Acting heterosexism's script: the Senator from Idaho

Bill Weintraub

Bill Weintraub

Acting heterosexism's script: the Senator from Idaho


I want to start this discussion of Senator Craig not with any talk of Craig or his cronies or his critics -- but rather, with a brief news story which surfaced some weeks back.

It's about two guys, best friends from earliest childhood, who were high school wrestlers together, joined the Marines together, fought together, and were killed simultaneously in Iraq.

They were then buried together.

The AP story itself first appeared in 2004, when these two guys were killed.

The reason it was back in the news is that one of the guys who was killed, Jared, had two brothers, both of whom were in Iraq, and a second has now been killed.

So his family has given two sons for their country.

That's a lot.

I wanted to post this story earlier this week as a sort of counter-balance to the news out of Idaho and Washington.

I've been slow in getting to it, because Patrick has been very ill and things are not good here.

But the events around Craig and his many political partners in crime -- people like Senator Vitter and Representative Allen in Florida -- have been so stomach-turning, the combination of hypocrisy and self-righteousness on all sides so disgusting, that I thought it might be good to read about some Americans who weren't part of that.

Whose behavior was not self-serving, but Heroic.

Here's the story:

Marine Lance Cpl. Jared P. Hubbard

22, of Clovis, Calif.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Nov. 4 of injuries sustained due to enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq. Also killed was Cpl. Jeremiah A. Baro.

Marine best friends killed in Iraq honored at memorial

By Juliana Barbassa

Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. -- Childhood friends who enlisted in the Marine Corps together and died together in Iraq were buried side by side.

Jeremiah Baro and Jared Hubbard, who played together, wrestled each other in high school and toughed it out together through boot camp, died Nov. 4, after a roadside bomb exploded. They were in Iraq's Anbar province, where the military was preparing to attack the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

Members of the armed forces, classmates from the nearby high school, more than 700 friends and family members packed the church pews and stood pressed against the walls at Thursday's memorial. Many wore red armbands with the Marine motto -- Semper Fi, or "always faithful". Friends said the phrase described the young men's dedication to each other and their families as much as it defined their commitment to their country, and to their mission as Marines.

"You couldn't say anything about Jared without saying something about Jeremiah, and you couldn't say something about Jeremiah without saying a little something about Jared," said the Rev. Tim Rolen.

Hubbard, who wrestled and played football in high school, and the slighter but pugnacious Baro were "two peas in a pod," said Bert Baro, Jeremiah Baro's father.

Jared and Jeremiah

"You can't have one without the other," he told the Fresno Bee. "If one or the other survived, I don't think they would have been the same people."

Hubbard, 22, and Baro, 21, enlisted in December 2001, acting on an idea they'd had since high school, but motivated by the terrorist attacks that September.

The two men were dedicated athletes with a close group of friends -- among them the dozens of high school classmates who attended the memorial.

When a group of friends went out, Hubbard was the last to go home, and the first up in the morning, ready for breakfast and a hike, said Benny Clay, who had known him since the fifth grade. Baro was more intense, and had a way of earning the respect of those around him, said Rolen.

Baro's girlfriend, Stephine Sanchez, also showed his lighter, caring side by reading a poem he gave her. Her voice broke into sobs before she reached the end: "You were meant to be my heart, my soul mate, my everything."

It was their second tour in Iraq. They returned home during the summer and trained together as snipers when they returned to their unit.

Two weeks before he was killed, Jeremiah Baro told his father of the latest action they had seen, when they had run into insurgents setting up a roadside ambush, Bert Baro said.

Bert Baro said he wished he had paid closer attention to the 30-minute conversation, not knowing it would be their last. He had been concentrating, he said, on enjoying "the sound of my son's voice."

What we see in this story is an ancient model -- no doubt more ancient than any of us will ever truly understand -- of Warrior brotherhoood.


And the two opening paragraphs of the AP story really say it all:

Childhood friends who enlisted in the Marine Corps together and died together in Iraq were buried side by side.

Jeremiah Baro and Jared Hubbard, who played together, wrestled each other in high school and toughed it out together through boot camp, died Nov. 4, after a roadside bomb exploded. They were in Iraq's Anbar province, where the military was preparing to attack the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

They played together, they wrestled together, they enlisted together, they trained together, they fought together, they were killed together, and they were buried together.

