Sen. Craig, Bathroom Sex, & The Broad Berth Of Bias genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Broad Berth Of Bias

I'm always fascinated by the reaction to stories like that of Senator Larry Craig...the Idaho senator who plead guilty to disorderly conduct following his arrest for lewd behavior (he was basically charged for allegedly soliciting sex from a male police officer) in a Minneapolis airport restroom.

A number of reactions are exactly what one might expect given the political persuasion of the senator. Craig has been an opponent of gay rights for the duration of his service in the senate...opposing gay marriage and hate crimes legislation and basically voting the family values platform without fail. Therefore the accusations of blatant hypocrisy have been loud and they've been warranted.

Craig's actions are a repeat of an all too familiar script...powerful anti-gay leader gets caught in pathetic pants down gay situation and then begins the process of denial. In that regard, it is difficult to sympathize with these men given their propensity to victimize gays through their very public and influential positions...all the while living closeted gay lives in secret...frequently exhibiting a history of engaging in tawdry anonymous sexual encounters on the sly.

Here's where it gets tricky...no pun intended. In the rush to comment on the situation, the door is kicked open to all types of erroneous assertions...assertions that emanate from the bias, prejudice, and judgment that comes with the topic of homosexuality.

Generally speaking, the comments from the gay community are straightforward and they speak of vindication and the utter hypocrisy exhibited by those individuals who have made a career of championing the vilification of the gay lifestyle. The gay commentary also includes expressions of dismay with a society that stigmatizes homosexuality such that some individuals are unable or unwilling to expose their gay identities and therefore succumb to the deception and the detachment that accompanies such incidents.

In this particular instance, the commentary from the gay community has also included a degree of outrage that the Minneapolis police department is targeting consensual gay sex as a matter of criminal activity...the point at which it becomes complicated and also where we begin to see the infiltration of bias.

As I've read the many comments on the situation...both from the left and the right...it became obvious that there is a void in understanding an important fact of gay life. Gays and those familiar with the gay community seem to understand that there is an unspoken communication code amongst gays...one that allows them to identify each other. It exists because identifying another gay individual isn't a matter of simple gender identification...and it can be a matter of life and death.

As we all know, the vast majority of society is heterosexual and therefore the accepted pattern of courtship (the means by which people make connections...be they flirting, dating, sexual, or the predecessor to marriage) is between a man and woman. As such, it is expected that men and women will make advances towards each other in order to express interest. These behaviors are well known and easily identified.

On the other hand, those within the gay world have created their own method of courtship...a method that is necessarily more clandestine and far less obvious. That method exists because gays realize that if they were to approach courtship randomly...with the presumption that all others were homosexual...they may be subjecting themselves to the likelihood of anger and even physical danger. The bottom line is that advances of a gay nature are not an open and socially accepted behavior. Gays cannot act upon attraction without first evaluating the potential that such an approach will be welcomed.

The only clear exception to this may be the gay bar...a safe environment that mirrors what heterosexuals find in virtually all of their travels. It is a place where gays can let down their guard and feel safe to express interest in others with little reason for worry. At the same time, any heterosexual who has ventured to a gay bar...and found themselves the object of flirtatious advances should have an appreciation for the daily gay experience. Fortunately, heterosexuals in a gay bar generally needn't feel their physical safety is threatened should they mistakenly make an advance towards a member of the opposite sex. Gays, on the other hand, would not likely find the same in a straight bar.

Let me point out one other consideration...the issue of stereotypical behavior. Many heterosexuals struggle to understand some of the mannerisms of homosexuals...with effeminate behavior being the most obvious. My own anecdotal analysis suggests that it is simply another way for a homosexual to expose their sexual preference to others without the need for the subtleties of a secret code. If one is gay and one wants to maximize the number of individuals who will know as much in order to increase the potential for others to come forward and identify their similar orientation, then acting in stereotypical ways may simply be a successful alternative strategy.

Hopefully, those who may have been puzzled by this apparent secret code of communication that was exhibited by Senator Craig will now have a better understanding of the underlying dynamics that foster it. The bottom line is that if one is never forced to adopt such strategies, one would likely be oblivious to them...but that doesn't nullify their existence.

Now factor in the additional considerations of men like Senator Craig...considerations that go beyond the above mentioned realities. The senator and other closeted individuals must make the same judgments...but they are also focused upon avoiding the acknowledgment or exposure of their sexual preference. Essentially, they are seeking others in similar situations, or at the very least, individuals who they can reasonably assume to be desirous of a limited and/or secretive encounter...whether that be a conversation, a date, sex, or an ongoing relationship.

