of the National Society of Black Physicists, was sympathetic to these critics. Then he delved into archives and talked to historians and wrote a carefully sourced essay in Medium in 2021 that laid out his surprising findings.

“I can say conclusively,” Dr. Oluseyi wrote, “that there is zero evidence that Webb is guilty of the allegations against him.”

That, he figured, would be that. He was wrong.

The struggle over the naming of the world’s most powerful space telescope has grown yet more contentious and bitter. In November, NASA sought to douse this fire. Its chief historian, Brian Odom, issued an 89-page report that echoed Dr. Oluseyi’s research and concluded the accusations against Mr. Webb were misplaced.

NASA acknowledged that the federal government at that time “shamefully promoted” discrimination against gay employees. But Mr. Odom concluded: “No available evidence directly links Webb to any actions or follow-up related to the firing of individuals for their sexual orientation.”

Critics called the NASA report “selective historical reading.” And they reframed their argument, saying that Mr. Webb should be held responsible for any anti-gay activity at NASA and at the State Department, where he had previously been a high-ranking official.

In a blog written with three fellow scientists, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a cosmologist at the University of New Hampshire with a low six-figure Twitter following, said that it was highly likely that Mr. Webb “knew exactly what was happening with security at his own agency during the height of the Cold War,” adding, “We are deeply concerned by the implication that managers are not responsible for homophobia.”

This controversy cuts to the core of who is worthy to memorialize and how past human accomplishment should be balanced with modern standards of social justice. And it echoes a heated debate among historians over presentism, which is the tendency to use the moral lens of today to interpret past eras and people.

The entire way this is worded suggests, once again, that Powell agrees with those who think that Webb should not be judge by the standards of today for those things he did back when homosexuality was considered a mental illness.

But this is the same argument that some white racists have used to argue against the tearing down of Confederate statues, namely that we ought not judge former slaveholders by the standards of today when owning slaves was normal during a time when blacks were considered sub-human.

This is ridiculous, of course.

It does appear that there have been homophobic words and intent that were, early in this controversy, unfairly attributed to James Webb. Many of those errors have been corrected, though sometimes not refuted in as public a way as were the original accusations against him.

But Webb did at least acquiesce when the “Lavender Scare” was in full-swing, and gay and lesbian NASA employees were being forced from their jobs and careers and committing suicide.

That fact might be mitigated with the argument that Webb was a product of his time. But not by much. They were still being forced out of jobs by accusations that had nothing to do with their abilities as scientists and administrators. And just as with slaveholders vs. abolitionists, there were many people in the time of the Lavender Scare who were able to come to the fully rational conclusion that firing gay people because they were gay was immoral and unnecessary.

Some of those people were likely uncomfortable with the subject of homosexuality. But they also knew that what someone did in their private romantic life had no bearing on their ability to do physics. Yet James Webb, an educated man, went along with the mob.

Which begs the question: Why choose Webb at all? There are so many other deserving people for whom that telescope could have been named, some of them women and people of color. And none of those people have Webb’s baggage, all of which was brought to the attention of NASA administrators at a time when changing the name of the project would have been easier.

The reason it wasn’t changed is because the Old Boy network had decided to honor one of its own, and they were not going to let some inconvenient history, nor noisy activists, alter their decision.

Because that is the way the Old Boys Network operates. And trying to dress that up in arguments about free speech tells us all we need to know about Michael Powell and the people who argue that we should stick with the name James Webb.

Right-wing noise machine upset about signing of Respect for Marriage Act

The Christian Post (a “non-denominational” conservative evangelical publication) has an article up titled: “Respect for Marriage Act: Will it lead to the Supreme Court striking down gay marriage?”

A conservative law firm has speculated that if the so-called Respect for Marriage Act is signed into law by President Joe Biden, it could actually lead to the United States Supreme Court overturning its earlier ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

In a statement released Monday, the Liberty Counsel commented on Congress’ recently passed bill legalizing same-sex marriage, thus codifying the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Liberty Counsel argued that the bill’s passage “can actually create the perfect scenario to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 5-4 opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges regarding same-sex marriage.”

The conservative law firm noted that thanks to changes in the roster of the Supreme Court, the nation’s highest court is more conservative than it was in 2015.

