Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Closet Is Dark And Filled With Horrible Demons-- Meet David Laws


When I finally figured out I was gay-- after ignoring little hints all my life-- I had been living overseas for a few years. I bought a plane ticket for my first visit to America since leaving in 1969 so that I could tell my family in person. Although my mom mentioned that I couldn't borrow her wigs, everyone embraced-- a healthy step beyond "accepted"-- my reality. They accepted it as part of their reality. No one suggested I'd be better off in the closet.

Last week notorious California Republican closet case, state Senator Roy Ashburn-- recently outed with a young male prostitute-- pretty much said that having been in the closet ruined his life and forced him into an existence predicated on hypocrisy. Former GOP Congressman (and the vitriolic homophobic founder of the American Conservative Union and Young Americans For Freedom) Bob Bauman was also living a double life in a frightening closet of his own making and came to personal and political ruin when he was also caught with an underage boy. His book The Gentleman From Maryland: The Conscience Of A Gay Conservative also makes it crystal clear that living in the closet is a life sentence unworthy of any human being regardless of political persuasion. It's a life accepted by personally shabby conservative politicians as a matter of course in this country-- something that helped prompt Michelangelo Signorile's thoughtful commentary in the new Advocate, A Case For Outing On All Levels-- but turns out to be far from unknown among conservative politicians overseas as well.

Yesterday David Laws, the Treasury Secretary in the new Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition in the U.K., resigned from the Cabinet after being exposed for having claimed £40,000 (around $58,000) in housing expenses that were actually paid to his male lover/partner, James Lundie. "Laws also said," reports the Guardian, "that while his decisions over his expenses had been dictated by his wish to keep his homosexuality secret, he now accepted he had done wrong... Laws had said he deeply regretted the situation. 'My motivation throughout has not been to maximise profit but to simply protect our privacy and my wish not to reveal my sexuality,' he said."

Although there is a very direct correlation between overweening personal greed and conservative political beliefs, let's accept at face value Laws' claim that he wasn't out to rip off the British taxpayers but only trying to stay in the closet. This is precisely the kind of behavior-- and worse-- that closet cases always, always, always and inevitably find themselves in. Just ask Republican politicians Mark Foley and Larry Craig, each of whom was forced by a desire to stay closeted into untenable situations, including severe breakdowns of mental health, that led to the respective demise of their political careers. And after centuries of nurturing and coddling hypocritical pedophile priests, the ultimate bastion of conservatism, the Vatican-- at least in terms of p.r.-- is now threatening eternal damnation to the thousands and thousands of Roman Catholic priests who routinely behave as though sexual access to the children of their parishioners is a standard occupational perk.

The video below was made specifically for the U.K. election, but its importance transcends the U.K. or elections entirely. I can hardly believe I get to republish my favorite video on the nature of conservatism:

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At 2:21 PM, Blogger Decidere said...

I continue to think the left does itself a lot of harm by condemning too harshly this kind of hypocrisy instead of showing something of the tolerance and understanding we say we champion.

Closeted gays obviously aren't the only ones who work against their own interests (who's been sending all that money to Blue Dogs, by the way...) so why the heavy need to moralize when the irony of co-opting and supporting is so much more delicious?

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

At 3:23 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

What am I missing here, D? How is it possible to show "tolerance and understanding" to closeted gays who are spitting at you, and loathe you in the same way that they loathe themselves? How is it possible to "co-opt and support" people like Mark Foley and Larry Craig, who continue to lie about their sexuality to the public (and possibly to themselves)? What on earth does that MEAN?

On the other hand, I thought Howie shows quite a lot of compassion toward Bob Bauman and even Roy Ashburn who come out of the experience of being outed with some understanding. As far as I can tell, there's no issue of "heavy moralizing," just a minimal regard for the truth.

Are we supposed to blow kisses and chant, "We love you for working so hard to destroy us, you lying fraud"? My irony detector is usually pretty reliable, so help me here: What am I missing?



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