As you may know, Sen. Larry Craig, (R-Idaho) was recently arrested for “lewd conduct” in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis-St.Paul airport. By “lewd conduct”, I mean basically what The Epoxies were talking about in their song “Bathroom Stall,” but weirder. I don’t want to go into details, but I’ve been there before.
Now that I have your attention, I can say that what I mean is, I’ve been to that restroom. Not metaphorically, not salaciously, but literally. I was flying to Vegas a couple of years ago and the flight had a stop-over in Minnesota and I really had to pee. As I was only in Minnesota for about a half-hour (most of which involved walking down a stupidly long corridor from flight A to flight B) and I’m sort of afraid of airplane bathrooms, I followed Winston Churchill’s advice and “did not pass up a chance to use the loo.” Which happened to be the loo that I later learned was the exact same loo in which a US Senator, who “isn’t gay and never has been,” attempted to hook up with a male undercover cop. None of that is particularly relevant, except that I’ve now got a brand new reason to fear pooping in a public bathroom.
It’s not a homophobia thing, mind you. If two guys want to get it on in the comfort of their own home, or even if two guys want to kiss or hold hands in public, then that’s just the way they are and God bless ’em. Gay bars, whatever. Gay pride parade, been there, done that. Two guys meeting at a club and sneaking off to a bathroom stall doesn’t really phase me any more than the idea of a man and a woman doing the same thing.
It’s also not just the hypocricy of a Senator from the party of “family values”, “religion in the public square”, and “defense of marriage” (translation: “going to the right church”, “making sure your neighbors go to the right church”, and “the gays have themselves an agenda“)engaging in such activity, although that plays into it. Certainly the fact that Rep. Foley was caught hitting on underaged pages on the internet just a few months after raising a stink on tv about sexual predators in chatrooms was sorta ironic. Now we’e got Sen. Craig, who chastised President Clinton on Meet The Press for getting the same thing from a female intern that he later intended to give to a total stranger in a bathroom.
Incidentally, do these people not get that teh interwebz have made it impossible to get away with two-facedness? Seriously. YouTube is gonna save democracy, mark my words.:
…aaand that’s Mark Foley. ‘Nuff said there.
Anyway, it’s not just the hypocricy of saying gay people can’t get married on a friday and having gay sex on a saturday. And it’s certainly not the idea of a supposed pillar of virtue having a secret sex life – I’m a Democrat from Massachusetts and I’m perfectly fine with people doing whatever they want on their own time, be they JFK or Barney Frank. Or even Bill Clinton, who was completely stupid, but to paraphrase a character from The West Wing, “making it a big deal was what made it a big deal.”
The reason it’s not just the hypocricy, though, is because I understand their mindset. I think. See, to a conservative of this type, being gay is wrong. Engaging in homosexual activity is wrong. But cheating on your wife is wrong too, and people do that. The thing is, people who cheat do it discreetly. They don’t announce it to the world, they just do it and no one knows and while that doesn’t make it okay, it does make it better somehow. By the same token, someone like Larry Craig may have homosexual urges. He may, from time to time, act on these urges, but he knows it’s wrong, so he acts on those urges secretly, in the only way he knows: anonymous sex in a bathroom stall. A bathroom stall is a filthy place where people do filthy things. To someone like Sen. Craig, gay sex is filthy, but sometimes, he just needs it.
I refer you to Roy Cohn in Tony Kushner’s play Angels In America, and especially Al Pacino’s performance in the movie version, just because he makes Cohn extra-slimy. There’s a scene where his doctor tells him that he’s HIV positive, and Roy refuses to believe it, because Roy Cohn is not a homosexual, and HIV is something that only homosexuals get. His doctor then asks him if he’s ever engaged in homosexual behavior, and Roy says yes, but that does not make Roy Cohn a homosexual…. and so on.
Human sexuality is an odd thing, and it’s not as easily defined as people think it is. I tend to believe Kinsey’s theory that there’s actually a spectrum, and just because someone’s engaged in gay behavior in the past, it doesn’t necessarily make them gay. But everything about the Craig incident, and about straight men from nice families who sneak down to the Fens or the truck stop “for a bit of rough”, just screams perversion. It’s not that he’s acting on his urges, it’s that he feels the need to act upon those urges in that particular way, revelling in the shamefulness of it all. There’s no love, it’s impersonal, it’s anonymous, we shall never see each other again, and we’re both going home to kiss our wives goodnight. Oh, and we’re not meeting in a hotel room, we’re doing this in the place where people do all the other bad, disgusting things they need to do from time to time: the men’s room. From a psychological standpoint, it’s fascinating.
Which is, basically, why the idea of two well-adjusted gay men settling down together in wedded bliss turns the stomachs of guys like Larry Craig. (Well, that, and it’s a good way to get stupid people to vote for you.) Gays who are out of the closet are doing publically and normally what must only be done privately and abnormally. How dare they be so comfortable with themselves? Those…those perverts.