The Incredible Hypocrisy of
"Scary black men made me do it!"
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Righteous Sexual Hypocrisy: Part 1
Ya just gotta be kidding! George Rekers, the
The pictures on the Rentboy.com profile show a shirtless young man with delicate features, guileless eyes, and sun-kissed, hairless skin. The profile touts his "smooth, sweet, tight ass" and "perfectly built 8 inch cock (uncut)" and explains he is "sensual," "wild," and "up for anything" — as long you ask first. And as long as you pay.
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.
Carry my baggage, please.
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 Miami International Airport.)
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.
At the small western Miami townhome he shares with a roommate, a nervous Lucien expressed surprise when we told him that Rekers denied knowing about his line of work from the beginning. "He should've been able to tell you that," he said, fidgeting and fixing his eyes on his knees. "But that's up to him."
For decades, George Alan Rekers has been a general in the culture wars, though his work has often been behind the scenes. In 1983, he and James Dobson, America's best-known homophobe, formed the Family Research Council, a D.C.-based, rabidly Christian, and vehemently anti-gay lobbying group that has become a standard-bearer of the nation's extreme right wing. Its annual Values Summit is considered a litmus test for Republican presidential hopefuls, and Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter have spoken there. (The Family Research Council would not comment about Rekers's Euro-trip.)
He has also influenced American government, serving in advisory roles with Congress, the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services and testifying as a state's witness in favor of Florida's gay adoption ban. A former research fellow at Harvard University and a distinguished professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of South Carolina, Rekers has published papers and books by the hundreds, with titles like Who Am I? Lord and Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality.
"While he keeps a low public profile, his fingerprints are on almost every anti-gay effort to demean and dehumanize LGBT people," says Wayne Besen, a gay rights advocate in New York City and the executive director of Truth Wins Out, which investigates the anti-gay movement. "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."
Rekers is a board member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), an organization that systematically attempts to turn gay people straight. And the Huffington Post recently singled out Rekers as a member of the American College of Pediatricians — an official-sounding outfit in Gainesville that purveys lurid, youth-directed literature accusing gays of en masse coprophilia. (In an email, the college's Lisa Hawkins wrote, "ACPeds feels privileged to have a scholar of Dr. Rekers' stature affiliated with our organization. I am sure you will find Prof. Rekers to be an immaculate clinician/scholar, and a warm human being.")
Rekers lectures worldwide, from Europe to the Middle East, on teen sexuality. Yet during his ten-day sojourn with Lucien to London and Madrid, he had no lectures scheduled. Both men deny having sex on the trip, and emails exchanged between the two before their jaunt are cautiously worded.
"I'd like to propose another trip to Rome, Italy, for a week or more," Rekers wrote in an email dated March 21 obtained by New Times. "This is so exciting to have a nice Travel Assistant and traveling companion! Wow! I'm so glad I met you."
"I called and talked to the reservation guy in London and reserved a room with two twin beds," Rekers wrote on March 26.
"Now that I'm packed, tomorrow I'll work on completing my income tax return," Rekers wrote two days later. "Not fun... But I'll just remind myself that the fun trip is coming soon."
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.
Then Rekers must have performed a search. Did he want a "rentboy," a "sugar daddy," or a "masseur"? In what country? And what city? If Rekers searched for a rent boy in Miami, he would have found approximately 80 likely candidates. He must have scrolled down the first page, past the shirtless bears and desperate ex-models, and on to page 2. There, at last, was Lucien.
As a favor to Rekers, Lucien recently removed any wanton sexual descriptors from his Rentboy profile. Though he does admit Rekers "likes younger guys to hang out with," Lucien is protective of his erstwhile client. He describes Rekers primarily as a family man — one whose passion for oppressing homosexuals is dwarfed by his desire to help children. "You don't understand how much this guy honestly cares about taking care of kids," he says.
Indeed, much of Rekers's activism over the past three decades — beginning with his 1983 book, Shaping Your Child's Sexual Identity — has been devoted to improving children's lives by educating them, protecting them from their own budding sexualities, and keeping them safe from gay adoptions — as he did by testifying as an expert witness in favor of gay adoption bans in both Arkansas and Florida.
Well, it's a good thing Rekers isn't gay himself. Lucien tells us that Rekers frequently takes in foster children and that four years ago he adopted a 16-year-old boy. We found the boy, who is now Lucien's age, on Facebook. He declined to be interviewed.
