Thursday, August 30, 2007

Craig's List

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.


Misty said...

Wonderfully written. I think this, and other stories like it, speak to all of us in the community on deeper levels than we sometimes give them credit for.

Brad said...

Oddly enough, I did have a bit of sympathy for him myself.

Maybe it is a luxury for my generation, but I knew from my teens that I would not live a closeted life.

So, the bedroom and living room, eh? What about the kitchen? ;)

Paul said...

“I am not gay.”
“I never have been gay.”

I’ve got to believe Larry Craig.

I’m sure – almost 100% positive -- that Larry Craig does not define himself as gay. Nate, he has not been on your journey. And it’s a journey that he probably will never take.

Your writings have wrestled with this dilemma in terminology. What makes someone gay? Is it what they do with what’s between their legs? Or is it what’s in their head?

And as you’ve discussed, it’s not much easier to answer what it means to be bi-sexual? Is Larry Craig bi-sexual? Who knows?

I think we all heard what he said. Of course, we didn’t hear, “I have never had sex with another men.” We didn’t even hear him say, “I’ve never had sex outside my marriage.”

To me, the real shame in the story is the reality that 1) it takes bathroom toe tapping and Craig’s List for many men to explore, or fulfill, their sexuality and 2) for many men, “life decisions” are often made without analysis, or acceptance.

In a different time and different place …

Stung said...

This is what I just can't understand. Why, why, why do men like Larry Craig and Ted Haggerty risk everything they have built on such a *stupid* act? This is not about homophobia, it's about incredible lack of judgement. Why do they go to lengths to vilify gay people and then reveal themselves to be gay in the most humiliating way? Is the desire to have gay sex so incredibly hard to overcome that any risk is worth it? Do you think they want to end the closeting and can't think of a way to do it? What about the humiliation of their wives and families to have this broken over their heads so publicly? I would really like you all to explain this to me. Thanks.