It must have been five or six years ago that I had an early evening conference at the St. Regis, a hotel as swanky as its name. I arrived a few minutes early as is my wont and made a detour to the men’s room. No, not for sex, just to take a leak. Now the men’s room is as swanky as the rest of the joint and there aren’t just “stalls”: the partitions are floor to ceiling and the doors are beautiful louvered numbers. All of which was unimportant as I moseyed up to my urinal. As I stood there, preparing to pee, I realized that the door to the handicapped stall was closed and there were, albeit softly, two voices emanating from within.
This was five or six years ago, well before the journey so eloquently chronicled in this Blog, well before my lunch time hookups, well before the roof caving in. Not to say that I did not have my fantasies, but my actions were then in remission. Yet that night I heard the two voices, sensed the breathing, felt their excitement. There was nothing for me to do; it was not an open party. Still I hesitated as I washed my hands slowly, hoping the door would swing open, hoping to see them emerge. Finally, hands very clean and the door still closed, it was off to the conference.
A few long hours later I emerge, a pillar of the community, suit jacket buttoned, tie nice and straight, ready to head back to the suburbs. A quick block to the parking lot, but my feet keep moving, carrying me another ten blocks to Times Square, crossroads of the world and home to the sex shops. While I have never done a men’s room or highway rest stop for that matter, I am familiar with the sex shops and more specifically the “buddy booths”, strange little places where one’s presence is all the sign that is needed as to signal one’s intentions. It was already late when I arrived and my experience came down to a few minutes with a video screen and a quick release followed by a walk back to the car all the while reeling from the power of my desires.
By now I suspect most have figured out this is a little ode to Larry Craig, for the moment of the United States Senate. When I first saw the story of his little problem in the Twin Cities airport, the yellow dog democrat in me leaped for joy. More Republican family value hypocrisy exposed, another one biting the dust. But then I stepped back from the partisanship and started thinking about the Senator. Make no mistake, there is probably nothing we agree on in terms of the issues of our day and his anti-gay voting record is hard to abide. Yet I cannot help but feel for the generation even older than mine, one raised in a severely homophobic world, ones whose denial became a reality of its own.
If someone had come up to me that night and had asked if I was gay, I would have honestly answered: No. Sure I believed myself to be “sexual” in a broad usage of the term, but surely not gay. I have already admitted to never having had a men’s room encounter, but that night if, while I was washing my hands, the door to that stall swung open and a cute guy came up next to me, tapped me with his foot and invited me back from whence he came, I know that I would have followed like an over-eager puppy dog. My heart would have been racing, the fear would have been palpable, but I would have followed.
So I feel anger at the Republican apparatus which is just honky dory with David Vitter, the Senator from Louisiana, making a nice apology for breaking the law to purchase sex while vilifying a man who wanted to commit a legal act in an illegal place. I feel disgust with Larry Craig’s overall political view of the world and revulsion towards his strict anti-gay voting record. But ultimately I cannot help but feel some pity for a closeted gay man losing everything because of… The thing is I am not sure what it is because of other than the rampant homophobia of his party and his state.
There is one more thing I feel: gratitude that in spite of everything, I have managed to come to a point of self awareness and self acceptance so that my encounters with men now take place in bedrooms and living rooms.