Larry Craig

Kudos to Larry Craig, the veteran Republican Senator from Idaho for refusing to step down from his post. Now, I’m not a fan of hard line conservatism or pandering politicians (something of a redundancy), but I will not heap garbage on this guy.

We all know he’s gay. It’s so clear that Craig’s predicament, although I would wish it on nobody, reminds me of Scott Thompson’s character from Brain Candy, an obviously homosexual father of two who is in serious denial. At one point his psychiatrist, played by Dave Foley says to him, quite coldly after he’s been busted in a restroom gay sex sting, “You…are gay…You are gay. You’re a homosexual. You’re the opposite of straight, you’re gay. I know it, your family knows it, dogs know it. Everyone seems to know it except you!”

Thompson’s character then has a moment of clarity and catharsis.

I hope that Larry Craig will have a similar moment, perhaps one with a song and dance as well.

If he does, I don’t expect many of his colleagues in the Republican conference of the Senate to join him. Actually, they’ve thrown Craig under the bus.

I think it’s funny how infidelity, so long as it is heterosexual, is acceptable by these people. Let’s not forget that the hero of modern conservatism, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has had three wives (he served one of them with divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer surgery). Rudolph Giuliani, perhaps the Republican Presidential candidate, has also had three wives. Congressman from both parties (Republicans included) have carried on extramarital affairs and so few of them have had to step down.

Personally, I don’t think Craig should have stepped down and I’m happy to see him stay. until his full term is over. If anything, I think he should pull a Jay Billington Bulworth. For those of you who remember Bulworth, the main character, played by Warren Beatty is a disaffected U.S. Senator who hires a hit man to kill him so that his family can collect his insurance. In his final days, he becomes fearless (if not annoying. I’m not a big fan of the film) and does his best to bring some integrity to his time in office. Maybe Craig can do that. I’m sure he’s had some integrity on some issues, but maybe now is the time to be honest and stand up for himself. Larry, we all know you’re gay. It would be moving the Republicans in the right direction, I should think. Gays are here to stay. They don’t have horns and they’re a part of your party. They can be fiscally conservative, somewhat socially conservative (I know a gay man who is opposed to abortion) If for no other reason that it will make some of his colleagues sweat in their hypocrisy.

I really feel sorry for Senator Larry Craig, the senior Republican from Idaho. While many of the left may be smirking in delight that a man who has made known his disapproval of the gay lifestyle has been exposed as a homosexual himself, I can’t help but wonder what is going through his mind right now.

Certainly, I will be able to sleep fine tonight, but the thought crossed my mind not once today that the senator may just want to die right now, that’s how embarrassing this whole episode must be to that. Add to that that Mr. Craig is clearly–and I do believe he was “cruising”–dishonest with himself about his sexuality for so many years the public embarrassment of a lurid restroom apprehension, he may seriously just want to die right now.

There’s not much I can say about it more than that I hope he holds his life together. I may not agree with a war-hungry Republican politician but I certainly believe that this is a man who is capable of effecting great change and opportunities for his people. It is too bad  that to get ahead  in his career, Mr. Craig has bad to lie to himself and his family about the fact that he is attracted to men.

Several weeks ago, I went with my roommates to Home Depot to pick up some supplies for a painting project in my apartment. My roommate Jeff, who struggled for several years to be honest with himself about being gay jokingly told me that in gay circles the lumber outlet is referred to as “Homo Depot” as it is a cruising spot for many gay men across the country.

That America’s largest home improvement supplies store should be a haven for closeted gay weekend warriors is no surprise to me–after all, what better place to hide your sexuality from the naive than in a place that sells power tools,  electrical supplies and other purportedly manly things. What is bizarre about it is that there are could be so many people who are willing to invest the time and energy into pursuing such a double life to save face for family, friends and employers. Wouldn’t all those trips to pick up drywall or check out wire cutters end up wearing a poor soul out?

Of course my perspective is a little clouded. My sexuality is perfectly acceptable in mainstream society. And though there may be those who don’t want to hear about it, it’s still perfectly acceptable and not a stumbling block for me the way it is for a gay man.

Without hearkening back to a McCarthy-like attitude of paranoia–interesting as it is because Senator McCarthy was a gay man himself–I wonder how many gay men there are out there hiding in the shadows, the restrooms, the plumbing aisles waiting to express a side of themselves that is unacceptable to their culture and their own heart. It’s a sad thought. I’ve often thought that the clearest indication of one’s homosexuality is his attitude of acceptance towards gay people. The more opposed to gays one is or the more false machismo he exudes, I think the greater the possibility is that he could himself be attracted to men.

Hearing about journeyman ballplayer Carl Everett a few years ago tell newspaper reporters that he would retire if he ever had to suffer the horror of playing on a team with an openly gay teammate was a surprise. Of course Everett has always had a cleat in his mouth, but to expect that there weren’t already gays in Major League Baseball and professional sports already was a shock. Of course there are. I wouldn’t be surprised if the NFL leads all sports in that category.

We’ll see how this plays out, but the one lesson we can take is that some people are better than others at hiding their personal lives, but gay people are in all parts of social and professional life so we’d better get used to it.