Ironic justice is being served in this year’s Virginia governor’s race as anti-gay Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore finds himself on the receiving end of a damaging rumor inferring that he is secretly gay. Kilgore, who is married with two children, would seem an unlikely target for this treatment, unless you’d actually heard him speak. Based solely on hearing his effeminate voice, one would imagine Kilgore to be a cross between Jim J. Bullock and Paul Lynde.
Apparently Kilgore’s voice is so stereotypically gay-sounding that this rumor is not being dispelled even by his website’s proud boast that he is vehemently opposed to both gay unions and gay adoption. Presumably Kilgore feels that if a gay man wants to have children, he should marry a beard and squeeze out a couple of drops under duress.
I’d feel bad for Kilgore if not for two things. The first is that Republican George Allen successfully used a similar anti-gay smear campaign against his opponent Mary Sue Terry in his 1993 campaign for Virginia Governor. So payback is in order here. The second reason not to feel bad for Kilgore is the ridiculously distasteful series of television commercials he has employed against his Democratic opponent Tim Kaine. The subject of these commercials is Kaine’s opposition to the death penalty. In these spots, relatives of murder victims imply that Kaine killed their family members. In one commercial, a family member notes that Kaine would not have supported the execution of Adolph Hitler (as if Hitler plans to move to Richmond when Kaine is elected.)
While I don’t condone gay-baiting, I do find it entertaining to see a typical gay-bashing Republican like Kilgore being destroyed by the lies, stereotypes, and hatred against gays that he and his party have fostered for political gain. It reminds me of Melvin Van Peebles’ great 1970 film Watermelon Man in which a racist wakes up one morning to find out that overnight he’s become a black man. Hopefully, like Godfrey Cambridge in that film, Kilgore will learn what it’s like to walk in somebody else’s loafers. Somehow I doubt it. But I am confident that this campaign will be fertile material for future historians trying to document the decline of civilization into a new dark age. That’s something positive at least.