05 September 2007

Potty Training

Senator Larry Craig
The Public Restroom Foot Tapper . . .

Once upon a time, not so long ago, consensual Gay sex was outlawed in this country. Homosexual acts carried a stigma so heavy, it's incomprehensible to most people today. Just the suspicion that you were Lesbian or Gay could mean separation from employment, deprivation of housing, suspension from school, disowning by family, ostracism from community, and periods of imprisonment, sometimes lengthy and at hard labor. All of these punishments could be legally imposed.

Homosexuality was "the love that dared not speak its name", and few people dared to speak of it! Those who did were furtive in their speech. Gay bars were either hard-to-find or nonexistent, so Gay people, Gay men in particular, took desperate measures in order to make contact with one another. Clandestinely, they "cruised" abandoned buildings, darkened alleys, heavily wooded areas and public restrooms.

They didn't meet in such places in order to date each other up!  Back then, there was no such thing as Gay dating. They narrowed their physical needs down to their basest expression. Because of widespread ignorance and superstition about homosexuality, they felt ashamed of their desires; they decided the best way to deal with these feelings was in quick, anonymous sexual encounters devoid of tenderness and dignity. Therefore, they began living double lives: Heterosexual and respectable during the day, homosexual and predatory at night!

The legal system came to perceive Gay men as the human equivalent of wild animals in heat. Police caught hundreds of them coupling in public. After convicting them of indecency, sodomy, or any number of other vice-related charges, law enforcement officials routinely exposed them to public humiliation; their names would be sent to local newspapers for publication in a "vice offenders" column. Shunned by society, many committed suicide!

Others avoided arrest only to be beaten and/or murdered by opportunistic thugs. The lurid details of a Gay man's demise sometimes made the papers, too, forcing his family to suffer a double scandal. Obviously, maintaining this shadowy lifestyle took a heavy toll on people. It was a barbaric and intolerable way of fulfilling the human need for intimacy; the desire to be free of it helped spark the Gay Liberation movement.

In its most basic form, Gay Liberation called for the decriminalization of homosexual intimacy. It called for Gay people to declare their orientation openly, to "come out of the closet". It called for an end to silence around the topic of homosexuality. It pleaded for an end to ignorant and superstitious reactions to Gay identity. It demanded an end to discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and education. It advocated for public meeting spaces to replace the seedy bars, dangerous wooded areas and squalid public restrooms where Gay men had trysted for decades. In short, Gay Liberationists sought the full integration of Lesbians and Gay men into mainstream society. Their goal was to consign years of fear, secrecy and shame to the unhappy past. That proved much harder to do than they anticipated!

There were many triumphs, though. Over the course of three decades, public acceptance of Gay identity grew by leaps and bounds. Gay advocacy organizations acquired a national profile. Gay people began to get sympathetic treatment in news and entertainment media. Gay enclaves popped up in various major cities. A Christian church denomination was founded to minister specifically to Lesbians and Gay men. Gay educators proliferated in the halls of academia, as did Gay student organizations. Gay professional organizations became widespread. Openly Gay politicians got elected to public office. More and more public figures identified themselves as homosexual. Most important of all, an unprecedented number of ordinary Americans came out of the closet and asserted their right to live in the mainstream.

Yet, not every Gay person embraced the mainstream!  A radical fringe element rejected conventional values and adopted a form of Gay identity that centered on the pursuit of pleasure (see my essay titled "The Pleasure Seekers", Parts One, Two and Three). This element viewed danger-fraught sexual encounters as part of Gay people's "culture" and "heritage." Gay men who favored this attitude continued to tryst in alleys, bathrooms and parks just for the "thrill" of doing so! Joining them there were men so deeply scarred by internalized shame, they couldn't even imagine living openly Gay lives. Brainwashed by bigoted rhetoric from conservative churches, mosques and synagogues, they clung tight to their heterosexual façades and even tighter to the old reasoning that dangerous, anonymous sex was the best way to handle their "unwanted" homosexual attraction.

