A Gay Republican Page

A reader writes:

I was a Congressional page in the summer of 1992.  (By the way, it is an incredible program that should be protected from anyone who calls for its elimination, as some reactionary Members are now grumbling.)  I was 17, from a small town in the West, and I was realizing that I was gay.  Based on my experience, I’m saddened for these young men in this scandal, some who by the content of their IMs with Foley are most likely gay. They were preyed up on by this powerful hypocrite. Remembering my summer on Capitol Hill, I’m sure I would have been a bit star struck by this Congressman - pages were always impressed by a Member of Congress who took the time to learn our names, thank us for our work, and was open to saying ‘hi’ in the hallways.  I’m also sure that as a young person questioning my sexuality, and full of testosterone to boot, I would have been intrigued by Foley’s continued advances.  Foley knew this, which is why he did what he did, and he was wrong to do it.

I now live as an out gay man and this scandal affirms my belief that the closet is a horribly destructive social control mechanism.  If those young pages felt that they could be open about their sexuality they might have been more likely to have come forward about Foley’s advances to their superiors, without fear of being stigmatized, instead of playing his creepy secret games.  And more important - because Foley is in the position of power here — if Foley had lived his life with integrity as an out gay man this scandal would likely never have happened.  He wouldn’t have turned to the most vulnerable and impressionable men regularly in his sphere, the young pages.  Foley’s closet will be his tomb.

By the way, I was a Republican page, owing to the fact that my Congressman was a Republican.  I hadn't figured out my politics at the time.