I was working on, and was mostly done with, a post on the Rekers outing, but then Father Tony went and posted on the same subject this morning so I'll be more brief and just add a few comments.
I don't find it surprising that already three people on this site as different as Tony, Waymon, and me all decided to post critically about the gay community's reaction to the Rekers revelation. It's been appalling. And maybe Rekers deserves appalling (more on that after the jump), but the sex worker who was with him doesn't.
The man's privacy has been severely violated. His profile, which included information describing his penis, has been plastered all over the web. His semi-nude photo is on LGBT news sites. Journalists and bloggers sought his real name and published where he went to school. Did anyone stop and ask if he was out to his friends and family? Did anyone consider that he may have had a day job that's at risk now that his night job has been revealed? Sex workers who try to get jobs apart from sex work can face an enormous amount of discrimination, and discrimination against gay and bisexual men isn't over either.
You'd think LGB people would understand why someone would want to keep his sexuality private, but here we are. Apparently there are some among us who are a bit thick. (Futilely, the Miami New Times blurred out his photo. At least they tried.)
He's also been insulted - referred to as a "ho" and a "whore" and a "homo-hooker" (even though he identifies as bisexual... sigh). I don't know how many people I've read who've infantilized him with expressions like "kid" and "barely legal." Rekers himself seems to think that he can just say that the sex worker was a stupid child involved in something he doesn't understand who needs to be "ministered" to (so the excuse is: "I'm not gay, I'm just an arrogant asshole!").
So what's up with all this? I get why people would be mad at Rekers and happy he's been outed, but the sex worker? Do we really have so little respect for people in that line of work that we don't even consider the fact that they're humans with lives?
As for Rekers himself, obviously his actions should be made public and he should discredited. And if he goes to court and testifies, this incident should be brought up.
It's not a question of "compassion," it's simply a question of how we understand the truth and how we want to present that truth. Going into full hysterics, running around like a chicken with its head cut off shrieking "Weeeeeeeeeee!" before falling into a gutter and passing out until the next professional homophobe gets caught with a dick in his mouth, let's say in five weeks, isn't a way to control the media cycle.
The way I see it, there are two core messages Rekers's outing can send:
- Look at the faggot! Hahahaha!
- Here's someone who devoted his life to being Christian and hating gay people, and look at how even he wasn't able to handle the pain of loneliness, and how we, as humans, Rekers, me, you, and everyone we know, need to be loved and be touched and to love and to touch.
When it comes to Rekers as a human being, though, even I have my limits. This George Rekers is more than just a pol who voted against same-sex marriage because he was afraid of being outed. He's actually a sick piece of work who developed methods of psychologically torturing children into acting straight (via Zoe):
After three years of research and writing, Burke's Gender Shock: Exploding the Myths of Male and Female was published in 1996. It quickly became the focal point of a gender storm. In the book, Burke traces the genesis of the GID designation and treatments back to the 1950s. In the 1970s, a psychologist at UCLA named George Rekers opened a clinic for children. He got hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund his studies, finding children (often through newspaper ads) and testing treatments on them.
All the precision of science was applied in developing these tests to measure such things as how far the hips swayed as the child walked across the room.
The tests--many still used today--strike Burke as Orwellian. In one, a child being tested is asked to draw the figure of a person. Girls who draw boys first, predominately, or in positions of power and strength, are suspect, as are boys who draw princesses or mommies. The Barlow Gender-Specific Motor Behavior test examines such things as how far from the back of a chair a seated child's buttocks are--farther is "masculine," closer is "feminine." All the precision of science was applied in developing these tests to measure such things as the angle between the wrist and the hand, how often a child touched his or her hands together in front of his or her body, and how far the hips swayed as the child walked across the room. Especially damning for boys was a lack of hand-eye coordination.
In keeping with the behaviorist theories of the time, Rekers devised treatments that treated gender-atypical children with an intricate system of rewards and punishments. "Becky," a seven-year-old girl brought to UCLA, was diagnosed with "female sexual identity disturbance." She liked basketball and climbing and she refused to wear dresses. She liked "rough and tumble play." In the clinic, Becky was watched through a one-way mirror as she played in a room equipped with two tables, one of dress-up clothes, the other of toys. Each table had boy-appropriate toys at one end (football helmet, army belt), girl-appropriate toys (lipstick, baby doll, Barbie) at the other. Becky wore monitoring equipment as she played, consisting of a wristwatch-like "counter" (similar to those worn to keep score at golf) and a "bug-in-the-ear" through which she could hear the voice of her therapist talking to her from behind the mirror.
As Becky played, she was interrupted from time to time and told to press the wrist counter if she had only played with girls' toys since the last time she heard the doctor's voice. Becky grew anxious to accumulate points to please her doctor. In this way, Becky was supposed to be trained to develop an aversion to masculine playthings. Other parts of Becky's therapy consisted of having a team of four therapists come into her bedroom at home to watch, take notes on a clipboard, and time her with a stopwatch as she played with her toys. After seven months, she was declared cured, now showing "a decrease in excessive aggression and an increase in general compliance."
Parents who brought their children to Rekers had to agree to participate in the "curing" of them. "Kraig," a four-year-old who participated in the UCLA Feminine Boy Project, was also monitored in the clinic's play-observation room. Only this time, it was his mother who wore the bug-in-the-ear, listening for her behavioral cues from the folks behind the wall. While playing, "Kraig would have seen her suddenly jerk upright, and look away from him toward the one-way window," Burke reports (based on transcripts of his case):
His mother was being prompted, through the earphones, by the doctor. She was told to completely ignore him, because he was engaged in feminine play. Kraig would have no understanding of what was happening to his mother. On one such occasion, his distress was such that he began to scream, but his mother just looked away. His anxiety increased, and he did whatever he could to get her to respond to him, but she just looked away. She must have seemed like a stranger to have changed her behavior toward him so suddenly and for no apparent reason . . . He was described as being in a panic, alternating between sobs and "aggressing at her," but again, when his distraught mother finally looked at him and began to respond, she stopped mid-sentence and abruptly turned away, as if he were not there. Kraig became so hysterical, and his mother so uncomfortable, that one of the clinicians had to enter and take Kraig, screaming, from the room.
Kraig's treatment continued in this vein. He was also put on the "token system" at home. Inappropriate, feminine behaviors earned him a red token, masculine ones, a blue token. Each red token earned him a spanking from his father. After more than two years of treatment, Kraig's behavior had turned around. He was now described by his mother as a "rough neck," and he no longer cared if his hair was neat or his clothes matched. But when he was eighteen, after years of being held up (under a pseudonym) by Rekers as "the poster boy for behavioral treatment of boyhood effeminacy," Kraig attempted suicide, because he thought that he might be gay.
Rekers didn't get caught trolling bathrooms for sex or chatting up men or outed by the prostitute he saw a couple hours at a time occasionally. He got caught in a 10-day vacation with another man. Unless it was 10 days of self-loathing in Europe, it's hard to square that away with his career.
This seems less like the profile of a closet case trying to punish himself than the profile of a sicko who likes to hurt others. It's appropriate that he'd lead the NARTH and the FRC.