Jörg Haider died on the night of October 11th. After having some drinks with his partner, Stefan Petzner, the two started arguing. Upset, Haider got into his car and sped towards home. He was drunk and driving far faster than the speed limit. His car ran off the road and flipped twice.
Now Stefan Petzner, who has taken over as the conservative party's leader since the night of Haider's death, is speaking out about their love:
“We had a special relationship that went far beyond friendship,” the successor, Stefan Petzner, a former fashion and cosmetics reporter, said Sunday in a highly emotional interview on Austrian Radio 3. “Jörg and I were connected by something truly special. He was the man of my life.”The Times goes on to note that Haidar was maried and had two children, and that "he had cultivated a macho, man-of-the-people persona." And, of course, there are those in his party who insist that the rumors of an intimate relationship between Petzner and Haidar are false - that the sightings of the two men at gay clubs are inventions and that Petzner was speaking only of their friendship in particularly tender terms. Yet, Haidar's relationship with Petzner has been an open secret for years. From an article published in 2000, it seems like Haidar's affair can't truely be such a surprise:
Haider, who has become a target of criticism across Europe ever since his right-wing Freedom Party joined the ruling Austrian government, is widely known to be gay, according to Berlin's Tageszeitung and the Austrian paper Der Standard. "We've known about Haider's homosexuality for about ten years," stated the Austrian gay-activist group Homosexual Initiative.What most bothers me is that Haidar and Petzner were clearly in a loving relationship. As the head of Austria's most conservative and anti-gay party, Haidar was not promoting an agenda of intolerance while feeling guilty about a one-night stand. He had a long term partner and a loving relationship. Why fight to undermine the ability of other couples to find that happiness - why undermine the chances of your own relationship being respected?
Since Haider cannot answer me, this is the question I put to other gay politicians and religious leaders who seem to work tirelessly against their own best interests. Let's start with the Log Cabin Republicans - why?