The younger man, dubbed "Lucien," is being described in most circles as a "rent boy," one who earns a living by selling his good looks and sexual services. The older man, Rekers, has made a career out of telling other people how to live, and attempting to make life miserable for gay people and modern women. With fellow homophobe James Dobson, Rekers is the co-founder of the ultra-right-wing, anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-human Family Research Council.
When questioned about his relationship with "Lucien," Rekers said he needed the young man "to carry his luggage". So that's what we're calling it now?*
There can be no reasonable doubt that Rekers knew "Lucien"'s profession before he hired him. Miami New Times:
In his interview with New Times, Lucien didn't want to impugn his client, but he made it clear they met through Rentboy.com, which is the only website on which he advertises his services. Neither Google nor any other search engine picks up individual Rentboy.com profiles, any more than they pick up individual profiles on eHarmony or Match.com. You cannot just happen upon one.
The whole episode might be hilarious if Rekers was just some guy who happened to be a homophobe. Homophobe guy "protests too much," we suspect he is deeply closeted, then we discover we are correct when guy embarrasses himself. End of story.
But Rekers is not just some guy. He is on the front lines of the war against equal rights for LGBT people. More than that, he is a five-star general in the army of bigots marching to deny LGBT people the right to exist.
For decades, George Alan Rekers has been a general in the culture wars, though his work has often been behind the scenes. In 1983, he and James Dobson, America's best-known homophobe, formed the Family Research Council, a D.C.-based, rabidly Christian, and vehemently anti-gay lobbying group that has become a standard-bearer of the nation's extreme right wing. Its annual Values Summit is considered a litmus test for Republican presidential hopefuls, and Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter have spoken there. (The Family Research Council would not comment about Rekers's Euro-trip.)
He has also influenced American government, serving in advisory roles with Congress, the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services and testifying as a state's witness in favor of Florida's gay adoption ban. A former research fellow at Harvard University and a distinguished professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of South Carolina, Rekers has published papers and books by the hundreds, with titles like Who Am I? Lord and Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality.
"While he keeps a low public profile, his fingerprints are on almost every anti-gay effort to demean and dehumanize LGBT people," says Wayne Besen, a gay rights advocate in New York City and the executive director of Truth Wins Out, which investigates the anti-gay movement. "His work is ubiquitously cited by lobby groups that work to deny equality to LGBT Americans. Rekers has caused a great deal of harm to gay and lesbian individuals."
Rekers is a board member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), an organization that systematically attempts to turn gay people straight. And the Huffington Post recently singled out Rekers as a member of the American College of Pediatricians — an official-sounding outfit in Gainesville that purveys lurid, youth-directed literature accusing gays of en masse coprophilia.
The incident has made me think about what could go on in a man's psyche to cause him to live this way.
It's bad enough that anyone living in 21st Century North America or Europe should feel compelled to be closeted. We only get one life, and it's very short, and ridiculously fragile. To spend our time on this earth being anyone other than ourselves is just so sad. No excuses about family upbringing or small-town isolation. You can only play that tune for so long. Most of us have to break away from the expectations of our families. It's called growing up.
It is absolutely tragic that millions of people had to live in the closet through history, and that millions still do in many cultures today. But to live in a place and time when you can be yourself, yet not take advantage of that, and choose to remain so deeply in the closet, is, to me, intensely sad.
That's bad enough. But to be so deeply conflicted - to be filled with such profound and thorough self-hatred - that you make life miserable for the very people who could be your own community, if only you could release your essential nature - to expend so much time and effort opposing that which you are... That sentence trails off. It's so sad, it defies description.
But more than sad, it's enraging. You are riddled with issues? You have profound conflict over your own sexuality and identity? Get help.
Or don't. Live your whole life in the damn closet if you must. But stay the hell out of other people's lives!
* H/t The Larry Sanders Show