Surprise! Bill Cosby Is Vindictive Toward Queer Women

The latest turn in the Bill Cosby saga is pretty interesting: Two news stories came up today about Cosby’s interactions with queer women.

The first isn’t even fair to call an “interaction,” because it concerns one of his sexual assault accusers, Andrea Constand. Constand is fighting to dissolve the confidentiality clause of a 2006 settlement with the comedian, claiming that Cosby himself broke that confidentiality clause by making disparaging public statements about Constand. She wants the judge to release all of the documents in her case so that she can defend her reputation.

On Tuesday this week, though, Constand clarified that she is a lesbian, taking aim at Cosby’s claims that he’s adept at reading “people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things, whatever you want to call them,” as detailed in a New York Times-released excerpt of Cosby’s 2006 deposition. If he’s so adept, Constand and her lawyers are pointing out, then it sure would’ve been useful for him to have read the fact that she had no interest in having sex with any man.

The second story is about Janis Ian, the pop singer of the 1966 song “Society’s Child,” about an interracial relationship (and, now I understand, inspiration for the Janis Ian of Mean Girls). Ian was set to perform the song on the Smothers Brothers’ TV show, and showed up with her mentor-slash-manager, a woman who was six or seven years older than the then-16-year-old Ian. Ian had been getting death threats over the song for weeks and had had nightmares and trouble sleeping. While they were waiting to be called on set, Ian explains in a Facebook post:

“I fell asleep in my chaperone’s lap. She was earth motherly, I was scared. It was good to rest.

“We taped the show. I had a ball. (You can see it on Youtube, in fact. That’s me, looking scared, in the green dress. My friend Buffy from East Orange, where I’d started high school, made it for me. I treasured it.) Then we went back to New York, and I went back to school.

“A while later, my manager called me into her office. ‘What happened at the Smothers Brothers show?!’ I had no idea what she was talking about, and said so. ‘Well, no one else on TV is willing to have you on. Not out there, anyway.’ Why? I wondered. And was told that Cosby, seeing me asleep in the chaperone’s lap, had made it his business to ‘warn’ other shows that I wasn’t ‘suitable family entertainment’, was probably a lesbian, and shouldn’t be on television…Banned from TV. Unbelievable.”

So it turns out that Cosby’s “respectability politics” extended not only to young blacks – although obviously, as a focal point of his stand-up routines, it extended the most publicly – but also to young queers (Ian came out in the late 80s). And, in fact, it seems like his strategy with queer women is to attempt to do them public harm by calling them liars (in Constand’s case) or perverts (in Ian’s). So, scumbag all around. Good to know.


[New York Times]



[Image via Getty]

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