Now, I don’t know much about the specifics of the allegations leveled against outgoing Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), save that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer knew about them before Massa’s announcement yesterday. So, it seems they are pretty serious. One thing I do know–or pretty much can assume based upon reaction to past such scandals–is that should this Democrat indeed have sexually harassed a male staff member, gay groups will dismiss it, perhaps even celebrate him as some kind of victim.
Yet, if he had had a (R) after his name, well, he’d be defined as some kind of self-hating pervert.
Remember Gerry Studds, the late Massachusetts Congressman who had had in 1973, while a member of the House of Representatives, a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male page? Or Barney Frank who let his lover run a brothel out of his home while he signed off on that pimp’s parking tickets? Or Jim McGreevey? Or Kevin Jennings? They do get a bit better treatment from the gay groups than say do folks like Mark Foley.
It’s not about the behavior, it’s about the partisan affiliation.
When Studds died, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese called Studds a “pioneer”, saying that older gays had an obligation “to tell a story of courage, hard work and remarkable oratory . . . [to] a younger generation who did not know Gerry Studds“. Two years previously when then-New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey was caught in a scandal, involving putting a potential male love interest on the state payroll, Solmonese’s predecessor Cheryl Jacques did not fault the Democrat’s bad behavior, instead portrayed her fellow partisan as courageous: “Coming out is a deeply personal journey and Governor McGreevey today showed enormous courage.”
There are many gay people whose examples we can and should emulate, like Mary Cheney, Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris and Jim Kolbe. Yet, there are gay people who do behave badly. They deserve condemnation as much as do such charlatans as John Edwards.
John Edwards does not represent straight men. In a similar manner, Frank, McGreevey and Studds are not representative of gay men. Their behavior is embarrassing to gay people. And the heads of gay organizations should criticize them for behaving badly.
But, perhaps because of that all-purpose (D) after their names, they become immune to criticism from those who claim to speak for our community.