When we say that something has "long [been] an open secret," what do we mean? Within a family, I guess it's the kind of thing people hint at, all the adults understand, the kids ask embarrassing questions about, no one actually talks about it, grandma might not know although she probably actually does; the drug addict uncle or whatever.
When you're talking about people in the public eye, though, it means something related but different in significant ways. There, it means that everyone in that person's peer group knows the "secret," and, whether explicitly or tacitly, accepts it, and they all collaborate in keeping knowledge of it from the public in whose eye they are*: Isherwood and Auden didn't run around outing each other, for example. And that's all just fine and dandy, though of course it takes on a somewhat different cast, as all things do, when you place it in a context of power--as with Mehlman.
My point in all this is to say, the only thing Ken Mehlman cares about less than Melissa McEwan's "pity" is the lives of gay people in general. Gay people in his own class have it set, so why should he care? It's good that McEwan "can't imagine the self-loathing, the discomfort in one's own skin, the profound disassociation of self that happens with the subjugation of authenticity behind thin façade, that exists within someone who had the professional life he did," because I can pretty much guarantee you that none of that did, in fact, exist for Mehlman. Neither he nor most of his fellow members of the ruling classes have a problem with his being gay, and for those who do, these problems are overridden by the more important commonalities they share as a result of being members of that class. If only we at the bottom could realize that they feel that way, we could stop telling fairy (ha!) stories about these people, and stop feeling "pity" for them, and start maybe feeling some of that class solidarity ourselves, down here.
Mehlman may be lying when he says that "over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive," but the lie is contained only before the first comma.
In other Mehlman news, Zen Comix made me laugh for like an hour.
*Normally I don't give a shit about dangling prepositions, but that structure popped into my head and cracked me up, so allow me this small pleasure if you will.