Tuesday, May 27, 2003

The Glass Closet

Signorile on Foley.

Right-wing Republicans are fond of attacking equality for gays and lesbians by claiming that gays are seeking "special rights." Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley seems to believe in special rights for himself though. While it’s generally accepted that candidates for public office should have their lives open to the media–from their tax returns to the images they offer up of their families–Foley is demanding certain aspects of his life be kept obscured.

It’s not a coincidence that these particular aspects of his life are the type that would infuriate the Christian right, a strong force in Florida’s Republican Party. Foley is about to make a play for the U.S. seat currently held by Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who is running in the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries. Foley says he’ll run for the seat even if Graham changes his mind and seeks re-election to the Senate.
Meanwhile, The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a bipartisan group that supposedly promotes the idea that gay political candidates should be open about their sexual orientation, played right into the Republicans’ hands, engaging in that Beltway suck-up game. Their press flack Jason Young called the New Times story "dirty," which is a pretty scurrilous charge. A politician allegedly lies and deceives the public–with the full knowledge of a small clique around him–and it is those who expose it who are "dirty?"

We’re not, after all, talking about a deeply closeted married man who is having secretive homosexual sex in a public rest room. We’re actually not talking about sex at all, at least not as in the case of Bill and Monica. We’re talking about identity–how one defines oneself and is known to family and friends. We’re talking about someone who is 48 years old, unmarried and is, according to the New Times, quite comfortably known to be gay to many people in politics on both the right and left in Florida, and whose own boyfriend has been out with him in public, as described by the gay military hero Tracy Thorne.