That's an ancient model, and it's a model of Manly Devotion: Devotion to each other, to their Country, to Valour, and to Honor.

Which is not something we see a lot of.

These are guys who asked not what their country could do for them, but what they could do for their country.

Hackneyed phrase?


But you have to compare the behavior of Men like Jared and Jeremiah to the behavior of males like Craig and Vitter.

And you have to understand that Craig and Vitter are merely the tip -- the teeniest tip, of the immense iceberg of religious right and family values hypocrisy.

A friend who's a former priest said to me at the time of the scandals in the Catholic Church, that the priests who get caught are the ones who are too naive or too stupid not to cover their tracks.

The rest sail smoothly by, spending a lifetime having illict sex with no one ever being the wiser.

And certainly Craig and Vitter fall into the too stupid category.

Now, there's a lot we could say about Sen Craig -- certainly a LOT has been said -- I now have 14 notepad files full of clips about him, and if I wanted to, I could fill fourteen more.

Part of that is that the story broke over the Labor Day weekend, which is usually a dead-time for news.

But part of it too is that the story is a mix of sex, "homosexuality," politicians, politics, and hypocrisy which the public just cannot get too much of.

Before we get into any of that, let's look at the "religious" underpinnings of the story.

Both Vitter and Craig -- plus a number of others who've gotten into hot water recently, including but not limited to State Rep. Bob Allen of Florida, a Republican who's staunchly "anti-gay" and who was arrested in a urinal after offering a cop $20 for a blowjob; and Baptist Minister Tommy Tester of Tennessee who was arrested for urinating in front of children while wearing a skirt and then also offering a cop a blowjob in return for special consideration -- all of these guys are strict "family values" folks.

What does "family values" actually mean?

This is something I said in Warriors or Soldiers, and it bears repeating.

In that post, Redd spoke of the three tyrannies of analism, heterosexism, and relgious fanaticism, and this was my response regarding "religious fanaticism":

  • Religious Fanaticism -- a form of mass hysteria and often mass psychosis which has gripped people and indeed nations worldwide, and which teaches, among other things, that the love of man for man is sin.

    In the United States, religious fanaticism expressed as an exclusive evangelical Christianity has completely distorted and in fact obliterated the message of Christ, while embedding itself in the Republican Party in a naked pursuit of money, influence, and power.

    Its ultimate goal is to replace the United States of America with a Christian States of America, in which Christianity as interpreted by its reverends and divines, would replace democracy and the rule of law.

    Evangelical Christianity is virulently opposed to any expression of affection or love between men.

    And while paying lip service to "patriarchy," the evangelical churches themselves are controlled by people, usually feminized males and women, who are deeply distrustful of the most basic forms and expression of Natural Masculinity and of any sort of the male-bonding activities which have characterized the lives of Men for Millenia.

  • So we're talking about people who espouse values which our society usually thinks of as "anti-gay," but which in reality are anti-MAN.

    And it's vitally important that you understand that about all of these guys.

    They all serve as instruments of heterosexualization, working to marginalize and make deviant any expression of Natural Masculinity and of the True Love of Man for Man.

    Which is why they're so often caught in public toilets.

    That's not an accident.

    In that sense, and as we'll see, they're victims of their own ideology.

    Now, as a consequence of their belief system, and just focusing on Craig for the moment, their actions tend to be presented within the "gay vs straight" paradigm of sexual orientation, in which there are two discrete categories of human being, "gay" and "straight," which never cross-over or intermingle.

    And that's what happened in the Craig story: it was "framed" almost completely and totally as gay vs straight.

    Sen Craig, with his repeated cries of "I'm not gay," may be thought to be responsible for that; but he was hardly the only one.

    The gay activists of various stripes, including Mike Rogers, the blogger who allegedly outted Craig, and their liberal allies, all framed the story as being that of a closeted gay politician who'd been at long last caught in his own hypocrisy.

    All throughout the mainstream media, the Craig story was presented in that way.

    Only two people -- that I saw -- dared to suggest that maybe, just maybe, there was a third possibility.

    One of those was Richard Kim, a blogger for the left-of-center journal the Nation.

    I was so impressed by the last paragraph of his blog entry that I responded to it.

