Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gov Clinton's Lesbian Chief of Staff
Faces Felonies; NYT 'Ins' Betsey Wright?

My friend Carl Goodman in May 1992 persuaded me to travel to Little Rock as part of the ACT UP/Presidential Project, in the week leading up to the state's primary, which, of course, was going to be a cakewalk for Bill Clinton.

Local gay/AIDS leaders were quite nervous about anyone showing up from ACT UP, much less me, and said so before we left the Big Apple for our long drive to Little Rock. But once we arrived, the leaders and regular gay folks could not have been more hospital to us outside agitators, there with one goal: Get Clinton to denounce his state's anti-homo sodomy and bestiality law, which was enacted while he was attorney general.

Upon arrival, Carl dropped in on the Clinton election HQ, made nice, and requested a meeting with Betsey Wright, his gubernatorial chief of staff and top campaign strategist, and a lesbian. She agreed to meet with us, and local gays.

In a windowless air-conditioned room, early in the day, the following gays and lesbians met to discuss demands we were making on the candidate: Wright, buddy Carl, local gay leaders Kerry Lobel, Jan Michael Hodges and Eric Camp, and myself.

The immediate thing we wanted was a statement from Clinton, by 5 PM that day, saying he didn't support the state's sodomy law. I recall telling Wright in no uncertain terms there would be unspecified zaps and continued public yelling at Clinton on the campaign trail and certainly when he came to NYC for the Democratic convention.

Sure enough, Wright contacted the boss, explained things to him, and by the end of business that day, she faxed out a statement to the press and gay orgs, announcing Clinton's opposition to the sodomy statute. This is why I always think positive things about her, even when she was handling the bimbo eruptions for Slick Willie and other sordid business for him.

Wright this week was charged with 51 felonies stemming from an alleged attempt to smuggle tattoo needles and Doritos into an Arkansas prison for a death row inmate. She is now an ardent opponent to the death penalty. I find it difficult to swallow what she is guilty of what she's charged with and await the presentation of evidence by the prosecutor in this case.

There have been lots of stories about the filing of the felonies, but I can't find a single story through Googling the news accounts that mentions Wright is a lesbian. The press has 'inned' Wright, including the New York Times, which noted her colorful life that has been portrayed on the silver screen:

It is widely assumed that the journalist Joe Klein borrowed heavily from her persona to create the character of Libby Holden, an aggressive, no-nonsense political aide, in his novel “Primary Colors.” Kathy Bates portrayed Libby Holden in the film based on the novel.

In a review of the film from the All Movie guide web site, and oddly enough posted at the NY Times' site even though it's not the paper's review of it, Holden/Wright's same-sex orientation is plainly stated:

To get a handle on past peccadillos, Stanton's staff brings in an old family friend, lesbian Libby Holden (Kathy Bates), who knows how to clean up dirt.

That's just one of the many references out there on the web about the fictional character's lesbianism, something never protested or denied by Wright. All I'd like from the mainstream media is just a passing reference to the fact that Wright is a lesbian, in addition to telling us how old she is and what the charges entail.

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