"Hillary Clinton Is A Lesbian"?
Why is calling powerful women lesbians the worst insult?
Hillary Clinton is a lesbian.
We’ve heard it before. It emerged in 2000 when she was running for the Senate. It surged in 2008 when she first ran for president. In 2013, when pundits were opining she would run for president in 2016, conservative talk show host Glenn Beck said she would be the first lesbian in the Oval Office. Now, as Hillary Clinton is the putative nominee of the Democratic Party – a groundbreaking achievement in American politics and history – that rumor, as well as others, is back.
It's all the Right can think of to attack her. Because conservatives still think being a lesbian is the worst thing a woman can be. In conservative circles and among the conservative electorate lesbian = man-hater. And as every pundit has said, Hillary Clinton needs to do better among the white male demographic (men of color have her back).
Right Wing Watch, a project of the left-wing group People For the American Way, is dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement. On May 18 the group posted that Sandy Rios had made the claim about Hillary that she is a lesbian and "a deviant" after Rios made the assertion on her talk show and discussed it at length.
Rios is the governmental affairs director for the American Family Association, which is considered by LGBT rights groups to be an anti-LGBT hate group. Rios is also president of the Culture Campaign, which is dedicated to battling against abortion rights, LGBT rights and other progressive issues. Rios is a Fox News contributor and hosts a daily radio talk show.
Rios is laser-focused on LGBT issues. On May 25 she asserted that President Obama’s order that school bathrooms be trans inclusive would "mainstream pedophilia." On May 20 Rios said Eric Fanning, President Obama’s pick for Army Secretary, "couldn’t lead men" because he is openly gay. On May 18 she spoke about Clinton.
Right Wing Watch quoted Rios: "Hillary Clinton embraces every sexual deviancy you can imagine," Rios said, before once again suggesting that the former Secretary of State is a lesbian because "there have been more than rumors swirling about her own sexual proclivities since before she became First Lady." Rios continued, "She’s an advocate of gay marriage, and I mean a strong advocate. She’s been endorsed by every radical homosexual activist group in the country, all the major ones, Human Rights Campaign and others, especially in New York. She gets that endorsement for a reason, you know, she gets it for a reason."
Rios, who formerly supported Christian conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for president, is now supporting Donald Trump, who she applauds for "coming out against same-sex marriage" which is, she asserted, "gutsy" for a New Yorker, the gay capital of the U.S.
Rios says, "We are in a new world."
Rios then stops to tell her radio audience to get their children out of the room before she discusses Clinton’s "deviancy" and "love of homosexuality."
Clinton is, of course, the first member of the Obama Administration to speak out on LGBT rights which she did on December 6, 2011 at the Palais de Nations in Geneva, Switzerland – two years before President Obama had his much-vaunted "evolving" on the issue. Then-Secretary of State Clinton gave an extraordinary and unprecedented speech in which she said, "Now, raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people and that the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs. So I come here before you with respect, understanding, and humility. Even though progress on this front is not easy, we cannot delay acting. So in that spirit, I want to talk about the difficult and important issues we must address together to reach a global consensus that recognizes the human rights of LGBT citizens everywhere."
The speech goes on for some time, detailing why LGBT rights were essential and the brutality that LGBT people have been subjected to globally. It’s a stirring and surprising speech from Clinton, who was then the second most powerful woman in the world after German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The key takeaway from Clinton’s speech, which has been widely quoted was this: "Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."
Is the reason Clinton was so adamant about LGBT rights because she herself is a closet lesbian? The idea is far-fetched to those of us who have covered Clinton in the news over the years or anyone who has read her memoirs. Yet the rumors have persisted for decades and have been fueled in part by her relationship with her longtime aide and confidant Huma Abedin, who is always at Clinton’s side.
According to a previous rant by Sandy Rios, the "proof" of Hillary Clinton’s lesbianism can be found in her relationship with Abedin and also is embedded in her video of her presidential announcement.
In that video, Clinton included a gay male couple and a lesbian couple. The lesbian couple is sitting head-to-head on a sofa near the end of the video. The gay male couple is near the beginning, holding hands. Clinton was the only candidate in the race to address LGBT people in her videos (Bernie Sanders released a video on May 25, while campaigning in California, that features LGBT people.)