Jon Stewart on Rekers Gaycation
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May 14, 2010
A Heaven-Sent Rent Boy
By FRANK RICH
OF all wars, only culture wars offer the hope of sheer, unadulterated hilarity. Sex and hypocrisy were staples of farce long before America became a nation, and they never go out of style. Just listen to the roaring audience at the new hit Broadway revival of the perennial “La Cage aux Folles,” where a family-values politician gets his comeuppance in drag. Or check out the real-life closet case of George Rekers, who has been fodder for late-night television comics all month.
Rekers is in a class by himself even in the era of Larry Craig and Ted Haggard. A Baptist minister and clinical psychologist with a bent for “curing” homosexuality, the married, 61-year-old Rekers was caught by Miami New Times last month in the company of a 20-year-old male escort at Miami International Airport. The couple was returning from a 10-day trip to London and Madrid. New Times, which published its exposé in early May, got an explanation from Rekers: “I had surgery, and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.”
Alas, a photo showed Rekers, rather than his companion, handling the baggage cart. The paper also reported that Rekers had recruited the young man from Rentboy.com, a Web site whose graphic sexual content requires visitors to vouch for their age. Rentboy.com — really, who could make this stuff up?
Much like the former Senator Craig, Rekers claims it was all an innocent mix-up. His only mistake, he told the magazine Christianity Today, was to hire a “travel assistant” without proper vetting. Their travels were not in vain. The good minister expressed gratitude that his rent boy “did let me share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him with many Scriptures in three extended conversations.”
This is a family newspaper, so you must supply your own jokes here.
But once we stop laughing, we must remember that culture wars are called wars for a reason. For all the farcical shenanigans they can generate, they do inflict real casualties — both at the micro level, on the lives of ordinary people, and at the national level, where, as we’re seeing right now, a Supreme Court nominee’s entire record can be reduced to a poisonous and distorted debate over her stand on the single culture-war issue of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Rekers is no bit player in these wars. Though he’s not a household name, he should be. He’s the Zelig of homophobia, having played a significant role in many of the ugliest assaults on gay people and their civil rights over the last three decades. His public career dates back to his authorship of a theoretically scholarly 1982 tome titled “Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality.” (I say theoretically because many of the footnotes cite his own previous writings.) And what did Rekers think that families should know? By Chapter 2, he is citing the cautionary tale of how one teacher’s “secret homosexual lifestyle most likely led to his murder.”
Rekers soon went on to become a co-founder with James Dobson of the Family Research Council, a major, if not the major, activist organization of the religious right as well as a power broker in the Republican Party. When the Miami scandal broke, the council’s current president, Tony Perkins, quickly tried to distance himself, claiming that he had to review “historical records” to verify who Rekers was and that his organization had “no contact” with him or “knowledge of his activities” for over a decade.
That historical record is hardly as obscure as Perkins maintained. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC found that only weeks before Rekers’s excellent European adventure, his name appeared on the masthead of an official-looking letter sent to some 14,000 school superintendents nationwide informing them that homosexuality is a choice that can be stamped out by therapy. The letter was from the “American College of Pediatricians” — a misnomer for what is actually a political organization peddling homophobic junk-science. Rekers was also on the board of another notorious peddler of gay “cures” — the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality, or NARTH — until he resigned last week. Such groups have done nothing to stop homosexuality but plenty to help promote punitive “treatment” and suicidal depression among untold numbers of gay youths.
No less destructive has been Rekers’s role in maintaining the draconian Florida law prohibiting adoptions by gay couples and individuals, a relic of the Anita Bryant era. When the law was challenged in court two years ago, the state Attorney General Bill McCollum personally intervened to enlist Rekers as an expert witness to uphold it. Rekers charged $120,000 for his services — a taxpayers’ expenditure now becoming an issue in the Florida gubernatorial race, where McCollum is a Republican candidate to succeed Charlie Crist. A Miami judge ruled Florida’s law unconstitutional, and even now McCollum is appealing that decision.
Rekers was also an expert witness in a similar court case in Arkansas in 2004. That anti-gay-adoption law was also ruled unconstitutional. (His bill there was $200,000, but he settled for $60,000.) In 1998 Rekers was hired as an expert witness by the Boy Scouts to uphold its gay ban in a case before the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission. And then there’s Rekers’s cameo in the current Proposition 8 trial in California: one of his homophobic screeds can be found in the bibliography for the “expert report” by David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, the star witness for the anti-same-sex-marriage forces.
Thanks to Rekers’s clownish public exposure, we now know that his professional judgments are windows into his cracked psyche, not gay people’s. But there is nothing funny about the destruction his writings and public activities have sown. His fringe views have not remained on the fringe. His excursions into public policy have had real and damaging consequences on a large swath of Americans.
