I think the George Rekers story is so much more fascinating than all the other stories about exposed deeply self-loathing closet cases who legislate or otherwise promulgate homophobia (e.g. Larry Craig, Roy Ashburn, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard…allegedly).
In case you don’t read the same news sources I do, here’s the short version:
George Rekers is a co-founder of the conservative Family Research Council, a former officer of NARTH (an organization dedicated to “repairing” the gays through aversion therapy), a Baptist minister, and a professor of psychology who has published a bunch of books (including Growing Up Straight and Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Identity). He’s also served as an expert witness in a few high profile anti-gay court cases (defending the Boy Scouts when they were sued in 1998 for excluding homosexuals, advocating against adoption by gay couples in Arkansas in 2004 and Florida in 2008). And, in case you haven’t heard, he’s been in some trouble lately cuz he hired a cute-but-apparently-not-too-bright “rentboy” to accompany him on a 10-day jaunt across Europe. And there might have been some nude massages and stuff involved. Rekers resigned from NARTH recently saying he needed, as he says on his blog “to fight the false media reports that have been made against me. With the assistance of a defamation attorney, I will fight these false reports because I have not engaged in any homosexual behavior whatsoever.” He adds, “I am not gay and never have been.”
I’ve got a bunch of thoughts on this, but rather than narrate them all myself, I’ve decided just to transcribe the conversation that a bunch of voices in my head are having. Enjoy.
ART: So let’s talk about Dr. George Rekers.
BRAD: Can we call him Dr. Rectum?
CARL: What? No, that’s—
BRAD: I think it’s funny.
ART: It’s crass.
BRAD: But still, he apparently—
DICK: We don’t really know what he did. There are conflicting reports.
CARL: And nobody’s saying he actually had, you know, sex with this kid.
BRAD: Right. He just hired him to help him carry his luggage.
CARL: Well, no, he apparently got naked massages from him, but that’s not—
BRAD: Oh, yeah. He went to a website called “rentboy.com” and hired a boy who advertises details about his penis, but he only wanted massages.
DICK: And help carrying his luggage. Because he had surgery recently and couldn’t—
BRAD: –get it up. On the baggage cart. The luggage, I mean. Right?
ART: There was that picture of them at the Miami airport showing the rentboy standing by watching as Rekers was loading his own luggage on a cart.
DICK: I’m curious about that picture.
BRAD: Me, too. If you’re going to hire a rentboy you should put it in the contract that he has to dress better than that boy does.
DICK: I’m more curious about how there “just happened” to be a person who works for the newspaper standing there with a camera.
ART: It looks like he used a cell phone camera.
CARL: You’re saying this was a set-up?
DICK: Have you read the story? <link> Written by two gay lovers who seem to be friends with this rentboy.
BRAD: You’re saying they made it up? They were there listening in on his speakerphone when the boy called Dr. Rectum and they discussed hushing it up.
DICK: Yeah, that whole “let’s listen in on speakerphone” thing. Isn’t that illegal?
BRAD: But he doesn’t even deny hiring the guy. He just pretends it was all a complete misunderstanding and he didn’t know the guy was a gay escort.
CARL: I think he claims to be bisexual.
BRAD: Sure he does. Whatever pays the bills.
ART: But later on Rekers explained how he was hanging out with the guy and helping him find Jesus. He says he hangs out with sinners sometimes, like Jesus did, to help them out.
BRAD: Yeah, spread that gospel, Georgy-girl.
CARL: Look, even the rentboy admits they didn’t have sex. Just naked massages. And there was another thing online from another guy George rented—
BRAD: Of course there were others.
CARL: And he said George just wanted naked massages with little “tickle touches” but that he got pissed off when the boy started talking about gay stuff.
BRAD: Gay stuff? Like hot man-on-man action, you mean.
CARL: Yeah. George asked him to leave.
ART: So you’re saying Dr. Rekers is offended by gayness, but he just likes getting naked massages from young gay men?
DICK: Well, I’m not sure we can trust the blog postings of some hustler who wants to cash in on the media frenzy and get his 15 minutes of fame.
BRAD: Here’s the point, though: this guy is a professional homophobe. He literally makes money writing about the sins of homosexuality and testifying in lawsuits to exclude gays from being able to adopt or be Boy Scouts.
ART: He’s also a Baptist preacher and a professor of psychology.
BRAD: Always a creepy combination in my book.
ART: I agree.
CARL: But still, maybe in his mind he’s not actually gay.
BRAD: In his mind? What?!
CARL: I mean, what if he’s like Roy Cohn in Angels in America?
DICK: Excuse me?
CARL: He has that whole speech about how he’s “not a homosexual, he’s a heterosexual man who fucks around with men.”
ART: Is that a direct quote from Tony Kushner’s play?
CARL: No, I’m paraphrasing cuz I don’t have a copy of the script around, but it’s something like that.
BRAD: How does that even make sense?
CARL: I mean, maybe his definition of what “gay” means is just screwed up. Like Roy’s in the play. He talks about how his definition of “homosexual” is something like “people who have no clout” and “people who can’t get a pissant anti-discrimination bill through city council.”
ART: Not a direct quote.
CARL: Like I said, I don’t have the script handy.
BRAD: But words have meanings, see? He can define words however he wants, but that doesn’t change the reality of the world. He likes having young gay men fondle him. That’s pretty gay, no matter what you call it. I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but—
DICK: But George does think there’s something wrong with that. That’s the issue. He gets paid to talk about how gay men shouldn’t be able to adopt kids, but he’s adopted kids himself. Including a 16 year old boy he adopted four years ago. A boy who is now the same age as the rentboy he hired to massage him naked.
