After a career of voting against gay-rights legislation, California state Sen. Roy Ashburn admitted on Monday that he is gay. The confession came after reports that he visited a gay nightclub prior to a drunk driving arrest last week. The Republican senator was immediately accused of hypocrisy, though he claimed his votes merely reflected what his constituents wanted. Is there any other dignified way he can respond?
Culture critic Chuck Klosterman offers one. In an eerily prophetic passage in his 2009 book Eating the Dinosaur, Klosterman scripts a series of "best responses" to people in dire situations. For the recently-outed gay social-conservative politician he offers this prefabricated apology:
"I will concede that I am more confused than the average person. I've spent my entire life denying who I truly was. But my motive for that denial was political, even before I was a politician. I always believed that I could serve the greater good by advancing myself into a position of power, and--in order to make that reality--the compromise I made was to attack the social mores that were extension of everything I feared about myself. I felt extremely guilty for doing this, and I felt as though I deserved to be punished. My religious upbringing dictated retribution. So by publicly criticizing the gay community, I felt like I was silently punishing myself. Now, I was totally aware that this was hypocritical, and that hypocrisy consumed me. It was all I ever thought about. It became so pervasive within my consciousness that I found myself acting upong my own suppressed desires. I became romantically involved with someone of my own gender, completely aware that this could destroy me politically. That was part of the atrraction. Sadly, I enjoyed feeling self-destructive. When that relationship became more intense, I began to accept that I was gay. And that's why I kept pushing for laws that hurt the gay community. Political duplicity was the only way I could confront my own personal demons. I deeply apologize for hurting other people, but the only person I was trying to hurt was myself.
Also, I am an alcoholic." (117)