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Thanks a lot,

Thanks a lot,


Every day, gay and lesbian folks like me are the ones who suffer the consequences of Foley's self-destruction.

Ihad been out of high school only a short time when The Advocate ran a story about Florida congressman Mark Foley and the congressional closet in 1996. I don't remember it. Nor do I recall similar reports that followed on his alleged homosexuality. I have never lived in Washington, D.C., or Florida or worked on the Hill, so I did not know that Mark Foley is gay. In fact, I didn't know much about him before September 29, when he resigned amid allegations that he made inappropriate sexual advances to underage male pages over the Internet.

Now it has come to light that many far-right Republicans knew about Foley and did nothing. That's not surprising. Foley is the kind of gay person they have always loved. As far as we know, he hasn't provoked gossip among coworkers by bringing his same-sex partner to a political fund-raiser. He has not publicly advocated pro-gay legislation or protections for gay and lesbian people. Now he has confirmed what every gay-hating person in America believes: that all gay men are really pedophiles.

But our national gay leaders almost certainly knew about Foley as well, and they must now share the blame for what will be a new round of fund-raising letters by far-right groups linking homosexuality and pedophilia. How could they have let this happen? Did they enable Foley by looking the other way in hopes that he might one day evolve behind the scenes into an advocate for our rights?

The piper is paid for this by people like me, who get to wonder if the 16-year-old lesbian I mentor will not be calling me back about our planned "gay Atlanta weekend" trip because her father has been watching ABC News. Every day, gay and lesbian folks like me are the ones who suffer the consequences of Foley's self-destruction. We get to read about a "homosexual pedophile congressman" in our newspapers--again--and watch as our local TV anchors play and replay footage showing the "sexually explicit" text-message exchanges of the former congressman with a 16-year-old boy. Great. This is exactly what I want the neighbor kids' parents to watch on TV tonight.

When I came out 10 years ago, four of my five siblings wrote me letters from church camp about how much they loved me but feared for my soul. It has taken me nine of those 10 years since to foster acceptance and understanding within my family and to repair those relationships. Finally, I am a meaningful part of my siblings' lives again. And every newscast or article that appears in their local media linking Foley to me tears at that progress.

If Foley's homosexuality and his fondness for underage boys were so widely known, shouldn't someone other than the predictable GOP homophobes, who encourage people to stay in the closet, be held accountable for this? I want leaders from each of our national gay organizations to raise their right hands and swear they had no idea that Mark Foley has an

appetite for adolescent boys. Then I want them to say, "We do not claim him. Further, we will no longer keep secrets about the private lives of elected officials."

Perhaps our political strategists need to think about the effect of the Foley debacle on a gay youth from, say, rural Georgia. I for one would be happy to forgo the slim chance of any "behind the scenes" help from a closeted politician on some elusive legislation, in exchange for not having to face the fallout we rank-and-file queers experience when suddenly everyone at work is looking at us funny and our kids' friends can't spend the night after all.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Christie Ayotte