And a quick clarification to my remarks about Republicans. There are some great Republicans, and, assimilationist that I am, I have much in common with some of the old-fashioned limited-government, balanced-budget, fiscally conservative Republicans. I’m an independent; I’ve never been one for joining clubs, let alone political parties. As a college professor, I meet more and more young gay-affirming Republicans.
One of the panelists at tonight’s discussion described himself as “gay, Catholic, and Republican.” How can that be? was the question on many minds. I see how it can be. And we need more assertive, proud LGBT people in both the Catholic church and the Republican party. Gay-positive moderate blue-state Republicans like Rudy and Arnold give me great hope that the Republican party can shed itself of much of its opportunistic gay-bashing of recent years.
The student coming out as a Catholic gay Republican gave me an opportunity to come out as an Andrew Sullivan fan. Gasps and mock outrage from my lesbian/feminist queer colleagues!
Which brings me back to the hysteria over now ex-Congressman Foley. What’s a 50-something congressman doing trying to seduce 16-year old guys over the Internet? Of course he should know better; hitting on pages is inappropriate.
But what happens when a 16-year-old gay teen represses his sexuality and tries to escape it and never integrates it into his life? The rest of him ages and becomes middle aged. But the horny 16-year old is still inside him, having never grown up. And has become frustrated and needy. And the grown man is undone by the petulant inner teen.
This is no excuse for sexually harassing pages and interns. But the societal answer to this sort of behavior is not more homophobic repression of all things gay, as the reactionary conservatives would have us believe. The societal answer is creating a climate in which young people attracted to their own sex can grow up affirmed and healthy, with their sexuality integrated into their personalities. Healthy, out, self-affirming gay adult men aren’t driven to having or trying to have sex with kids in their mid-teens.