Gub-Ment on the Down Low: Fear and Self-Loathing in New Jersey

When it comes to understanding what’s going on with newly-admitted ‘gay American’ Governor James McGreevey, there’s so much more than seems to be meeting the eye. It’s hard to know how much is self-examination, how much is extortion, and how much is plain old politics. (I haven’t yet even figured out who stands to gain or lose what from playing politics with this revelation.)

I’ve been trying to think of a rational reason why a public person would feel the need to resign under these circumstances, unless the threat of something worse were looming over his head (such as the threat of a down-and-dirty lawsuit). It seems almost preposterous that merely the revelation that the man is gay, in this day and age, would be sufficient to make someone feel unworthy to govern any longer. But we also don’t know the extent of self-hatred that McGreevey feel about being gay.

Of course, then there’s the little tidbit about appointing his alleged paramour to a high-paying position for which he was clearly not qualified. That wouldn’t be the first time that happened in politics, nor will it be the last.

The most troubling thing to me is the delta between what is happening now, under these particular circumstances, and what would be happening in an equivalent heterosexual situation. Clearly, there’s more than an element of self-loathing on the part of McGreevey. I have no doubt that there’s also an additional degree of lasciviousness, perhaps assigned by the media or perhaps embedded in the minds of the beholders, because this involves a gay man.

When the sordid gets sorted, as this eventually will, I hope that two things will happen.

First, I hope that McGreevey will come to terms with himself in a healthy way and minimize the damage to himself and those around him because, as a public figure, he has now made himself a posterboy for gay men and — so far, at least — I’m not rating him too high in that regard. If he gonna be representin’, he better be representin’ to a higher standard.

Second, I hope that whatever punishment, glory, disgrace or regard is applied to McGreevey is exactly commensurate with that which his heterosexual counterparts would garner. Because, let’s face it. The double standard not only exists, it’s heinous. In California, multiple sexual harassment charges, revealed well before our governor was even elected, didn’t seem to be sufficient reason for him to disqualify himself.