Another 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?