Now that the sexual duplicity of several prominent Republicans has come to light, this sordid remnant from the days of criminalized identity is drawing renewed attention. Oddly enough, bathroom sex's increased media visibility has given rise to a bizarre mythology about men's sexual habits. Some "radiQueers", as the fringe element now identify themselves, assert that Straight men often crave fellatio with other men! They also say such men are in the habit of seeking out oral sex in public toilets! In the interest of promoting their hedonistic "sex-positive" agenda, the fringe displays a willingness to turn reality on its, pardon the expression, head. They eagerly accept "outed" Conservatives' ridiculous "I'm not Gay" proclamations at face value; evidently, high-profile hostility to Gay Rights is sufficient proof of heterosexual status for them. They loudly decry the "entrapment" of these "innocent" hypocrites, arguing that, just like "queer" men, they have a "right" to seek sexual release in public restroom stalls!

“Isn’t it (sic) anyone else out there concerned that police officers in Minneapolis are being paid to . . . trap guys interested in getting off?” fumes one James Wagner, commenting on Michelangelo Signorile’s blog. A San Francisco blogger calling herself "Catherine" thinks people who condemn public restroom cruising “are whining because they don’t understand the casual need” and probably harbor “some deep down frustration and jealousy because they themselves were not cruised!” Somebody else calling himself "HappyCat", trolling by pamshouseblend.com, recently logged the opinion that “all these (Straight) guys want is a bit of kink and a ‘BJ’ from their spouse, and (they’re) not getting it.”

H. Alexander Robinson parrots the radical position on this issue. In a recent essay . . .

. . . the current CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition posited that some Straight men do crave sex with other guys, and that incidents of so-called bi-curious behavior among politicians can teach us about the "fluidity" of male sexuality. "The sex that these men have is truly, utterly and exclusively recreational," he insisted. "For them, having male-to-male sex is truly a sport, a hobby, a distraction and a pastime . . ." Damn, dude! Wouldn't a game of pick-up basketball make more sense? Robinson crawled even further out on a limb, suggesting that some Gay men similarly lust after women! He used himself as an example. "I potentially could have as much illicit heterosexual sex as I want with women," he bragged, but reasoned that "(since) my emotional desire is to partner with another man . . . my true sexual orientation is Gay, not Straight or Bisexual."

Is it, now? Strong emotional bonding is known to occur between Straight men, as well as between Gay men and Straight women. However, emotional attachment alone isn't enough to explain homosexual attraction! There must also be physical attraction to the same gender, and not only that; it must be exclusive! If Gay men were capable of enjoying sex with women, then what would distinguish them from Bisexual men? And if exclusive erotic interest in female anatomy doesn't define a heterosexual male, then what does? Clearly, Robinson is more interested in blurring distinctions than clarifying them. Toward that end, he constructs a fantasy world where the boundaries between Straight and Gay identity are permeable, sex has no relationship to love or desire, and Gay people ignore their natural sexual orientation, just like "ex-Gay" ministries preach that they do!

Upon hearing such wild talk, the general public is liable to become more confused than ever about the nature of Gay identity: Homosexual men enjoy sex with women? Then it really is a choice! Is it an obsession, too? What about homosexual recruitment? Does that really happen? Such confusion stokes fear, and fear leads to more persecution. In turn, persecution leads to more Gay people hiding behind a closet door. A vicious circle, if ever there was one! Funny, isn't it, how this "radiQueer" rhetoric has the ultimate effect of legitimizing and perpetuating homosexual stigma? Why is it that Left Wing radicals and Right Wing reactionaries so often end up on the same page?

It's the same page in the same book of fractured fairy tales! If Idaho senator Larry Craig and Florida state representative Bob Allen are Straight, then butter won't melt in former President Bill Clinton's mouth! No heterosexual man risks loss of reputation, marriage, family and livelihood by haunting public potties for same-gender quickies! Haunting them repeatedly, I might add. Those men didn’t indulge in recreational sex! What a lame-brained notion! For a heterosexual male, recreational sex is swapping wives with his next-door neighbor, having a fling with his secretary, or hiring a hooker while he's out of town on business. Messieurs Craig and Allen were engaging in shame-based sexual behavior, and that's a surefire sign of a closeted (or hedonistic) Gay or Bisexual man!

