Thursday, September 21, 2006

True Confessions

Duane forwarded me a tip on former New Jersey governor James McGreevey's new book, The Confession. Duane knew I was obsessed with this story when it unfolded last year--popular governor, married to a woman, actually divorced one woman and then married another. Then threatened with what sounded like extortion by his former male lover, an Israeli national, McGreevey announced on TV that he was gay and would resign from his governership.

Matt Lauer's interview with McGreevey, which you can view at Pageoneq here is a shining example of the poor decisions that gay men married to straight women make-anonymous sex in parks, bathrooms, etc. Did you ever wonder who would be insane enough to have sex in parks? Well, there are the young straight couples, and prostitutes and their Johns, and then gay men who are so uncomfortable with their sexuality that their only recourse is to find people in the same boat.

McGreevey's story is a sad but common one. In fact, did you read about the recent New York health department study that found 10% of 'straight men' in NY are having sex with other men?!

From 365gay:

And of that 10 percent, almost 70 percent of them were married.

Say what? you ask. Read on:

Compared to men who identified themselves as gay, the "straight" men who had sex with other men were more likely to belong to a minority racial or ethnic group, be foreign-born, have a lower educational level, and live outside Manhattan...Most worrisome the group was less likely to have been tested for HIV infection during the previous year and less likely to have used a condom during the last sexual encounter than men who identified themselves as gay.

Single women should realize that not all men who are attracted to men think of themeselves as gay. Often this is because in their head 'gay' means dressing or acting a certain way that doesn't fit how they see themselves. When I came out I remember telling an older gay friend of mine, "I don't know how to be gay." He told me, "Troy, being gay doesn't mean acting a certain way. It means being yourself." This is not always the message the media sends.

In any case, it is not enough to ask a potential spouse if they are straight or not. Maybe ask him to tell you about the people he has had physical relationships with, or even if he has had sex with men. The shame that certain social environments, family structures, religious beliefs place on same-sex attracted people is powerful. Often people living within these systems will stay in denial unless pried out. McGreevey's former wife says she had no idea her husband was gay. She's lucky to be alive.

When society stops shaming, demeaning, and devaluing people for being gay, when the families of gay people decide to support rather than ostricize their gay children for something they cannot change and did not choose, this kind of risky behavior is likely to diminish.


Blogger juliebelle said...

speaking of gay men in politics, i just watched the life of harvey milk. harvey chose to live life embracing his homosexuality. mcgreevy chose to conduct his political life as a divided self.

between assassination and resignation, i'm not sure which is better...for just being who you are.

5:47 PM  

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