DICK: That’s kinda creepy.
ART: Wait, just to clarify, was George naked or was the rentboy naked in these massages?
CARL: Hmm. I don’t know.
BRAD: Probably both.
DICK: We don’t know that.
ART: I’m not clear on that from reading all the articles.
DICK: Does it make a difference?
CARL: Of course it does.
CARL: Well, I mean…I don’t…if George was naked…
BRAD: Yeah, what?
CARL: I don’t know. Nevermind.
BRAD: Is it somehow less gay to be fully clothed while you’re getting a tickle touch massage from a naked gay man?
CARL: But, okay, my point was—maybe George is just a product of his old Southern Baptist upbringing. Maybe he was brought up to believe that gay is bad and that people who were gay were sick and he doesn’t feel bad or sick, so therefore he must not be gay. Maybe, in his mind, “gay” is Adam Lambert and Jack from Will & Grace and Nathan Lane in Birdcage…
BRAD: Oh, so you’re saying it’s the media’s fault?
CARL: Or, well, maybe. I don’t know.
ART: But those aren’t the only representations of gayness we see in the world.
BRAD: Right, no. There’s also Larry Craig and Ted Haggard.
DICK: I think Larry Craig was set up.
BRAD: You’re an idiot.
DICK: Don’t call me an idiot, you little faggot.
BRAD: What did you call me!?
DICK: I’m just kidding. Can I get your phone number?
ART: Guys, guys, settle down.
CARL: The thing that gets me is that, apparently, part of the agreement George had with the boy was that he had to spend at least eight hours a day with him and have two meals with him during their vacation. That’s just so sad.
ART: Sad how?
CARL: I kinda feel a little bad for him, you know? I mean, it’s like he realizes on some level that there’s no way a good-looking 20 year old man would want to hang out with a 63 year old man with a bad 70’s mustache or be seen with him or spend time with him, so he builds it into the contract.
BRAD: Self-loathing closet case.
DICK: What’d you call me?
BRAD: I was talking about George.
DICK: Oh. Okay.
BRAD: Relax, babe.
DICK: Don’t call me “babe.”
DICK: And seriously, can I get your number?
BRAD: Let’s talk after.
ART: Back to the point…
CARL: What if this guy just doesn’t see himself as gay?
BRAD: Then he’s not looking closely enough.
CARL: He could have paid the guy to have all sorts of sex, but he didn’t. Just massages.
CARL: Nobody’s saying they had sex. Even the boy.
BRAD: So he’s gay but a prude. Maybe he’s saving himself for gay marriage. Oh, wait, that’s right, he’s against that, too.
CARL: I’m just saying it’s probably harder for someone of his generation.
BRAD: Not without Viagra probably.
CARL: More difficult, I mean…and I think you know that’s what I meant.
BRAD: I did. You got me.
ART: Harder for him to come out of the closet.
DICK: If he’s actually in a closet.
CARL: I’m just saying it’s sad.
BRAD: It’s pathetic.
DICK: It’s difficult for anyone. I imagine.
BRAD: You imagine?
DICK: We’ll talk after.
ART: Okay, so anyway.
CARL: You have to remember, his whole identity and reputation, not to mention his financial stability, are founded on this image of him as a straight man. It can’t be easy to let that go.
BRAD: But it’s a lie!
ART: Why would he build his entire career around attacking gay people if he was gay himself?
BRAD: That’s what homophobes do.
DICK: I never liked that word.
BRAD: You wouldn’t.
DICK: Phobia means “fear of” something. Lots of people who attack gays just don’t like them. They’re not afraid of them.
BRAD: Some people attack gays because they’re afraid people will figure out that they’re actually gay. They’re afraid of being exposed. That’s where the “-phobe” part comes in.
BRAD: You haven’t heard this before? Seriously?
DICK: Don’t attack me!
BRAD: I’m not attacking you. I’m just asking.
DICK: Sounds like you’re attacking me.
BRAD: You wish.
ART: You two can work all that out when we’re done here.
CARL: You guys don’t feel any pity for this guy? Any at all?
CARL: So you’re just making it tougher for other closet cases to come out then. They already know they’re going to be attacked by their straight friends and supporters if they come out. If they’re going to be attacked by gay people too for being gay, then why do it at all? Who needs that?
BRAD: I wouldn’t attack him for coming out.
CARL: I heard how you were mocking Ricky Martin the other day. And Clay Aiken before that.
BRAD: Well that’s different.
ART: How is it different?
BRAD: I don’t know, but it is.
DICK: It’s different because those guys didn’t build an empire on lobbying against equal rights for gay people.
BRAD: Yeah, you tell ‘em, babe.
ART: Okay that’s fair.
BRAD: Oh, and sorry about calling you “babe” just then.
DICK: It’s cool.
DICK: We’ll talk after.
CARL: Okay, let’s wrap this up. The sexual tension in here is getting unbearable.
ART: Final comments?
DICK: I think we should be careful to make judgments here without knowing all the facts.
BRAD: I think enough facts are in for us to know he’s a hypocrite and we should judge him accordingly.
CARL: I think he’s a sad, messed-up old man who would be better served by our sympathy and support than our contempt. And I’m worried about what’s gonna happen to that boy.
ART: Okay then. I agree with all of you a little bit. Anyone up for coffee?
BRAD: I got stuff to do.
DICK: I’m with him.
CARL: I’ll go. As long as it’s not Starbucks. Support your local cafe and/or independent roaster.
BRAD: You’re such a hippie.
CARL: What? Why? Just because I’m opposed to corporate–
DICK: Let’s just go.
BRAD: Right behind you, babe.