Additionally, the group cited the 2013 case of United States v. Windsor, which ruled in part that, in general, “the states, not the federal government, have the right to regulate marriage.”

Lastly, Liberty Counsel noted that one objection to overturning Obergefell is the issue of same-sex couples who had gotten marriage licenses, and what might happen to those licenses. However, noted the group, the bill would actually secure the fate of marriage licenses.

“As a result of RFMA, when Obergefell is overturned, those who obtained licenses will be ‘grandfathered’ in and the licenses will remain valid,” explained the group.

This thinking pre-supposes that a majority of SCOTUS justices would have been at all concerned about, prior to this week’s signing of the Respect for Marriage Act, existing LGBT marriage licenses when deciding whether to overturn precedents establishing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

I seriously doubt this possibility would have given pause to any of the right-wing justices, who are likely to overturn Obergefell in any case. With at least two of the justices — Clarence Thomas and Samual Alito — being so angry and cruel that the ability to essentially negate existing same-sex marriages would have been seen as a feature and not a bug. Amy Coney Barrett might not be as angry as Alito and Thomas, but she does come from a religious cult that is so right-wing that she is likely to dogmatically see ending same-sex marriage as her religious duty, and therefore above any considerations about fairness and equality.

I don’t think we can count on Kavanaugh and Gorsuch to be anything other than the FedSoc extremists they are.

My guess is that the overturning of the constitutional right to same-sex marriage is still, and always has been, a foregone conclusion with this court. The right-wing noise machine will try to paint the Respect for Marriage law just signed by President Biden as a necessary precursor to the overturning of Obergefell. Nonsense.

If anything, the overturning of Obergefell will be the proof we need that the Respect for Marriage Act was a masterful bit of legislating by the Democrats (and a tiny handful of Republicans) on Capitol Hill.

On another topic, I am old enough to remember when, as a journalist in Boston, I used to sit in the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts state Legislature and listed to members of both parties in both houses debate that state’s gay rights bill.

Even many Democrats would pile-on with the most anti-gay right-wing arguments about pedophilia, bestiality and the like. It was awful to witness and depressing to think that even many so-called progressives were so filled with anti-gay hatred.

Even among those Democrats who supported us, there was a reticence to talk about these issues in public. They might support us when some tough votes were tallied, but don’t expect them to advocate in public on these issues.

Compare that with this week (see pic below) when you had the President, Vice-President (and their spouses), along with the leaders of the House and Senate (both Democrats), along with some openly gay elected and appointed officials and even a smattering of Republicans, on-hand with big wide smiles of the official signing ceremony of the Respect for Marriage Act.

We have come a very long way. And that, in itself, is reason to celebrate.

President Biden signing the Respect for Marriage Act.

Leaving former Marine Paul Whelan behind in Russia is probably doing American society a favor

There’s a lot that’s been written and said about the situtation with Brittney Griner’s negotiated release from Russia and the fact that left behind was former Marine Paul Whelan, whom Fox New and the right-wing echo chamber are describing as “an Iraqi war veteran.”

And that is true as far as it goes.

But what Fox News, Elon Musk and others in the right-wing commentariat are failing to note up front is Whelan’s full history, as Wikipedia says:

He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1994. He took military leave from Kelly Services to serve with the Marine Corps Reserve from 2003 to 2008, including service in Iraq. He held the rank of staff sergeant with Marine Air Control Group 38 working as an administrative clerk and administrative chief, and he was part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After a court-martial conviction in January 2008 on multiple counts “related to larceny”, he was sentenced to 60 days restriction, reduction to pay grade E-4, and a bad conduct discharge. The specific charges against him included “attempted larceny, three specifications of dereliction of duty, making a false official statement, wrongfully using another’s social security number, and ten specifications of making and uttering checks without having sufficient funds in his account for payment.”

Whelan was a terrible Marine who received a Bad Conduct Discharge. He’s not a hero. He’s no longer recognized by the federal government as a veteran. At the very least, the idea that he somehow deserves to be treated better than Griner is totally bogus.

Not only that, but Trump, Musk and all the others weren’t even interested in Whelan being in prison until a black lesbian basketball player was released before him, making me suspicious that it’s less about the Whelan/U.S. Marine part, and more about the black lesbian part.

