Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Larry Craig and Sexual Identity

Larry Craig’s affirmation  “I am not gay! I have never been gay!” to reporters at his press conference was taken by many with a grain of salt- couldn’t be true if he was hanging around restrooms engaging in hand signals with an undercover vice officer.  But such could be true since many men, possibly the majority of such men who hang around  restrooms for sex with other men do not consider themselves as gay.  If reporters had asked Craig if he engaged in homosexual acts in restrooms, they may have been asking Craig to respond to a more difficult question to answer truthfully. In my work as well as just about all sex researchers, it has been found over and over again that sexual identity and sexual behavior are not necessarily  consonant. Manipulating ones sexual identity to be consonant with ones publicly presented self is not at all exceptional.  The fact that ones sexual behavior is at times dissonant with ones sexual identity can be minimized.  The sociologist Edwin Lemert referred to this process as remaining in the primary stage of deviance, not seeing ones behavior as impacting on ones self as being a deviant or stigmatized person.  For Lemert what facilitates the transition to secondary deviance, the embracing of a stigmatizing identity, is the public labeling of the person; of course, Craig has gone thru such a public labeling, and it is rather safe for one to assume that he was thrown into a major identity crisis as well as a crisis of how he would now engage in a public presentation of self.

What I also found surprising in reference to Craig’s affirming that he was not gay was the implicit assumption by the public media that one was either gay or heterosexual, that bisexuality was not even considered as a possibility.  It is difficult for me to believe that the sophisticated media are so unsophisticated to assume that sexual behavior and sexual identity are always dichotomous.  After doing a blog search, I did find one blogger, Skeeter Sanders, who gave serious consideration to this possibility. Sanders is amazed, and I share that amazement, that  mainstream society appears incapable of acknowledging that bisexuals exist.  Maybe this reflects a chasm between mainstream society and youth culture; many youths embrace bisexuality as being hip and in.  In the mainstream it appears  it is simply out. 

I am also amazed that Sanders made some preposterous remarks in his blog arguing that Craig could not be gay since a man in his terms who was really gay would not marry a woman,and could not father children as Craig fathered three children.  Sanders ends up in never never land when he refuses to consider the possibility of gay men passing as straight, yes even passing as straight with their wives. Such often occurs via homosexual ideation during heterosexual intercourse.  Straight men often engage in this process in prison  by engaging in heterosexual ideation while having sex with other men.  And it is sexual ideation that may be the most significant clue as to ones sexual orientation.  The key question is what one thinks about and/or looks at during masturbation, not whether one is heterosexually married.  Of course, marriage to a woman by a man who was only attracted to men was often in the past the only viable alternative.  If one goes back 100 or so years, the primary sexual identities available at that time in the United States were normal or abnormal.  Heterosexual marriage was the primary way for all men to escape the abnormal label. So in a bizarre way the norm for the so-called abnormal was to engage in normal marriage with normal unsuspecting women.

September 4, 2007 - Posted by | Larry Craig, Senator Craig, sexual identity, sexual politics

1 Comment »

  1. I take strong exception to your remark that in my blog posting on Larry Craig, I made “some preposterous remarks” that Craig could not be gay “since a man in his terms who was really gay would not marry a woman,and could not father children as Craig fathered three children. Sanders ends up in never never land when he refuses to consider the possibility of gay men passing as straight, yes even passing as straight with their wives.”

    It is YOU who is making a preposterous remark. As a bisexual man myself, I’m 54 years old and have been out of the closet for almost 30 years — the last 15 years as bisexual. And I am a married man. My wife knows hat I’m bisexual and doesn’t have a problem with it.

    Larry Craig has been married for 24 years. There’s no way you or anyone else can convince me that Craig is gay, because no woman is going to put up with a sexless marriage for 24 days, let alone 24 years. Gay men who “pass” as straight are deluding themselves. They’re in deep denial of their bisexuality.

    Comment by Skeeter Sanders | October 2, 2007 | Reply

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