The Closet’s Last Champion: Why Bill O’Reilly wants you to shut up

It’s easy to call Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly a
hypocrite, mostly, of course, because he is. He oozes concern for the plight of
queer teenagers while doing his level best to make sure the world remains a
dangerous place in which to grow up gay. He pontificates on the sanctity of the
church while being sued by a former producer who claimed he whispered dirty
fantasies to her over the phone. And he shakes his fist in defense of truth,
justice, and the American way while repeating stories that are false.

But there’s one way in which O’Reilly shows a remarkable
consistency. Whether on his nightly show The
O’Reilly Factor
on Fox News, his interviews on other people’s shows, or his
radio program, the ideology of the closet permeates nearly every word about
homosexuality that comes out of Bill O’Reilly’s mouth. He may describe himself
as a moderate because he doesn’t want to see gay people bashed, imprisoned, or
fired from our jobs, but the truth is, he just wants us to shut up, and doesn’t
hesitate to say so.

Below we’ll take a look at a collection of queer-relevant
O’Reilly clips, and find out just what he thinks is wrong with Gay America, how
he’d like to see it fixed – and what the queer world looks like through Bill
O’Reilly’s eyes.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS

It’s not clear what Bill O’Reilly, the man, thinks about gay
people – although if the sexual harassment suit filed by his former producer
Andrea Mackris is accurate, he’s very, very fond of lesbians. What is clear is
that Bill O’Reilly, the TV personality, seems to think we’re both radioactive
and contagious. After all, just sitting next to a same-sex couple holding hands
at a baseball game is apparently enough to send any normal parent into
paroxysms of fury at having to explain our existence to their innocent
children, who, had they not attended a baseball game on “Gay Day,” would have
grown up in a Leave it to Beaver world of heteronormativity and
traditional values, never knowing that homosexuals actually watch baseball.

That makes sense to O’Reilly, because in his world, if
you’re gay or lesbian, then everything you do that hints at, reveals, suggests,
or discloses your homosexuality is the exact equivalent of having sex in
public.

The San Diego
Padres vs. the Children

Of all the crimes of which lesbians and gay men have been
accused over the centuries, from consorting with Satan to betraying nuclear
secrets to the Soviets, one of the strangest is the charge O’Reilly makes on
this episode of Fox’s O’Reilly Factor: Watching a baseball game in the presence
of children.

With every loaded word and phrase in the lexicon of
homophobia, O’Reilly tries to cast the San Diego Padres and the gay and lesbian
community of San Diego
as debauchers of children and enemies of the family. He says “co-mingling” when
he means “sitting next to,” and refers ominously to “clusters” of gay people
filling the ball park – making the actual sunny images of sports fans out for
an afternoon of baseball that are playing in the background seem like some
clownish vision of hell straight out of a Fellini movie.

Not only was it Gay Day at Petco Park,
O’Reilly informed his viewers in lurid tones, but that same afternoon was hat
day for kids. Yes, every child who came to the game was, shockingly, given a
hat. This proved too much for O’Reilly
Factor
guest Sandy Rios to bear. She’s not only a Fox News staffer, but president of family
values group Culture Campaign, and she found the whole thing to be “a huge
effort to propagate this to our children.”

Also appearing on the Factor,
Ron Deharte of San Diego Pride pointed out that children, families, and gay
people go to baseball games every day, and suggested the trauma is probably not
quite as profound as O’Reilly and Rios believe. Bill all but shrieked in
response, “The issue is, you’re clustering a group that’s based on sexuality,
okay? That’s what it’s based on. You know that. With children.”

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