    The first few graphs of his post, which was originally titled "The GOP's Bathroom Problem," and has since been changed -- dare we say "scrubbed?" -- to the less accurate but presumably "sexier" Brokeback GOP, and which appeared on 27 August 2007 -- were predictable Republican bashing.

    But in the last two paragraphs, he spoke of

    the fading world of secret, anonymous gay sex. That world--once found in bathrooms, parks, piers and adult bookstores; the furtive refuges of adventuresome queers, married men, the curious--has been swept away by so many police raids, privatization schemes, quality of life campaigns and internet dating services. But mostly, it's fallen away as gays have become increasingly integrated into the mainstream, and also, paradoxically, more marked than ever. "You're either gay or you're not" seems to be the equation.

    Until someone like Craig, Allen, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard or Jim McGreevey shows up to ripple momentarily the waters of public discourse on sex. These guys have problems, no doubt. But we might also pause to wonder if there's some cultural knot that gay liberation-despite its original and best intentions-has left in place. At the very least the link between public power and domestic heterosexuality-with all the fetishistic displays of family life that entails-has yet to be completely severed. Just ask Rudy Guiliani, or Hillary Clinton! Moreover, that knot, perhaps best described as sexual propriety, is what fuels the moral campaigns against homosexuality that have become one of the Republican Party's identifying causes-loyally supported by the likes of Craig, Haggard, Foley, et. al. It's also what leads Bob Allen to the stunning and revealing calculation that it would be better to be seen in the public eye as an avowed racist than as someone who likes to have sex with men sometimes.

    [emphases mine]

    Now, let me just say that I disagree with Mr Kim on a number of points, including his assertion that sex in public toilets -- which has long been known among gay-identified men as "tearoom" sex -- is fading away.

    If it's fading away, why do the cops keep mounting these very successful stings?

    Obviously because a lot of guys do it.

    That said, Mr Kim's descriptor -- "someone who likes to have sex with men sometimes" -- was the first and almost only suggestion I heard in the press that someone like Craig -- or any other MAN -- might be "bisexual."

    Here's my response to Mr Kim, which I posted on his blog:

    Thank you Mr Kim for an excellent article.

    Mr Kim speaks of the "public discourse on sex" and suggests that "we might also pause to wonder if there's some cultural knot that gay liberation -- despite its original and best intentions --has left in place."

    The question of a cultural knot is a good one.

    For reasons, in part, of political convenience, the gay establishment, as well as of course the religious right, has bought into the basically essentialist argument of "gay, straight, or lying."

    That argument is convenient, because it enables advocates and politicians to pursue a politics of identity, in which demands are made on the basis of those unwavering categories.

    A good example of this line of thought is gay pundit and sex advice columnist Dan Savage, who argued in a NY Times op-ed that the gay population is "tiny and stable."

    Clearly, if the population of gay men is "tiny and stable," granting that population equal rights is not a big deal.

    And that's what most of our "public discourse on sex" and particularly issues of "sexual orientation" boils down to.

    Arguments about "gay rights" based upon the notion of there being two entirely discrete categories of human being: gay and straight.

    But within the academy, there are many who argue that sexuality is "culturally constructed" -- in which case, the population not of "gay men" but of "men who have sex with men" is anything but tiny and stable.

    Rather, it shifts and changes depending upon cultural factors.

    And when the cultural factors are right, the population of "men who have sex with men" becomes virtually universal -- that is, all the guys in the culture do it.

    At other times, as is almost certainly the case in the US at this moment, the population of "men who have sex with men" fluctuates -- depending upon the power of the cultural messages which seek to prevent such activity.

    Now, Mssrs. Craig, Foley, Haggard, etc have been the bearers of such messages, and as such they're certainly a problem.

    But is it not possible also that they're playing off of "a public discourse about sex" which de facto cripples them as well.

    I'm a gay activist of many years standing, and currently I run a couple of websites for "men who have sex with men" who don't do anal sex.

    Many of our guys are "gay-identified."

    But many too are "straight-identified."

    They're all "men who have sex with men" -- but they self-define differently.

    Again, someone like Dan Savage -- or, better, Mike Rogers, the gay-identified blogger who's been seeking to out Senator Craig, and who urged "Senator Craig to run for re-election as a proud gay American" -- people like Dan and Mike would say that the straight-identified guys who are having sex with guys -- aren't truly "straight" -- that they're lying.

