Monday, September 03, 2007

McGreevey Explains Why We Are Here

This has got to take the prize for the most interesting thing in the paper this morning. You will remember that James McGreevey was the governor of New Jersey who resigned after it was revealed that he was having an affair with a male employee. McGreevey's opinion piece in this morning's Post lends us some understanding that a lot of us wouldn't have otherwise. Check this out:
My gut wrenched when I read of Sen. Larry Craig's bathroom arrest. I remembered my own late-night encounter with the law at a Garden State Parkway rest stop following a political dinner in north Jersey.

I pulled into the rest stop, parked my car, flashed my headlights, which was "the signal," and waited. Glancing in my rearview mirror, I saw a state trooper approaching. I desperately tried to convince the trooper of my innocence, showing him my former prosecutor's badge, a gift from the office when I left. The trooper radioed his office and returned. "I never want to see you here again," he said. I survived for another day.

I was in my late 20s. It would be another 25 years before my parallel lives collided and I was coerced out of the "closet."

Why do grown men in their 20s, or their 60s, do such things? I can answer only for me.

As a child, recognizing my difference from other kids, I went to the local public library to try to better understand my reality. Back then, many library card catalogues didn't even list "homosexuality" as a topic. I had to go to "sexuality, deviant" to learn about myself, and the collected works were few and frightening: "Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases," "Homosexuality: Its Causes and Cure," "Sexual Deviance & Sexual Deviants."

If you haven't experienced it, it may be hard to understand the sinking feeling most every gay boy or girl of my generation experienced upon coming across that section of the library. All I could do was slam the drawer closed and leave, steeped in hopelessness.

No relief was forthcoming from my then-Catholic faith, which said the practice of homosexuality was a "mortal sin" subject to damnation.

In the way that teenagers do, I came to the conclusion that my only options were suicide, something for which I could never find the courage, or "closeting" my homosexuality. After all the whispering, fights, insults, reading of academic journals and lessons from the church, you simply say to yourself: This thing, being gay, can't be me. Everything and everyone told me it was wrong, evil, unnatural and shameful. You decide: I'll change it, I'll fight it, I'll control it, but, simply put, I'll never accept it. You then attempt to place "it" in a metaphorical closet, keep it separate from open daily life and indulge it only in dark, secret places.

The danger of this decision is the implicit shame it carries. I was convinced I was worth less than my straight peers. I was at best inauthentic, and the longer I went without amending that dishonesty, the more ashamed I felt. And the third shame, for me, was my behavior. From the time in high school when I made up my mind to behave in public as though I were straight, I nonetheless carried on sexually with men.

How do you live with this shame? How do you accommodate your own disappointments, your own revulsion with whom you have become? You do it by splitting in two. You rescue part of yourself, the half that stands for tradition, values and America, the part that looks like the family you came from, and you walk away from the other half the way you would abandon something spoiled, something disgusting. This is a false amputation, because the other half doesn't stop existing. When I decided to closet my desire, I also denied the possibility of life as a healthy, integrated gay.

But being in the closet uniquely assisted me in politics. From my first run for the state legislature until my election as governor, all too often I was not leading but following my best guess at public opinion. Politics was for me a way to secure the crowd's approbation while maintaining a busyness that obfuscated the desires of my heart. Despite being a moderately liberal governor, my stance on marriage was: "between a man and a woman." The position, in my mind, created a tension with the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community that affirmed my bona fides as a "straight." Only after the crisis that resulted in my resignation, when public opinion no longer mattered, did I realize the importance and legitimacy of same-sex marriage.

Ultimately, like Sen. Craig, I resigned for the perceived good of my family, state and political party. And in so doing, I at long last accepted a fundamental truth, namely, that I am a gay American. In my soul, I found peace. In my heart, I found love. In my psyche, I disassembled the twisted separate strands of my life to create a healthy integrated person. And with my God, I found purpose.