Or, as attorney Ron Filipkowski noted on Twitter:

This hand wringing about Paul Whelan by right-wingers is really just a combination of trying to score points on Biden, and the fact that the right-wingers all hate the idea that a black lesbian WNBA player deserved to be freed as much as anyone else.

One NH legislator wants to end the “gay panic defense” for anti-gay attacks, murders

There’s been a lot of gay bashers and gay murderers over the years who’ve gotten off lightly in court because they’ve been able to use the so-called “gay panic defense.”

It’s a surprisingly easy sell to some judges and juries that a gay man could flirt with another man and the man who is the object of the flirtation goes temporarily insane to the point of killing the gay man.

It has also often been the case that these allegedly straight men who kill gay men were the instigators of the sexual interest, and then panic post-coitally since someone now knows they have sex with men. Then they kill the gay man to erase the evidence. This is where the “panic” has often entered the crime.

Those of us who’ve been around have often observed that if straight women were able to kill straight men with whom they’ve just had sex and instantly regretted it, society would be littered with the bodies of straight men.

Some prosecutors, judges and juries have been starting to see through this defense. But not all of them.

So it’s good news that one Democratic legislator in New Hampshire is trying to change the laws in that state so that the “gay panic defense” cannot be used:

Incoming state representative Shaun Filiault of Keene campaigned on ending the “gay-panic defense” in homicide cases in the state, and now he is planning legislation to do just that.

Filiault, a Democrat, has requested that legislative staff write up a bill that would prohibit defendants from claiming temporary insanity because of an unwanted same-sex sexual advance.

He said the legal strategy treats the LGBTQ community unfairly.

“A woman who experiences a man’s flirtations would not be able to kill that man and then have her murder charge downgraded to manslaughter simply because she was the object of a man’s flirtations,” Filiault, an attorney, said Wednesday.

“Being the object of a flirtation does not cause temporary insanity, and we should not be treating sexual orientation differently in the law. Let’s have consistency here, and let’s treat a person with equal dignity in the law, and let’s treat a crime as a crime.”

He said his research has shown that the legal defense has been used around the country, although not in New Hampshire.

The American Bar Association has recommended that federal, state and local governments curtail the availability of this defense strategy.

At least 16 states have banned its use, according to a June 7, 2021, report by the Movement Advancement Project, a Colorado-based nonprofit think tank.

Since local courts, prosecutors and police are not required to keep statistics on the gay panic defense, to say it has not happened in NH is a little weird and likely not accurate. I mean, in my experience, it was used a lot for a very long while.

Still, good for newly-elected Rep. Filiault for being proactive.

Incoming state representative Shaun Filiault of Keene

There’s a new biography of J. Edgar Hoover out, and apparently it’s quite good

New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot — for my money, one of the best writers that magazine currently has in its stable of talented people — has a review of historian Beverly Gage’s “crisply written, prodigiously researched, and frequently astonishing new biography,” “G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century” (Viking).

Talbot notes that there is some new information in the Gage’s book, but this part of the New Yorker review caught my eye:

Was Hoover gay? I would have thought that it was a settled matter by now, but I would have been wrong. In a recent book, “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington,” the journalist James Kirchick writes, “While it’s certainly plausible that Hoover was gay and that Tolson was his lover, the only evidence thus far adduced has been circumstantial.” In 2011, when Clint Eastwood made a bio-pic about Hoover that suggested he and Tolson were romantically involved, the Washington Post ran an article about ex-F.B.I. agents who angrily denied the notion. It’s true that, in the absence of more direct evidence, we can’t know. But Gage, who handles the question deftly and thoughtfully, will leave most readers with little doubt that Hoover was essentially married to Tolson, a tall, handsome Midwesterner with a G.W. law degree who went to work at the Bureau in March of 1928, and whom the press habitually referred to as Hoover’s “right-hand man.” Neither of them ever married, or, it appears, had a serious romantic relationship with a woman. After Hoover’s mother died, in 1938—he had lived with her in the family home until then—it was bruited about that now, in his mid-forties, he was marriageable at last. Hoover half-heartedly fanned the embers of a convenient rumor that he just might be engaged to Lela Rogers, the age-appropriate, fervently anti-Communist mother of Ginger. In 1939, he gave an interview in which he claimed to have been searching in vain “for an old-fashioned girl,” adding that “the girls men take out to make whoopee with are not the girls they want as the mother of their children.” Meanwhile, the only person with whom he seems to have enjoyed a documented flirtation, though it was chiefly epistolary, was an F.B.I. agent he had assigned to hunt down Dillinger, a young man named Melvin Purvis. In a correspondence from the thirties that Purvis, not Hoover, saved, the director dwelled admiringly on his agent’s swoon-worthy Clark Gable looks; as Purvis’s boss, he alternately promoted him and punished him for showboating and other infractions. (After forcing Purvis out of the Bureau, Hoover never spoke to him again; he did not even acknowledge his death, by suicide, in 1960.)

