The man on the right is George Rekers, a Baptist minister, former University of South Carolina professor, and a founding board member of the anti-gay Family Research Council.
He is also a board member of NARTH, an organization espousing scientifically inaccurate beliefs that gays can turn straight.
He also has a lucrative career as an unsuccessful witness against gay adoption in recent trials. Unsuccessful because usually his testimony actually helps the case of gay adoption, but lucrative because he still gets paid even if he has to sue for his payment, which sometimes can reach $60,000.
Lastly and most importantly, Rekers is also the man who, according to today's issue of the Miami New Times recently took a European vacation with a "rentboy," or a male escort:
On April 13, the "rent boy" (whom we'll call Lucien) arrived at Miami International Airport on Iberian Airlines Flight 6123, after a ten-day, fully subsidized trip to Europe. He was soon followed out of customs by an old man with an atavistic mustache and a desperate blond comb-over, pushing an overburdened baggage cart.
That man was George Alan Rekers, of North Miami -- the callboy's client and, as it happens, one of America's most prominent anti-gay activists. Rekers, a Baptist minister who is a leading scholar for the Christian right, left the terminal with his gay escort, looking a bit discomfited when a picture of the two was snapped with a hot-pink digital camera.
Reached by New Times before a trip to Bermuda, Rekers said he learned Lucien was a prostitute only midway through their vacation. "I had surgery," Rekers said, "and I can't lift luggage. That's why I hired him." (Medical problems didn't stop him from pushing the tottering baggage cart through MIA.)
Yet Rekers wouldn't deny he met his slender, blond escort at Rentboy.com -- which features homepage images of men in bondage and grainy videos of crotch-rubbing twinks -- and Lucien confirmed it.
Since this news broke, there's been a bit of quiet madness online. According to the article, the Family Research Council, the group Rekers helped to found, had no comment.
Perhaps Rekers should have learned to follow this example. Blogger Joe Jervis (Joe.My.God) sent a facebook message to Rekers and he answered back with a mixture of piety and phony amusement. But his answer to Jervis's email only raises more questions because Rekers contradicted his earlier explanation as to why he and "Lucien" were together. In the Times article, Rekers said that he did not know "Lucien"'s profession.
However, he told Jervis that he seeks out folks like "Lucien" in order to "minister" to them:
I have spent much time as a mental health professional and as a Christian minister helping and lovingly caring for people identifying themselves as "gay." My hero is Jesus Christ who loves even the culturally despised people, including sexual sinners and prostitutes. Like Jesus Christ, I deliberately spend time with sinners with the loving goal to try to help them. Mark 2:16-17 reads, "When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." In fact, in a dialogue with hypocritical religious leaders, Jesus even stated to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. " (Matthew 21:31).
In fairness to Rekers, he repeated the assertion that he and "Lucien" did not have sex. But it does not explain how they met. "Lucien" was more forthcoming in the Times article as to how they met:
In his interview with New Times, Lucien didn't want to impugn his client, but he made it clear they met through Rentboy.com, which is the only website on which he advertises his services. Neither Google nor any other search engine picks up individual Rentboy.com profiles, any more than they pick up individual profiles on eHarmony or Match.com. You cannot just happen upon one.
Jervis has sent out a message to "Lucien" for his side of the story. Even if he does not respond, this story isn't going away because it is not the simple story of a man who is using the services of a "rentboy." Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out said the following to the Times:
"While (Rekers) keeps a low public profile, his fingerprints are on almost every anti-gay effort to demean and dehumanize LGBT people. His work is ubiquitously cited by lobby groups that work to deny equality to LGBT Americans. Rekers has caused a great deal of harm to gay and lesbian individuals."
Bottom line - Rekers has a lot of explaining to do and his explanations so far have only made the situation worse.
The irony of this entire thing is despite the gay community's supposed sophistication in fighting the lies of the religious right, the old belief that those who preach the most fervent against homosexuality are really gay themselves may be the case here.
In other words, discredited researcher Paul Cameron should know that he is probably going to be watched the next time he makes an overseas "trip" to Poland and maybe anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera should stay away from those "leather conventions" for awhile.
- Truth Wins Out has an excellent breakdown of the background of George Rekers and why this story is highly important to those who care about exposing the lies of the religious right. It's definitely recommended reading.
UPDATE - From blogger Joe Jervis (Joe.My.God) comes this interesting tidbit:
On his personal website, homo-hooker loving Dr. George Rekers links to the Family Research Council's "about" page to note his having been one of their co-founders. Whoops, he's already been erased from the FRC's site, not even 12 hours after the news broke that Dr. James Dobson's one-time buddy has been having his sack lifted by a barely legal Latino twink. Tony Perkins works fast! Does that sting just a little bit, Doctor? Man overboard!
If this is the case, then it is obvious that the Family Research Council is playing a game of quiet damage control regarding Rekers. However, if one would assess the history of the FRC when it comes to deleting things from its page, Rekers has nothing to worry about.
Last year, the Family Research Council removed several studies from its web site about homosexuality. A representative claimed that the studies were removed because they were "outdated." However, the information contained in these so-called "outdated" studies was found to be recycled in new studies on the web site.
Therefore, I'm sure that if FRC is eliminating all traces of Rekers to cover itself, when and if this incident ever blows over, his name will pop back up on the web site.