Governor Jim McGreevey's Struggle with A Convenient Truth

I'm of the "uneasy with the association" school when it comes to Jim McGreevey. Oh Jim, why'd ya have to go and be such a guy? Lots of people struggle with their sexual orientation but they don't go and put their unqualified dream date on the public payroll. And they don't use their internalized homophobia as an excuse for all of their failings as a public servant. I was born and raised in New Jersey. I worked for a wonderful former Governor of the state. And this whole episode with Jim McGreevey just makes me sad. And as a "gay american" I am sympathetic with those who are criticizing the Governor this week for using the gay issue. For I guy I thought was really concerned about poverty and education, the way he is selling his memoir just makes me want to take a shower.

But lots of Gay people feel differently. Here is what my friend, Steven Fisher had to say about this today:

"Jim McGreevey's tell-all book is released this week and a backlash is in full swing. From Oprah's audience to style page columnists, there's no shortage of contempt for what has long been the perception of a politician hiding behind a civil rights mantra to deflect from a sex scandal.

They also wonder why more gay leaders haven't spoken against the former governor.

It's not because we see him as a sympathetic figure who's good for our cause. It's that the "it's not that he's gay, it's that he..." preamble makes a lot of gay people wince, no matter how they feel about McGreevey's motives and actions when he was governor.

Openly gay people who today are over 30 usually did a little or a lot of lying before we came out. Prior to Will & Grace and the widespread adoption of corporate anti-discrimination policies, coming out in 70s, 80s or earlier meant losing families, friends and jobs. Just the fear of loss - real or not - was enough to keep the door closed.

And so we deceived, spinning tangled webs. We dated, married or had children with people for whom we had no feelings. We often made messes of our lives and the lives of people close to us.

Very few people are fortunate enough to come out with their lives in order. So when we mustered the courage to come out or got discovered, lying was a more assailable crime for heart-broken loved ones (especially those otherwise progressive suburban parents).

How many parents said at the coming out moment: "what we're really angry about is how you've hurt and lied to the people who love you"? Of course, what they were "really angry about" was that their kid was gay.

The lesson many closeted people may take from the McGreevey episode is that being gay is the least of your sins; deceit and personal destruction are a much greater offense.

Telling loved ones who you really are and living your life honestly always takes courage and is always the right thing do, despite the consequences. Contradicting that important moral would be just as criminal as anything McGreevey's been accused of."

Steven's a really nice guy and he's smart. Maybe we are both right?