try to keep up. It’s true that occasionally I watch “Golden
Girls” instead of the evening news, but by and large I’ve
been keeping track of the Mideast conflagration, the Iraq morass and
the American judicial blockade against same-sex marriage.
Still, emails bearing specifically LGBT news had piled up in my computer,
so I set to reading them. In the process I discovered a news item that
made me blurt “Oh-my-God.” It’s the sort of story that
my particular muses —Groucho, Chico and Harpo — send me but
once in a blue moon.
It seems that in late July a gossip column in the New York Daily News quoted
Sir Ian McKellen, the openly gay British actor: “I was in Atlanta
doing press for ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ and they wanted to honor
me. The governor made me a lieutenant colonel,” he said. “So
the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ rule obviously didn’t
apply to me.
“I have a lovely certificate hanging in my office. So, inadvertently,
they made me the poster child for having openly gay people in the military,” said
Oh-my-God. Georgia’s Republican governor appointed a gay activist
to be an honorary officer in the Georgia National Guard! And Gov. Sonny
Perdue reportedly supports “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!” What
was he thinking? He must not have known. Boy, some underling’s testicles
are going to be served up on a plate.
Is it possible the governor did know and this represents a public change
of heart? Yes, and it’s also possible it wasn’t Sherman who
burned Atlanta, but Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.
What a blunder. How embarrassing. How wonderful. McKellen is internationally
famous as both an actor and a homo. The American military is internationally
infamous for its ban on openly gay service people. This perfect story could
go around the globe like bird flu.
Alas, there’s one little problem with the story. It isn’t true.
It came to me via the PlanetOut website. No doubt the folks there, like
yours truly, drooled over the high irony count. But wishing doesn’t
make it so and the day after PlanetOut ran with the story, Perdue’s
spokesman set the record dreadfully straight.
For a start, the governor can’t make appointments to the National
Guard, said Dan McLagan, according to an online Washington Blade piece,
which I read through my tears.
McLagan said, “[McKellen] has previously claimed that this [kind
of appointment] occurred in 1995, not 2006. The movie opening was ‘Richard
III,’ not ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ All that being said, this
guy is Gandalf and Magneto rolled into one and if he wants to join forces
with Georgia when we must battle evil, we welcome him.”
That’s funny. But it’s also a fib, since McKellen is the evil
many Georgians — including the anti-marriage-equality governor — continue
The Blade piece noted McKellen’s website carries virtually the same
story as the one I briefly adored, but the movie was “Richard III.” So
either Sir Ian likes to recycle a good story, or the Daily News is dazed
and confused. Either way, I shan’t recover for some time.
All I can do now is share the view of Chuck Bowen, executive director of
Georgia Equality, who said, “Alas, if it were only true!”
If McKellen had been made an officer in the Georgia National Guard, it
would highlight what a foolish mess “Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell” is. Plus, a force with Gandalf on its side would win without
firing a shot. Any enemy who’s seen “Lord of the Rings” would
hightail it home the moment McKellen bellowed, “You shall not pass!”