Pelosi and Foley

Her comments, linked by Drudge, actually strike a chord. Women are particularly offended by the Foley case. And one thing is very evident from the affair: there seem to be no women on the Hill at all in these matters. This affair was over-seen entirely by men, and only men were involved. Three sub-types of men were at work, and the relationships between them may turn out to be fascinating anthropology. You have straight men and openly gay men trying to grapple with the misbehavior of a closeted gay man. These dynamics are then given an added twist by the fact that all these men are also Republican, and dealing with this issue in the context of a Congressional party that says one thing publicly about homosexuals, and often acts very differently in private. In this, the Christian base is right to be mad. The hypocrisy runs deep.

One thing that may or may not become a part of the story-line eventually is how openly gay men deal with closeted men. I've had some experience here. All I can say is that it is often very difficult. In Washington gay life, the real Republican closet cases really do seem to exist in their own little, separate social bubble. You don't see them out in gay parties, gyms, cafes, restaurants or bars much. The worst are so screwed up no one would want to socialize wth them anyway. The openly gay Republicans, in contrast, are everywhere on the social scene. Many are friends or acquaintances. Every Thursday night at the Duplex Diner in DC, you'll bump into people from every party, political view, lobby group, blog or newspaper. We try to get along, even when we disagree. In my experience, the divide in DC is not between gay Democrats and gay Republicans; it's between those who are out and those who are not.

My own belief is strongly against outing people, or forcing people in private into situations with which they are obviously uncomfortable. I know the arguments for outing and see their force (it might have stopped Foley, for example), but I just wasn't brought up to be cruel to people. I've also always tried not to exclude the non-pathological closeted gay men from my life, because I hope more interaction with openly gay men may help them to live more integrated and happy lives. I do all I can to encourage people to come out, and after almost two decades in DC, I've watched a huge evolution toward far greater candor, honesty and mental health. I'm still amazed, though, at how a few gay men I know in very prominent public positions still somehow try, even in this day and age, to avoid dealing with the issue directly. All I know is that it is damaging them inside, and hurting gay people as a whole.

Foley was stuck in a past of his own pathology. From an array of different gay sources, informal and formal, these past few days, the picture I have received of Foley (whom I'd never met and knew only as a Republican closet-case) is that, from the minute he got to DC, he was a disaster waiting to happen. How this was dealt with and by whom over the years I don't know. But from what I'm hearing, Foley's online excesses may have truly been pretty well hidden, but the fundamental Foley problem wasn't. It was happening in broad daylight. If the alleged "prankster" page is to be believed, then it must have been common knowledge among the pages as well. Maybe real warnings were given, and ignored. Maybe the truth is in the murky middle. But this much I now believe: if Hastert didn't know, he should have. If he was told, he should remember. It's the kind of thing someone who actually cares about the pages would instantly remember. My guess (and I do not know for sure) is that he chose not to know, because he needed a seat in Florida. If that's true, people are right to be mad.