Would Hillary Clinton Be Our First Lesbian President?
Would Hillary Clinton Be Our First Lesbian President?
Glenn Beck Says Hillary Clinton Will Have Lesbian Sex in the Oval Office.
By Victoria A. Brownworth
"I’m telling you, Hilary Clinton will be having sex with a woman on the White House desk if it becomes popular."
Said proclaimed Right-wing radio host and Republican political pundit Glenn Beck on April 29. Beck also implied that the former Secretary of State, who is expected to run for president in 2016, was actually a lesbian, joking with his sidekicks on The Glenn Beck Program. Beck had been discussing same-sex marriage and asserted that Democrats were hypocrites on the issue, relying on focus groups, polls and Hollywood to tell them it was okay to support marriage equality.
Beck said, "You’re saying this is the civil rights issue of our day and you were such a coward you couldn’t do it [without being told it was okay]."
Beck went on to joke about the former First Lady."What I heard you just say is that Hillary came out last year!" Beck said to one of his co-hosts who had said the former Secretary had come out for marriage equality. "Because I didn’t think that was official..." Beck went on to assert, "She’ll be like, ‘Look, the arc of history wasn’t ready for a president to be a lesbian and have sex on the desk.’"
With this salvo Beck revived a long-time rumor about Hillary Clinton that has surfaced repeatedly over the years, that she is a lesbian and her marriage to Bill Clinton is a sexless front. The rumor has been repeated by conservative and even liberal pundits as far back as Hillary’s years as First Lady–of Arkansas.
Attacks on Hillary Clinton are not new. As Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman noted in their not-so-nice profile of Hillary for the upcoming May/June issue of Politico, she’s "been smeared and stereotyped, the subject of dozens of over-hyped or downright fictional stories and books alleging, among other things, that she is a lesbian, a Black Widow killer who offed Vincent Foster then led an unprecedented coverup, a pathological liar, a real estate swindler, a Commie, a harridan. Every aspect of her personal life has been ransacked; there’s no part of her 5-foot-7-inch body that hasn’t come under microscopic scrutiny, from her ankles to her neckline to her myopic blue eyes—not to mention the ever-changing parade of hairstyles that friends say reflects creative restlessness and enemies read as a symbol of somebody who doesn’t stand for anything."http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/hillary-clinton-media-105901.html
And of course New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has famously taken Hillary to task for everything from hairstyles to "cankles" to being a manipulative female, noting, "Hillary often aims to use gender to her advantage, or to excuse mistakes."
Yet it is the charge that Hillary is a lesbian to which the Right keeps returning and upon which it seems fixated. It is also the rumor most likely to damage her in a run for president in 2016–a run that polls indicate at present is hers to lose.
A Washington Post poll released the same day as Beck’s pronouncements shows Hillary Clinton leading all candidates in both parties with an overwhelming lead. Her nearest rival is Republican Jeb Bush who trails her by 12 points–a landslide gap in an actual election.
Which makes smearing Hillary–the most accomplished woman or man to ever run for president in the U.S.–a must for many. Despite recent gains in LGBT rights in the U.S., a lesbian or bisexual president may be pushing the political envelope. The focus on Hillary’s sexuality also revives discussion of her husband’s infidelities. And detracts from her political messages, a major one of which is equality for women worldwide.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Internet stories abounded about Hillary being a lesbian. Gennifer Flowers, alleged former mistress of President Bill Clinton, had insisted that Hillary was bisexual, giving interviews in which she even suggested Hillary might be having an affair with her deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin (now wife of former congressman Anthony Weiner), as she and Abedin were often photographed close together, their heads almost touching. Articles in various political magazines and even liberal publications like Harper’s during the presidential primary arched eyebrows at the relationship between the two.
In her memoir, Flowers wrote of a conversation she had with Bill Clinton, "‘There’s something you need to know. I’ve been hearing tales around town that Hillary is having another thing with a woman.’ I watched his face to see his reaction, and couldn’t believe it when he burst out laughing. I was stunned! I asked him what was so funny.
‘Honey,’ he said, ‘she’s probably eaten more p**** than I have.’ Bill said he had known for a long time that Hillary was attracted to women, and it didn’t really bother him anymore."
In his 2005 book The Truth About Hillary, former New York Times Magazine editor Edward Klein stated that Hillary was bisexual at least. He implied that Hillary had had affairs while at Wellesley College with classmates, among them Nancy Pietrafesa, a married mother of three.
When asked for comment, Pietrafesa was adamant that the two had never been anything more than friends. She was quoted in the Syracuse Post Standard, saying, "Women who are accomplished, whose ambitions, behavior, accomplishments make some people uncomfortable with their own, can really expect their sexuality questioned or slurred, denigrated," Pietrafesa said.
David Brock, gay journalist and former conservative who wrote his own scathing book about Hillary, The Seduction of Hillary Rodham, has since renounced his conservatism, apologized to Clinton and become a fundraiser for liberal Democrats. Brock has repeatedly argued that the treatment Hillary has received in the media is nothing short of sexism.
For her part, Hillary has never responded to the lesbian rumors. She did make a lovely tribute video in support of marriage equality for HRC in March 2013, which Bryan Fischer, head of the conservative and anti-gay American Family Association, insisted proved she was indeed a lesbian. "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," he said on his radio show Focal Point.
Hillary Clinton has yet to announce she’s running for president in 2016. As for the attacks, Hillary remains a stalwart supporter of women and of LGBT rights, as she makes clear in the HRC video. Hillary knows where she stands with the media–right or left. (In 2008, MSNBC pundit Keith Olbermann famously suggested she needed to be physically beaten up to get her out of the primaries she was then winning.)
At a recent speech in New York she spoke out on sexism in the media, saying, "There is a double standard, obviously. We have all either experienced it, or have seen it. There is a deep set of cultural, psychological views that are manifest through this double standard…Some of these attitudes persist, and if they persist in as open, and in many ways transformational society as ours is in the 21st century, you know how deep they are."
Tarring a political figure of the stature of Hillary Clinton with the charge of lesbianism–a 1950s gambit–is exactly the kind of view she’s talking about. Being gay is still seen as the worst thing that can be said about a public figure–and it has repeatedly been applied to strong women in power. If Hillary does run for president, we can expect to hear it again and again, and whether it’s true or not will never really be the issue.
Victoria A. Brownworth is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer. She has won the NLGJA, the Keystone Award, the Lambda Literary Award and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She won the 2013 Society of Professional Journalists Award for Enterprise/Investigative Reporting. She is a regular contributor to The Advocate and SheWired, a blogger for Huffington Post and a contributing editor for Curve magazine, Curve digital and Lambda Literary Review. She is the author and editor of nearly 30 books including the award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic andRestricted Access: Lesbians on Disability. Her collection, From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth won the 2012 Moonbeam Award for Cultural/Historical Fiction. Her Y/A novel, Cutting will be published in fall 2014. @VABVOX