Unquiet in Lake Wobegon

So this is ancient by internet standards (vintage 2007!), but I just discovered it this morning, via a link-in-passing from Dan Savage. Garrison Keillor is Not Cool with the gays:

And now gay marriage will produce a whole new string of hyphenated relatives. In addition to the ex-stepson and ex-in-laws and your wife’s first husband’s second wife, there now will be Bruce and Kevin’s in-laws and Bruce’s ex, Mark, and Mark’s current partner, and I suppose we’ll get used to it.

The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men — sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That’s for the kids. It’s their show.

Also back in 2007, Dan Savaged Keillor’s totally unnecessary swipe at gay parents far more effectively than I could.

Et tu, Garrison? Photo by L-T-L.

So why am I writing about this at all? Because, to be frank, it hurts. I’ve been listening to Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion since I was too young to understand most of the jokes – the storytelling and quirky musical taste and commonsense Midwestern liberalism was one of the predominant flavors of the Public Radio marinade in which I grew up. The “fussy” boy who woke up to Morning Edition on school days and went to bed after PHC on the weekends grew into a closet case who loved This American Life in spite of* the troubling feelings aroused by contributions from David Sedaris, David Rakoff, and, yep, Dan Savage (how’s that for coming full circle?); and finally into an out and moderately well-adjusted gay man who owes his outness and moderate well-adjustedness to Public Radio more than any other cultural institution.

But so my point is that learning that the man whose voice is the bass note of the entire Public Radio mindset is capable of saying things like “… the flamboyance may have to be brought under control,” is like learning that Mr. Rogers made his puppets from the skins of strangled kittens, or that LeVar Burton wrapped up production of every Reading Rainbow episode with a book burning.** It’s like learning that hot cocoa causes cancer. It feels like betrayal.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic, but apparently that’s what Keillor expects of me anyway.

* Or because of?
** Yeah, I know – illustrating a point about a Public Radio figure with Public Television figures is pretty weak. But I really don’t hold many institutions in the same esteem I do Public Broadcasting. Not even hot cocoa.

One thought on “Unquiet in Lake Wobegon

  1. Keillor is relatively well-known for being a jerk (just google for stories about his relationship with his former Danish wife…) I remember this episode from a while back just solidifying my own impression of him – I’d given up on his shows and writing long before. That said, I’m not so fond of Dan Savage as a person either…although I have enjoyed and learned from his columns and books. Luckily I don’t know either personally :-)

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