Monday, March 09, 2009

A Tale of Two Sex Scandals

My new Advocate column is about what I view as the correlations and differences between the most recent Ted Haggard sex scandal and the Sam Adams (Portland mayor) sex scandal. The reaction to one, I suggest, is really a product of the reaction to the other.

Anyway, I'm getting hammered a bit in the comments over on, so maybe some of you might want to give it a read and comment there -- and here -- if you disagree with them. Of course, you may agree with my detractors, and that's fine too. I'm always up for a good discussion. The basic crux of my argument, summed up toward the end of the column, is this:

Haggard, though a victim of a homophobic culture himself, is what we want to tell the world we aren’t -- and certainly what we want to tell the world our openly gay politicians aren’t. But not being like Ted Haggard doesn’t mean openly gay people, including our politicians, must be -- or can be -- perfect. We fall into a trap when we hold ourselves to heterosexual ideals, ideals even heterosexuals can’t uphold, particularly when it comes to sex and our sex lives—the very things that make us different.

Some of our greatest gay political heroes -- from Barney Frank, whose boyfriend ran a prostitution ring out of the congressman’s house, to the late representative Gerry Studds, who was involved in an underage page scandal -- have been at the center of sex scandals much more serious than Sam Adams’s. I hate to think where we’d be if, at the time, Frank or Studds had resigned and slunk away. We certainly would have made much less progress. And, when it comes down to it, we’d definitely have far fewer truly human role models.

But go read the whole thing (and the commenters) and let me know your thoughts.