January 22, 2009
No glee in Gayville -- or Portland
Posted by: Chris
Lost in all the inauguration hoopla was the ugly sex scandal involving Portland Mayor Sam Adams, the only openly gay candidate to ever win that office in America's 30 largest cities. Yet despite obvious comparisons to the Mark Foley scandal back in 2006, there's no comparable glee in Gayville, especially the blogosphere.
In the weeks leading up to his election last November, Adams dismissed rumors of a past sexual relationship with Beau Breedlove, then 17 and other the legal age of consent, back in 2005. Adams insisted he had merely mentored the teen, and labeled the accusation -- made by another gay man who was then considering a mayoral run -- as an ugly smear of the type that discourages gay men from running for office.
Now, months after Adams' landslide election win, a local paper confirmed the story about the relationship and Adams has admitted that he lied to the public, and had convinced Breedlove to lie as well. Now he's admitting that even the claim of a mentoring relationship was a lie:
Breedlove asked Adams for advice on being gay in the political arena, but Adams now says that was originally a pretext for meeting.
"There was no proposition, but I felt there was some interest," Adams said of their initial meetings. "Part of the lie was to play up the mentoring." …
On Monday, Adams admitted that he and Breedlove had sex several times in the summer of 2005 -- a few weeks after Breedlove reached the age of legal consent. Adams said he lied about the relationship and asked Breedlove to lie because he didn't think voters would believe they waited until after the young man's birthday to become intimate.
A criminal investigation is now underway, and calls for Adams to resign have mounted, including from Just Out, Portland's gay newspaper, and it seems he may be leaning in that direction.
The comparisons to "Foley-gate" are obvious: A gay male politician approached by an underage teen for mentoring instead abuses that relationship by soliciting sex, except that Adams admits that actual sex took place.
There are differences, of course, since Foley's teenage targets were participants in the congressional page program. But no difference is more important to the reaction the scandals are receiving than the poltiical affiliation -- Adams is a Democrat, Foley is a Republican -- and the closet -- Adams is out, Foley was not.
Nothing excites the gay blogosphere more than sexual hypocrisy, but party affiliation and closetedness are key ingredients in inciting the glee and self-righteous indignation we have seen so many times over the years. Even though Adams' abuse of his position and status -- in the community in general and the gay community in general -- is comparable to Foley and others, the reaction is markedly different in his case.
Without the closet and/or the alleged self-loathing of gay conservatives to blame for the misbehavior, where's the fun in all of it?
Where's the fun, indeed. Adams' scandal is deeply disappointing. Whatever you think about age-of-consent laws like Oregon's that deprive even 17-year-olds of making decisions about sex, a relationship between a 42-year-old and a 17-year-old is grossly inappropriate -- and just plain gross, especially so when the 42-year-old is in a position of political prominence.
Of course straight politicians engage in sexual misbehavior all the time. But don't gay men in public office understand and accept the extra burden and responsibility they have to meet an even higher standard, given how few have gone before? To that extent, Sam Adams' betrayal as an out gay politician is much more disappointing than Foley's.
Openly gay politicians like Adams should absolutely know better than to come anywhere close to an age-inappropriate relationship, given the ugly stereotypes still out there about gay men as sexual predators. If Adams is to be believed, and he has lied so many times already, he at least waited until Breedlove was 18. That's cold comfort, when he could have so easily steered clear entirely from the situation.
Then Adams lied about the relationship publicly and repeatedly, and pressured the youth to lie as well.
Should Adams resign? I think so, yes. Do you agree?
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