Let me draw an important comparison to heterosexuality...one that begins to expose the unfair bias that is often triggered by events similar to that of Senator Craig. The best way to understand the actions of Craig is to think about the heterosexual man or woman that is looking for an affair. They must be able to secretly identify an individual who will be receptive to their advances, respectful of their need for discretion, and willing to be complicit in hiding the relationship...whether it is strictly sexual or something much more or much less.

In reading the commentary on the Senator's actions, some have chosen to view his actions as perverse, sick, twisted, and indicative of all that is wrong with the homosexual lifestyle. Let me be clear...I am not defending the actions of Senator Craig...I am simply suggesting that they are not unique to homosexuals. The problem is that some of the characterizations have sought to identify the Senator's behavior as exclusive to homosexuals in order to condemn the gay lifestyle.

However, Craig's motivations are mirrored in the heterosexual community in those individuals seeking to conduct clandestine affairs. All one needs to imagine is the man who frequents the area of a city where prostitutes can be found or that travels for work and can be found in the hotel lounge seeking a one night encounter. If one chooses to characterize such actions as perverse, sick, and twisted...so be it. I am simply suggesting that there are those who hope to attach such a label to homosexual behavior while avoiding the same insinuation with regard to heterosexuals. Deception and cheating are the same wherever they occur.

As to the legitimacy of targeting such behaviors in the restroom of an airport, I think one can make the argument that it is, in fact, an unfair assault upon homosexuals. Again, I'm not suggesting that I find anything remotely appealing about airport bathroom sex...nor am I suggesting that it represents a healthy expression of anyones sexuality. At the same time, I can identify numerous other venues...venues that are not intended for sexual encounters...but that are clearly used as the means to achieve a sexual encounter...amongst heterosexuals as well as homosexuals.

Everyone has been to a concert where two individuals meet up and engage in sexual activity. The same can be found at sports events (think Nascar and bare breasts), wedding receptions, house parties, amusement parks, beaches, airplanes (think mile high club), high school dances, pool parties, public parks, and other venues too numerous to mention.

The question is whether "lewd behavior" is targeted at such venues...and by that I mean that police officers are assigned to engage others who may be seeking to use a venue to solicit sex...not just security staff that might put a stop to such behavior should they encounter it in the course of their responsibilities. I seriously doubt that the police assign a woman officer to attend a concert in order to catch men who solicit her for a sexual encounter...just as I doubt officers would be found at the other venues mentioned with the sole purpose of identifying individuals who are desirous of a sexual encounter. I think the distinction is that these other venues may have employees who are supposed to put an end to such activities if they are encountered...but they are not assigned to entice such advances in order to bring charges.

Again, I have no particular sympathy for Senator Craig...I am simply suggesting that there may well be a double standard at work with regard to homosexual contact. Frankly, it should come as no surprise since we commonly hear expressions like, "I don't care what they do in private but I don't want it flaunted in my face". Further, we have gone so far as to institutionalize such stigmatization of homosexual sex. The best example is found in the military with the policy called Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In other words, gay sex must be behind closed doors and it mustn't be discussed or exposed to the public at large.

In the case of these airport encounters, apparently closed doors are not sufficient...and the mere insinuation of a sexual interest is grounds for charging an individual with an offense. I personally find the prospect of restroom sex distasteful...but no more than I would find the prospect of sitting next to a couple engaging in sex at a concert or on an airplane or at a Nascar race.

Unfortunately, society still struggles with the notion of homosexual sex and the situation with Senator Craig points out the apparent double standard that exists. Granted, the locations gays may choose to find such encounters may differ from those chosen by heterosexuals...but that may simply be a function of the other societal taboos that are at play and that make it more difficult for gays to express an interest in another individual.

The fact that Senator Craig is a hypocrite remains...but there is also an element of hypocrisy that isn't solely reserved for the Senator...hypocrisy that is evidenced in the tacit endorsement of heterosexual encounters while portraying homosexual displays of a sexual nature as wrong, vile, disgusting, and illegal. That hypocrisy simply suggests that society still has a long way to go.

In the meantime, the actions of Senator Craig as a U.S. Senator simply help foster such bias and prejudice...and it makes his behavior as a Senator all the more offensive. His actions in the Senate are an affront to decency and they make a mockery of the responsibilities that should accompany positions of leadership. The fact that he is likely gay simply makes his political actions all the more detestable.

Tagged as: Bias, Gay, Heterosexuality, Homophobia, Homosexuality, LGBT, Senator Larry Craig, Sexuality

Daniel DiRito | August 28, 2007 | 9:17 AM
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Comments

1 On August 28, 2007 at 2:17 PM, Ben in Oakland wrote —

Daniel: I was hoping you were going to write about Craig. as always, your analysis is reasoned, thoughtful, and spot on. i have somewhat similar thoughts.

