A question was recently posed to me that has me thinking about the recent news of virulently anti-gay Family Research Council co-founder (and confidant of James Dobson) George Rekers' outing after being discovered hiring a 20 year old male prostitute off RentBoys.com to "carry his luggage."
The question is this: should we temper our rightful message of glee over the damaging hypocrisy of Rekers with a message of compassion for someone who is obviously wrestling with internalized homophobia and self-hatred, something that is a huge problem in our community?
I'm not speaking of compassion for the man himself, but for the situation that LGBT people find themselves in even today- where religion and self-hatred warp their sense of self and cause deep emotional pain and rejection of their true selves. Is there a larger lesson, a teachable moment, in using Rekers himself as an example of the damage that anti-gay activism does to people?
To be honest, I have a huge problem feeling any compassion for Rekers. His life has been devoted to hatred and actively blocking rights for LGBT people. His anti-gay and ex-gay "research" have harmed all of us in courts and in the public debate on LGBT rights. I have a hard time not reveling in the fall of his influence and standing in the professional anti-gay machine that he helped create.
Further complicating my feelings is the continued denial and lame excuses that Rekers is giving. Joe.My.God posed a question about the incident on Rekers' Facebook page and got this response:
Contrary to false gossip, innuendo, and slander about me, I do not in any way "hate" homosexuals, but I seek to lovingly share two types of messages to them, as I did with the young man called 'Lucien' in the news story:  It is possible to cease homosexual practices to avoid the unacceptable health risks associated with that behavior, and  the most important decision one can make is to establish a relationship with God for all eternity by trusting in Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, including homosexual sins. If you talk with my travel assistant that the story called 'Lucien,' you will find I spent a great deal of time sharing scientific information on the desirability of abandoning homosexual intercourse, and I shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him in great detail.
He is still advocating "ex-gay" conversion and false "science". I have a hard time feeling compassion for a man like this.
The personal impact of Rekers on my own life as a foster parent here in Florida also makes compassion difficult. Rekers was one of only two witnesses hired by Attorney General Bill McCollum to defend Florida's anti-gay adoption ban in an effort to reverse a Miami judge who ruled Florida's adoption ban unconstitutional.
McCollum paid Rekers $87,000 for testimony that called gay people mentally unstable and advised that the ban should be expanded to include Native Americans because, Rekers claimed, they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse.
That's the man we are dealing with.
Personally, I am overjoyed that his hypocrisy will neuter his ability to make such arguments in a court of law ever again and could strengthen cases he has testified in as they move forward. I want him unable to cause further harm to me, my family, or my community ever again.
Others may have a higher capacity for compassion than me. I actually think they make a valid point about reinforcing homophobia by seeking to destroy a man based on his homosexuality, the precise thing we condemn Rekers for. But looking at the balance of that and his influence in the anti-gay movement, Rekers being taken down by the very thing he has worked so hard against seems like poetic justice.
I would reserve my compassion for people like Ricky Martin, who struggled with internalized and societal pressure yet never did active harm to our community before coming out or being outed.
People like George Rekers, Larry Craig, and Roy Ashburn aren't being pilloried for being gay or just being outed. They are being shown as hypocrites and liars, which is the damaging part that well deserves the celebration and derision of the LGBT community and society as a whole.
It's an interesting discussion that is worth having in our community, especially with the seemingly steady stream of right-wing gay haters that are being drug out if the closet.
What do you think? Celebration, Compassion, or somewhere in between?