Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jim McGreevey




"At a point in every person's life one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world. Not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is."

Jim McGreevey spoke these words in August 2004, when he faced the news media and the public to announce that he was gay, had engaged in an adulterous affair with another man, and was resigning his office because of it.

When he came out, I was deeply ambivalent. On the one hand, I thought to myself that but for the grace of God, I might have gone where he had. On the other, I was jealous that he had declared his sexuality to the world and no longer had to hide his truth.

The governor has been all over the news again the last few weeks with the release of his new book, The Confession. I have seen several of his interviews, and have consistently been impressed with his forthrightness and his acknowledgement of his mistakes, his horrible errors of judgement and his moral failings. I have also been struck by how deeply his experience of struggling to understand himself mirrors my own. He has spoken about how being gay was something he did not want to "own" because it did not fit with the dreams he had for himself and his life. For years, I felt the same way. And while I was not the powerful governor of a populous state when my world began to collapse, I was in a postion of standing in my little Mormon community in Brooklyn. I undertand when he talks about the heavy burden of duality.

I heard him speak last night at the New School in Manhattan. I was again impressed. At one point, he said that when he speaks to people around the country he tells them "don't do what I did." In one sense, he's absolutely right. If you're gay, don't hide. And if you're gay and married, don't betray your spouse with an affair. But I think Governor McGreevey underestimates the power of his example. We should all do what he did--look into the mirror of our soul and accept our unique truth as it is. We should live and love as whole and integrated beings.

Accept the gift of your creation. Do what Jim McGreevey did.

7 comments:

Scot said...

“When he came out, I was deeply ambivalent. On the one hand, I thought to myself that but for the grace of God, I might have gone where he had. On the other, I was jealous that he had declared his sexuality to the world and no longer had to hide his truth.

My feelings on the man were, as I’ve said, harsher. As such, I think you deserve more credit than you’re giving yourself here. Before you were out, you handled it in a considerate and ethical manner. You chose to “Accept the gift of your creation”. He was forced.

Still, I’ve been similarly changed by his recent media appearances. I’ve almost been too impressed with his candidness and contriteness, to the point of doubting them. Perhaps history has made me too cynical; he is a politician ;-). Sometimes I feel like an ignorant spoiled gay brat, not knowing what it’s like to be in the closet for so long and too quick to judge those who have for their transgressions. If only there were no reasons to keep a closet in the first place…

Chris said...

scot,

I appreciate the credit, but I was forced out too--in a different way, a better way, but still forced.

And McGreevey readily acknowledges that he was forced out and that he likely would have remained in the closet were it not for his transgression.

But reliving my own experience as I hear him describe his simply confirms for me what I have come to know in a deeply personal way: the closet is a horrible, destructive place.

danny said...

Mr. McGreevey loses my respect because of his adultery, whereas I think you have acted very honorably throughout your process. As a straight man, I could never understand what you must have gone through, but I do respect the way you've handled yourself.

I was referred to your blog by a friend who thought I may have been in your ward (not true, at least I don't think so.) I enjoyed reading it and will check back from time to time. I hope things go well for you, and I'm more than a little jealous that you were able to break out of mormonism....not an easy thing to do. I wish you and your family the best.

johngalt said...

"We should all do what he did--look into the mirror of our soul and accept our unique truth as it is. We should live and love as whole and integrated beings.

"Accept the gift of your creation. Do what Jim McGreevey did."


Chris, many of us ARE looking into our SOULS... that is the difference here. We believe McGreevey is not looking into his soul but rather into his body. I'm not blaming him. It is a difference in faith and we cannot argue that. Nor am I trying to convince you otherwise. But I would not be true to myself without declaring that we fervently believe that we ARE accepting the gifts of our creation... as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. On the other hand, we are NOT accepting the gifts of our natural creation... as fallen man.

Until now you have not advocated that others take the same path as you. I'm asking you to please stick with that. I am not telling you to leave your boyfriend and be true to your "eternal self." Please don't tell me to leave my wife and be true to my "physical self." Your call in this post to rally the troops around McGreevy's choice feels like that. Let's not follow anyone Chris. Let your call be to follow our own hearts, our own "still small voice" as you wrote to me once. Then each of us will find peace within. I love you.

Chris said...

johngalt,

I understand why you would view this post as a call to follow my path. It's not. I do not know what you find when you gaze into your soul. I do not know where that self examination will take you. Wherever that might be, I wish you peace and happiness.

I have not suggested you leave your wife, johngalt. I don't know if that's the right thing for you or for her. What I have suggested here, for you or anyone else who cares to read what I write, is that you accept yourself as a gay man, whole and completely. Accept it as something that just is, not something that you (not just you, johngalt--the general "you") should hide or be ashamed of.

I do not believe my answers are universal in their applicability. That is, I think, a difference between us. Or, perhaps more accurately and fairly (because you have offered to me that my path need not be yours), a difference between how I have tried to approach my situation and how the LDS Church suggests I should. Within LDS Mormonism, there is only one way.

I won't apologize for applauding Jim McGreevey for coming out and for accepting himself--his whole self, not his physical self. I won't apologize for suggesting that the way to inner peace about being gay is through self acceptance and openness. And I won't apologize for stating that I do not believe that homosexuality is an affliction or burden of the body that will be removed, now or ever.

Kengo Biddles said...

Chris,

I look at what I wrote on -L-'s blog last night and realize I was being a troll. I'm sorry. I apologize.

Chris said...

kengo:

Thanks for your apology. Accepted.