Sunday, October 01, 2006

Foley, Hypocracy and the closeted life.

I ran into this today, and think it sums up a leftie-gay perspective of the ethics here pretty well. It's also true, as far as it goes. It just doesn't go far enough.

Pam's House Blend:

"Sully [Andrew Sullivan} weighs in with the same sentiment we've also discussed many times here about the corruption that comes when power hungry-pols protect their closets. I, however, have no patience with people who attempt to govern from the closet. The McGreeveys, Schrocks, and now Foley watched their political careers go up in smoke over their pathologies.

I don't know Foley, although, like any other gay man in D.C., I was told he was gay, closeted, afraid and therefore also screwed up. What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal. There are many still-closeted gay men in D.C., many of them working for a Republican party that has sadly deeply hostile to gay dignity. How they live with themselves I do not fully understand. But I have learned you cannot judge someone's soul from outside. That I leave to them and their God, and some I count as good friends and good people.

What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I've read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty. While gays were fighting for thir basic equality, Foley voted for the "Defense of Marriage Act". If his resignation means the end of the closet for him, and if there is no more to this than we now know, then it may even be for the good. Better to find integrity and lose a Congressional seat than never live with integrity at all.

The problem is not being a Gay Republican. It's not a contradiction in terms, after all. Andrew Sullivan is about as out as they come and he's still reliably and sensibly Conservative, in non-evil sort of way.

But as Sully points out, the Closet is corrupting, and the practical reality of being a Republican these days - at least, a Republican with any influence - is that you have to appear to be in concordance with the most reactionary, narrow and narrow-minded views of culture, family and individual rights possible. You have to appear to be a fundamentalist. Most of all, you cannot say or do anything that would offend the Theoconservatives, or your career is over.

There are far, far more Republicans in closets than there are gays in total, I'd imagine. For the fact is that the forced closeting extends outside of the purely political realm - as does the general view that conformity to public expectations is far more important than private exceptions, which are supposed to be "between you and God."

So, we have closet drug addicts, closet child abusers, closet drunks, closet divorces, closeted kink.

More than half of the Leatherfolk I know are Libertarian or Republican in their politics, and there are quite a few "Christian BDSM" discussion groups out there.

Keeping your closet closed often leads to intensely hypocritical actions, and furthermore, those actions often lead to actual, concrete harm to other individuals. So I have to admit that as much as the idea makes me wince, I think closet doors are fair game.

I would like to make one distiction here, though. It appears that Foley was not particularly closeted as a gay - though he wasn't voting in accordance with his community interests, so maybe he was in effect. But like so many, he was hiding a secret with a secret. What was really his downfall was the closet hidden behind his closet.

Foley wanted to have sex with minors. Worse yet, he was willing to abuse the power of position in order to get it.

I really don't care if he's gay, OR even if he's a pedophile. People generally have little choice about their sexual orientation. What they DO have a choice about is the expression of that nature, and the responsiblity to express it in ways that are not abusive.

It's not who you are, it's what you do. We are all judged by that standard; politicians are no different in this regard.

What stuns me is that there should be so many people claiming to be pius Christians who have no undesrstanding of that simple Biblical parable; "By their fruits ye shall know them."

And please, no wincing at the unavoidable pun; it’s a distraction. I've done theatre and I've met a lot of bitter fruits, but that ain't what I'm talking about.

This is about the fact that no matter how appealing and good someone seems, consequences arise from what they actually do, and those consequences will become known. Christ was not just speaking of Pie in the Sky consequences, Hellfire and Damnation consequences; He was speaking about practical outcomes in the real world, and how you should evaluate other people.

Don't depend on how they appear, or how righteously they conform to some arbitrary standard. Judge them on the consequences of their acts. While the act itself may be successfully hidden, and perhaps some of the consequences concealed, nobody can ever completely hide all the possible "tells" of a conflict between public appearance and private reality.

And the moral of the story here is "don't try." Don't try to conceal who and what you are, instead, accept who you are and express it in a principled way, ethically, without harm to others.

It is not a shameful thing to demonstrate some integrity, and a little humility in the face of your own human nature.

Oh, and what did Jesus say about the pretty tree that bore bitter, poisonous fruit? That it will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Mark Foley, here endith the lesson.

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