In the shadow of Mary Cheney's apologist memoir, "Now It's My Turn," comes an apology from former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey in his new book "The Confession." With Mary receiving a mllion dollars for her "tell nothing" and McGreevey receiving a half million for his "tell-all," it has suddenly become quite lucrative to announce one's homosexuality. Perhaps, next year's National Coming Out Day should be held in a bank?
Cynicism aside, McGreevey's book is a tome that hits home with an agonizing and gut-wrenching portrayal of life in the closet. It is an invaluable resource because it vividly points out that living a lie is not only self-destructive, but also ruins the lives of people sucked into the sham. As a result of McGreevey's deception, two wives were left without a husband and two children were left in broken homes. I guess this is another rousing success story for the "family values" crowd that continues to create mixed orientation marriages that are surely doomed to fail.
McGreevey's book is helpful because it underscores that sexuality is not a frivolous lifestyle choice and it also helps dispel the tired myth that people can "overcome" their same-sex attractions though prayer or willpower. Indeed, McGreevey read the script and acted the heterosexual part with the best of them. Like the "ex-gay" ministries of the Christian Right, he practiced behavior modification and role-playing.
"I studied the moves, figured out what worked and what didn't, practiced and perfected my perfect authenticity."
Part of his self-help "therapy" included ogling Playboy centerfolds, prayer, and reading psychology books. When the psychobabble didn't work, McGreevey turned to the "all you need is a good woman approach -- or, in his case, women.
"As the years went on," McGreevey wrote, "I became as avid a womanizer as anybody else on the New Jersey political scene. But my attraction was largely artificial, my sexual performance a triumph of mind over matter."
Sadly, right wing groups spend millions of dollars to trap people in false and empty existences. The "ex-gay" group Exodus International, for example, has twelve full-time employees who share the goal of reprogramming people to live duplicitous lives, much like McGreevey's. They even have seminars to train people how to walk, talk and act so they can appear heterosexual.
The problem is, even if a person changes outward behavior, it does not change who they are inside. The dissonance created by what is in one's heart and the nonsense that these groups funnel into one's heads can lead to pathological behavior. In great detail, McGreevey discusses how his efforts to change led to a seedy double life.
"As glorious and meaningful as it would have been to have a loving and sound sexual experience with another man, I knew I'd have to undo my happiness step-by-step as I began chasing my dream of a public career and the kind of 'acceptable' life that went with it. So, instead, I settled for the detached anonymity of bookstores and rest stops - a compromise, but one that was wholly unfulfilling and morally unsatisfactory."
McGreevey underscores how conservatives are largely responsible for the very existence of the "gay lifestyle" they disingenuously claim they abhor. But, just as their efforts to ban contraception cause more abortions, the right's efforts to turn gay people straight has kept the adult bookstores in business. In essence, Focus on the Family indirectly subsidizes gay porn palaces and bathhouses.
On Amazon.com, "The Confession" is coupled with "Brokeback Mountain," offering a one-two punch to the closet. Taken together, no thoughtful person could conclude that it is healthy or desirable to pressure people into mixed orientation marriages.
It would have been preferable if James McGreevey had come out without a cloud of scandal hanging over his head. It is still unfathomable that he appointed his one-time boyfriend Golan Cipal to a job that dealt with national security following 9-11.
Still, in a counter-intuitive way, the dishonor of McGreevey's resignation was helpful in revealing the full ugliness of the closet and the sick ways repression manifests itself. With "The Confession" McGreevey is getting a second chance to show that living in his own truth offers a personal power that surpasses even that of sitting in the governor's mansion.
I really wasn't sure what to make of this book. Thanks for putting it into perspective. Maybe it will help others who are in a similar situation.
posted by RandyH, at
5/23/2006 6:25 PM
"McGreevey's book is helpful because it underscores that sexuality is not a frivolous lifestyle choice and it also helps dispel the tired myth that people can "overcome" their same-sex attractions though prayer or willpower. " So if one person fails to go from gay to straight, this proves that no one can? Great reasoning!
posted by Anonymous, at
5/23/2006 6:27 PM
Actually, Anonymous-YOU and every other straight person who thinks it's about ONE-has it backwards. Ex gays who are fronting for their respective organizations, claim thousands and hundreds of thousands of people have left homosexuality and live like McGreevey used to as proof of their claims that 'change is possible'.
