Monday, December 3, 2007

He’s Still Not Gay

The Idaho Statesman has more on Sen. Larry Craig’s not-gay exploits. This time four men have come forward to claim that they’ve had sex with the senator. There are audio clips attached to the story. Warning: they are explicit and probably not work-safe.

As with the Statesman’s August report, the new evidence is not definitive. There are no videos, no love letters, no voice messages. Like last August, they are he-said, he-said allegations about a man seeking discreet sex from partners whom he counted on to never tell.

But the Statesman’s investigation, which included reviews of travel and property records and background checks on all five men, found nothing to disprove the five new accounts. The men offer telling and sometimes similar details about what happened, or the senator’s travel records place him in the city where sex is alleged to have occurred, or his accusers told credible witnesses at the time of the incident.

Obviously what this story needs is some hard-core evidence that the hook-ups actually happened.

Let me re-phrase that.

What is needed is corroboration of the men’s stories from other sources, and more than just an attempt to prove the negative.

Senator Craig is still denying all of it, but there’s an element to the story that tends to lend credibility to the events described. It’s called “gaydar.”

Russell, 48, a Nampa native who lives in Utah, was among three men who contacted the Statesman about what they described as unusually attentive behavior on Craig’s part. Russell was willing to be named for this story and spoke in a tape-recorded interview.

Russell worked as a food service manager at Bogus Basin ski resort and said his encounter probably occurred in the 1983-84 ski season, soon after Craig had married following the 1982 page scandal. Russell had taken a food class from Suzanne Craig and had heard the rumors that Craig was gay.

Russell, openly gay at the time, said he set out to engage Craig “and attempted to show a personal interest – not in a suggestive way – but a personal interest to see if he would respond.”

“I recall that he was very delighted to talk to me – smiling, happy, very delighted – and that he had suggested that we could get together sometime,” he said. “Why would he have a personal interest in meeting me elsewhere?”

Russell said he became convinced Craig was gay because he used subtle signals consistent with communication between gay men in public places.

“You’ve heard the term, ‘gaydar’? OK, it’s there. You know it. You know when somebody is raising an eyebrow at you because it’s their gesture when they say ‘hello’ or when they are subtly trying to send you a message that they recognize you as being a gay person.”

Nothing came of the meeting, Russell said. But he came forward now because he is offended by Craig’s denials.

“I’m disgusted because it’s hypocritical, and he’s lying. He’s lying through his teeth. Heterosexual men do not behave like that.”

I don’t have a problem if Larry Craig wants to hit on men and pretend that he’s still straight; it’s hypocritical, but then, he’s a right-wing Republican and that goes with the territory. What I don’t like is that it’s not doing the gay community any favors by giving the rest of us a black eye for reinforcing the stereotype that all gay men live this way, and I also think he’s not doing his family any favors by lying to them. When the truth comes out — and it inevitably will — and he has to admit the truth — which is more problematic — he may lose the trust of his fellow citizens and senators, but he will still have to go home to the people he hurt the most, and that’s nothing but pure selfishness to put his fears and prejudices above everything else.