Friday, August 31, 2007

My 2 Cents on Craig:

What interests me most about the Craig affair is the disconnect between his social identity and his sexual orientation. When Senator Larry Craig announced to the world that he is not and never has been gay, I don't think he was trying to purposefully deceive the public. And yes, I do believe that he attempted to do what he was accused of doing. Nor do I believe Craig's sexual orientation to be "heterosexual" in the sense that Mark Olson and Joe Carter intimate.

Carter cites an interesting research paper on the matter which finds:

[M]ost tearoom participants (a) communicate through non-verbal gestures and seldom speak, (b) do not associate outside the tearoom or attempt to learn one another’s identity or exchange biographical information, (c) do not use force or coercion or attempt to involve youths or children, (d) are primarily heterosexual and married…

I haven't looked over the paper in detail; but I can pretty safely assert that the majority of men who seek anonymous homosexual encounters in public places like men's bathrooms are not "primarily heterosexual" in their sexual orientations. No doubt there are men who are "primarily heterosexual" who have the capacity to enjoy and do partake in homosexual behavior. Richard Posner philosophizes about such men in his book Sex and Reason. And he notes that some rational reason in a cost/benefit sense invariably exists for men to engage in this behavior (like, for instance, women aren't available on a navy boat, prison, all boys school, or in a culture where women are sequestered and horny men are in need of release). Huge risks attach to engaging in anonymous sex in public restrooms. Perhaps a primarily heterosexually oriented man who is a "loser" with no reputation to protect and otherwise can't find women for sexual release, but has some incidental homosexual orientation, might participate in such tearoom behavior. Given the costs associated with Craig's behavior -- in his case huge costs, including loss of a Senate seat and destruction of valuable public reputation -- it makes no sense whatsoever that to conclude Craig is more attracted to women than men and would engage in such behavior.

But it may well be true that most men (I think certainly a huge percentage of them) who engage in tearoom behavior are married and have a "straight" social identity, but a primarily homosexual orientation.

My own suspicions tell me there are two types of homosexual men who engage in this behavior. The first is really sleazy types for whom I have no sympathy, out gay men perfectly comfortable in their homosexual identity -- the types who brag about such behavior on cruising websites. If you are promiscuous, you can always go to a privately owned gay bath-house or hook up online and have sex in the privacy of someone's home.

However, the other type -- the profile which Larry Craig perfectly fits and so did Gov. McGreevy before he came out -- are homosexually oriented men who are so far in the psychological closet that they haven't even admitted to themselves they are homosexual. It's psychologically easier for them to cruise in public toilets. Stepping foot in a gay bar is a mental step towards embracing a gay identity, or admitting to yourself that you have a homosexual orientation; you are pretty much signaling you are gay to other gays in a social venue where the gay subculture congregates. The public toilets make it easier on your mind to pretend you are still straight and live a double life.

I do feel sympathy for these people and think they are victims of the type of society the Family Research Council or Concerned Women for America want to implement or bring back.

It helps here to distinguish between identity and orientation, and the terms "gay" and "homosexual." Craig is one of many homosexually oriented men who are not "gay" in terms of chosen identity. To some extent, being "gay," as an identity, is a matter of choice. A homosexual orientation, however, is not a matter of choice; it is a state of being.

That Mr. Craig purposefully chose a "straight" identity yet for all these years and at the age of 62 well after a man's libido has waned, couldn't help himself in the tearoom I think is damn compelling evidence of the unchosen, unchangeable nature of the homosexual orientation. If you don't give male sexuality a healthy outlet for release (like marriage) it will rear its head in ugly places.

That said, I also endorse the notion that sexual orientation (still unchosen and unchangeable) exists on a continuum. Whatever the problems with Kinsey's research, he was right in this regard. The existence of say a Kinsey 5 (a man who is fully attracted to men, but slightly attracted to women) or a Kinsey 1 (a man who is fully attracted to women but slightly to men) may give the appearance of "fluidity," or meaningful choice, in sexual orientation and identity; but such is, in my opinion, illusory. A Kinsey 5 (probably McGreevy and the other gay men who have married women and fathered children) may be able to "get it up" in the short term with a woman, but cannot flourish in the long run in such relationships.

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