Beginning in the mid-nineteen-thirties, Hoover and Tolson, confirmed bachelors, as my grandparents would say, were almost inseparable. Though they did not live together in Washington, they took a car to work together every morning and lunched every day at a restaurant called Harvey’s. They went to New York night clubs, Broadway shows, and the horse races à deux, and vacationed together—Miami in the winter and La Jolla for the entire month of August every year. (Gage offers a close reading of photographs Hoover took in Miami one year, which included tender shots of a shirtless Tolson at play on the beach, and asleep in a deck chair.) Social invitations and holiday greetings from anyone who knew Hoover at all well and wanted to stay on his good side were addressed to them both. When Hoover died, he left the bulk of his estate to Tolson. F.D.R.’s son Elliott later said that his father had heard the rumors about Hoover’s homosexuality but didn’t care “so long as his abilities were not impaired.” It was possible for people to know the deal and to acknowledge it only tacitly, if at all, and for Tolson and Hoover to hide in plain sight.

What Hoover felt about all this remains elusive—a frustration, surely, for the biographer, and occasionally for the reader. We do know what Hoover did when, for example, he heard gossip about his sexuality or was asked to gather information about the sexuality of people less supremely insulated than he was. If an F.B.I. agent overheard you suggesting that Hoover was gay, you could anticipate an uninvited visit from clean-shaven men in hats, and a conversation in which you were told to shut up or else. Gage describes one such incident, from 1952, in which an employee at a D.C. bakery frequented by G-men told them that a guy he’d met at a party had asked if he’d “heard the director is a queer.” The report reached Hoover, who, Gage says, sent agents to the man’s house “to threaten and intimidate him into silence.”

Moreover, Hoover dutifully played his part in the “lavender scare” of the nineteen-fifties, which targeted homosexuals working in government for exposure and expulsion. (The excuse was that they posed a security risk, since it was thought that they were somehow uniquely vulnerable to blackmail, and that, like Communists, they made up a kind of secret society lodged in the heart of our institutions.) Hoover did not speak publicly about the issue the way he did about the Communist threat. But he obtained from the D.C. police the names of people arrested for “sexual irregularities” and passed them along to the White House. Those who worked for the government in any capacity, from filing clerk to Cabinet secretary, were supposed to be fired—and barred from all future government work. Perhaps he thought that his willing participation in a gay witch hunt would deflect attention from his own private life; perhaps he considered himself and Tolson different from the sexual irregulars the cops were rounding up. In the early nineteen-sixties, when a chapter of the Mattachine Society, a gay-rights organization, started up in Washington, Hoover immediately had its meetings monitored by informants. Some of the merrier men of the Mattachine, for their part, seemed to have got a kick out of sending Hoover invitations to their events. Gage reports on a memo in the files that reads, “This material is disgusting and offensive and it is believed a vigorous objection to the addition of the Director to its mailing list should be made.”

I, too, thought the question of Hoover’s sexuality was settled and, based on these passages, I think we can still say it’s settled.

There is much more to the review that is quite good, but if I share any more I’d be way out of fair use. In any case, I’ll buy Gage’s book based on this review alone.

J. Edgar Hoover and his lover (and co-worker) Clyde Tolson, left.

MAGA candidate caught (allegedly) masturbating near pre-school

Way back when I was a newspaper editor in Boston, I used to be invited on local TV and radio stations to give my opinions because, as we all know, being a newspaper editor makes you an expert on everything. (Hey, I don’t make the rules.)

