I’ve been quiet about Larry Craig, the Idaho senator who was caught soliciting sex in an airport men’s room. And now I’ll tell you why.
While the “joys of (toilet) sex” make for bawdy bathroom humor, Craig’s actions are difficult to discuss in a honest manner—especially for a gay like myself.
You see, up until now, bathroom sex—whether it be at Meier&Frank, PSU or City Hall—has been one of those dirty little secrets that no one, and I mean no one, ever talks about. There are a whole lot of men having sex with men—whether they identify as gay or not—who would like to keep it that way. I promise that by just writing about this, I will get letters telling me, “You’ve ruined everything.”
What I find fascinating about the Craig crisis—like the situations with Mark Foley and the Senate pages—is how, of all people, it’s our country’s staunchest conservatives, Republicans, who’ve blown the lid off of this once private Pandora’s box. It’s as if their darkest fears of themselves have come back to not only haunt these politicos, but destroy them as well. Who would have thought a few years ago that some old white guys would end up teaching the world how to solicit sex in a bathroom stall? And now, mind-boggling as it is, the secret lives of the GOPs (gay-acting old politicians) are out. It’s just a matter of time before another elected official is caught with his pants down around the ankles of another man.
So, why should anyone but Jay Leno care?
Beyond my fear that there will be an increase in bathroom-stall toe-tapping, here’s the thing: Political sex scandals are as old as politics itself, but what this sordid same-sex mess has really exposed is how hard it is to be true to oneself, no matter who, or how powerful, you are. It goes way beyond the hypocrisy of Craig’s anti-gay voting record, and delves into the dark recesses of self-loathing and, even worse, self-sabotage. Think about it. Sen. Craig made himself fit the conservatives’ idea of moral rectitude, from head to toe—only to find that right toe providing the release he wanted in an airport bathroom. That tap-tap-tapping was his way of saying, “Hey, dude, are you like me?” What happened, once he found out the guy wasn’t, probably wasn’t much of a surprise for the old fart.
That’s because I think Craig knew his high-risk behavior might eventually catch up with him. It’s much easier to beat yourself up for something “stupid” you did than to deal with the much bigger issue at hand—like the fact that you might be gay. Openly gay guys learned this long ago—that’s why they are out. Authentic queers are having just as much illicit sex as the closeted guys, but they are savvy enough not to get caught.
Forget gay marriage. The real problem is, this country is run by a whole lot of self-loathing gay men. If they can’t take care of themselves, how can they ever take care of us?