    But the straight-identified guys who use my sites aren't lying.

    I know, because I married one of them.

    Of course now my husband identifies as bi, which is certainly more honest -- but bi is also what most people are.

    Mr Kim points out, and properly so, that Rep Allen preferred to be seen as racist rather than "someone who likes to have sex with men sometimes."

    But, in the public discourse about sex, that latter category barely exists.

    And its non-existence does tremendous harm, in my view, to all men.

    And, without question, women too.

    Nation readers who are interested in these issues from a scholarly perspective might want to look at John Ibson's Picturing Men: A Century of Male Relationships in Everyday American Photography.

    (ISBN-10: 0226368580)

    Ibson is chair of the American Studies Department at Cal State, Fullerton, and his book is a work of considerable scholarship and erudition.

    In which he presents photographs from an era -- not terribly distant -- when intimacy between men was not merely accepted, but commonplace.

    Thank you again Mr Kim.

    Bill Weintraub


    What Mr Kim properly calls "the public discourse about sex" is set up in such a way that all you ever hear about is gay vs. straight.

    And that dichotomy works well for both the analist left and the religious right.

    You can see that clearly in the work of both Dan Savage and Mike Rogers.

    As you can in the pronouncements of any number of evangelical ministers, of whom someone like Ted Haggard is merely the most famous -- for the moment.

    Which also means that the reason we don't hear much about MEN -- rather than "gays" -- who like to have sex with MEN -- and even less about MEN who LOVE MEN -- is that no one wants that to be heard.

    The truth of the lives of those Men is, to borrow a phrase, an inconvenient truth for both gay pundits and politicos -- and religious right kooks and their not-so-kooky handlers, such as Karl Rove, who depend upon "homosexuality" to make money and gain power.

    So these Men are rendered invisible.

    Now, the only other voice I heard raised about "bisexuality" and MEN, was that of Bob Kunst, who like me is an old-time and long-time gay activist, known most recently for his ability to piss-off the gay establishment -- which really doesn't like him.

    Bob's a bit older than me -- he's sixty-five now -- but still going strong, and currently running something he calls -- which I don't claim to fully understand.

    But Bob appears to be trying both to get Hillary nominated while pushing her in the direction of policies which he favors.

    And which are very diverse.

    Bob, by the way, was much liked by my editor at GayToday, the late Jack Nichols, who liked us both for I think the same reason -- that he saw in both of us not just a willingness but an eagerness to challenge the status quo -- including the gay status quo.

    And Jack, who was so important in the early gay rights movement, was enough of a revolutionist to understand that any establishment, including a gay establishment, MUST be challenged.

    Or it swiftly becomes a tyranny.

    Here's Bob Kunst on Sen Craig -- guys, I don't have a URL, because this was sent out as an email -- and it's in the typically Kunstian rhetorical style of a long list, which we here catch in the middle:

    5. IF YOU ONLY KNEW WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON OUT THERE......It's a 'MAN' thing. You wouldn't understand.

    6. Men meeting men; men getting it on with men; men loving all the experiences they can handle; men touching themselves; men flaunting their privates; men married with kids (like Craig) needing this release and orgasm in all of those venues who aren't getting it from their wives and sweethearts; men who need the experience and not take home the frustrations to their families and loved ones.

    7. They are gay, bisexual and heterosexual and have been doing this since the beginning of time and in every corner of the world, whether legal or not, dangerous or not, to have that spontaneity and risk everything, in self-growth through others.

    8. Since we led the opposition to Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell's anti-gay 'witchhunt' 30 years ago which was the turning point in opening up this full debate, the conservative/reactionary homophile community has tried to 'be just like everyone else' and run away from the freedoms and joy of spontaneous sex and all that goes along with it. Now all of this is once again blown, you should pardon the expression, with this latest Craig scandal, of one who even voted against non-dicrimination against gays in employment to divert attention from his own desires, that led to his toilet exploits.

    9. All on talk radio was the mention of how Bill Clinton and Monica did their thing, which of course, was 4 years of discussing oral sex, which of course, every kid is now doing and is expecting to being done. While the GOPerverts and that includes Mr. Vitters in his diapers with prostitutes, or that equally lying Mr. Haggart [sic] who headed the fundamentalists movement and preached against 'gay marriage' only to have it revealed that he was having a homosexual prositute relationship for 3 years and with meth drugs no less, now we see that the police state they fostered has come back to bite them as well as all those other lives they helped to ruin while covering up their own piccadillos. Hypocracy is too kind a word.