In yet another commentary on Clinton’s alleged lesbianism, Rios says:
"Please keep in mind that Hillary Clinton was one of the first public officials to push this whole notion of embracing homosexuality," Rios said. "I would never forget my own personal shock in the late ‘90s when there was a women’s conference in Beijing and Hillary Clinton was in charge and they brought in women from all over the world at this UN conference, and the emphasis for the American delegation under Hillary’s tutelage was on lesbianism."
But it is Abedin that many are fixated on – in part because she is always with Clinton and in part because she is Muslim. Should Clinton be elected president, Abedin would be the most highly placed Muslim in American politics. And history.
On May 13, the National Enquirer ran a story on Hillary and Huma with the headline "Hillary Hides Huma Amidst Lesbian Rumors." The non-story links to another National Enquirer story from March 3 which claims that Hillary is "panicked" about the possibility of emails she exchanged with Huma being revealed in public. That article is titled "Hillary Clinton Lesbian Love Letters – Panic Over D.C. Investigation."
The story has myriad photos of Hillary and Huma and notes the former Secretary of State is "terrified of revelations about her secret lesbian lifestyle!"
Another well-known conservative publication, the Daily Caller, quotes Sally Miller, a former Miss Arkansas who asserts she’s a former girlfriend of Bill Clinton, saying that the former president told her Hillary had had lesbian relationships while an undergraduate at the all-women’s Seven Sisters college, Wellesley, and "she liked them."
Miller, who the Daily Caller says is about to release a tell-all memoir, entitled The Beauty Queen: Let No Deed Go Unpublished of her and Bill Clinton’s relationship is quoted as saying, "I take [Bill Clinton] at his word and he told me [Hillary] liked females more than men. She was the child of a more progressive community."
Mr Conservative, a conservative website, asserted in 2014 and 2015 that Hillary Clinton would face lesbian rumors if she ran for president. In one of several articles, the website quotes anti-Clinton author Ed Klein, who had written many anti-Hillary screeds and now does work for Donald Trump.
According to Mr Conservative, "Klein asserted that Hillary was obsessed with lesbianism, but not in a normal way. Instead, she was ‘much more interested in lesbianism as a political statement than a sexual practice … Hillary talked about it a lot, read lesbian literature, and embraced it as a revolutionary concept.’"
Mr Conservative also notes that Hillary’s relationship with Abedin is suspect. Noting that a decade ago when Clinton "hid Abedin in plain sight" the "lesbian rumors got so bad that year that Hillary addressed them personally. ‘It’s not true, but it is something that I have no control over. People will say what they want to say,’ she told top gay magazine Advocate."
In July 2014, right after she was told she would not be returning the following season to ABC’s popular daytime talk show, The View, anti-vaccine activist and former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy implied Hillary was a lesbian in a discussion of a book about former presidents.
"I see former President William Clinton [and] he always seems to be so in love with his wife," co-host Sherri Shepherd said. "They’ve weathered so many storms together."
"Well, maybe he has his girlfriends and she has her girlfriends, you never know," McCarthy said, smiling broadly. "Maybe they have an arrangement."
Co-host Whoopi Goldberg dismissed the comment. A week later McCarthy, who is a conservative, said she shouldn’t have made the joke. But it has become a standard GOP talking point. Bryan Fischer, head of the American Family Association, has also fixated on the Abedin relationship and said, "The bottom line is that if Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2016, she will not only be our first female president, she could be our first lesbian president."
Photoshopped image of hillary clinton Staring At Christina Aguilera's Breasts.
I’d personally love a lesbian president, but Hillary Clinton won’t be it. In 2008 conservatives leaked story after story about Barack Obama being bisexual and taking drugs. It was as true as the birtherism movement about Obama being born in Kenya.
Those rumors ceased once Obama was in the White House – although a disturbing percentage of Republicans still believe the president was born in Kenya – a theory continually pushed by Donald Trump whose advisor Roger Stone has written a book about Hillary and in 2008 formed an anti-Hillary Super PAC with the unsubtle acronym C.U.N.T.
But why is lesbianism the go-to for attacking women in power? German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world, has been repeatedly rumored to be a lesbian. Last summer an ad surfaced for a lesbian magazine where one member of the lesbian couple looked surprisingly like Merkel – clearly a purposeful action on the part of the magazine that created quite the Internet buzz.
