Last week, the sexual orientation of a candidate for the Pennsylvania state House caused an uproar, but not in the way such attacks normally go.
In this case, incumbent Rep. Babette Josephs (182nd Dist.) claimed her Democratic challenger, Gregg Kravitz, is not a member of the LGBT community because she met his girlfriend, which means he must be heterosexual.
The story was picked up locally and nationally, by the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC, The Advocate and numerous blogs.
This brings new meaning to sexual politics.
During his campaign, some members of the LGBT community have come away from conversations with Kravitz with the understanding that he’s a member of the LGBT community (read: gay), while others understood him to be dating a woman (read: straight).
As policy, PGN routinely asks the people we interview if they are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Because we believe that 1) it’s OK to be gay and 2) the more people who are out and open about their sexual orientation, the more likely we are to have equal rights and protections.
The challenge with sexual orientation is that, more often than not, people make assumptions based on a binary code: If you are dating someone of the same sex, you are gay; if you are dating someone of the opposite sex, you are heterosexual.
Which makes it hard for those who identify as bisexual. On the one hand, bisexuals can “pass” in either community — if they are single and not looking to date or if they are dating a person of the “appropriate” gender for that community. On the other, bisexuals often feel that they have to qualify, explain and/or defend their sexual orientation, their attractions and/or their dating choices. And certainly, everyone knows someone who won’t date bisexuals or who believes all bisexuals are lying.
It’s somewhat naïve to back a political candidate based solely on his/her sexual orientation. Likewise, it’s insensitive — of gays or LGBT allies — to say that someone isn’t gay enough to be part of the LGBT community. (On a side note, three bisexual men from San Francisco are suing the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance because their team was disqualified from the Gay Softball World Series because it exceeded the number of non-gay players allowed.)
Regardless of where one falls on the Kinsey Scale, one’s sexual orientation shouldn’t be a primary factor in a campaign — as a positive or a negative.