    So there you have an old-time Gay Liberation view of this, and while I no longer agree with every word of it -- I certainly don't support the promiscuity, nor do I agree that this 20th century model of urinal sex is one that's been around since the beginning of time -- nevertheless, Bob's view is far more humane, humanistic, and COGNIZANT OF MALE REALITY and the NEED of MEN to be with other MEN, than is the establishment gay male view, which as Bob says, is "conservative/reactionalry" and "has tried to be just like everyone else."

    Which means of course, not just heterosexual, but I'd argue, heterosexist -- and of course, and this is the operative word, HETEROSEXUALIZED.

    So that those categories of gay and straight are kept in neat little boxes and never allowed to mix.

    Which is exactly what my foreign friend says that a heterosexualized society wants :

    The heterosexual society cares only for women. It sees men only as a problematic group that comes in the way of what is called women's rights.

    Gay men are one of the most ardent supporters of heterosexualisation. They represent the dust bin created by the heterosexualised society to contain the mutilated/ negativised remnants of male-male sex that survives after the intense oppression of them in the mainstream...

    Gay men (when I say gay men I mean feminine identified males who like men) derive immense power from the heterosexual society. In fact they owe the heterosexual society their existence.

    That's correct.

    And that's why those males are such ardent fans of heterosexualization, gender feminism, and the anti-Masculine agenda.

    Men are problematic.

    They can only be tolerated within the heterosexualized sphere when they'ved been UN-Manned and DE-Masculinized.

    If someone like Vitter is caught with a prostitute, he must immediately abase himself before the sanctity of his heterosexual marriage, and declare that he will sin no more -- which means, de facto, that he will spend all his free time with -- his wife.

    Remember that houses of prostitution, though not homosocial in the sense that the YMCA or Fraternal Organizations were, were nevertheless male preserves, which existed to serve male needs, and which allowed men to fraternize with other men in an explicitly sexual atmosphere.

    That institution, albeit one with a "heterosexual purpose," runs counter to the interests of heterosexualization, and so has to be destroyed.

    It's like the Manhood rituals in southern Africa, which were too blatantly about men, masculinity, and sexuality, and so had to be destroyed by the Christian missionaries.

    Anything which suggests a male sexuality which is out of control, and which suggests men bonding in sexual situations, is seen as a threat by the minions of heterosexualization.

    So, for example, when you've got two men on two beds side by side fucking two women, they're not just thinking about the women.

    They're also looking at and thinking about each other.

    That's a problem -- because where does one sexuality stop and another begin?

    Now of course I'm not defending prostitution, which is not defensible, and which besides, props up and supports pseudo-masculinity rather than true and Natural Masculinity.

    But there's no question that any time male sexuality is seen as operating outside the dominant paradigm -- which in this case is hetero marriage -- there's a huge problem.

    Just as, there's no question that for a straight-identified man to be caught with another man is the ultimate fear and ultimate threat and has become therefore the one truly unpardonable sin in our society.

    Because that more than any other act attacks the fundamentals of heterosexualization.

    Which teaches that a "real man" by nature will not just prefer but will require the company of a woman -- constantly.

    Yet here you have "real men" like Ted Haggard and Bob Allen and Sen Craig being caught seeking the sexual companionship of other Men.

    That's the sin.

    And that's why Sen Craig was so untimely rushed and ripped from the Senate Chamber.

    Craig by the way was a staunch "friend" of -- that is, beneficiary of corporate contributions from -- the logging and mining industries.

    He had made himself the indispensable man in protecting the interests of those extremely powerful and wealthy enterprises.

    Yet he was thrown on the sacrificial fire -- he was declared a Faggot, suitable only for burning.

    And his powerful corporate friends were forced to look to another Senator, who by virtue of his constituent base, will have a harder time so single-mindedly protecting their interests.

    Said The Oregonian:

    In the wake of Sen. Larry Craig's swift downfall, Sen. Gordon Smith says he is ready to be the new go-to guy in the U.S. Senate for timber and other Northwest natural-resource industries.