Though I am as pleased as anyone that yet another right-wing, family values, religiously hypocritical Republican has been brought down AND hoisted on his own petard (mixed metaphors cheerfully acknowledged!!!) So, Larry Craig hates gay people because he hates that part of himself, and he gains personal and political advantage by oppressing gay people to fight his own demons. Big whoop. No real news there-- we have Ted Haggard, Lonnie Latham, Mark Foley, Jimmy Swaggart, Davit Vitt, among a veritable host of others, who did exactly the same thing. Hypocrisy IS the homage that vice pays to virtue, as someone else famously said. What Rochefoucauld did not mention is that it is also more profitable, as the host of hypocrites has demonstrated repeatedly.

But I don't think it is a good thing beyond that one more of them has been exposed. Here is where we both agree and disagree. We gay people all scream "hypocrisy", because it is so obviously that-- at the absolute minimum-- so you're preaching to the choir here. But in one sense, it is NOT hypocrisy. (I'm not making excuses for Craig). He is demonstrating self-hatred privately and very clearly, just as he is demonstrating his homo-hatred in the public arena. I mean, what kind of an idiot (pace Bob Allen) who has this kind of position, power, and wealth, does this sort of thing, except for someone blinded by self-hatred and the delusion that he is not really that way? He just slips once in a while. That is why he is not a gay man, and he hates those who are. Ted Haggard is another one.It is very consistent--and very sad.

As for the he haters screaming "see how all those fags are, and here's another scuzzy queer in a pyublic toilet." I don't think it matters at all. From their point of view, everything they know about us is true-- look at Larry Craig and Lonnie Latham and Ted Haggard--and so changes nothing for them. At some level, this is an acknowledgment that Larry and Lonnie and Ted really are straight men-- who fell. That they and the people who think that way have a great deal of responsibility for this less savory aspect of gay life does not dawn on them, nor would they care. As we have all pointed our repeatedly, this is not about morality, the bible, marriage, the family, or any of it. It is only about prejudice and hatred, whether disguised as sincere religious belief or admitted for what it is.

The people I am concerned about are the ones in the middle. Who knows how they will take it? I am afraid they will blame homosexuality instead of homophobia for the Larry Craigs of the world. This underlines yet again the terrible, destructive, corrosive nature both of the closet and of the homophobia that creates it, which twists and distorts and sullies and perverts everything it touches, whether it is in the gay world or the straight world. The costs to the Haggards, Lathams, and Craigs are just as important as the costs to every family that has broken up over a gay relative, or every gay couple that can't get married. Because of the prejudice and the homophobia and the closet, Larry Craig and Ted Haggard and pedophile priests are seen and being in the same class as Joe and Sam or Mary and Ellen, who just want to live their lives free of harassment, with the same rights and responsibilities and respect as everyone else.

The closet twists and distorts, dirties and perverts. That is it. And this is the poison that the right-wingers and the christo-hetero-supremacists are feeding our society. It may strangle us.

The right-wingers claim that homosexuality causes the downfall of civilizations-- no evidence, but it sounds right to the ignorant. The irony is delicious and unfortunate both, because it well may be that the fear of homosexuality and the hatred of gay people is what brought this current batch of idiots and moral degenerates to power. And that may well be seen one days as the cause of the downfall of the american empire.

2 On August 28, 2007 at 3:31 PM, Daniel wrote —

Ben,

Great to hear from you. I'm glad you shared your insightful thoughts.

I think you make some excellent points...especially the concern that this situation, along with the others of note, will simply serve as the impetus to condemn the gay lifestyle.

I've read numerous postings and comments on the left and the right and I certainly see a good measure of what you're concerned with. The problem, as I see it, is that those who oppose homosexuality see events of this nature as an opportunity to pivot the discussion to the wholesale discrediting of the gay lifestyle.

In fact, any single event they can characterize as immoral and tie to the gay community is manna from heaven to these zealots. Never mind that there are countless examples that one could use to undermine the morality of heterosexuals.

Sadly, the bottom line is that people of all persuasions make bad choices that impugn their values. Worse yet, those with bias and prejudice of a particular persuasion immediately pounce upon these situations to generalize the actions to the entire group.

Truth be told, societies fail when a preponderance of the population no longer honors the social contract that has been the glue which held them together.

Lastly, your thoughts about the closet are especially important. I think it is dangerous for any of us to underestimate the need for people to come out of the closet...sooner rather than later. We advance our cause best when we allow our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc...to see us as we are...people who share the same hopes, dreams, and struggles as they do.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

Regards,

Daniel

3 On August 28, 2007 at 9:22 PM, Crystal wrote —

Very well said. Thank you for fleshing out the issue for those of us not faced with many of these issues/generalizations/prejudices on a daily basis.

4 On August 29, 2007 at 8:47 AM, Rainbow Demon wrote —

Great post, Daniel. I've linked to you.

Peace,
=RD=

Thought Theater at Blogged

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