Don't believe the hedonist hype! Sexuality is not fluid! Human beings are either Gay, Straight or Pansexual. Regardless of who they fall into bed with and regardless of their motives for doing so, they don't have the power to switch back and forth between identities!

God controls sexual orientation! He establishes it prior to birth; it's gender-based, and it can't be changed at will. Granted, the rare Straight man may knock boots with another dude once or twice out of sheer curiosity. However, if he enjoys those encounters enough to make them a habit, his claim to heterosexual status is fraudulent! Ditto for a habitually "bi-curious" Gay man who claims homosexual status. When sexual identity is in question, always look at what people do, not at what they say they do. What Larry Craig, Bob Allen and H. Alexander Robinson say about themselves can't teach us anything about human sexuality we don't already know. There's a lot they can teach us about denial, though! You wanna talk about something that has fluidity? Denial is extremely fluid, especially the kind Gay and Pansexual men practice!

That denial includes the outrageous belief that adults have a right to commandeer public space for lewd purposes. What I'm about to say won’t win me any new friends on the Left, but I’m gonna say it anyway: They have no such right! On the other hand, individuals, Gay, Straight or Pansexual, do have the right to visit a public restroom without fear of being leered at, propositioned, groped or otherwise sexually harassed. They have the right to relieve themselves in an atmosphere that isn't threatening. They have the right to feel safe using public restrooms. Even more important, they have the right to feel safe letting their children use them!

As for the Gay horndogs whose runaway libidos get them targeted for arrest, they need to stop playing the victim. They understand full well what risks they're taking! When they're caught in the act, they should 'fess up and accept the consequences. Sexual activity in public is wrong! I fully support police sting operations designed to discourage it. I do not support decriminalization of bathroom sex! Nor do I favor a look-the-other-way policy on the part of law enforcement. Public sex is uncivilized, unsanitary and dangerous! I'm tired of hearing dumb excuses for it, and I don't want to hear any more!

I don't want to hear any whining about the plight of poor closeted men, either; closetedness doesn't justify acting out in a foolhardy manner! Gay activists don't do closet cases any favors when they encourage behavior that can end their lives. In my essay titled "Doin' Time In Gay Men's Hell, Parts One and Two", I described a period in my life when I compulsively pursued dangerous sexual encounters. Had I been arrested, brutalized or killed, it would've been tragic, but I'd have fallen victim to the inevitable. When you pays your money and takes your chances, you can't complain when your luck runs out! Thank God I saw the error of my ways while I still had some luck left!

I seriously doubt that early Gay Rights activists put their lives and livelihoods on the line so that Gay men could claim a "right" to tryst in the potty! I damn sure don't write this blog for that reason! I write it so that LGBT folk will gain the courage to ignore self-destructive compulsions. I write it so that we'll stop thinking of ourselves in purely sexual terms. I write it so that Gay identity will become as respectable in the public mind as Straight identity is!

Some folks, both Straight and Gay, don't like those reasons. They've told me so. Here's what I think of their disapproval: They can go kiss where the sun don't shine! A few of 'em are probably in the habit of doing that, anyway! Well, it's a bad habit that needs to be broken. I want Gay couples to kiss in the sunshine, the way all loving couples should. I want them to feel entitled to the sunshine! No more hiding! No more sneaking around in the dark. No more hanging around in toilets as if we were waste products! We must leave that kind of degrading behavior behind us. We don't belong in the potty, and neither does our love.

Equality means living our lives in the same way heterosexual Americans live theirs: Enjoying all the benefits and carrying out all the responsibilities that go with being an upstanding member of society. Let me emphasize that word responsibility, because it's relevant to this issue. The legal system shouldn't discriminate against us, but neither should it be expected to carve out exceptions for us when we place prurient impulses over the public good!

It's time to clarify what we mean when we use the phrase "Gay Rights"! I was under the impression it meant equal rights. However, if it means the right to violate societal mores by indulging in selfish hedonism, then that's not equality, and it isn't something I can ever support!