Every now and again, I chance upon (if chance is the right word) an article (or post) on the web which seems to get at some essential aspect of being human. Sometimes, it’ll be an article a reader e-mails me. This time, it was a story that two of our readers, one straight (Democracy Project‘s Bruce Kesler), the other gay (Peter Hughes), e-mailed me. It was one of those stories that at first amused me, later intrigued me and finally made me realize that there was more to it than the sensational aspect highlighted by most in the media (and I use the media in the broadest sense of the term so it now includes the blogosphere) who have covered this story.
And as I write about Marine Corporal Matt Sanchez, I realize I had already addressed the issue before when I blogged on Tom Malin, a Democratic candidate last year for the Texas legislature who had once served as an “escort.” In two posts last February, I held (as I wrote in the first post) that since Malin had “acknowledged his past mistakes and changed his behavior . . . ., we cannot hold [his past] against him.” I expanded on this notion in a subsequent post.
Unlike Tom Malin, Matt Sanchez is a conservative, having published an Op-ed in the New York Post on Columbia University’s double-talk on diversity. Recently, he was honored at CPAC, receiving the Jean Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award and garnering a “standing ovation . . . at [its] Ronald Reagan Banquet.”
But, before this man served in the Marines and went on to write conservative Op-Eds, he apparently had “a lengthy career in gay porn,” even serving as an “escort” for a time. While Michelle Malkin thinks CPAC should “be embarrassed if the rumors about his alleged porn star past are true,” I don’t think they have anything to be ashamed about.
First, I probably have a different opinion of porn than Michelle Malkin and others on the right. While I don’t think
acting, er, performing in such videos is a noble profession nor is it something to be proud of, it’s not an evil thing. As I wrote about Tom Malin’s escorting, “As long as he’s not coercing anyone and not having sex with minors, it’s his body. What Malin used to do may not be good for his soul.”
That said, the second issue is the more important one. He has changed and is no longer doing gay porn. If a man has changed his past behavior, then we should consider the man as he is, not as he once was. Again, as I wrote about Malin, “Jewish law teaches us that if someone does Teshuvah or repentance (the word itself literally means ‘return’), by forsaking his sin and not doing it again, it cannot be held against him.” We have all done things in our past that upon reflection, we wish we hadn’t done — or were appropriate at one time in our lives, but not in our present circumstances.
There are plenty of Republicans, gay and straight, who have done dumb things in their past. That doesn’t mean they’re forever branded with some sort of scarlet “A,” or in Sanchez’s case, a Scarlet “GP,” for gay porn. . . . The mistakes Sanchez made years ago aren’t that important compared to the fact that he’s doing the right thing today and standing up to, “anti-war thugs on campus” at Columbia University.
As Matt Sanchez’s past comes out, we see a man who, like many of us, has led a checkered life. To be sure, to paraphrase Tennyson‘s description of Odysseus, he is a part of all that he has met. Sanchez’s past is a part of him.
But, what matters today is what kind of a man he has become. Michelle posts a letter from a Columbia University freshman describing how the marine helped him adjust to campus life and the officer training program in which the younger man is enrolled. He notes that Matt, like “most all of our respected public figures” has made mistakes.
And this is where the essential aspect of being human comes in. The path to individuation, to wholeness, involves many twists and turns. We do things at one stage of our lives may seem out of character to us when we grow and mature. What matters is that we change.
While many on the left (particularly the gay left) delight in Corporal Sanchez’s apparent hypocrisy — or in the irony of conservatives honoring a man who was paid to be filmed having sex with other men, they would be better served to evaluate him for the man he is today. If they disagree with his public statements — of which he has made many — they should criticize those remarks. But, they should not be so eager to dwell upon his past. For it only shows an eagerness to engage in sensationalism rather than an attempt to take issue with his ideas.
That said, Matt Sanchez is a part of all that he has met. His past figures into the man he has become. But, people do have a right to their own private lives, to deal with their past mistakes — or merely just past experiences which no longer represent their present actions — in their own way. Once again, it seems that all too many are all too interested in the apparent hypocrisy of conservatives, more interested in defining us so that they may more readily dismiss our ideas. Without even considering what we have to say.
– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)
WRITER’S NOTE I keep changing the title on this one, having started with Matt Sanchez & Our Ability to Change
UPDATE: In a post on his own blog, Matt Sanchez writes:
We have all done things no one wants to be advertised, but the truth is most of us aren’t important enough to rate more than a bit of gossip from a snubbed co-worker or some derision from an embittered rival.
He acknowledges his past in gay porn, writing something which bears consideration:
I don’t like porn, it reduces the mind, flattens the soul. That’s not hypocrisy talking, that’s experience. If I started off with liberal leanings, being on a gay porn set should have been heaven. In porn, everything taboo is trivialized and everything trivial is projected.
Now that I’ve whet your appetite, just read the whole thing!