This post first appeared on Houstini.com on February 21, 2012.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Conservative talk radio host and former city council member Michael Berry has been implicated in a hit-and-run accident outside of T.C.'s show bar last month. Berry has not been charged with a crime. In Texas leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor
KPRC reports that a bouncer for the gay bar witnessed a hit-and-run collision on Jan. 31. The bouncer, Tuderia Bennett, wrote down the license plate of the vehicle and later identified Berry, the owner of the vehicle, as the man he had seen driving. Since then video of Berry inside the bar has been released.
And then the blogosphere exploded:
Houston Chronicle Newswatch blog: Michael Berry accused of ramming vehicle at gay club
Perez Hilton: Um, Oops? Conservative Radio Host Accused Of Hit-And-Run After Visiting Gay Bar
Texas Observer: Homophobic Radio Host Busted at Gay Bar
Towleroad: Conservative Talk Radio Host Michael Berry Was Definitely At That Gay Bar In Houston ...
The site GayHomophobe.com even added Berry to their listing of famous homophobes later caught up in gay sex scandals.
The only issue with all this schadenfreude is that, as far as I can tell, Michael Berry isn't particularly homophobic. The radio host has criticized other right-wing personalities for their homophobia. I've spent a considerable amount of time listening to old episodes of Berry's show over the last few days (a painful experience) and I've yet to find anything hateful toward the LGBT community (please correct me if I've missed something).
Controversial black-face drag character Shirley Q. Liquor is a regular guest on Berry's program, which would seem to indicate that Berry at least has no issue with drag queens (nor, would it seem, does Berry have any issues with astoundingly racially insensitive performances that rely on the most vulgar of African-American stereotypes).
I'm not saying that Michael Berry's good guy (he once advocating bombing a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan), but I have to question why the media in general, and the LGBT media in particular, have been so quick to paint him as a homophobe caught with his pants down.
Perhaps after decades of Sen. Larry "wide stance" Craig and George "luggage lifter" Rekers it's an easy narrative to latch on to. But it's concerning that this story has become about Michael Berry being the sort of person who (allegedly) visits gay bars instead of being about Michael Berry being the sort of jerk who (allegedly) hits a parked car and then drives off.
A conservative radio host walks into a gay bar, walks out, gets into his car, hits another car, and drives off ... and what we find shocking isn't the crime, but that he was in a gay bar.
What a joke.