I can only pray that Larry Craig and his loving family come to peace with his truth, whatever that may be. To those who judge him harshly, I ask that they fill their hearts with compassion and equanimity. The senator did not have a lover on the payroll, as I did; nor did he engage in sexual relations for money or use his office for unethical professional or personal gain.

Is it possible that we hold him to a different standard because a same-sex entanglement is involved? If being gay is, as I believe, a natural gift of the creator, what choice does a gay person have in being gay? If we condemn sin in an equal manner, so be it. But what if our condemnation tells to members of the next generation that they are to be shamed, repudiated and vilified inequitably for being gay?

I pray that the tide of American history continues to sweep toward the inevitable expansion of freedom that recognizes the worth and dignity of every individual -- and that mine is the last generation that is required to choose between affairs of the heart and elected office.

I don't have anything to add to that; he has explained, better than I ever could, why there is a


Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

My wife saw the McGreevey column early this morning, and read it out loud. As hard as it was for our children in the 1990s, it was so much more difficult before. No child should have to go through what McGreevey (and countless others) went through.

September 03, 2007 3:55 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

I experienced life just as Jim did. He has said it better than I ever have.

September 03, 2007 4:15 PM  
Anonymous flapjack bob said...

"I don't have anything to add to that; he has explained, better than I ever could, why there is a"

If that's what TTF is all about, it's a good thing you didn't say anything because I haven't heard anything as non-judgmental and compassionate from any TTFer. You obviously don't know how to express yourself.

Here's something we haven't read from a TTFer:

"To those who judge him harshly, I ask that they fill their hearts with compassion and equanimity. The senator did not have a lover on the payroll, as I did; nor did he engage in sexual relations for money or use his office for unethical professional or personal gain."

Indeed, considering how worried TTF professes to be about civil rights implications of Bush policies, it's surprising that you have no problem with police arresting people for some asssumed body language and then pressuring them into a confession for a non-crime. Mind-boggling, really.

Of course, this whole incident also highlights another aspect that emphatically denied:

The irresistible appeal of anonymous sexual encounters among gays.

September 03, 2007 10:52 PM  
Anonymous youwish said...

Hey, Flapjack.

You said:

"The irresistible appeal of anonymous sexual encounters among gays."

Hmm. Interesting. Are you trying to say that non-gay people do not have anonymous sexual encounters? That's a laugh if I ever heard one!

September 04, 2007 6:13 AM  
Anonymous flapjack bob said...

"Are you trying to say that non-gay people do not have anonymous sexual encounters?"

It's nowhere near as prevalent. Not even anywhere close. Common knowledge. There are few gays that haven't done it. There are few straights that do. Andrew Sullivan, Mcgreevy- that all acknowledge it.

Here's a quote from Mike Rogers, prominent gay blogger who has received a lot of attention from the media this week:

"I write about closeted people whose records are anti-gay. If you're Democrat or Republican and you don't bash gays or vote against gays rights to gain political points, I won't out you."

You see, Republicans are no more prone to this stuff than Democrats. It's just that there is a concerted effort by radical forces to find pro-family politicians that are.

September 04, 2007 7:11 AM  
Anonymous youwish said...

You are so messed up, Flapjack.

God loves everyone, remember that. Even morons like you.

September 04, 2007 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Mrs. McGreevey has an interesting perspective on closeted lives. This excerpt is from a Newsweek interview in May of this year.

You write that one of the places you went for help was to the Straight Spouse Network, an online support group for women—and men—who learn that their spouses are gay or lesbian. What did you get from this group?
The day after the press conference was the first time I had ever heard the term “straight spouse.” I thought ‘what does that mean?” I saw a TV interview on "Good Morning America" with the founder of the group, [sociologist] Amity Buxton, and another woman. It helped me realize the magnitude of the problem. I’ve seen numerous statistics; one says there are 2 million straight people married to someone who is gay.

I was recently at a cocktail party, there were 25-30 people in the room, and there were three of us [who had been in that situation]. I think the numbers are actually larger. I hear from people all the time who live with this secrecy.

