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Cunanan investigation creates unease in gay community


Some fear disclosures about sexual identity

July 24, 1997
Web posted at: 11:18 p.m. EDT (0318 GMT)

From Correspondent Charles Feldman

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Andrew Cunanan may have been stricken from the FBI's Most Wanted list. But that face, those eyes, that enigmatic smirk -- all continue to strike fear into the hearts of some gay people.

They are the ones still in the closet, who choose to remain in the shadows -- wealthy businessmen, civic leaders, people who occupy lofty positions in society but who have not publicly disclosed their sexual identity.

Because Cunanan was known to have moved in elite gay social circles, there are those who fear that the ongoing police investigation into his cross-country crime spree could find its way to their doorsteps.

"There is still some fear from his former benefactors and associates that he could still yank them out of the closet, even from the grave -- by maybe having written a letter or, if nothing else, leaving a note," says Nicole Ramirez Murray, a society columnist for a San Diego gay publication.

"It is possible that the investigation may lead to the doors of closeted individuals. It is possible that those individuals might be outed in their personal life," says Bruce Steele of Out, a national gay and lesbian magazine.

vxtreme CNN's Charles Feldman

Police investigators aren't the only worry. Murray says tabloid reporters have been seen lurking around San Diego, asking questions about whom Cunanan knew.

"They are looking for some names," he says.

Some might ask why in this day and age, when prominent public figures such as actress Ellen DeGeneres -- or designer Gianni Versace, for that matter -- are openly gay, the possibility of such revelations cause so much fear.


But Judy Weider, editor-in-chief of The Advocate, another national gay and lesbian magazine, says coming out as DeGeneres did on her TV series is a much different proposition than being linked to an accused murderer.

"Ellen coming out on the cover of Time magazine is taking control of her life and making that decision and being in some sort of shape at that point to accept what the consequences will be," Weider says. "I think that somebody linked to somebody suddenly has to deal with the fact that they're being essentially outed."

"It's out of their control, and they may not be ready for it."

Their fear, then, is that Andrew Cunanan may have given them no choice.

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