another closet door forced open Republican politician has been caught trying to entertain his natural impulses. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June after making signals to an undercover police officer in the adjoining stall of the Minneapolis airport restroom. The police had received complaints about sexual activity in said restroom and were investigating. The following is from the breaking report filed yesterday by Roll Call:

Airport police previously had made numerous arrests in the men’s restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal in connection with sexual activity.

[Officer] Karsnia entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see “an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall.”

… Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia’s and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.“My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall,” Karsnia stated in his report. “From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me.”

… “At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moved his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area,” the report states.

Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times …

Despite his claims that it was all a misunderstanding (perhaps he was just asking the guy in the next stall to hand him some toilet paper?), Craig has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

He has also resigned as co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign; he has yet to determine whether he’ll run for relection.

There have been past investigations into and questions about Sen. Craig’s sexual orientation, and he has denied participating in homosexual activity. According to this long article, “In an interview on May 14, Craig told the Idaho Statesman he’d never engaged in sex with a man or solicited sex with a man.” Given that he’s apparently well-versed in the nonverbal restroom behavior that will hook you up with something quick and dirty, I’d say he was lying.

But who can blame him? He’s a Republican in an extremely conservative state. He’s married and has three children and nine grandchildren. He’s held public office since 1974 and has been in the Senate since 1990. He was born in a time and a place where homosexuality would have been utterly condemned by friends and family. Despite the fact that he’s almost certainly recognized his homosexuality since childhood, he would have rigorously denied it and made every effort to live the “normal,” heterosexual, God-fearing, Republican life expected of a member of his family and his community.

Craig’s family owns a ranch, which his grandfather originally homesteaded in 1899. I wonder whether he saw Brokeback Mountain. I wonder what he thought, deep in his heart, of those men and the inestimably sad and frustrating course they were forced to take to avoid the condemnation of society. All too probably, he thought something along the lines of “That’s exactly why I got married and made myself have sex with a woman I didn’t desire and have kept this dark and terrible part of myself hidden from sight.” I’m sure he hates his sexuality, which he cannot change, no matter what all those preachers say; it’s part of him, an indestructable part of who he is, and yet it defies everything he was taught growing up and all the sexual mores of the people with whom he identifies most strongly.

But despite that element of self hatred, despite his marriage and his undoubted love for his family, despite his knowledge of the myriad risks, when his sexuality screamed in his head and his desire for release overwhelmed his thoughts, he went looking for a man to make it all better, at least for a little while. Once the fire was damped he could hide again in his closet of denial until the next time desire came calling too loudly to resist.

How unspeakably sad that this man could not be, from the beginning of his life, the person he really is. He’s worked tirelessly on adoption issues in the Senate; if only he had been able to make a loving home life with a male partner, adopting children to form a family. If only his sexuality hadn’t stood in the way of family acceptance and a political career.

I hear stories like this one, over and over again, and I remain amazed that so many people in our country continue to deny the legitimacy of homosexuality as a state of being. How many thousands — millions — of Americans remain in their self-imposed closets, fearful of admitting their truth and losing everything in a wave of revulsion and hatred? How many are risking their health, their families, and their careers each day as they find shadowed ways to meet the physical and emotional needs that overwhelm them?

Why can’t we let these people live honest, happy lives?

Why do we care who they love?

5 responses to “another closet door forced open

  1. I think it’s quite possible that some anti-gay conservatives simply don’t understand that they are gay. If they think being gay is a choice, then perhaps they think being heterosexual is a choice as well.

    Perhaps they really believe that if we tolerate homosexuality *everyone* will become gay because it’s so much more fun and satisfying. I’ve even heard someone make that argument before. And I’m like, dude, you’re gay.

    Thud: 😀

  2. I’m homosexual and admit it. I’m not living in repression, self-hatred, self-loathing, and denial, so I’m gay. :)=

    My problem with his public statement is that he said that he’s not gay, loves his wife and family…. The implication of course is that being gay you can’t love your spouse and family. Of course, the distinguished gentleman from Idaho is wrong. And maybe he’s not gay. He could be bi-sexual.

    Could be. And this guy is wrong on a whole variety of levels.

