There are many outrageous, salacious, delectable news stories beckoning me on a daily basis, the least of which this past week included our homegrown pride and joy, Miss Teen South Carolina herself. In case you need reminding, she's the beauty and brainiac of--and I quote--'our education, like, such as in South Africa and the Iraq'--fame.
With the array of choices, I tried to resist the obvious. Really, I did. And much like Sen. Larry Craig has tried to fight that feeling of man-on-man desire by suffocating it with vows of matrimony and a steady history of endorsing legislation discriminating against gays, I have tried to fight the inclination to write about him. But through his backpedaling denial of his antics and the train wreck that followed, the gay community is once more being portrayed as deviant, and it pisses me off.
Must we really go through this still? It's 2007, after all. We've lived with groundbreaking (and rather hot) Gavin Newsom and the (also rather hot) boys of Brokeback Mountain. Is being gay really that fringy?
So it is that I'm helplessly drawn to the Larry Craig debacle. I'm drawn to him like his right foot was naturally drawn clear into the bathroom stall next to the one he occupied. I'm propelled toward him like he is propelled toward the ubiquitous glory hole. Only I'm on the up and up about it, while he's over there on the down-low.
Or at least he was until he tried to tap-tap the wrong ass.
Whatever he was doing in that airport bathroom back in June--the details of which have maintained breaking-headline status for an oppressive length of time--had nothing to do with emptying his bowels. And the more he opens his Freedom Fry hole to deny his gayness (or bi-ness or whatever he wants to label it-ness) the more easily he can shove both of his dress-shoe-clad feet in there. Shakespeare might say that the Good Gentleman from Idaho doth protest too much. The dimwitted beauty queen might say, 'Y'all who live in glass houses should pull the wood out of yer own eye,' concluding her eloquent assessment with a lone, defiant predeterminer: 'such as.'
No senatorial posturing or claim of memory lapse will convince me that Craig is a neophyte when it comes to the River Dance routine, the flight-delaying tush-push that is apparently an insidious problem in men's restrooms all across our nation. Craig himself admitted during his taped interrogation--a now widely available audio clip filled with wince-inducing morsels--that he travels through this particular airport on a weekly basis.
Though I personally know very little of the secret protocol for getting off in a men's bathroom, it's safe to guess that this was not the first time Mr. Craig had put the steps of said protocol into action. I do know that to engage in lewd conduct, the kind of which he is accused, requires a certain amount of familiarity with both the staging area and the choreography. This behavior, combined with the ongoing investigation by an Idaho Statesman reporter who had dogged Craig for eight months, made the bust all but inevitable.
Certainly, there is some easy humor in all of this, including the ongoing and fascinating live footage loop of the bathroom stall in question; sometimes, you gotta laugh to keep from cryin'. I mention crying because I find it funny/sad, not funny/ha-ha, that in our times of questionable boundaries, it is somehow less embarrassing for a public figure to blame his powder room boot-bumping on some yoga-inspired poo pose (ewww!) than it is for him to just come on out of the closet. If it's that much of a stigma to be gay--and I do not think it should be or that, in fact, it is--it's partially a result of the closed minds of, and actions by, imposters like Larry Craig.
It's such a tired old hag of a story, isn't it? The influential I-am-not-gay! chest thumpers dedicate their public lives to marginalizing homosexuality through discriminatory legislation. They consciously and tirelessly stigmatize and demonize an entire class of American citizens, people who are part of every single family. This closeted crowd practices overt and somehow socially palatable gay-bashing and spouts the virtues of the traditional family. And, somehow, denouncing all things gay enables in them a flourishing denial of the same inclinations against which they rail. The hypocrisy is astounding and rather predictable.
Who cares whether men, or women for that matter, are hooking up in bathrooms? I certainly don't. Aside from the fact that I find the chosen venue to be pretty friggin' foul, it doesn't affect me in the least. Nor do most men I've talked to, be they straight or happy, seem to be bothered much. This Big Gay Fright may be a national epidemic requiring immediate action in the eyes of a few homophobes (threat-level fuchsia with silver sparkles?) but the track record indicates to me that most participants have been successfully discreet thus far, and not much of a threat to those secure in their sexuality. Moreover, this type of behavior is not, as the haters would have us all believe, a defining characteristic of gay culture.
Sen. Craig, like others before him, has really perfected his knack for screwing the gay community. He's been doing it through his policy-making up there on The Hill, and apparently he's been doing it in a Minneapolis airport restroom. Yet, by getting caught for being the chameleon that he is, and even though his career has imploded, he's handed gay-haters a vehicle for motoring their bigotry once again into the forefront of American consciousness.Way to mobilize the base, Larry.
Still, I feel a smidgen of pity for the man. His life is a lie; he's living what has to be an existentially uncomfortable and unfulfilling duality. It's sad when a person, any person, is unable to realize the full potential of who they are for fear of being ostracized. But the gay men and women living openly among us, and those struggling to get there, wake up to stare down that vicious gauntlet every day. So most of my sympathy and every allegiance I have are reserved, instead, for them.