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Op-ed: This Weiner's Gone Too Far

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I imagine Christine Quinn is sprawled out on a chaise at the Soho House, maybe reaching for a white wine spritzer or the latest issue of the Post. The out New York City council speaker and candidate for mayor is having the best week of her political life as former congressman and fellow mayoral contender Anthony Weiner self-destructs — again. Pictures of his junk are a click away to the entire world thanks to the lunkhead himself, who continued to send sexually explicit texts after earlier messages pushed him out of the House two years ago.

So, Quinn, who has a more typical set of political problems of her own, is now the frontrunner to lead America’s most populous city. It’s amusing that the gay candidate looks squeaky-clean, while the world fixates on her straight opponent’s sexuality. It’s likely only a matter of time before Weiner wises up and drops out, but will the gay vote Weiner is so desperately chasing turn on him before that happens? I mean, didn’t we invent sexting?

At last month’s Gay Pride Parade, a huge banner declared “Weiner!” as the candidate marched ahead of it, waving a giant rainbow flag like the spawn of Harvey Milk. The crowds cheered, seemingly without irony. What was once a joke candidacy among LGBT voters suddenly seemed legit, especially since a group of gays has turned against Quinn, for, among many things, her support for ID scanners at nightclubs and what they say is tepid support for HIV funding.

Queer audiences applauded again for Weiner, even after he admitted on Tuesday that he was sexting with ladies after his resignation from Congress, the birth of his baby, and a spread in People where he declared all that dirty stuff was behind him. Less than an hour after his public admission, Weiner was at an LGBT forum at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis talking about his long support for gay equality, including pushing for a pride parade on Staten Island. His words convinced Juanita Chestnut, who told Politicker that he was right for New York and everyone should forget his sexual transgressions. Another attendee, Ronald Raye, said this to a Politicker reporter: “He might be a good father, he might be good to her, but he has a personal problem with his — you know — his issue. And I know people who are married and love their mate, but still don’t know how to stay with one person. That’s a personal issue, it’s too personal — in my opinion — to even be paired with anything that has to do with politics. For me, it’s two separate entities.”

As gay people, we’ve been judged our entire lives on the sex we have, so shouldn’t we be the last to throw stones at Weiner’s glass house? Of course, being gay is not inherently bad, but humiliating your wife by sending naked pictures to women who aren’t your spouse is certainly a no-no. Maybe doting wife Huma Abedin was OK with phone dalliances?

Most gays — at least the male ones — are familiar with open relationships and bending the rules of sexual and marital conformity. Who’s to say the Ozzie and Harriet way is right and the circuit club set is wrong? To me, whatever works for you and your relationship is the right path. But I’ll politely disagree with Mr. Raye. What Weiner did should definitely be paired with his politics. Yes, he’s human, and like most of us, has urges. But sexting — an activity so traceable it’s akin to releasing your own sex tape — is inherently risky and, if you’re pursuing a return to public life, completely lacking in judgment. So, if this didn’t come out now, Weiner won the election, and the scandal broke afterward, what would this mean for New York? Distraction from the real problems affecting New Yorkers: jobs, insane housing prices, a disturbing rise in violence against LGBTs. Maybe that wouldn’t matter to Weiner; maybe it’s just about getting elected.

It takes a disturbing amount of hubris to do what Weiner did and think he’d get away with it — talk about thinking with your weiner. It’s also beyond egomaniacal and bordering on plain crazy to think you can still win after this latest bombshell exploded (and keeps exploding; there are now nearly a dozen women who claim to have received Weiner pics). While I take it for a given that politicians lie more often than they kiss babies, some Advocate editors took umbrage with Weiner convincing the world he’s changed, all while hitting send on a salacious selfie. If you’ll lie about dirty texts to your wife and the entire public, you probably won’t be straight-up with your constituents about lobbyists, developers, and campaign contributors.

So, gays of New York: do the right thing and back away from the Weiner and step toward Quinn (or another candidate). She’s not perfect, but she’s not him. I know many of us like dicks, but we don’t need a mayor who’s the living embodiment of one.

NEAL BROVERMAN is a columnist for The Advocate and the editor-in-chief of Out Traveler. Follow him on Twitter @nbroverman.

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