I am disappointed in Sam Adams. What he did creeps me out, like it normally does whenever anybody does it. That is, have a relationship with
- Someone who is 18 when he is 42 (less than half his age!!)
- Someone who is a lowly [legislative] intern when he is the relatively powerful commissioner of the state’s largest city, and a favorite mayoral candidate.
I don’t think there ever should be exceptions to #2 above, but #1 is a generalization which has, in my opinion, some legitimate exceptions to account for the relative maturity level of the people involved. But those exceptions grow pretty rare when the one person is over twice as old as the other.
It’s creepy, alright. But let’s clear the air about some stuff: creepy isn’t grounds for calling for someone’s resignation from public office. Nigel Jacquiss insists in his OPB interview that this story was never “about sex and sexuality,” but that he wasn’t “satisfied” that Sam was “being completely straight” with him, and he had a hunch that Sam wasn’t someone he could “get behind.” (yes, I’m quoting from Jacquiss’ interview on OPB) Hmm, sounds to me like the only person in the closet here is Nigel.
It was about the fact that Sam Adams lied, Nigel insists. But why would Sam feel compelled to lie about something like this? Could it have something to with the fact that we, uhh, still live in a homophobic society where it was inconceivable mere decades ago that an openly gay person could and should be elected to public office (Harvey Milk, anyone?), let alone the fact that being openly gay in the wrong place at the wrong time in front of the wrong people (which is nearly everywhere, everyone and any time) STILL means you’ll get your head bashed in? Could it have been motivated by genuine fear of persecution? HELL YES.
If Sam Adams lied about this, people insist, what else is he capable of lying about? Well, he has a pretty damned good excuse to lie about something in his personal life that has ABSOLUTELY NO FRIGGING BEARING on the responsibilities of his elected position — until we the people force the issue and make it so important that we stifle his ability to effectively govern. In fact, because he’s a gay man in the public office of a heterosexist society, there’s even less likelihood that him lying about his personal life has any predictive value as to whether he’s more likely to lie about something of public significance.
Homosexuality may be out of the closet in Portland — too bad the homophobia didn’t follow it. It’s not trendy in Portland to *seem* homophobic, regardless of whether you actually are (uhh, same exact thing with racism here, by the way: “I’m not racist! I love black people…errr…African Americans…the way they dress, the way they talk, their hair…”). Let’s face it — we have a bunch of homophobic people who are finally RELIEVED that they have a “legitimate” reason to ask for Sam’s resignation without being labeled a homophobe. “It’s not because he’s gay, it’s because he lied.” Oh, well, gee golly, thanks for setting me straight there.
We are a blood-thirsty public waiting with baited breath for the littlest slip up we can exploit to kick his gay ass out of office. For being gay. So we can find someone who will be a little more “straight with us.” We say to him: We’ll tolerate your homosexuality. We’ll tolerate it as long as you never remind us of it. GINO: Gay In Name Only. Asexual. You are hereby publicly castrated. Two simple rules: Don’t ask, don’t tell. Nigel broke the first rule. Sam broke the second. Oh crap. That makes us normal folks REAL uncomfortable.
Yes, the age and power difference is creepy, regardless of the sexual orientation of the relationship. And it really has no bearing on how effective a Portland mayor Sam will be. Our heterosexism, however, does have a direct bearing on how effective a mayor he’ll be. And right now we are demanding impotency.
I support the Attorney General’s investigation, just to confirm that no law was broken. If the law was broken, then I will unfortunately be joining folks in calling for Sam Adams’ resignation. Until then, I will presume his innocence and support his stint as mayor…unless and until he actually lies about something of PUBLIC SIGNIFICANCE. Get a grip, people.