You know how after each Bush-administration scandalmale prostitutes running amuck in the White House, Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S., domestic spyingyou sit there thinking, Shit, if Clinton had done that hed be impeached!
I felt something similar this week listening to Republicans attempt to excuse or minimize the Mark Foley scandal. When White House spokesman and former Fox News hack Tony Snow dismissed the conversations as naughty e-mails, or when Matt Drudge called the teenage boys beasts and accused them of egging Foley on, I sat there thinking, Shit, if I had done what Foley did, Id be in prison!
I dont have any pages at Savage Love headquarters, but I do have access to plenty of teenagersmore than Foley has in his wildest dreams. And while Foley manipulated teenagers into conversing with him about sex (telling them theyre hot, pumping them for info about how they masturbate), the teenagers who write to me already have sex on their minds.
Most of the mail from teenagers is straightforward: They send questions about birth control or kinks or relationships. But some gay teenagers, having seen one extremely flattering press photo of me (I wish I looked like the picture on my Wikipedia page), send offers, along with pictures or links to MySpace pages.
And what do I do with these e-mails? I delete them. Respondingto say nothing of taking any of these kids up on their offers (offers they would most surely withdraw when they saw me in person)wouldnt be right. Because the last thing gay teenage boys need in their lives, in my opinion, are gay middle-aged men.
I have to admit to having been temptedsome of these guys are hot and, like Foleys pages, above the age of consent. But it would be professional and personal suicide for me to respond to these e-mails. Imagine the shitstorm if a parent found flirtatious e-mails from the middle-aged, openly gay author of Americas sleaziest sex-advice column on their kids computer. And Im just paranoid enough to suspect that some of these e-mailsparticularly the ones from very young boys who attach photos that look a little pornifiedare setups. Ruining Rick Santorums good name hasnt exactly endeared me to the knuckle draggers on the far right. I wouldnt want to engage in a flirtatious chat with a gay teenager and then have to read the transcripts at FreeRepublic.com.
But if someone turned up e-mails or IM chats in which I asked a kid to measure his cock for meor asked him for details about his masturbation habits, or whether I made him horny, or if he just cameI dont think Dennis Hastert, Tony Snow, Matt Drudge, and Rush Limbaugh would launch a cover-up to protect my skanky ass or, failing that, rush to my defense, pointing out that it was just, you know, a few naughty e-mails or the fault of some dirty-minded teenage beasts. They would call for my head.
So why would they bend over forward to accommodate Foley?
Because, in their eyes, Foley was doing everything right. The religious conservatives in the GOPs base dont seriously believe that gay men can become straight. (Want to stop a straight person from making the ex-gay argument? Ask him if hed let his daughter marry one.) What they believe inwhat they demandare closeted homos, homos like Foley, a single man who refused to answer direct questions about his sexual orientation. (Has any straight man ever refused to reveal his sexual orientation?) The religious conservatives in the GOPs base want all gays to be like Foley: deny who we are, live our lives alone, refuse to answer any questions about our sexuality. To them, Foley was a good, closeted homo, deserving of every consideration.
The GOP was willing to cover for Foley because Foley, by being closeted, covered for them for years. So what if closet cases act out in sexually inappropriate ways? A few raped altar boys and skeeved-out pages are a price the gay haters are only too willing to pay if it means fewer out homos.