Did it help you, getting counseling from this group?
I met with Amity Buxton a couple of weeks after the press conference. To talk to her and know she survived this made me realize there’s a chance I’ll survive this too.

It’s more common than you might imagine. Maybe relief isn’t the right word, but it gave me a sense of peace, [that] there’s nothing wrong with me by not recognizing what was going on in my marriage....

You write that when the story broke, Jim McGreevey instructed you to say if a reporter asked you, that you were “sensitive” to the issue of gay marriage. For the record, do you have a position on same-sex marriage?
As a practicing Catholic, I believe marriage, the actual term “marriage,” is between a man and a woman. I think it’s important that partnerships between same-sex couples are protected. Working in health care, I’ve seen firsthand what some of the issue are. Four or five months before Jim came out, one of my co-workers who is gay; came to me and knew that Jim had passed a domestic-partnership law; and needed some information because his partner was facing a serious illness. I hope all gays will have those [legal] rights so that gay people can live authentic lives like everyone else. It should be the norm, not the exception. Then what happened to me wouldn’t be happening to other people.

According to Wikipedia, U.S. residents spent $469.5 million on online dating and personals in 2004, and over $500 million in 2005, the second largest segment of “paid content” on the web, according to a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and comScore Networks.

At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38 percent increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc.

In honor of Senator Craig, I recommend navigating to for any US city or state and then clicking on "casual encounters" under "Personals" to see for yourself how common hooking up is, regardless of sexual orientation.

September 04, 2007 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What will those heterosexuals think of next?

"In Her Breast Interest

Washington Post 9-4-07, Page C8

"Would you let a man pay for your new breasts?" asks Elle magazine.

Actually, the real question raised by Elle's article is: Would you let a bunch of creepy guys you've never met pay for your breast implants by spending hours chatting with them on a Web site called

The Web site -- conceived during a drunken bachelor party in Las Vegas -- works like this: A woman who wants breast implants but can't afford them posts her photo on the site. Guys who are intrigued can e-mail her for $1.20 per message, with $1 going to the woman and 20 cents to the Web site. Obviously, it's in the woman's best interest to keep the e-mail exchange going as long as possible.

The money is kept in an escrow account until the woman earns enough to pay for her breast implants. Then the money is sent directly to her plastic surgeon so the guys can be sure that she doesn't waste their dough on something like college tuition or food for her children.

"It's a bit old-fashioned, but many men like being providers and helping women out financially," says Jay Moore, a Santa Cruz, Calif., bartender who co-founded the site. "Also, many men have a fantasy about building the perfect woman."

Megan Deem, who wrote the story, doesn't reveal exactly how many breasts have been enhanced through this Web site, but she did interview several satisfied customers. One is Lindsay Rink, 22, "a professional body piercer in Columbus, Ohio." Rink was so happy with her experience that she got a tattoo on her calf that shows a woman's head and chest and the words, "My Free Implants."

"No matter how much of a live-and-let-live type you are," Deem concludes, "you have to admit there's something off in our collective priorities if a man would spend his so-called charitable dollars on some stranger's boob job."

Ya think?"

September 04, 2007 1:39 PM  
Anonymous K.A. said...

flapjack bob said:
"The irresistible appeal of anonymous sexual encounters among gays."

Does that encompass lesbians too?
I think not.

Usually only when they're closeted.

Only as much as the male sex drive.

September 04, 2007 10:21 PM  
Anonymous knapsack rob said...

Here's a member of the media who got it right. Nancy Gibbs in this week's Time:

"one gleeful wing of the commentariat seized on Craig as just the latest family-values conservative unmasked as a hypocrite for opposing gay marriage in public while soliciting gay sex in private--even though if Craig truly believes homosexuality is wrong, his fault would be weakness, not hypocrisy"

Saying he's a hypocrite for voting against gay marriage while looking for anonymous gay encounters is like saying that John Kennedy is a hypocrite because he had an affair with Marilyn Monroe while supporting the illegalization of prostitution.

Of course, on a scary note, Sen Craig is now reconsidering resigning. Yikes.

