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Larry Craig, Weapons of Mass Distraction, and Lesbian Public Sex

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So Larry Craig is now reconsidering his earlier decision to resign, in the midst of a "sex scandal" that contains no sex at all. We queers seem to agree that the Craig exposure is about the hypocrisy and self-loathing that makes people like him make homophobic comments and policies about us while wrestling with their inner demons in public restrooms.

Bullshit. My friends, what we have here is yet another weapon of mass distraction foisted upon us by both the right and what passes for the left. It's no wonder that the politicians and press are all over this - this diverts us from the key issues of the day. Let's see, how many can I count? There's this mess of a war in Iraq, which should never have come about in the first place; the drumrolls beating in favour of an invasion of Iran; the failing and severely underfunded public school systems across the country; a failed/non-existent health care system that forces people to choose between groceries and medicine; an immigration system that fosters cruelty and economic exploitation; a culture of inequality that's widening the gap between the have's and have-not's; and the insane yet growing perception that it's okay for a few people to make a couple of hundred million a year as long as they give some of that back into the system of tax-write-offs (a.k.a charitable giving). There is the fact that most of us are living really horrible, stressful lives where the distinctions between work and leisure are erased, and where we're terrified of questioning workplace inequalities and regulations for fear of being dislodged from increasingly fragile systems of social support and meagre benefits. We are being screwed, my friends, and not in a good way.

But hey, none of that should matter as long as we can learn to be good and out gay citizens, right?

One mustn't, of course, forget the more amusing aspects of this fiasco. We've learnt so much from the Craig matter, beside the fact that people in Idaho still say "Jiminy!" The American public now knows a lot more about restroom cruising. I do suspect that most of those who profess shock, horror, surprise or some combination thereof are actually a lot more experienced in the ways of cruisers than they'd care to admit, but there it goes. Hypocrisy abounds. On a less amusing note: We've learnt that it's never too difficult to bring up, yet again, the spectre of child-molesters. And that some parents will obsess endlessly about the possibility that their little tykes are only inches away from a lifetime of emotional scars after being molested by nasty men in search of restroom sex. (Note to parents: cruisers are in search of other adults, not your kids. Stop demonising "pedophiles" and "sex offenders." Neither term is particularly accurate and each is only used to whip up hysteria. More on that in the next entry.)

We've also learnt that public money is being spent on training police officers to scope out all the signs of what the arresting officer in the Craig case referred to as "lewd conduct." Here's his description of what happened: "At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct."

Huh. How, exactly, did the officer come to recognise this signal? (And I must say I'm impressed by the precision with which he records the time. Not 1215, not 1225, but 1216. Such a nice, sharp, elegant set of numbers.) I mean, I actually had to call around and ask about the hand-passed-under-the-divider thing. And I'm queer. Damn, these guys are getting a better training in the ways of my people than my meagrely queer life has ever allowed. How is it possible for someone to only learn but not experience the minutiae of sexual longing, the worlds of desire apparently present in the peek between the stalls, the touch of a foot that's not merely accidental but actually signifies a longing for something much more? Is it possible that in the process of learning what these infinitesimally small and delicate gestures and taps of the foot might mean, some might actually start to wonder about their own predilections? I look into the future and see the cover of a book: "How Surveilling for Public Sex Helped Me to Come Out as a Gay Man, Find Love, and Live Happily Ever After."

Straight people are, of course, all agog at our strange ways. There's a widespread perception that those who cruise are really just doing it in order to get caught, and that's a version of the old tale about gay self-loathing. To which we must respond: No, sweetie, you just don't get it. First of all, not everyone who cruises in restrooms is gay or needs to be gay. Secondly, and this is the really important part: We fuck complete strangers in public because it's really, really hot. (So is sex in public with people you know, but that's for another day). You know that thing that married/attached straight people do when they hook up with complete strangers, on business trips, in their hotel rooms? It's just like that, without all the bother of having to wait together awkwardly for the elevator to show up, the key to turn and the damn door to open. You don't have to take off all your clothes, or ask for names. It's fucking without the extraneous hassle and rituals of regular anonymous sex.

Which brings me to a sadly invisible population in the hysteria around public sex. What about lesbians? Are we not a threat, damn it? What must we do to prove to America that our sex lives are every bit as depraved, sly, "furtive," meaningless and worthy of enticement by plainclothes officers disguised as lesbian hotties? Are we not worthy? If you touch us right there, do we not moan? Is it simply too hard to figure out what dykes want? Are our gestures and signals too obscure, lacking in sexual clarity? Or perhaps, oh no, are our sex lives so boring, has lesbian bed death so overtaken our idealistic moon-worshipping community that .... people don't really think we even have sex outside of The L Word? Maybe we simply don't have the same clout as men and our paltry and poorer lives are just not worth destroying? Maybe I should just stop there and not give anyone any ideas.

Larry Craig stall image from

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