Given that my areas of expertise were LGBT civil rights and HIV/AIDS, I was usually paired with an extreme right winger of some sort to “add balance” because, of course, to be fair you needed someone who sees basic civil rights issues for an entire class of Americans as up for debate — solely because that right winger’s interpretation of the Bible (or Koran, etc.) told them to do this.

Again, those are the rules. I don’t make them.

It was the usually some arch-conservative local person from the same rotating cast of right-wing loonies who loved talking about gay sex. They hate gay sex. But they never got tired of talking about it, including some outré sexual practices that they pictured LGBT people doing in public or on an altar somewhere.

I observed on a couple of occasions on-air, to the face of these right-wingers, “You know, you think about gay sex all the time. You think about gay sex more than do any gay people I know. What does this say about you, this obsession with what gay people do with their genitalia in the privacy of their bedrooms?”

The right-wingers would sputter and become angry, and the now-uncomfortable host of the program would change the subject.

But my point was made, and it is just as salient today as it was back then: I assume any right-winger who is that obsessed with gay sex is hiding something.

We are moving back into a time where these age-old bigotries about LGBT folks — that we “recruit”; that we “groom” children for later abuse; that we want to teach toddlers about gay sex, etc. — are making a comeback.

This is despite ample evidence over the years, including up to the present, that anyone’s children and grandchildren, niece and nephews, would be safer spending the weekend at a gay chorus convention than they would be spending one night with a roomful of Baptist ministers or Republican candidates for office:

A GOP candidate running for an Arizona college district’s governing board was arrested on a charge of public sexual indecency after an officer allegedly caught him masturbating in his truck near a preschool.

Randy Kaufman was arrested Oct. 4 but suspended his campaign Tuesday following media reports of his arrest. Kaufman is running for the governing board of the Maricopa County Community College District, and was allegedly caught masturbating by the county’s community college police.

“I fucked up,” Kaufman told an officer during his arrest, according to a police report.

The report says the incident began when an officer with the Maricopa County Community Colleges Police approached Kaufman’s parked vehicle and saw the man with his pants down.

“[Kaufman] appeared to be looking at a cell phone in one hand,” the police report said. “I immediately became alarmed as I saw [Kaufman] had his pants down mid-thigh and was exposed showing his fully erect nude penis. [Kaufman] was manipulating his genitals in a masturbatory manner.”

The officer said Kaufman didn’t seem to notice the officer at first, but that Kaufman was in view of a nearby bicyclist and a preschool where children were playing outside. When confronted, the officer said, Kaufman apologized for the act.

“I’m sorry,” Kaufman said, according to the report. “I fucked up. I’m really stressed.”

Ah, yes. The old “I’m stressed so I beat off at a pre-school” defense.

Kaufman is running on a fire-and-brimstone “family values” platform in which he has stated he wants to “protect our children [from] the progressive left.”

I could do a daily feature on this blog where I highlight nothing but family values conservatives who are caught trying to diddle children or abusing their children or spouses, or any number of other awful things they get caught doing.

Yeah, don’t vote this guy into a position where he’s around students.

60 Minutes Australia has a new report that points to heavy police involvement in infamous decades-long gay murder and bashing spree in Sydney

I was already familiar with the long run of murders and gruesome near-murders that gripped gay Sydney in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

Officially just over 80 solved murders, 30 unsolved murders and countless violent attacks, the true number of murders and assaults will never be known.

Now 60 Minutes Australia’s Undercover Investigations unit has a new report out that links many of those murders and attacks to the New South Wales police department, where some officers actually took part in the attacks, while much of the rest of the department simply refused to investigate when the victims were gay men.

They hunted in packs and stalked their prey like a blood sport, terrorizing the gay community for more than two decades. But incredibly, on the frontline of the thugs were NSW police officers. On Under Investigation, Liz Hayes and her team of experts expose one of the most disgraceful chapters in NSW police history.

There have been other documentaries about the attacks, including this Crime Investigation Australia report, and Deep Water: The Real Story, a 2-hour documentary.

But the 60 Minutes Australia report is the first one I’ve seen that delves so deeply into police involvement in the crimes.