But the twice-married Merkel is a staunch conservative who has said as recently as May 18 that there will be no same-sex marriage under her watch, even as Italy was poised to usher in marriage equality.
Germany was the first European nation to ban homosexuality and while there are thriving LGBT communities in Berlin, Munich and elsewhere, Germany still lags behind other EU nations on LGBT issues. In large part because of Merkel’s politics.
Yet the rumor persists. In November 2014 one German website headlined a story "FAT PIG ANGELA MERKEL IS THREATENED TO BE OUTED AS LESBIAN BY THE NSA CAUSING HER TO PUSH HARD ON RUSSIA’S SANCTIONS."
The story went on to assert "Merkel has been playing the butch lesbian pick-up game known as ‘triangles are fruit as well.’ In the last 12 months Merkel has been snapped 50 times playing this game."
"This bizarre game called ‘Dreiecke sind nicht die einzige Frucht’ has been a hit in German lesbian fetish clubs and some believe that Merkel has been playing this game even before the death of her husband. German butch lesbians have been critical, many of them have denied they still play that game."
As "proof" of the so-called lesbian game, the publication has a dozen photos of Merkel with her hands together in a triangle shape. The story then goes on to detail how she’s been blackmailed into sanctions with Russia by the Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.
Why are women in power rumored to be lesbians? Myriad other women politicians have faced the same rumors: Golda Meir in Israel, Indira Gandhi in India, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, Ayn Sun Syu Kyi in Burma/Myanmar. Most recently, Brazil’s Dilma Rouseff, who was widely rumored to be a lesbian, was deposed in what many are calling a coup rather than an impeachment. Her replacement, right-wing interim president Michel Temer, immediately created a new cabinet with no women and no persons of color – taking the nation back 50 years.
Woman Cards accepted here. pic.twitter.com/nIu21XybZk— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 24, 2016
Are these lesbian rumors meant to undercut the power of women in government or in some cases – like Hillary Clinton – attempt to prevent women from gaining power at all? Women in power are always accused of being "man-haters" and "ball-breakers" and of course, "bitches." But why the presumption that women in power must hate men? Or that lesbians hate men?
Perhaps such assertions made sense a half century ago, but in 2016? In Scotland, the leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Ruth Davidson, is an out lesbian. On May 23 she announced on Twitter that she was engaged to her longtime girlfriend, Jen Wilson.
So, I've been away for a few days as I had an important question to ask. Delighted Jen said yes. Very happy. X pic.twitter.com/IND22nVRa5— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) May 23, 2016
So it can be done – a woman can be the leader of a political party and a lesbian. Even a conservative and a lesbian.
With Roger Stone and Ed Klein firmly in the Trump fold, it seems likely the lesbian rumors about Hillary will continue, either overtly or sotto voce.
Hillary has gotten more negative press than any other candidate throughout the primary cycle – including Trump. And Trump has already called Hillary as many names as have come to mind and he has a history of attacking women, including lesbians. With the nomination looming at the July convention and Trump at a loss for any substantive attack against her actual policy, will this be the rumor that Republicans latch onto to try and sink Hillary’s candidacy?
The next two months will tell the tale. What we know for sure is LGBT people have a strong advocate – and straight ally – in Hillary Clinton.
Victoria A. Brownworth is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer and the author and editor of nearly 30 books. She has won the NLGJA and the Society of Professional Journalists awards, the Lambda Literary Award and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She won the 2013 SPJ Award for Enterprise Reporting in May 2014. She is a regular contributor to The Advocate and SheWired, a blogger for Huffington Post and A Room of Her Own, senior politics reporter and contributing editor for Curve magazine, contributing editor for Lambda Literary Review and a columnist for San Francisco Bay Area Reporter. Her reporting and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, Village Voice, Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Nation, Ms Magazine and Slate. Her book, Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic won the Lambda Literary Award, From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth won the 2012 Moonbeam Award for cultural & historical fiction. Her new novel, Ordinary Mayhem, won the IPPY Award for fiction on May 1, 2015. Her book Erasure: Silencing Lesbians and her next novel, Sleep So Deep, will both be published in 2016. @VABVOX