  3. I feel the need to point out that the whole “it’s not a choice” insistence is not at all universal among those who identify as queer, and it is one of those things that serves to remind us that — shock of shocks — the queer community suffers from sexism at least as much as does the straight community. That is, the notion of “born that way” tends to be championed much more by gay men,and much less by lesbians, whose sexuality does seem to be considerably more fluid — for example, women’s preference regarding the gender of their partners is more likely than men’s to change over the course of their lives, and women are considerably more likely to identify as bisexual than are men. Just as gay men are much more likely than lesbians to vehemently insist that abortion is not a gay issue, just as gay men are more likely than lesbians to insist that those who identify as bisexual are just in denial, so, too, are men more likely to belittle the person for whom it IS a choice. Perhaps the insistence on “gay is inborn” is just political — the theory being that if it is purely biology, then the right shouldn’t fault us; perhaps it is because the “causes” really ARE different for men than for women; perhaps the causes are different for different people, regardless of gender identity. But when you hear it announced as absolute truth, recall that the notion of a “sexual identity” is only a century old, that no “cause” (whether biological or environmental) has been scientifically identified, and that sexism should be battled, wherever it may appear.

    I absolutely agree that we need to battle sexism wherever it appears. As for the rest, I can only base my opinions on my direct conversations with assorted people who have known since a very early age that they were attracted to the same sex, just as I knew at a very early age (too early!) that I was attracted to the opposite sex. Then there are, as you say, many people — more of whom happen to be women — who fall in between the polar extremes on the spectrum of sexuality. And it makes sense to me that aspects of a person’s sexuality can change with age — again, more particularly with women — thanks to our ever-changing hormonal levels.

    I have trouble believing that a person like the woman in the article you cited truly makes a choice to be a lesbian. A number of girls at my daughter’s high school are experimenting with “being a lesbian” because it’s cool and it makes them different from the other kids. But my daughter can easily tell who’s just trying to be different versus other kids, male and female, who are genuinely gay or bi and are seeking the same meaningful relationships as the straights. Sure, you can choose the behavior if you want; but in order for your “choice” to be more than just behavior — for it to lead to a fulfilling, sustainable life — your sexuality must be part of who you are. I could choose to start engaging in sexual relationships with women, and call myself whatever I wanted, but I wouldn’t be truly bi or lesbian, because I’m just not. I’d be a straight woman choosing to have sex with women. In the case of the woman in the article, I believe that her “choice,” which has led her to a satisfying and happy life, was her realization of her innate sexuality.

    Writing the previous paragraph has made me rethink my opinion of Sen. Craig. Plenty of men, apparently, go out on the down low and have anonymous sexual encounters with other men because they’re quick and satisfying and involve no long-term commitment. There are assorted reasons why these men may choose to behave in this risky manner — reasons that have to do with them achieving sexual release but don’t have to do with them being gay. Perhaps these men do fall more toward the middle of the sexual spectrum, although they would never self-identify as bi or gay.

    Who knows? Now I’m wandering. Sexuality is a marvelous mystery. Here’s my main point: It shouldn’t matter to anyone what anyone else chooses to do in their bedroom and whom they choose to share their life with.

  4. I had no sooner turned from this than I received a message about a new “Queer By Choice” article. FYI, here it is:

  5. From time immemorial, there have been those who see it as their right and duty to tell the rest of us how to live. Whether their ostensible motivation is religious, moral or political doesn’t matter: they are power-trippers who oppress the rest of us.

    We have to remember that whatever freedoms we have were hard won against such oppressors by courageous individuals and groups who often sacrificed their freedom and even their lives to make a point.

    The policeman’s story is absurd, ridiculous and disgraceful. A grown man, police officer or not, has better things to do with his time than play footsie with a stranger in order to get the stranger into trouble.

    If anyone should be charged with indecent behaviour it is the police officer and those who give him his orders. A decent society would allow the senator to live his own live openly and in peace.

    Tiger, I agree with you completely that a decent society would let people live openly and in peace. But I also think that people (especially Senators) should be intelligent enough to seek sexual satisfaction somewhere less public than an airport restroom. Such places are frequented by thousands of people, including children — people who don’t want to encounter the noises and other evidences of quick sex happening in the next stall. Naturally, people will complain about this sort of thing, and the authorities are doing their job when they make sure a restroom is used only for its intended purpose.

    A few miles from our home is a lovely wild park along the Ohio River, with woods and huge rocks filled with fossils. For whatever reason, every couple of years it becomes a meeting place for men seeking quick, anonymous sex with other men; and, given that the park is generally full of school groups, families, and individuals studying the river and rock formations, there are complaints. For a while we’ll see mentions in the paper of undercover police and arrests, and then things quiet down again.

    Whenever we go through one of these cycles my primary thoughts are about how sad it is that these men can’t find a better and more private place for their sexual activities — that for whatever reason, their lives are such that release is to be found only under those incredibly risky conditions. Surely, if our society was understanding and open, they would have some better outlet.

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