Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wide Stance, Narrow Mind

A couple of nights ago, I reveled in the show Avenue Q, as puppets had sex on stage and a monster sang the praises of Internet porn. The show is full of political incorrectness (and is therefore near and dear to my heart), including songs like “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “Schadenfreude.”

I’ve been humming the latter all day as more details of the Larry Craig incident have spilled out. As the show explains, the term schadenfreude is derived from the German for “happiness at the misfortune of others.” And no misfortune makes me happier than a homophobe hoisted by his own … petard.

First Mark Foley chases after nubile male pages, and now Larry Craig solicits sex in a men’s room. Why, this is more fun than Rush Limbaugh’s drug habit!

I’m happy because such incidents expose the hypocrisy of the Republicans’ fascist stance on gay rights. I venture to say that Mr. Craig’s heterosexual marriage was damaged a hell of a lot more by his restroom tap dance than it was by my “husband and husband” friends in Massachusetts. And yet Craig was so threatened by the specter of same-sex marriage that he voted to enshrine discrimination into the U.S. Constitution to prevent it.

While I laugh at his comeuppance, I must acknowledge the pain of the self-hatred that led to it. If the long-standing rumors are true, Craig has been having sex with men for at least 20 years. And yet he married a woman (and adopted her children) and voted to curtail the rights of people who do openly what he denies. For “gay Republicans” (I still think the phrase should be considered an oxymoron), homosexuality is something you do with your genitals, not something you are in your heart.

The truth, of course, is that sexuality is one of the most fundamental aspects of a person, and the sexual urge is second in power only to the survival instinct. In my view, psychological health depends on an understanding and expression of one’s sexual desires. Sex can be bottled up for only so long. It isn’t sexual expression that causes perversity, but sexual repression.

The Catholic Church’s antediluvian teachings on sexuality are at the heart of its child molestation scandal. For centuries, the church has been a haven for homosexual men who hope to defeat the sexual desires that the church calls shameful. The priesthood is the biggest “ex-gay” club in the world. But, as we have learned, sexuality can’t be curtailed; it can only be channeled in other directions. In the case of Larry Craig, it comes out in a bathroom stall; in the case of too many priests, it comes in the form of a helpless child.

The Larry Craigs and Ted Haggards of the world loudly proclaim that they are not “gay” even when caught performing distinctly homosexual acts. And, in a way, they’re right. The dictionary in my head makes a distinction between gay and homosexual. Gay denotes a cultural identity, a psychological process, an awareness of the self. To be gay—openly gay—is a choice. It’s a choice to accept yourself, to be who nature intended you to be. To have homosexual desires and bury them—or, at best, channel them into a dirty little secret—is quite the opposite kind of choice. At best, it’s pathetic; at worst, it’s dangerous.

So, to all my gay friends out there, a word of warning: Watch out in men’s rooms. The next time someone widens his stance toward you, he just might be a Republican.


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