I had just about worked up a head of steam about Mark Foley. And now this! Ted Haggard, whose name probably felt especially apt this weekend, is outed by a gay sex worker. Can schadenfreude get any sweeter? (Well, it could, actually, if it were revealed between now and tomorrow which White House denizen last year’s gay hooker-turned-Republican-”journalist” used to go visit.)
I suppose the extreme right’s spin on this is that homosexuals have slithered quietly into seats of power and influence, there to be outed just in time to influence the election. Maybe they’re even making all this “San Francisco values” noise to subliminally remind the US of this. It’s really not so much about that big bulldagger Nancy Pelosi after all.
(Sorry, Nancy, I suppose I should spell out for them that I’ve just used *irony*, a sharp left-wing tool that the far reaches of the GOP has not yet learned how to operate.)
|My friend Seth does the Mark Foley look on Hallowe’en with his “page” Ian.|
But these big right-wing homos are not associated with San Francisco, are they? No, WE have homosexuals who are OUT. These are Florida and Denver values on display, not San Francisco’s, and in fact, I owe another apology here to the lovely LGBT communities of Florida and Colorado who are out as well. Another moment of irony here is that in either place, Mark Foley or Ted Haggard might have chosen a very different life-path than the closet.
In fact, there’s some indication that Foley did. Besides his indiscreet attention to pages, he seems to have had an adult male partner. Plenty of people in his district seem to have known he was gay. In fact, he may have been subtle about all this, but he doesn’t seem to have put on the big lying hetero Groucho Marx nose to disguise himself when he went up to Washington; most Americans, all (and I do mean ALL) evidence to the contrary, still see a Republican and think he or she is straight. This means that until they’re outed, queer Republicans can live quiet personal lives, provided they manage to balance carefully on the horns of their particular cultural dilemma.
What better evidence of this might we need than the news, only made much of after Foley’s emails became talk of the town, that Dennis Hastert lives with a fella? *Dennis Hastert*? Of course, people didn’t speculate loudly about J. Edgar Hoover for many years either. Sometimes these bachelors just like to bunk together!
No, Foley’s an interesting case: a gay man from a not-super-conservative district who could probably live a life that was (well, interest in pages excepted) tolerably well-integrated. Aside from the hypocrisy of his favorite hobby, sending clumsy and probably not-very-welcome sex come-ons to pages while speaking loudly about exploited children, Foley could have made choices that placed him squarely in the moderate gay center. Even his “exploited kid” noise may be genuine and not smoke screen, if he really did get diddled by a man of the cloth when he was a child. Perhaps (until the front page, then rehab) he didn’t even make the connection between his own behavior and his personal history. Maybe, if what he says about his past is true, he saw himself as having more in common with those boys than he did with icky grownups who diddle.
And I have to tell you, I’m not even super-upset about Foley’s IMs. I think they were clumsy and ill-conceived. I’m guessing most of the young men with whom he communicated got them and thought they were dubious and maybe gross. But I had adults say encouraging words to me about sexuality when I was a pup, and was sometimes grateful that they did. The meaning in those individual boys’ lives of Foley’s communications might be positive, negative, or neutral; the meaning of the press and public attention can hardly be so nuanced.
Haggard, now… this guy is a horse of another color.
Here’s my favorite right-wing type: the congenial, even charismatic family man with enormous sway over the belief systems of others, which he uses to wage war against people *pretty much like himself*! The true hypocrite, that is, who takes his own “dark” urges and figures if he gives his middle name to the hooker, he can do whatever he wants in complete anonymity and then go home to the family. The kind who, as he lives this way, moves responsibility and attention as far from his own jaunts to downtown Denver hotels as far as possible by becoming a big wheel among the group of (mostly) men who instill and use people’s fear of homosexuality for personal power and political gain. They’re even anti-condom!!
Kinda makes you wonder about all the other guys, dunnit?
And the big plus? If they’re ever discovered, they just cry, pray, beg for forgiveness, and say that it proves their point: these forces of evil are all around! If anything, it fortifies their flock in its anti-gay tendencies that their shining pastor fell victim to the siren song that is HO-mo-SEX-u-AL-ity!
But their pastor isn’t a homo, he’s a hypocrite. He’s the one who called the escort. He’s the one who looked up the number in a gay paper or on a gay website. And that’s because he knew where to look, and THAT’S because, while he’s been busy with his other little homophobic pals whipping up homo-hysteria in America, he also took full advantage of a gay community whose communications network supports not only its members, but its own internal enemies.
Unless this guy allows the God of love, not homohate, into his heart, and pulls a Jim Greevey and comes out of the closet, I see only two pluses in the sordid situation: first, MY schadenfreude, which I would gladly trade forever for one closeted preacher coming out and saying the right thing about God’s diversity, self-acceptance, release from shame, and all the other elements of the speech I’d write if I were in Ted Haggard’s press corps right now. (Ted… call me!) This includes my pleasure at the sorrow of those in his flock who were too naive to understand the way these guys manipulate sexual ignorance. That is just small of me, I admit it, and if the scales were to fall from their eyes I’d be nothing but pleased.
And second, maybe, just MAYBE, it shines a light on those guys and their machinations, including a White House which, if you believe David Kuo, uses the right-wing Christians just like so many of their preachers do. Why so into abstinence-only? Well, sexually unsophisticated individuals have little ability to control and even recognize (til it’s too late) their own predators and hypocrites, for one thing.
Later this week, at the LGBT’s largest activism conference, Creating Change (held this year in Kansas City, one belly of the beast), I’m going to appear on a panel about speaking to the public about sexual freedom, and how the other side — all Ted’s friends in the evangelical movement — have such a seeming head start in sending the exact opposite message. This is an especially interesting question when you factor in what sexual freedom advocates have always known: that the anti-sex demogogues are just as likely as their swinger neighbors to want sexual freedom *for themselves*. They just don’t want it for you and me, their kids, their neighbors, their parishoners.
They’re hypocrites. They’re in the pulpit, and they’re in the legislature. And what I don’t understand is, how on earth can Americans put up with having them there?