But point isn't that a gay person can act straight, or pretend effectively that they are with all the trappings of what they think a straight person is.
The point is, WHY does a gay person have to do it at all? Why are gay people threatened and coerced and feel they are obligated to straight people to change whatsoever? It's not for the gay person's benefit. Although Exodus lies and insists it is. I wish someobody would just tell the truth about THAT!
It's to satisfy the conceit that heterosexuality is the 'normal' or 'correct' sexuality, when all intents, purposes and universal truth of gay life says otherwise.
I'm still waiting for the reason why what happens between two gay men or two gay women concerns straight people.
On one hand straight people knowing that gay people exist and always have is the last thing they ever want to know.
Then on the other hand bitch and get angry when they are lied to about it by a gay person.
Straight people don't know WHAT the hell they are doing or want, and are too conceited to admit it.
posted by Anonymous, at
5/23/2006 6:45 PM
LOL Steve i live in NJ and the gay community here knew for years about jimbo being family. When the story broke, we were all perplexed over the 'big news', we thought his closetcasery was common knowledge. I have friends who used to see him in the gay bars in Wildwood in the summertime. As to your question, I've *heard* that he's a bottom, but dont know for sure. As for his book, though it's good to show how destructive homophobia is, I think it may have had a bit of TMI. I feel sorry for the suffering that this has caused his wife, children and parents--THEY are victims of homophobia too!!!; something the fascist right never addresses. Gary (NJ)
posted by Anonymous, at
5/24/2006 9:48 AM
"So if one person fails to go from gay to straight, this proves that no one can? Great reasoning!"
Yeah, anonymous, it's a lot like Exodus' reasoning: my testimony as a former homosexual shows that "change is possible".
Yeah, right. Maybe the miniscule percentage of gay people that are religous zealots and who live their life totally immersed in anti-gay ministries and getting paid to travel and say that they are ex-gay can live as though their sexual orientation has changed. But that means nothing whatsoever to the vast majority of gay people who will always be attracted to the same sex no matter how hard they try, how many pillows they beat with a tennis racquet, or how many "demons" are cast out of them.
So, yeah, I'd say it's pretty decent reasoning to assume that the next gay person to try to de-gay will have the same success as McGreevey and the overwhelming number of other gay people who finally decided that they will live their life in accordance with their God-given orientation rather than live in misery with their failure to be miraculously healed.
I'n my experience, people either grow out of childish beliefs or they don't. This "ex-gay" twaddle plainly serves the need of some people to belive that mistreating gays and lesbians is somehow good for them. (Although they seem less obsessed with lesbianism, perhaps because it is seen as "the choice of a lesser for a lesser", to quote one feminist's tart comment.)
Thankfully, the antics of "ex-gay" gurus such as Cohen and Jeffrey Satinover (now appearing in the nutty, New Age film, "What the (Bleep) Do We Know?: Through the Rabbit Hole") are weirding out a lot of the nitwits who couldn't (or wouldn't) see their goofiness before.
posted by Anonymous, at
5/26/2006 2:29 PM
I will be ordering the McGreevey book today. As for the "ex-gay" ministries - please allow me to comment on them. I went through the Exodus Ministries for 2 years - attended meetings and found a lot of spiritual support. At no time did we ever have a class on how to pass for heterosexual (although I could have taught it after being married for 20+ years with 2 kids and NO ONE ever suspected me). I was never disapointed with Exodus because what I learned there were the things that touched my spiritual nature and that was what I needed at that time. I am now a fully gay man, glad with my identity in Christ and with my sexual self-identity. Exodus works for many people. The reason it did not work for me is that I was never happy with myself thinking that I could be gay - once I reconciled that point spiritually - I could come to the place of accepting myself - NOT rejecting Exodus - it was just not for me, but it does a WHOLE LOT OF GOOD THINGS for people and their spiritual issues, so please accept my first-hand knowledge and experience and allow Exodus to minister as they can. I still support Exodus (at one point financially and even now I support them with prayer). McGreevey and others like him/us would do well to capture our own spiritual identity in order to live our lives in fullness as gay men.