Saturday, May 3, 2008

Reichen, Rights and Rightwingers

Once upon a time -I dunno, last year, maybe- the Human Rights Campaign gave Reichen Lehmkuhl an award for being Role Model of the Year or something like that.

I understand why HRC gave Reichen an award. Fundraisers with $300 and up tickets need cute celebrities to attract people with money.

But exactly did he win this award for? Being cute after having his ears tucked? Being in the Air Force? Authoring a self-aggrandizing memoir? Winning a reality show contest? Showing his butt in Dante's Cove?

After breaking up with his Amazing Race costar Whatshisname (excuse me, Chip Arndt! See comments for the indignant and lengthy trumpet-blaring explanation of the Famous Activist!), Reichen recently dated Lance Bass in a highly publicized, and inevitably short-lived relationship. Then Reichen started dating some other less famous guy, underwear model Ryan Barry.

Then, according to Pink is the New Blog, Reichen allegedly posted a list of statements on his MySpace profile, all about what not to do when you're an ambitious Hollywood celebrity who dates other ambitious celebrities and/or underwear models. Then he apologized and deleted it.

Thanks, man. Can it now finally be said that this guy is no role model? He jumps from one arriviste celebutante to another, declaring his love via publicists, and the gay media jumps on board, lapping up his every move.

As for HRC, not only have they incensed thousands of gay activists for their role in dumping transgenders from the ENDA bill. They just endorsed a Republican candidate. HRC chose to endorse incumbent Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins over challenger Tom Allen, a six-term Democrat serving in the House.

They're refusing to endorse an openly gay Democratic Senate candidate in North Carolina, Jim Neal. The Democratic Party's also balking. Why? HRC head Joe Solomese makes his excuses in the Bay Area Reporter.

Oh, and they also sponsor Log Cabin Republican events. You know Log Cabinites. They claim so many members, yet have to use stock imagery on their website because their members are mostly in the closet.

Is HRC doing anything to counter the rightwing effort to retain the Don't Ask, Don't Tell ban? Nope. That's the job of the Servicemen's Legal Defense Network. I wouldn't be surprised if their Rethug HRC fave supports the ban.

I'd like to abridge Reichen's list, in light of HRC's recent idiotic tactics.

"Never believe them when they say they're fighting for you.

Never believe them when they tell you where their money is going.

Never believe them when they say they're only going to work with you, especially when there is a social climbing opportunity in front of them.

Never underestimate their need for celebrity, money, and fame.

Never believe you can fix it by puttng little Equal stickers on your car bumper.

Never EVER believe civil rights are more important to them than anything that's a crass political move.

Don't date in Washington. Realize that for them, it's all BUSINESS."

And one addendum:

An underwear model is not a role model for anyone but other underwear models.

1 comment:

Michael Bedwell said...

As a friend of “Whatshisname,” AKA Chip Arndt, perhaps you’d like to know that Chip is every bit a kind of “role model” that you disparage his former partner for not being.
Prior to appearing on “The Amazing Race,” he had a history of gay activism, including having been the President of the Harvard Business School Gay and Lesbian Student Association. Since the show, he has become even more active, resulting in Miami’s “Express Gay News” naming him “Best Local Male Hero” for continually using “his fame and good fortune to help others.” Florida may be somewhat distant from the line the gay media ants march, and you're unlikely to see him in a beefcake calendar, but his accomplishments and contributions are no less significant than those who live in San Francisco or New York.

He’s helped raise thousands of dollars as a spokesperson/rider for New York’s Braking the Cycle AIDS ride and for Miami’s SMART ride. Last year he was also grand marshal of DC’s AIDS Walk. He’s a frequent speaker on behalf of LGBT youth, has been a spokesperson for Safe Schools Florida, and helped raise money for several national LGBT groups including the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the Point Foundation, SLDN, and NLGJA.
Chip is a cofounder of the Gay American Heroes Foundation which is working to create a traveling exhibit to educate the public about LGBT hate crimes:

As the President of Miami’s LGBT Democratic caucus, Freedom Democrats, he is currently focusing on passing domestic partners legislation there. He is an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention, though, of course, how Florida delegates will be included is yet to be finalized.

While their separation after the race and a nearly five-year relationship disappointed some, their achievement as the first gay couple to win a reality TV competition remains an accomplishment. “Entertainment Weekly” magazine proclaimed them “Reality’s Cutest Couple.” Chip still receives correspondence from as far away as South Africa expressing gratitude for people being able to see two out gay men on such a mainstream show. Even a lesbian couple commented at the time, "We'll never forget that by simply being on the show they have saved lives—literally."

I am proud to know him and hope that you'll remember both his name and his contributions the next time you choose to reference him.

Thank you.