Freak No-Show?!

Was it Pat Buchanan who said global capitalism would destroy the American circus?

People will embrace a gay circus. So why won't they open their arms to Chastity Bono, spawn of Sonny and Cher? Well, she's a big girl, and she's a lesbian. And that's one more reason than most people need to hate her. In front of a rainbow flag at Chapman University, the former media director for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) talked about coming out. Her coming out was gently assisted, of course, by The Star, which proclaimed her gayness in banner headlines when she was barely out of her teens. As recently as 1995, when she became GLAAD's media director, Bono was the highest-profile out lesbian we had; Melissa Etheridge wasn't gay yet, Ellen DeGenereswasn't gay yet, and even Martina Navratilova wasn't gay yet. In the midst of a nasty cold, Bono, who has straight blond hair like a '70s surfer boy, tossed cough drops to the audience and bitched about how ill she felt.

She was really personable, though, with a terrific wry smile that immediately put people at ease. She answered personal questions simply, as if it were completely normal to bare oneself for an auditorium full of strangers-and today, of course, it is completely normal. But when Bono answered a question, there was nothing salacious or drama-queeny. It was as though she were the speaker at an AAmeeting: straightforward and gently funny.

Bono would play well to Middle America: she seems kind and unthreatening-once she starts talking (she's a tall woman who could kill you with one snap of her meaty wrist, but you realize she won't because she speaks in dulcet tones). She has been hurt by her parents-Mom freaked out when Chastity came out, and in a complete slap in the face, Dad (her best friend, she says) co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Actas Palm Springs' Republican congressman. But she loves them as a dutiful daughter should. And even when speaking to a roomful of gay and lesbian kids, she's not explicit about sex. It's there that you realize how much the honest, open Bono is not saying, and how delicate the audience is. Bono never mentioned-and nobody asked, until a girl with big pink cartoon hearts in her eyes posed the Q&A session's penultimate question-having a lover. The crowd gasped and giggled at her audacity-and yet took Bono's earlier defense of Coors in stride. (She believes, apparently, that Coors' backing of gay and lesbian organizations is heartfelt and not merely intended to deflate the gay boycott-as opposed to the labor and environmental boycotts on the beer.) Hush yer mouth, Chastity, and start dishing about your lovers.

Dish with Commie Girl at CommieGirl99@hotmail.com.

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