September 05, 2007 5:52 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Today's NY Times published an article about Craigslist and prostitution. Here's a couple of excerpts and a link to the rest of the article.

Prostitution Targeted on Craigslist

GARDEN CITY, N.Y., Sept. 4 — The eight women visited Long Island this summer along with vacationing families and other business travelers, staying in hotels and motels in commercial strips in middle-class suburbs like East Garden City, Hicksville and Woodbury. Their ages ranged from 20 to 32.

Three had come all the way from the San Francisco Bay area, one from Miami. Two lived less than 60 miles away, in Newark and Elizabeth, N.J. and two even closer, in Brooklyn.

All eight were arrested on prostitution charges here, snared in a new sting operation by the Nassau County police that focuses on, the ubiquitous Web site best known for its employment and for-sale advertisements but which law enforcement officials say is increasingly also used to trade sex for money.

Nassau County has made more than 70 arrests since it began focusing on Craigslist last year, one of numerous crackdowns by vice squads from Hawaii to New Hampshire that have lately been monitoring the Web site closely, sometimes placing decoy ads to catch would-be customers.

“Craigslist has become the high-tech 42nd Street, where much of the solicitation takes place now,” said Richard McGuire, Nassau’s assistant chief of detectives. “Technology has worked its way into every profession, including the oldest.”

Augmenting traditional surveillance of street walkers, massage parlors, brothels and escort services, investigators are now hunching over computer screens to scroll through provocative cyber-ads in search of solicitors.

In July raids, the sheriff of Cook County, Ill., rounded up 43 women working on the streets — and 60 who advertised on Craigslist. In Seattle, a covert police ad on Craigslist in November resulted in the arrests of 71 men, including a bank officer, a construction worker and a surgeon.

And in Jacksonville, Fla., a single ad the police posted for three days in August netted 33 men, among them a teacher and a firefighter. “We got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hits” in phone calls and e-mail messages, said John P. Hartley, the assistant chief sheriff there.

Sex and the Internet have been intertwined almost since the first Web site, but the authorities say that prostitution is flourishing online as never before. And while prostitutes also advertise on other sites, the police here and across the country say Craigslist is by far the favorite. On one recent day, for example, some 9,000 listings were added to the site’s “Erotic Services” category in the New York region alone: Most offered massage and escorts, often hinting at more.

...With listings for some 450 cities around the world, Craigslist claims to have 25 million users and 8 billion page views a month. Posting advertisements, except those in the employment and some housing categories, is free, as is responding to them by e-mail.

...Law enforcement officials ask why Craigslist even includes Erotic Services among its 191 categories. Mr. Buckmaster, the company president, said the site created that category “at the request of our users” for legitimate massage, escorts and exotic dancers..."

Continues at

September 05, 2007 7:11 AM  
Anonymous TrueBlueHue said...

"Of course, on a scary note, Sen Craig is now reconsidering resigning. Yikes."

It's scary for the GOP, especially if Craig runs for reelection in 2008. The last thing the GOP needs is another hypocrite tainted election, especially with 22 GOP Senate seats in play.

September 05, 2007 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Lawyers for Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho delivered a letter to the Senate ethics committee today asking the committee to reject a complaint relating to his guilty plea in an airport sex sting operation. The move opens a potentially ugly battle between Mr. Craig and the Republican leadership, as Mr. Craig reconsiders his plans to resign from the Senate. "

September 05, 2007 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's scary for the GOP, especially if Craig runs for reelection in 2008. The last thing the GOP needs is another hypocrite tainted election, especially with 22 GOP Senate seats in play."

No problem. Craig will never be nominated. The Idaho seat remains safe.

September 05, 2007 1:19 PM  
Anonymous TrueBlueHue said...

I wonder how many of the expected 4,000 GOP delegates and alternates, 10,000 volunteers, and 15,000 media people will stop by to visit the "Senator Craig Footsie Stall" in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport mens room on their way to the 2008 GOP convention.

Somebody should put up a plaque.

September 06, 2007 10:31 AM  

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