Friday, August 13, 2004

From Where I Stand -- Real Freedom

On Aug 12, 2004, New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey submitted his resignation, effective Nov. 15. He quit, citing an affair with a man, but pointed out that being gay wasn't why he quit-he quit because he had an affair.

I can't help but wonder if the real reason was not indeed his sexuality-in addition to quitting, he also came out. Even in 2004, being gay is still an issue.

Please don't think I'm skirting his infidelity. To me, that is inexcusable. Forgivable, as we are all entitled to forgiveness, but not at all excusable. Conservatives will use portray his affair as one of the fruits of homosexuality-the inability to be faithful. The tragic truth is the opposite-it was his desire to be heterosexual that forced him to deny his truth and become a liar, to himself, to his wives, to his children, to his constituents.

Here is the thing. Truth is incredibly powerful, awesomely so. People throw the word ''awesome'' around so freely that we don't really know what it means anymore. I'm talking about being blown away by something that you can't find words to describe it or for what you feel. Truth can sometimes blow you out of the water-can you imagine how a spouse feels when their mate comes out? Is she or he freed?

Yes, emphatically yes. Truth sometimes hurts worse than a paper cut, but the truth is that no one remembers that cuts heal, and the truth is that no one wants to hurt.

After I came out, my parents and I didn't speak for about 5 years. I say that and people are dumbfounded. You have to remember that no one wants to hurt, and all parties were hurting. I was hurt by the secrets I kept, hurt by the fear that I wouldn’t be loved, wouldn’t be a part of the family. I can’t guess what my parents were hurt by, but I’m sure the usual suspects were in play: no grandkids, what will the neighbors think. My mother is a bit egotistical, so she wasn’t thinking she made mistakes that would have led to her darling daughter’s becoming a sodomite.

From where I stand, real freedom comes not from duplicity, but from having the stones to face and live with who you are, good bad, or indifferent. If Jim McGreevey did indeed feel there was something different about himself, it’s too bad he didn’t find the courage to look that difference in the eye. I know, it’s easy to look from the outside in and pass judgment on his actions, but the truth is the truth. Some sacrifices would have been made – he might not have become governor, he might not have married twice, but he would have been free.


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