Monday, March 31, 2008

Silent Partner


I have already recorded my (mostly negative) reactions to Jim McGreevey's book The Confession on this blog. Now I'll relate my reactions to his spouse's tome, Silent Partner, as well as the recent "news" story involving McGreevey's aide Teddy Pedersen and the alleged threesomes he had with the couple.

First of all, as I've said before, I have always been sympathetic to women who inadvertently marry homosexual men and whose lives are devastated when those men finally come out of the closet. Some of those men can't deal with being gay and get married in a more or less "honest" attempt to be straight. Others, like McGreevey, pretty much know that they're homosexual but get married because they can't give up heterosexual privileges, and feel that being perceived as straight will take them further in life -- and in politics. I agree with DMM (Dina Matos McGreevey) that her husband -- certainly with his second marriage to Dina and perhaps his first as well -- was the latter kind of homosexual male. I have zero sympathy for him. Sure, he may have had religious and family pressures, but so do other gay men who still manage to become Out and Proud. Many men who are older than McGreevey came out, paid their dues, while McGreevey blithely ignored the Gay Rights movement in the name of ambition. Women like DMM have to realize that they did not marry a gay man (not if you use the term "gay" to describe someone who's Out and Proud, as I do); she married a sneaky, self-hating, Larry Craig-style homosexual, a different animal entirely.

[Another clue: Homo men in denial generally wind up with girlfriends or wives who seem to fit a certain stereotype, a category that DMM and McGreevey's first wife do not belong to. These other women are not as attractive as their husbands, are frequently overweight, are not very sexy, and often have more money than the husband or boyfriend. I have seen this pattern so often over the years that friends and I have joked that their must be a factory that spits out Gay Guys' Girlfriends! However, as I say, neither DMM nor McGreevey's first wife, both of whom are very attractive women, fit this pattern. They are, in a sense, decorative trophy wives for the well-dressed homosexual politician/executive who needs to project a certain image. Needless to say, DMM --and undoubtedly his first wife as well -- is an intelligent women of accomplishment and deserved a lot better.)

Except for one short instance, DMM sort of ignores the whole subject of homosexuality. Like many a straight democrat (including Obama and Clinton), she supports gay domestic partnerships but thinks that "marriage is a sacrament reserved for a union between a man and a woman." (That alone may make many people lose sympathy for her and I confess that it doesn't thrill me.)

Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage is compelling, readable, and well-written. Oddly, I enjoyed it more than I did McGreevey's memoir. DMM clearly and concisely explains her point of view. However much you may want to take what she says with a grain of salt -- how could she help but be embittered? -- her portrait of McGreevey is not a pleasant one. DMM only found out that McGreevey was going to come out as "a Gay American" when she was handed a copy of his speech not long before the event itself. There was no discussion beforehand and, according to her, McGreevey coldly gave her exact instructions on what to say and do during a press conference that must have been unbelievably humiliating to her. She writes that after McGreevey told her about Golan Cipel's attempted blackmail -- and even after the press conference -- he hardly dealt with her at all (and only gave her a half-hearted apology weeks later) perhaps out of embarrassment.

DMM writes that when their baby was due at any moment, McGreevey flew to Las Vegas to be with his lover Golan Cipel. "Lust," she writes, "it seemed, trumped everything else." