Life Among the Elephants
May 13, 2005
By Jim David
must be hard being gay in today’s Republican party. Working side
by side with raging homophobes with toupees and beehives can’t be
easy. I know many gay conservatives and they all have the same refrain
– my private life is no one’s business, being gay is not the main
issue in my life, the war wasn’t about oil, etc. Then they give
reasons why either they aren’t out to their families and co-workers
at all or just conveniently don’t discuss it or tell me to go fuck
myself, like Dick Cheney to Patrick Lahey.
Everyone is entitled to one’s own private life and how much of
it to share. But a revolving closet door can hit you in the ass:
witness some recent conservatives that were revealed to have a secret
gay life and then saw their careers take a nosedive. Spokane, Wash.
mayor and family values Republican James E. West, a vocal opponent
of gay rights, had online Gay.com relationships and is denying molestation
allegations. Of his internet shenanigans, West said “I wouldn’t
characterize me as ‘gay.’” Well, what would you describe yourself
as, James? Mexican? And Virginia Republican congressman Ed Schrock
resigned after several come-hither voicemail messages he left on
a phone sex service were posted by gay activists on the internet,
raising the eyebrows of his constituents higher than Cher's.
Personally, I feel bad for these guys. I mean, how embarrassing
to have your naughty bits spread all over the world in 2 seconds
flat. There’s no way to know how many conflicted conservatives are
online, or how many of the headless torsos on Manhunt are into supply
side economics as well as nipple play. Schrock provocatively described
himself as “well hung,” a characteristic uncommon to most Republicans.
But are these guys self-hating closet cases who actively worked
against their own kind, or are they just confused family men who
decided to take a dip in the Fire Island pool? Why expose them?
Well, West sponsored a bill that would have barred gays from working
in schools, day-care centers and state agencies, and called for
screening prospective employees for sexual orientation and firing
employees whose homosexuality became known. And Schrock was a co-sponsor
of the Federal Marriage Amendment and opposed gay rights including
non-discrimination in employment. So while working against gays
by day they were working to hook up with them at night, and even
followed unwritten internet rules – online profiles that made them
a lot younger and hotter. At least New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey
flew out of the closet on his own as a preemptive strike against
other pending scandals that, so far, haven’t amounted to much.
It must be awful to be secretly gay and do business with characters
like Alabama Rep. Gerald Allen or Texas Rep. Robert Talton. Allen
wants to make it illegal to have anything in a library by a gay
author regardless of content (out goes Walt Whitman, West Side Story,
and the Dewey Decimal System). Talton wants state workers to launch
an $8 million inquisition into the sexual orientation of current
and prospective foster parents, uprooting thousands of children
from their homes. He also wants to make it illegal for a teen to
make the “choice” to be gay before they turn 18. He didn’t specify
if 15 year olds could still get their learner’s permit.
I’m not asking that everyone be like me, out to everyone from here
to the Death Star. But I remember how it was before I came out to
my family and co-workers, and the uncomfortable silence when the
subject of dating or getting married came up and it was my turn
to dish the personal dirt. Everyone would get quiet and there was
a race to see who could change the subject first. The elephant in
the room was so big he had his own entrance.
Imagine how large the Republican Elephant looms for some of these
guys, and how much easier their lives might have been - and the
lives of those close to them - had they been honest. Look, for all
I know their personal lives are a Rodgers & Hammerstein clambake,
but I doubt it. Living a double life takes its toll on anyone. Maybe
by coming out they could have changed some minds of their colleagues,
or wouldn’t have been so quick to legislate against those who aren’t
so conflicted. Maybe they would have been happier.
But given the state of the circles they travel in, I wouldn’t trade
places with them for all the oil we didn't go to war for.
Jim David is a comedian and columnist for "The Advocate."