The crusade he represents is, thankfully, on its last legs. American attitudes about homosexuality continue to change very fast. In the past month, as square a cultural venue as Archie comic books has announced the addition of a gay character, the country singer Chely Wright has come out as a lesbian, and Laura Bush has told Larry King that she endorses the “same” rights for all committed couples and believes same-sex marriage “will come.” All of this news has been greeted by most Americans with shrugs, as it should be.
But the rear-guard remnants of the Rekers crowd are not going down without a fight, and their focus on Elena Kagan has been most revealing. There are many grounds to debate Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, wherever you are on the political spectrum. There are many questions about her views and record that remain unanswered. But from the get-go the preponderance of the debate on the right has been about her handling of military recruitment as dean at Harvard Law School. Here her history is unambiguous.
Despite her critics’ cries, Kagan never banned military recruitment of law students and never denigrated the military in word or deed. She followed Harvard’s existing (and unexceptional) antidiscrimination policy while a court battle played out over a Congressional act denying federal funds to universities barring military recruiters. She was so cautious — too cautious, I’d argue — that she did not join the majority of her own faculty in urging Harvard to sue the government over the funding law, limiting her action instead to the signing of an amicus brief.
She did declare that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was “a moral injustice of the first order.” Given that a Washington Post-ABC News poll in February showed that 75 percent of Americans want that policy rescinded — as do the president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense — this is hardly a view out of the American mainstream. Yet if you went to the Web site of the organization Rekers co-founded, the Family Research Council, and clicked on “Tony Perkins’ Washington Update” last week, you’d have found a head shot of Kagan with the legend “Deep Ties With the Gay Agenda.” What those “deep ties” are is never stated. Indeed, Kagan said only last year that “there is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”
The Family Research Council’s line has been embraced by the non-fringe right, including some Republicans in the Senate. In mid-April, a full month before Kagan’s nomination was even announced, The Wall Street Journal preemptively hyped this plan of attack with a conspicuously placed news article headlined “Kagan Foes Cite Gay-Rights Stand.” The only foes cited were religious right organizations.
The real game became clear when that same week a former Bush aide and Republican Senate staffer published unsubstantiated rumors about Kagan’s private life in a blog at CBSNews.com. (It was taken down after White House denials.) Those rumors have chased all unmarried Supreme Court justices or would-be justices loathed by the right, whether Republicans like David Souter and Harriet Miers or the previous Obama choice, Sonia Sotomayor.
By late last week, double-entendre wisecracks about Kagan’s softball prowess were all the rage on Fox News and MSNBC. These dying gasps of our culture wars, like Rekers’s farcical pratfall, might be funnier if millions of gay Americans and their families were not still denied their full civil rights.
Colbert Wreaks Havoc on Rekers
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by Angry Mouse
Sun Apr 11, 2010 at 10:02:03 AM PDT
We are a sexually schizophrenic nation.
We don’t talk about it in polite company. It’s something to do behind closed doors, shades drawn. We blush and giggle at those who don’t have the decency to do the same. And those who embrace it, proudly and publicly, are scandalous exhibitionists, crossing lines of social etiquette. We don’t want to see it, we don’t want to see others enjoying it, and god forbid we should talk to children about it.
Reality shows on TV celebrate it. Famous children market their own brand of lingerie for their fellow tweens. A nation was riveted by the salacious details of the president’s
We tsk-tsk the taboos, even as we hunger for the details. Tiger Woods cheats on his wife and checks into rehab, while a disappointed nation shakes its collective finger at him, all the while absorbing the sordid details of all of his many lovers. Girls going wild together on spring break is hot; a kiss between two men at the American Music Awards garners a thousand complaints.
Recently, the RNC embarrassed itself -- again -- when it was revealed that it had spent nearly two thousand dollars at a "bondage-themed club" in West Hollywood. The first obvious point of the story was the inappropriateness of spending donors’ dollars in a fashion that clearly did not reconcile with the public puritanism policy of the party, but the media delighted in giggling about bondage and "simulated lesbian acts." As if bondage and simulated lesbianism isn’t something enjoyed every day, every where, by all sorts of people, some of whom are undoubtedly Republicans. As if no straight men watch The L Word for the girl-on-girl action.
In 2005, when Justice Scalia dissented in the Lawrence v. Texas case that struck down sodomy laws, a student asked him, "Do you sodomize your wife?" The student later explained why he asked the question and why he believed it was relevant. But many did not agree. And while it seemed somehow appropriate for the highest court in the land to take an official position on exactly what kind of sexual activity is appropriate for two consenting adults, that one of those justices would be asked about his own practices with his wife was considered distasteful.
