With Friends Like These
GLAAD urges media developing such stories – whether separately or as part of their coverage of Sen. Craig – to place them in context by consulting credible experts who can discuss whether such behavior is reflective of any healthy orientation, gay or straight. Gershen Kaufman, a professor emeritus of psychology at Michigan State University, yesterday told ABC News, "[C]ruising is practiced mainly by deeply closeted men...There is a lot of self-hatred and shame, and they can't allow themselves to come to terms with their sexuality."
Additionally noteworthy is the fact that such behavior is being condemned by gay and straight people alike. Intimations that gay Americans broadly object to the enforcement of laws against this kind of activity simply are not supported by the facts and should be avoided.
Finally, GLAAD stresses the importance for reporters to note that these kinds of furtive activities stand in stark contrast to the loving commitments that gay couples everywhere are making to care for each other and for their families.
"GLAAD Provides Recommendations For Media Covering Revelations About Senator Larry Craig", August 30, 2007
Let me be tactfully understated: there are some problems.
What exactly is GLAAD's point of view? Despite the (understandably) mealy-mouthed nature of their recommendations, I think we can glean the following:
1) Cruising reflects an unhealthy "orientation".
2) Gay Americans are probably okay with the enforcement of "decency" laws. Possibly even when it involves the state merrily dancing right up to the line of entrapment.
3) Cruising is the "polar opposite" of committed gay relationships.
It's hard to decide which of these statements is the most appalling and why.
Is it the joylessness and sex-negativity of (1) and (3)?
Or perhaps it's the nonchalant acceptance of marginal sexualities as criminal/pathological in (1) and (2).
Or maybe it's the willingness to engage in divisiveness in the service of political acceptability evidenced by (2) and (3).
What GLAAD's message here boils down to, not to put too fine a point on it, is: "Please don't confuse the good, upright, reasonably chaste gay citizen couples with those sick, lawless men who have sex in bathrooms. Unlike them, we deserve the rights and privileges you're still denying us."
This is an edited excerpt from a longer (and more rambling) post about the media response to Larry Craig that I made on entrepreneurialcity.