    Smith, R-Ore., said he feels "very keenly the responsibility" to help not only loggers, but ranchers, farmers and miners. "My plate just got bigger," Smith said in a telephone interview Tuesday, "and I will work day and night for rural folks."

    Craig was convicted of disorderly conduct and said last week that he would resign at the end of this month. On Tuesday, the Idaho Republican's spokesman cast doubt on the certainty of his resignation. But even if Craig remains in office, he has been stripped of his committee assignments and virtually all his clout.

    In the Senate, Craig has been known as a legislative tactician who fought to increase timber harvests, limit fish protection and block several wilderness proposals.

    "It will be a big loss," said Tim Wigley, who frequently represents timber clients as the head of the Washington, D.C., office of Pac/West Communications, a Wilsonville-based consulting firm. "I certainly hope that Senator Smith . . . will be stepping up and playing a larger role on the issues of forestry."

    Environmentalists who have long tangled with Craig say they are not sure anyone will bring his clout and expertise to these issues.

    "If I was the industry, I would be very nervous," said Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild. "He was one of the last of the unreformed timber guys."

    Craig recently blocked an Idaho wilderness proposal pushed through the House by a fellow Idaho Republican, Rep. Mike Simpson. He also bottled up a bill to protect the headwaters of the Snake River in Wyoming.

    Recently, Craig inserted language in an Interior Department bill that seeks to prevent a federal judge in Portland from requiring tougher salmon protection measures on the upper Snake River.


    Observers on both sides of the environmental divide in the Northwest said they expect Smith to tread more carefully on these issues than Craig did. Craig's troubles give Smith a higher profile as a defender of the natural-resource industries that are a mainstay of the Republican base in Oregon as he gears up to run for re-election. But he also has to avoid alienating environmentally minded voters in urban areas, noted Ray Wilkeson of the Oregon Forest Industries Council.

    "Collectively, the people of Oregon view these things differently than do the people of Idaho," said Wilkeson, adding that he understands why Smith is supporting a Mount Hood wilderness bill opposed by the timber industry.

    While Smith was cautious in an interview about endorsing Craig's positions on specific issues, he made it clear he intends to rhetorically champion the natural-resource industries he says are key to the state's economic health, particularly in rural areas.

    "I do my best to represent Oregonians' interests as broadly as possible, but I start from a rural place -- Pendleton, Oregon," said Smith. "I'm going to stick with those who are my neighbors."

    So -- both industry and environmentalists believe that Smith will be less effective than Craig in protecting industry interests.

    Yet Craig was canned.

    To me, this is very striking, and speaks to the power of the forces of heterosexualization.

    Because we're talking about billions and billions of dollars in industry money and profits which must be protected.

    And Craig was doing a good job of it.

    But even his rich and oh-so-powerful corporate overseers could not save Senator Craig.

    Now, speaking of heterosexualization and Sen Craig, the Times had a good piece reminding us about a truly horrific "homosexual sex scandal" which erupted in Boise in 1955, and which occasioned a very well-known, at least among gay-identified men of my generation, book by John Gerassi published in 1966 as The Boys of Boise.

    Larry Craig was ten years old when the scandal hit; and 21 when Gerassi's book was published.

    The lesson of the scandal was quite clear:

    To be publicly identified as a Man who Loved Men was to be destroyed.

    And that's a lesson we may assume that the young Larry Craig took to his heart, as did millions of other American men.

    I didn't say "gay" men, I said Men.

    Because those sorts of witchhunts and scandals impact ALL MEN.

    Not just those who self-identify as "gay."

    Those so-called scandals are a socially-sanctioned way of keeping MEN in their heterosexualized place.

    The lesson is always the same and always crystal clear.

    Men who "love" women will be left alone and will prosper.

    Men who Love Men will be destroyed.

    And that lesson, learned so young, may be one of the reasons that Craig was so adamant in his "I'm not gay" stance.

    Unfortunately, he'd already pled guilty to misconduct in Minnesota.

    So he was out of luck.

    Was he ill-used compared to Sen Vitter?

    Of course.

    The fact of the matter is that Sen Vitter admitted, albeit obliquely, to having had sexual relations with a prostitute -- which means he put his penis in a vagina which did not belong to his wife.

    He's a hypocrite and a liar.

    Yet all Sen Craig did was tap his foot and wave his hand.

