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"Foley's Closet Will Be His Tomb"
Fantastic letter from a Congressional page posted on Andrew Sullivan's blog, explaining why homo hatred (of course, spurred by religion) and the closet were most likely what got Foley to where he is today:

I was a Congressional page in the summer of 1992. (By the way, it is an incredible program that should be protected from anyone who calls for its elimination, as some reactionary Members are now grumbling.) I was 17, from a small town in the West, and I was realizing that I was gay. Based on my experience, I’m saddened for these young men in this scandal, some who by the content of their IMs with Foley are most likely gay. They were preyed up on by this powerful hypocrite. Remembering my summer on Capitol Hill, I’m sure I would have been a bit star struck by this Congressman - pages were always impressed by a Member of Congress who took the time to learn our names, thank us for our work, and was open to saying ‘hi’ in the hallways. I’m also sure that as a young person questioning my sexuality, and full of testosterone to boot, I would have been intrigued by Foley’s continued advances. Foley knew this, which is why he did what he did, and he was wrong to do it.

I now live as an out gay man and this scandal affirms my belief that the closet is a horribly destructive social control mechanism. If those young pages felt that they could be open about their sexuality they might have been more likely to have come forward about Foley’s advances to their superiors, without fear of being stigmatized, instead of playing his creepy secret games. And more important - because Foley is in the position of power here — if Foley had lived his life with integrity as an out gay man this scandal would likely never have happened. He wouldn’t have turned to the most vulnerable and impressionable men regularly in his sphere, the young pages. Foley’s closet will be his tomb.

Oh, and by the way, about all those idiotic claims by Republicans that gays wouldn't have wanted Foley prosecuted, in another blog item, Sullivan has this to say:

Every time I hear some Republican flack claiming that any previous attempt to discipline Mark Foley would have been viewed as homophobic by the media and Democrats and gays, my jaw drops to the floor. Memo to Gingrich: It is not homophobic in any way to stop a grown man preying on teens in his care, whether that guy is gay or straight. No gay person would object to stopping that; we'd all insist on it; and I have found no gay people excusing Foley since. The premise behind this excuse is itself homophobic, and shows what little clue these Republicans have about gay people in general.

And Sullivan yet again on what was known, by whom, and when:

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.

Posted by aalkon at October 8, 2006 9:33 AM

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> If those young pages felt
> that they could be open
> about their sexuality

But they were young people! It's an awkward time of life, it's inherently uncomfortable and often sort of isolated. You can't insist on people being "open" any more than you can insist that they be straight.

> The premise behind this
> excuse is itself homophobic

I'm quickly reminded why I haven't ever read a full story about this news item. It's all about wanting to cluck, either at the deadly conservatives or the politically correct liberals. It's dull!

> he should remember.
> It's the kind of thing
> someone who actually cares
> about the pages would
> instantly remember.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's always a failure of someone else's personal compassion. Listen, a bigger problem may be that Congress has excused itself from the labor laws which govern the rest of us. And as I understand it, House and Senate members and their immediate families get health care for life at government expense. Foley may get a lot of treatment in the years ahead, and you and I will be paying for it.

Posted by: Crid at October 8, 2006 8:54 AM

Well, I've always been openly heterosexual, how about you?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 8, 2006 11:13 AM

Amy, do you know the difference between a Republican and a Democrat reading a book? When the Democrat stops, he places a bookmark, but the Republican just bends over pages.

Posted by: Patrick at October 8, 2006 11:16 AM

> Well, I've always been openly
> heterosexual

"Openly"? Do people besides intimates ever ask, other than gentle social inquiries from peers at parties and the like? We go through most of our lives and encounters with others without our sexual feelings applying at all. The butcher (more likely the barrista) in the corner shop doesn't ask what you do with your boyfriend because it's none of his goddam beeswax. Same with the taxman, the auto dealership, and the people who publish your column. Shouldn't you be able to move through the world without people asking you what kind of sex you like, or who you want to do it with?

The outting movement thinks it would be a good to force people to declare a team. They have this in common with militant islam: Their interior lives are in such glistening good order that they're now ready to compel you to say what you have going on in there, and to correct your errors if your feelings aren't up to snuff.

> how about you?

Don't flatter me, Amy.

Posted by: Crid at October 8, 2006 12:10 PM


And it's "openly" in the sense that I can casually mention that I have a boyfriend and never had to worry that I might hurt my chances for advancement in the workplace if somebody spotted me and a date out at the movies.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 8, 2006 12:35 PM

So you think people should be compelled to ask and to tell? The page quoted above is right that being *externally compelled* to keep our dearest feelings private is destructive. But sharing them doesn't necessarily make someone morally superior.

Also, as Lena's noted upon occasion, Sullivan can be a twit. Kaus says it's because he comes from Oxford, where they're taught to win debates in the moment and to Hell with tomorow. But his inconsistencies don't improve with age.

Posted by: Crid at October 8, 2006 1:53 PM

Of course I don't want people running around bleating about their sexuality. But, it should be as boring to be homo as it is to be hetero; ie, it shouldn't be important to keep it a secret. I don't have to worry that people will think ill of me and not hire me because I'm straight.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 8, 2006 3:40 PM

But, it should be as boring to be homo as it is to be hetero

Yes, exactly!

Posted by: deja pseu at October 8, 2006 6:55 PM

If anyone followed this link to AOL, you may have seen a place for you to post comments there, as well. In light of all the (presumably younger) types who responded, with words to the effect, "If that professor smashed my phone, I'd get up and kick his ass." Others protested that it could have been an emergency call. One such brawler said that he would gather up the pieces and send that phone so far up the professors ass, that he would hear that phone's ring tone every time he farted. So, I posted this:

To those macho idiots who insist that they would have kicked the professor's ass if he smashed your cellphone, I have two words for you: "Yeah" and "right."

The professor smashes your phone, you can take him to small claims and a judge will probably order him to replace it. However, if you put your hands on him, he has your ass arrested for battery, you spend a year on probation, anger management, and probably kicked out of college, too. A year's tuition thrown away, to say nothing of the costs you'll be paying into the judicial system while you're on probation, and possibly any medical costs if the professor was injured, including restitution for lost wages, etc.

But, hey, you defended your precious cell phone, and your right to be a rude, obnoxious, self-important jerk who thinks he has the right to disrupt class for the students and the professor so you can take a call.

I hope more cellphone users see this video, and wake up the fact that it certain circumstances, it's rude and irresponsible to use it in just circumstances. Cell phone use should be treated like cigarette smoking, done outside away from others in designated areas.

Emergency calls? Bull. When I was in college, we didn't have cell phones. My father died when I was a freshman. How did they notify me? They called the school! The school in turn, looked up my class schedule, found out where I should have been, and came and got me to deliver the bad news. The director of student services knocked on the professor's door, very politely apologized for the interruption, quietly explained the situation to the professor, who excused me, and I left. A minor disruption.

It constantly amazes me that people can't seem to function without their cell phones. Into the grocery store, they stop by every department to call home and see what they should get. Don't people believe in shopping lists anymore? And I just love the ones who walk down the aisles with those stupid phones glued to their heads, giving a play by play of everything they do!

Does this play by play continue if they happen to need to use the restroom? "Okay, I am on the commode now, about to pinch it off. Stand by to hear the splash. Did you hear it?"

The solution is simple. Treat the cell phone use like we treat cigarette smoking, outside and away from everyone else.

Posted by: Patrick at October 9, 2006 5:17 PM

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