Sunday, September 02, 2007

Last notes on Craig

Much has been written about the Craig debacle over the past days and I was glad to add my essay on closeted gay conservatives to the fray. If you haven't read it, I welcome you to do so. It's a bit different than some of the angry political barbs flying back and forth. And the comment section is wonderful. The whole thing has given me pause, so here's a few notes in closing.

All Craig allegedly did was solicit consensual adult sex. No kids, no blood, no guns, no drugs. Didn't all us liberals hate the lynching Clinton withstood over a consensual blow job?

It is homophobia that forces gays into the closet (or bathroom).

Imagine being a 12-year-old boy with burgeoning feelings of homosexuality. Imagine being surrounded by homophobic adult males. In the worst case, they're talking about how that little queer got what he deserved. Or maybe their talking about how all the homos are going to burn in hell.

The fear and shame that would instill are unspeakable--something a heterosexual person cannot fully understand. And the fear is real. Homophobia cost Matthew Sheppard his life. Back in the 80s, a gay friend of mine was beat to an inch of his life by Cleveland mafioso street thugs. They did it just for kicks.

Is it any surprise that a young gay boy would do ANYTHING to convince those around him that he is not gay? That he would tell himself I've got to act like I hate gays too. And I better be convincing. I better cry out against it and politic against it and maybe if I shout loud enough, I'll even start to convince myself.

That sort of overcompensation makes perfect sense to me. And that's why I'm hesitant to use the word hypocrite.

Sure, one can say that, as an adult, Craig or others like him should come clean. But once you are ensconced in the lie, it gets harder and harder and harder to break out of it--there is more at stake, more people involved.

One note to those who are quick to say Craig or others like him are putting their wives' health at risk. I don't think its fair to assume he did not practice safe sex. Or that his wife did not know of his practices. We have no idea about these things. Would it be fair to make the same claim of any bisexual man? That his female partners are at risk and that he should be vilified for it?

Despite our perceived sophistication, homophobia still riddles our society. It seems worse for the men. In my experience, straight women happily embrace gay women as friends and feel no threat. But seeing gay and straight guys hanging out together isn't so common. Even the most liberal guys I know feel a need to occasionally announce that they are on the straight side of the fence. They have a way of conferring that they are secure in their manhood. They often wrap it around a joke or weave it casually into conversation.

Homosexuality is an elemental part of the human experience.

It should be considered by everyone as a personal and inalienable right. Craig's demise (or Foley's or Haggert's ) is really the liberal's opportunity to draw attention to this in an intelligent way.

Peace out--

Erin

10 comments:

Carol said...

Erin,

I agree with your consensus. I will add one thing about living the lie.

When I first came out, I was an active member of a very conservative evangelical christian church. I worked for my parents on their dairy farm. I had a home, friend (or so I thought) and my family near me. When I came out to my parents, they outed me to the church. The church confronted me and I had to cut off every tie that I had to them, so, all my friends were gone. My parents quit talking to me for about two weeks. The only thing I had left was my home. I lost everything that mattered to me.

Yea, I had a couple of people who were not a part of the church that stayed close, and my partner at the time was still near, but I lost everything else.

I can understand someones decision to stay deep in the closet. I certainly wanted to go back in after I had poked my head out and gotten burned.

sxKitten said...

I agree with most of what you say Erin - I think Craig and others like him are to be pitied. But where he loses my sympathy is in turning his self-loathing into a crusade against others like himself. It's one thing to stay in the closet, it's another to strike out, from your closet, against those with the courage to come out of theirs.

It's all about the golden rule.

Christopher55 said...

Well said, Erin. Both times.

Hal said...

Perfectly said, Erin. The nail couldn't have been hit more squarely on the head.

All I can add is that while Craig must be held for not just his hypocrisy, but also for standing for political causes that hurt gay people, I understand what drove him to do this. At the end of the day, I actually have a measure of compassion for him, and I can understand what drove him to do what he did.

The personal war he must be fighting every day is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Anonymous said...

Once again you have spoken out so eloquently, I wish everyone could read this and your previous essay on this. Very well done!

~DogsDontPurr

shaina said...

<33333

Dean said...

I think it is harder for men. I think there is a lot more pressure on men to conform sexually than there is on women. I think that's partly why male promiscuity is more accepted (only partly): if nothing else, it proves a guy ain't gay!

I remember what it was like in school: no suggestion of male intimacy was permitted. You could barely even express sympathy for another male at some misfortune. Anything further than that was brutally ridiculed.

It is changing. We have a long way to go, but things are a hell of a lot better than they were in 1977.

~d said...

Dear Erin,
You explain things simply enough that (even I) can follow it.
I was able-Friday night, to participate in a conversation because I had YOUR explanations in mind.
Love you!

jamwall said...

Shit man, there's a lot of social conservative straight men who love to be slapped in the face with a penis!

Paul said...

Here's an interesting take on the mindset.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/09/the-breastplate.html#more