sympathy for Larry Craig

Andrew Sullivan, who knows firsthand the difficulty of being a conservative homosexual in public life, pens a powerful statement on Larry Craig:

He grew up in a different time, and a different place, where even the possibility of being gay was inconceivable. I don’t think he even thinks of himself as gay, or has any idea what being gay might actually mean. I think he thinks of his sexual orientation as a “lifestyle” (to use that hideous term Lauer kept referring to) that can be overcome the way one overcomes smoking or poor eating or sexual compulsion. And he constructed an identity in opposition to this “lifestyle” early, out of pain and defensiveness and terrible fear. He is now wedded to this life he created – more than to his wife, which is why she was kept in the dark for two months after the arrest, as he went through the terror of feeling caught finally in his own contradiction. He cannot break free of it at this point without psychic collapse. And so, even though it becomes absurd to everyone around them, the Craigs keep going. They have no choice, apart from total breakdown.

National Coming Out Day was last week, but it’s valuable to look at the flip side of coming out as well; the psychological toll on so many people hiding their identity not just from society, but from themselves.

Since Craig’s arrest became public, he’s become a national punch line and a poster boy for the hypocrisy of gay rights opponents. But hypocrisy is thrown around far too often as a cheap political attack. A good policy is a good policy, no matter whether the actions of the those supporting it match up. Fighting global warming isn’t less important because Al Gore has a big house, and respecting Craig’s difficult struggle with sexual orientation isn’t less important because he’s voted to restrict gay rights.

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