Gayest Thing: Kim Davis, the Diva Zealot

Kim Davis, showing her flair for drama!

Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images

As 2015 comes to a close, the Outward crew is in a reflective mood. In the spirit of honoring the past while boldly sashaying into the future, we will each offer a hymn of praise to the gayest thing we encountered this year. “Gayest,” in this case, is defined broadly and in the best possible sense—fabulous, delightful, glad-making, delicious, just too much, or otherwise pleasing. Join us by sharing the gayest thing you met this year in the comments or on social media.

Hundreds of sweaty bodies packed together under a radiant sun. Speakers blasting irresistible, inspirational pop music. Warm-up acts working the throng of spectators into a frenzied tizzy. And, finally, the appearance of the Star, her mysterious allure captivating the crowd, capturing their hearts with the invisible, enigmatic power of a born diva.

Or, in this case, a born-again diva. Kim Davis grabbed America’s attention when she used her position as county clerk to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in contravention of federal law. It was an interesting stunt, a borderline performance piece, but after Davis spent a few days in jail, the news cycle was clearly moving on.

Then, like any true diva, Davis seized the narrative for herself, proving that what seemed like a denouement was merely the rising action. At the climax of the Kim Davis story, the anti-gay luminary emerged from jail to headline a prayer rally. As it turns out, the woman is a born headliner: At various times during her entrancing performance, Davis sobbed, bellowed, whispered, chortled, grinned, screamed, and, of course, prayed—the darkly thrilling prayers of millenarian, the orisons that precede, or perhaps precipitate, the end times.

But Davis’ plea for the rapture wasn’t merely rapturous. It was also a revelation for moderate Davis supporters, who might be naturally inclined to support a lone clerk’s freedom over a hulking government’s coercion. The prayer rally revealed Davis for what she was: An especially devout member of the far right-wing fringe, a severe reactionary who vehemently supports the complete dismantlement of our already-dilapidated wall of separation between church and state. Kim Davis is not your friendly church-going neighbor or your kind but stringently pious aunt. She is not an uncommonly intense church lady or a typical gay marriage opponent in an atypical position. She is a theocratic extremist, hell-bent on subsuming federal law to her religious right to discriminate against gays. Kim Davis put a face on the previously abstract opposition to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. It was not a face many Americans wished to see reflected in the mirror. And so, in an ironic twist fitting for the Davis soap opera, this small-town Kentucky clerk became one of the year’s biggest gifts to gay rights.

Thank you for fighting, Kim. 

Other Gayest Things: 
Tops & Bottoms
Ex Machina