As the dirty little secrets of ‘family values’ politicians and religious leaders come to light, the scandals help the cause of LGBT equality
The new year is well under way, but it’s like Christmas just keeps coming for the LGBT community in terms of our enemies destroying their credibility by performing what amounts to high dives into empty swimming pools.
Just a few weeks ago we saw New York Republican Congressman Christopher Lee hastily resign after the website Gawker.com published an expose about the congressman’s attempts to hook up via Craigslist.
The website revealed Lee had e-mailed a shirtless picture of himself to a woman, along with the lie that he was a single lobbyist, rather than declaring his true identity as a married father and elected public official.
Now, the National Enquirer is treating us to an expose alleging that married Republican Speaker of the House John “Cry Me a River” Boehner engaged in at least two affairs with mistresses. It would seem that Boehner, who created a sensation tearing up on a 60 Minutes broadcast while discussing his rise to political fame, really has something to cry about now.
I would say that these fellows who portrayed themselves as champions of family values had exhibited a level of stupidity in their behavior that defies reason and distinguishes them as clowns without comparison — but I can’t. Because this is a story that we have seen play out time and time again.
For naysayers who criticize the sources of these exposures: Remember, when it comes to really distasteful news, it usually surfaces in alternative publications before the mainstream media dares to pick it up. A case in point would be the exposure of former presidential candidate John Edward’s infidelity that was revealed by the National Enquirer.
While Edwards wasn’t an enemy of the LGBT community, he was a champion of family values. So it’s only fair to point out that stupidity and compulsively destructive behavior obviously know no political boundaries.
It’s hard to figure out why a prominent public official would secretly engage in an activity that they publicly condemn. But they just keep on keeping on — to our enormous benefit. There’s nothing that turns off people and awakens them to the truth more than a good dose of reality via the exposure of false prophets’ hypocrisy.
My first recollection of this type of hypocrisy dates back to 1981 when I read The Gentleman from Maryland, The Conscience of a Gay Conservative by former Congressman Richard Bauman. Bauman, who by day railed against gay rights and by night cruised Washington, D.C., gay bars, lost re-election in 1980 over a scandal involving a gay prostitute.
Since then it has been one revelation after another involving foes of the gay rights movement. Who could ever forget the 2007 scandal involving former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig when it was revealed that several months earlier he was arrested in a vice squad sex sting in a Minneapolis airport men’s restroom? The married politician’s denials of guilt and attempts to explain away his behavior made him the laughing stock of the country for awhile.
Over the years, straight Americans’ acceptance of gay and lesbian people has steadily grown, and I suspect at least part of the reason for that has been the exposure of the secret lives of political and religious celebrities who denounce homosexuality and bisexuality as aberrant behavior.
It’s sort of like a housewife who is leading a fight against an ordinance that would allow liquor sales in a community getting busted for drunken driving while ferrying the neighborhood’s kids home from school. Her motives suddenly become suspect.
Of course, we can’t thank our foes for all of our good fortune. The relentless fight by gay activists during the past 40 years has had a tremendous impact on public perception about who we are and what we want.
The battles for parental and marriage rights, along with other nondiscrimination goals, have led many people to realize that many members of our community are in fact champions of family values. Our families just happen to look a little different sometimes, but they are essentially the same as the one next door.
It’s been a wildly successful formula for achieving gay rights since the birth of the movement in 1969, and I’m sure the success is going to continue. And for that we can thank ourselves and our foes who just can’t seem to help being true to their real natures.
David Webb is a freelance reporter and former staff writer for the Dallas Voice. He has reported on LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for more than two decades. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25.