Was Austrian Right Winger Gay?
On Oct. 11, Jorg Haider, the longtime leader of a far-right political movement in Austria, died in an auto accident in his native country. I wrote an obituary of Haider on deadline for the next day's Post.
He was 58 and had regained a measure of power in Austrian parliamentary elections just two weeks before he died. In the 1990s, he had been one of the country's most powerful political figures, sparking an international backlash from nations that wanted to have nothing to do with a government leaning closer to Austria's not entirely resolved Nazi heritage. (Haider was a supporter of Kurt Waldheim, the Austrian president who had been exposed as a member of the Nazi army in World War II.)
I discovered many curious things about Haider, including the fact that both of his parents were members of the Nazi party and that he had expressed admiration for Hitler. Now, two weeks after Haider's death, an even more curious storyline has emerged. The Associated Press and New York Times have published stories suggesting that the macho symbol of Austria's return to traditional values might have been gay.
Haider was married and had two children, but his successor as leader of the right-wing Alliance for the Future of Austria is quoted by the Times saying, "Jörg and I were connected by something truly special. He was the man of my life."
From the AP story: "For decades, rumors had swirled that Haider might be gay. Some had even taken to calling his political bloc the "Boys' Party" because Haider's entourage often included a bevy of tanned young men."
Apparently, Haider had been drinking at a gay bar in the Austrian city of Klagenfurt -- the capital of the Carinthia region, of which Haider was governor -- shortly before he was in a high-speed crash.
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