If I were no so deep in dissertation mode right now, I would devote more attention to the George Rekers story because there is far more to it than the bloggers covering it have considered. First and foremost, the story reminds us of the pseudo-science behind much of the “scholarship” folks like Rekers use to address the causes and supposed “cures” of homosexuality.
It’s unfortunate that all too many of those who have written about it have been determined to focus on the tawdry aspects of the relationship. And unfortunate that gay bloggers have taken it upon themselves to track down the young escort, make public his profession and torment him with their questions. They should have left him out of this — or at the very least not made public his name.
The (very) young man is caught in the crossfire, so to speak, while Rekers acts out one of the oldest pathologies in the book, seeking solace with a younger companion to fill the emptiness in his own life.
The real story here is not just the contrast between Rekers’ public life and his private passions. It’s too easy (though, in this case, not entirely inaccurate) to call him “self-loathing” (as at least one person has done) or to dwell on his hypocrisy. The real story is what human beings do to address their loneliness, to feel connected with our fellows.
George Rekers is, by all evidence, a very lonely man.
As I have been reading about his European travels with a young escort, I am reminded of a passage describing such loneliness John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. While driving cross country, that Nobel-Prize winning author made a detour to Chicago to spend an evening with his wife. Arriving tired and unkempt at his hotel before she got to town, the management let him check into his room before it had been cleaned: it “had not been touched since its former occupant and left.”
And there, he found the remnants of this married guest’s (the author found letters to his wife in the wastebasket) tryst with a woman Steinbeck named Lucille:
I wonder what Harry an Lucille talked about. I wonder whether she made him less lonesome. Somehow I doubt it. I think both of them were doing what was expected of them. . . .
Three things haunted me about Lonesome Harry. First, I don’t think he had any fun; second, I think he was really lonesome, maybe in a chronic state and third, he didn’t do a single thing that couldn’t be predicted–didn’t break a glass or mirror, committed no outrages, left no physical evidence of joy. . . . I felt sad about Harry.
And in a way, I feel sad about George, or maybe I really feel sorry for him. He is clearly a very unhappy man. As with Steinbeck’s Harry, there is no evidence of joy in the tales of his European sojourn.
I do hope this situation causes Mr. Rekers to consider what he has said in the past about homosexuality. And that it reminds us all how powerful a force loneliness is. This man projected his loneliness outward in his condemnation of gay people — as others project theirs outward in their bile against other groups. He had not tended to his own inner needs.
Even if he does comes to terms with his own feelings for men, as I hope he does, he will not necessarily end his loneliness (just by coming out). There are sixty-year-old openly gay men who act very much as Mr. Rekers does, only without the dissociation of their deeper feelings from their personal identity and the projection of their own insecurities (and neuroses) onto others of a similar sexual/emotional make-up.
Perhaps, if Mr. Rekers understood the real meaning of marriage, he would understand why he is so lonely. He could start by reading the Odyssey.