    And he apparently looked.

    But there was no sex.

    In point of fact, no one has ever produced a credible allegation of Craig having actually had sex, in one form or another, with another man.

    All we've heard are unsubstantiated allegations by people unwilling to show their faces or use their names.

    And in that restroom, there was just the suggestion of sex, and the suggestion came from the undercover cop.

    Do we need cops in public restrooms?

    In my view yes.

    Though to me, toe tapping and hand waving alone should not be enough to get you arrested.

    Yet it was.

    One of the charges against Craig was "interference with privacy." (The other was disorderly conduct.)

    But, regarding "interference with privacy," said a defense attorney for four other men caught in the sting,

    "There can be no invasion of privacy of a person who is inviting the conduct. The undercover officer, by his own account, sits there in an adjacent stall and signals the person that he wants this contact."


    Vitter had sex with at least one (female) prostitute.

    And nothing happened.

    Craig made some ambiguous gestures towards a male in a neighboring toilet stall.

    Gestures invited by the other male.

    And his career was destroyed.

    In that regard, the Times ran yet another op-ed, this one about toilet stall / tearoom sex, which once again played heavily on the gay-straight divide, and which sought to reassure "straight" men that they had nothing to fear from deviants like Sen Craig:

    [A researcher] illustrated that various signals -- the foot tapping, the hand waving and the body positioning -- are all parts of a delicate ritual of call and answer, an elaborate series of codes that require the proper response for the initiator to continue. Put simply, a straight man would be left alone after that first tap or cough or look went unanswered.


    "because of cautions built into the strategies of these encounters, no man [sic] need fear being molested in such facilities."

    So, once again, the Times repeated the conventional wisdom about what a "man" would do in a restroom vs what creatures like Sen Craig -- who presumably is a non-man -- that is, a "gay man" -- would do.

    Indeed, the op-ed suggested very strongly that *any male* who engaged in the sort of sex ritual which Sen Craig was accused of and seems to have admitted to, was "a closeted gay man."

    Unless of course he's a cop.

    Is it true that "no [straight-identified] man need fear being molested in such facilities"?

    Well, straight-identified guys certainly have little to fear from guys like Craig in the sense that someone like Craig is unlikely to rape them.

    But, of course, straight-identified guys do have a concern about sex in restrooms.

    Which is that they might be tempted to engage in some of that same-sex sex themselves.

    That however is not the reason those rooms need to be policed.

    It is that guys who have sex in tearooms will, if left unpoliced, become more and more brazen.

    I know this very well from gay-identified friends who frequent tearooms.

    Absent the fear of arrest, they'll do anything anywhere in front of anyone -- so long as it gets them sex.

    I had a friend in NYC, a prominent gay author, who went regularly to certain NYU tearooms -- including well after he'd been diagnosed with AIDS -- and had tons of very open and completely unsafe anal -- he was usually the penetrator -- in those tearooms.

    So restrooms which develop into tearooms have to be policed.

    There have to be private spaces and public spaces.

    The writer of the op-ed says that "Public sex is certainly a public nuisance, but criminalizing consensual acts does not help."


    But if you de-criminalize it, how do you deal with it?

    By turning some areas of public restrooms into sex areas?

    Would that work?


    And, more to the point, would it really benefit anyone?

    No, because it continues the ghettofication of same-sex affection.

    The Love of Men cannot and should not be relegated to a toilet.

    Bob Kunst speaks of tearoom sex as a venue for self-growth:

    6. Men meeting men; men getting it on with men; men loving all the experiences they can handle; men touching themselves; men flaunting their privates; men married with kids (like Craig) needing this release and orgasm in all of those venues who aren't getting it from their wives and sweethearts; men who need the experience and not take home the frustrations to their families and loved ones.

    7. They are gay, bisexual and heterosexual and have been doing this since the beginning of time and in every corner of the world, whether legal or not, dangerous or not, to have that spontaneity and risk everything, in self-growth through others.

    That's a sweet idea, but clearly that's not what's going on.

    Sen Craig, who was sixty-two when he was arrested, has, according to Mike Rogers, a history of tearoom sex, dating back some years, and he hasn't been, as best we can tell, experiencing "self-growth through others."

    Rather, he has remained an "anti-gay" lawmaker who seeks furtive sex with other males.

