Yet another Republican senator has a gay sex scandal; Larry Craig of Idaho has pled guilty to disorderly conduct for soliciting sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. It's your usual gay scandal; months of rumours, denials in the press, heck, he even figures in the 1982 congressional page scandal. And now, busted for cruising a tearoom. He's a defence-of-marriage anti-gay-rights Republican bastard, so there's some pleasure in his fall.
But I've known men like Larry Craig and so I have some sympathy for him.
I don't go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn't do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!" — Larry CraigGay men of his generation didn't have an easy time figuring themselves out. Fourty-five years ago homosexuality was classified a sickness and being gay was not a respectable option. A lot of homosexual men followed the easy path, got married, had kids, and pretended to be straight. And pushed their homosexuality way down inside themselves, bottled it up.
The insidious and awful thing about the closeted life is that self-deception makes it easier. I fully believe Larry Craig when he says he's not gay, because in his mind and in his public life he's not gay. It's just he'd be so much happier if he actually were gay, instead of a furtive homosexual. Here he is living a public straight life, then skulking into bathrooms to satisfy a compulsive desire that shames and frightens him. Taking terrible risks, mostly getting away with it. Until today, when he's caught, and his career and life are destroyed in public.
So I find men like Larry Craig sympathetic, a little bit tragic. Such a painful life for him the past forty-five years. It's a common story. It's not easy to be gay today; it was a lot harder growing up in the 1950s in Idaho. I don't judge a man for succumbing to societal pressure.
But I do judge a politician for succumbing to the offensive anti-gay positions of the Republican Party, no matter what his sexual orientation is. And for that, I'm glad to see Craig on the road to losing his position as a senator. I hope he'll come out as gay, get back into politics, and make something of himself as a real man. I've seen that transformation. The gay men who discover themselves in their 50s and 60s come through to living a much happier life.