You can watch the entire report below.

Gay NYC weatherman is fired after someone revenge porns him out of a job

I just watched NYC TV meteorologist Erick Adame for the first time in the YouTube compilation reel below. He’s quite good.

I’m not sure this incident should cost him his job with New York’s cable channel NY1 as a morning weather guy, but at least he’s fighting back.

A New York City weather presenter was fired from his TV job after someone emailed his employer explicit images they had secretly recorded from a private video chat, according to court documents.

In a court filing first reported by the Daily Beast, Erick Adame said he was terminated from his job of four years as a morning meteorologist at the Spectrum News NY1 cable channel as a result of “revenge porn,” a term used to describe the nonconsensual sharing of sexual images.

Adame is not suing his former employer, but rather Unit 4 Media Ltd. — the company behind LPSG (Large Penis Support Group), the website he used for video sex chat — in order to have a judge force the company to reveal information about the anonymous user that he suspects secretly screenshotted images of him naked and then sent those to NY1, as well as to Adame’s mother.

The anonymous person or people used the account names Sonal Prehonn, Tommysize29, Funtimes99, and Landenboy227.

“As a direct result of [the anonymous user’s] acts, [Adame’s] employment was terminated by his employer,” reads the petition, which was filed in the New York Supreme Court on Monday.

A Spectrum News spokesperson declined to comment for this story, but two sources at the company, who asked asked to remain anonymous in order to discuss the matter, said Adame was let go after months of discussions during which time he had remained on the air until the end of August.

I’d like to think that if I had a well-paying job in the public eye that I’d resist the urge to get naked on-camera with a stranger, but boys will be boys and who knows what I’d have done at that young age in NYC. On the other hand, if you’re a hot young public figure in Manhattan, you probably shouldn’t be hurting for less risky ways to meet men. Unless, of course, erotic chatting is your thing.

It probably would have increased his viewership if NY1 wasn’t so uptight.

House of the Dragon brutally killed off a gay character and some people are not happy about it

Oh, dear. It’s only episode five of House of the Dragon, HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel, and they’re brutally killing off the gays as quickly as they are introducing them as characters:

Not only does a secret love never win, but it seems a secret queer love will never have a happy ending.

In the fifth episode of House of the Dragon, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) prepares for her marriage to Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate); prior to their wedding, Rhaenyra tells Laenor that she understands his sexual orientation and proposes that they perform their royal duties while having other lovers.

Rhaenyra hopes to resume her affair with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), but the swordsman refuses to be her side piece. On the other hand, Laenor’s lover, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), is more than happy to go along with the arrangement.

Unfortunately, Joffrey and Laenor’s relationship doesn’t stand the test of time because Ser Criston Cole soon beats Joffrey to death. In other words, right after we meet the LGBTQ couple, the “bury your gays” trope makes its grand entrance.

For those unaware, the “bury your gays” trope sees queer characters meeting their demise far more frequently than their heterosexual counterparts. All in all, queer characters often suffer and rarely have the chance to be happy.

Now, this trope is incredibly outdated in this day and age, which explains why many fans took to social media to share their frustrations regarding the tragic turn of events in House of the Dragon.

“House of the Dragon introducing two gay characters only to have one of them graphically beaten to death on screen twenty minutes later, absolutely fuck off with this shit,” one fan wrote on Twitter. Another questioned, “How many minutes was that between introducing a gay love interests to killing one of them, GOT? That’s a #buryyourgays record.”

On the one hand, I think it’s not fair to artists (and writers are artists every bit as much as painters or sculptors) to expect them to consider every possible sensibility when creating television and movie scripts. This particular case of #BuryYourGays would have been much worse if the gay character was beaten and killed because he was gay, and not because he’s possibly a schemer who threatened to expose Ser Criston’s indiscretions.

On the other hand, television and movie writers likely try all the time to not play into other stereotypes — racial, misogynistic, etc. — while still remaining true to their artistic vision. Of all the stereotypes that do show up in scripts, the tragic, brutal deaths of gay men is one of the ones that makes its way through the editing process far too often in a Hollywood still dominated by straight men.

Ser Laenor Velaryon and Ser Joffrey Lonmouth in “House of the Dragon.”