    Something which a long report in the Idaho Statesman suggests he's done all his life.

    The Statesman found stories about Craig accosting guys all the way back to his undergraduate years.

    He came on to other guys surreptitiously, while very publicly dating women.

    To whom he wasn't very nice.

    One of those women said, "I don't imagine that he ever held my hand. He was into the gotta-hold-the-door-for-the-woman sort of thing. But I always felt like I was an accessory. I might as well have been his briefcase."

    That was forty years ago.

    If the Senator was going to experience self-growth, it would have happened -- long ago.

    So, tearoom sex has not enabled this male, at least, to experience self-growth.

    Rather, and perhaps like Haggard, he continues to treat his love of men as something, to use Haggard's phrase, "repulsive and dark and sexually immoral," which has to be hidden.

    And DENIED.

    So: What Sen Craig is doing when he has that furtive tearoom sex and denies it, has nothing to do with self-growth, and EVERYTHING to do with what Redd has, brilliantly, called "acting heterosexism's script:

    [M]en ... have been redefined or have been given a social identity that differs and contradicts their masculinity. Because their social identity condemns their real masculinity, they "act" heterosexism's script, while thinking and perhaps secretly doing something that expresses their real masculinity.


    Sen Craig, it would appear, has spent his entire life "acting heterosexism's script."

    That script says real men don't have sex with other men.

    So he seeks out that sex furtively, and promiscuously, and then denies ever having done it.

    Does that sex express, per Redd, his real masculinity?

    Only, as my foreign friend says, in a negativised and mutilated way.

    Historically, Men have Loved Men openly and honestly.

    Craig's need for a male bond has been negativised and mutilated -- to the point where it makes sense to him to seek that bond in a toilet.

    Where it cannot possibly be had.

    That's the sad and indeed awful truth.

    Now, I began this post with the story of Jared and Jeremiah.

    They were two men who behaved courageously.

    Childhood friends, they didn't conceal their affection for each other.

    Nor were they expected to.

    When their country was attacked, they enlisted that they might defend it.

    And they got killed.

    Senator Craig rode out the war years of his youth in the Idaho National Guard -- the choice of someone who didn't want to go to Vietnam, but didn't want to publicly oppose the war either.

    Is it surprising that he became the sort of man he is?

    A toady of mining and lumbering interests, and in complete thrall to heterosexualization.

    What a different Man he would be if he had to courage to say, as so many have on this site, I love my wife, but I need to be close to another Man too.

    Why can't he say that?


    Fact is, there are cultural forces and personal decisions.

    We understand the cultural forces which lead males like Craig and Haggard and Allen and Vitter into a lifetime of lies and evasions.

    But we also have to look at their personal responsibility.

    Many men of Craig's generation have chosen to live honestly.

    Maybe they haven't made it to the US Senate.

    But they've been true to themselves, to their True and Natural Masculinity, and to other Men.

    Jared and Jeremiah were, I think, true to themselves too.

    They have the advantage over someone like Craig in that they died young and with, therefore, a certain purity.

    But some of that too was their choice.

    They courageously put their lives at risk -- for a cause in which they believed.

    They didn't have to enlist.

    They did.

    So: Despite everything, we get to choose how we live.

    Not when we live, and not how long we live.

    But we do get to choose HOW we live.

    To me, Sen Craig's life is a cautionary tale.

    It's the tale of a male who failed, throughout his life, to challenge the dominant paradigm.

    And who paid dearly for that failure.

    He went along to get along.

    And ultimately he got NOWHERE.

    Most of you are doing the same thing.

    Will we be reading about you in your hometown newspaper in a few years?

    I wonder.

    You can choose the path taken by Jared and Jeremiah --

    or that taken by Larry Craig.

    When Craig dies, his news story obit will read, "Larry Craig, Senator Caught in Sex Sting, is Dead."

    That's how he'll be remembered.

    As an embarassment who was swept up in the culture wars over sex, and who lacked the courage to talk candidly about who he was.

    How will you be remembered?

    As a Man who lived his Life openly, honestly, and courageously?

    Or as a male who spent his life in hiding.

    It would appear, ultimately, that Craig did what he did to protect his ambition and his career.

    Was it worth it?

    Will it be worth it for you?

    Bill Weintraub

    September 10, 2007

    © All material Copyright 2007 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.

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