But honest conversations about sex have never been our strong suit. President Clinton’s surgeon general, Joycelyn Elders, was condemned and ultimately fired for having the nerve to suggest that masturbation is normal and healthy and should perhaps be taught to children as a way to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Shocking! As if every single person who criticized her had never masturbated.
And now, if an overzealous, hyper-religious district attorney in Wisconsin has his way, those who do talk about it could face criminal charges.
Better to pretend that kids don't have sex, right? Better to leave them wandering in the dark, clueless about what sex is and how it works and how to do it safely. Maybe that's why a new study found that 80 percent of young adults do not believe oral sex is sex. Aside from revealing a stunning lack of imagination, it also demonstrates just how heterocentric our entire notion of sex is. If sex only counts when Tab A is inserted into Slot B, does that mean all those straight-to-hell homos aren’t having sex after all? Apparently, that's what most teens think, including the nation's most famous sexually active minor and born again virgin, Bristol Palin.
Last year, in response to Bristol's claim that abstinence is the only 100 percent "foolproof" way to prevent teen pregnancy, sex advice columnist Dan Savage responded:
But it's not just the hyper-religious zealots who struggle with what is and is not sexually appropriate. Feminists have long fought amongst themselves about this very issue, with Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin arguing that all heterosexual sex is, by its very nature, rape. Camille Paglia, on the other far end of the spectrum, argued that when a woman goes to a man’s home, she’s asking for sex. The time to say no is at the door, not in the bedroom. Thankfully, MacKinnon and Paglia have so marginalized themselves that no one pays much attention to either of them these days.
And yet feminists continue to struggle with notions of sex, of what it means to have feminist sex, of what it means to define sexual relationships in a supposedly post-feminist world.
Such frank admissions inevitably invite disapproval from the zealots of all shapes and sizes. We have such an impulse to say, I would never do that. That’s wrong. That crosses a line. That’s not normal. We’re a nation of eight-year-olds, shaking our heads in disgusted wonder that anyone would want to do that, whatever that is. Even as we giggle at the book hidden in our parents’ bedroom. And, at the same time, we are the parents, tsk-tsking children for their curiosity. Why would you look? How dare you want to know? Even as these same parents can recite some of the names of Tiger’s many lovers.
Last month, a jury awarded $9 million dollars to a woman whose husband had an affair. The judgment wasn't against the husband; it was against his lover, found guilty of the centuries old crime of "alienation of affection," which is now only a crime in seven states. And while it’s easy to feel sympathy for the jilted wife, one can’t help but wonder at a state’s interest in punishing the other woman by essentially saying, "That’s what you get for being a home-wrecking whore."
And while many people have criticized the jury's decision for its excessive punishment, they've still chastised The Other Woman for, well, for being a home-wrecking whore.
At the same time, there is an entire industry to help people in their taboo-violating activities.
If only Tiger had pursued his extracurricular activities through the world’s #1 married dating service. Instead of doing his apology tour, he could have landed a new sponsor. Maybe Ashley Madison makes golfwear?
Lately, the tabloids have been relishing the disintegration of Sandra Bullock’s marriage. The headlines ask how could she have not known her husband was a total jerkopath. Why didn’t she know better? Even David Brooks -- wannabe tabloidist, apparently -- got in on the shaming game by making the absurd argument that Sandra Bullock’s success as an actress somehow invited the failure of her marriage.
As if Bullock made some conscious decision to forfeit her marriage in pursuit of an Oscar. But don’t think Brooks is being his typical asshole self; as he assures us: "This isn’t just sermonizing. This is the age of research, so there’s data to back this up."
Ooh. Well as long as there's data. On the internet.
It's not about politics. Or religion. Or etiquette. It's a simple fact. We enjoy things we wouldn’t admit; sometimes, that’s exactly why we enjoy it. The straight-laced Republicans who go to lesbian bondage clubs. The anti-gay marriage crusader who pays a gay meth dealer to give him euphemistic massages. The bathroom-cruising senator who thinks the president’s fellationship made him a "bad boy." The feminist who wants to dominate in the boardroom and be dominated in the bedroom. The philanderer whose PR strategist checks him into rehab.
We can pretend all we want. We can pass laws, fill op-ed pages with condemnations, and even elect candidates on their holier-than-thou platforms. We can shame ourselves and each other silly. But it doesn’t change who we are, what we do, and what we really want when the shades are drawn. And what we want -- Republican or Democrat, gay or straight, married or single -- is sex.
And there's no shame in that.
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