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We told you
so...10 years ago

We told you
so...10 years ago


Disgraced former congressman Mark Foley came out as a gay man on October 3 amid an Internet sex scandal. Journalist Kurt Wolfe says he gave Foley the opportunity 10 years ago.

By the time journalist Kurt Wolfe was being cited by The Advocate for a now-infamous article about the congressional closet in summer 1996, he had already outed congressmen Mark Foley and Jim Kolbe on a New York City radio station, then on a cable-access television show he produced titled Out in New England. Using Wolfe as one of several credible sources, The Advocate contacted Kolbe and Foley, asking about their sexual orientation. Both men said it wasn't relevant. Kolbe came out publicly within a week of Wolfe's reports. Foley, who resigned on September 29 amid allegations that he made sexual advances toward underage male pages, did not.

Wolfe, 56, is now a freelance reporter in Georgia.

Why did you decide to out Foley and Kolbe? We decided to look into the voting records of congressmen who had voted for the [1996] Defense of Marriage Act and see if we could find out who was gay and closeted. We weren't in the business of outing. For us it was an issue of hypocrisy. We needed three independent sources. We were able to get those on Foley.

What kind of sources? One of our sources for Foley had been a [congressional] page. He was an adult when I was speaking to him, but he was a minor when he was a page. He told me that he had been the recipient of many inappropriate sexual communications from Foley. That changed the whole story. I contacted [Foley's] offices for comment. I told them that we were running the story and that one of our sources was a former male page. The response was pretty nasty and ended with a hang-up. Now the angle is now "who knew what, when." I can't [attest] to the current [GOP] leadership [knowledge], but I can [attest] to Foley's staff. They were notified.

The story you ran was on Foley's homosexuality and his DOMA vote, not on the page. Why? I couldn't get another source to substantiate it, and this young man would not come forward. He was terrified. Had he been a minor when I spoke to him, I would have gone to the police. But he was an adult. I'm going to contact my local congressman and tell him that if they have a congressional hearing, I'm willing to testify under oath about this.

What happened after Kolbe came out? I got a call from his press secretary about eight months later thanking us for the story. They wanted to let me know that everything was cool and that he had never been happier. To his great credit, Jim Kolbe did the right thing and his voting record changed.

Another congressman you investigated was antigay Louisiana Republican Jim McCrery, who was the subject of a 1992 Advocate cover story. How do you think the Foley story will affect other closeted members of Congress? I think closeted gay people in Congress are looking at [the Foley scandal] to see what happens. And it's going to really hit the fan if they were involved in the kind of behavior that Foley was involved in.

Do you have any regrets about outing people? Yes, my inability to get the nongay press to pay attention. I really got blasted for outing these congressman. We weren't outing them as gay; we were outing them as hypocrites. Either people thought it was sensational or they were pissed off. Most of the people who were angry at me were gay. I'm still angry that we couldn't get people interested in this.

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