At a rally in the Castro this morning, mayoral candidate Board of Supervisors President London Breed thanked state Sen. Scott Wiener for endorsing her campaign — and she opened her remarks with a real groaner.
“Thank you, Sen. Wiener, for finally coming out of the closet for me,” Breed said.
— B34NS (@B34NS) April 2, 2018
It’s not entirely clear what she’s referring to — especially with respect to the word finally — as Wiener is as close to universally known as a gay man as possible. He’s been open about his PrEP use and some of his legislative initiatives (and run-ins with Fox News) have gained national attention. What Breed appears to have meant was that she appreciated Wiener’s support, and Wiener is gay, so … yeah.
As gay jokes go, this rates pretty low on the offensiveness scale. And in context, it’s clearly chummy and spoken in good will between allies and former colleagues, in front of a Castro audience that undoubtedly had many LGBTQ people standing in it, cheering. But as any queer person knows, coming out can be a difficult process fraught with peril and personal risk. Even in 2018, you can still be fired from your job in dozens of states simply for loving someone of the same gender and having a boss who isn’t down with that. It’s just not analogous to saying, “I endorse Candidate X for office.” (Also, given the enduring shame and stigma surrounding the act of coming out, Breed’s wording would almost seem to imply that it takes courage to support her candidacy openly.)
Further, Breed’s campaign has pounced on similar lapses from political foes. In February, her team made political hay out of a tweet from an erstwhile member of the left-leaning Harvey Milk Democratic Club that employed a racist reference. While nearly everyone involved in San Francisco politics was swift to denounce it, the episode was said to reveal a pernicious streak of racism among the city’s progressive wing.
London Breed is not a homophobe. But London Breed made an icky joke.