Friday, September 28, 2007

An Open Letter to Senator Larry Craig

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #322, September 28, 2007)

Dear Senator Craig:

You’ve been having a bit of a rough patch lately, haven’t you? My condolences. I, for one, believe you when you say you’re not gay, and I applaud your decision to fight to clear your name.

It’s all so ironic, though, isn’t it? You, a stalwart spokesman for traditional family and moral values and against sexual lewdness and perversion, get very publicly trapped in a men’s room sting operation at the Minneapolis airport. If President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky caused eight-year-olds to ask questions about oral sex, you now have introduced them to the subject of tearoom trade. And all because of a perfect storm of misunderstanding.

That men’s room was known, in certain circles, to be cruisy. But, since you’re not gay, you wouldn’t know that. So you walked, blithely unaware, into this den of iniquity. You just needed to relieve yourself—and not in the sexual sense.

You saw a stall, but the door was closed. You really wanted to use that one, though, and it might have been vacant. It couldn’t hurt to see if it happened to be empty.

You peered through the crack between the door and the partition. You peered for several minutes. Maybe you were waiting for the other guy to finish.

Finally you gave up, went into the adjacent stall, and sat down. You put your suitcase in front of you in the stall, because where else were you going to put it? Sadly, you didn’t know how incriminating a place that was to put a suitcase.

You had just heard a rather catchy melody over the airport’s background-music system, one of those melodies you just can’t get out of your head. You unconsciously started to tap your toe to it.

As you have stated, you are a big guy and have a rather wide stance. And, like airplane seats, those stalls seem to get narrower and narrower. You inadvertently touched the foot of the gentleman in the next stall. You probably didn’t even notice.

Then, all of a sudden, your reverie was interrupted when you spied a renegade piece of paper on the floor. You didn’t put it there, and technically it may not even have been in your stall. But you knew the world would be a better, neater place if you picked it up.

So you put your hand down to pick it up. You put your hand down several times—you haven’t explained whether there were several pieces of paper or whether you repeatedly missed picking it up. Perhaps you couldn’t reach it because it was too far into the other stall.

Your heart must have sunk when the policeman showed you his badge. What was happening? What do you mean, I’m under arrest? Soliciting? For what? Officer, this is all a horrible misunderstanding. I’m not gay. I don’t do that sort of thing.

An brief aside, Senator: I’m gay, and I don’t do “that sort of thing.” I’m attracted to black leather, not white porcelain.

But “that sort of thing” works for many men because it’s the only outlet available to them as they anxiously live their double lives—straight, but occasionally needing a little covert man-to-man action. But since you “don’t do that sort of thing,” you wouldn’t know what that kind of desperation feels like.

Perhaps, however, you are beginning to understand the agony these men go through when they’re finally found out.

Maybe, Senator, some good can yet come of this. As I said, I hope you clear your name. But I also hope that, whether in the Senate or out of it, through this experience you will have gained some sympathy and  compassion for men trying to tamp down secret desires, and occasionally failing.

Perhaps in the future you will be less quick to criticize gay men now that you’ve been misidentified as one of them. Now that you’ve tasted anti-gay harassment, maybe you’ll be moved to help put a stop to it. For years men have been having sexual encounters in men’s rooms. For years police have been trying to stop it. Lives have been ruined in the process.

If you, Senator, really want to make a difference, introduce legislation to make sex clubs legal. That way, men who crave anonymous sex with other men will have a controlled, safe place in which to play, and the nation’s public restrooms can be returned to their original purpose. That would be a win for everyone.

Now, Senator, one last thing. If this were anyone else, I would urge them to get tested for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Sadly, men who engage in covert sex tend to be less informed about the health risks involved, and hence often don’t take proper safety precautions. One of the things that might lead to their cover being blown is when they pick something up—anything from crabs to AIDS—and pass it on to their wives. I’m sure this doesn’t apply to you, though, so never mind.

In closing, good luck in the battles ahead, Senator.


Your humble columnist

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