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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Feeling Sorry for Carrie Prejean

Posted by Dan Savage on Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 2:22 PM

This detail in the reports about the seven other sex tapes and 30 additional "salacious" photos—so many youthful mistakes!—kind of makes me feel bad for Carrie Prejean...

Some of the new sexy photographs that have been unearthed Prejean allegedly took herself, of her own reflection in a mirror, alternately topless and completely naked.

Carrie Prejean is young, beautiful and not very bright. And she wasn't politically active until she gave a convoluted and inaccurate answer to a question about same-sex marriage at the Miss USA pageant. Here's the answer that launched a hundred billion blog post. From her response it's clear that Prejean believed same-sex marriage was already legal in all 50 states:

"I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman."

Carrie thought it was great that Americans were free to choose between same-sex and opposite marriage—we're not, of course, but she thought we were—but she personally believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I can live with that. In fact that's all gay people really want. Gay people should be free to marry and other people should be free to believe that our same-sex marriages are wrong because their religion forbids it or because that's how they were raised or because they just think it's icky. Just because same-sex marriage is legal doesn't mean that everyone is required to approve. Interracial marriage is legal despite the disapproval of some; inter-faith marriage is legal despite the strong and sometimes violent disapproval of most religious traditions; divorce is legal despite the disapproval of Jesus Christ himself and despite being forbidden by the Roman Catholic Church. Gay people want the same deal interracial couples, inter-faith couples, and divorced-and-remarried couples all have now: our marriages should be legal even if some people disapprove.

Back to Prejean after the jump.

Anyway, back to Prejean: I thought Perez Hilton went too far when he labeled Prejean a bitch for her response to his question. But I quickly came around to Perez's position—she is a bitch—after Prejean leapt into bed with Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage. (Did you know that Gallagher had a child out of wedlock? And that she's currently in an inter-faith marriage?) It seemed like a transparent effort on Prejean's part to cash in, to parlay her loss at the Miss USA pageant into a career as a spokesmodel for the religious right. Prejean's sudden passion for anti-gay politicking seemed insincere and opportunistic—she hadn't been publicly religious, politically active, or rabidly homophobic until after the pageant—and that's why she drew the scorn of mean-spirited bloggers everywhere.

And now we have proof that the person Prejean pretended to be after that pageant—the good Christian girl with a strong moral code who was chosen by God to stick it to the homos—doesn't jibe with the person she was before the pageant, i.e. a highly sexual and sexually active young woman with breast implants and a string of ex-boyfriends to her name. Carrie Prejean was not the very model of modern right-wing Christian conservatism that she pretended to be to ingratiate herself with the likes of Maggie Gallagher. She was an average young American woman, a little prettier and dimmer than most, with sexual urges and desires and agency. She was just another young woman aware of her own erotic power, a young woman with a digital camera, another young woman sexting her boyfriend because it turned her on to turn him on.

This aspect of Prejean's life—her ownership, control and delight in her own sexuality—is newsworthy because Prejean was working to deny others the same ownership and control over their sexualities. Prejean endorsed discrimination against others based on sexual expression and that invited scrutiny of her own sexual expression. Prejean wasn't exposed as a "hobby pornographer," as Dave put it, because she believes that same-sex marriage is wrong; the woman who replaced Prejean as Miss California also opposes same-sex marriage and no one has pried into her private life. (I can't even recall her name.) Prejean was exposed because the only justification she was able to give for her opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians was her good Christian upbringing (her parents had an ugly divorce), the way her Christian values shaped her worldview, and her moral superiority. None of that stood up to scrutiny.

And now the gig is up: Carrie's new friends—her hater friends—are dropping her and scrubbing her from their websites. Her book tour ended before it began and the only thing anyone is going to remember about her book is that Prejean—with all her sex tapes and dirty pictures—condemned pornography and urged young women not to show too much skin.

And honestly—now that this is all over—I feel kind of sorry for Prejean. She thought she was being attacked by All Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (AGLE) after one gay dude, Perez Hilton, called her name. And then Maggie and NOM and the conservative Christian movement offered her a chance to get back at the homos and make herself a huge pile of money in the process. The praised her, advised her, and pretended to be her friends. All she had to do was play the martyr and tell her story. But when her real story got out—when those pictures and videos got out—Maggie and NOM and her new friends dropped her. Perez abused her, Maggie used her, and now she's done.

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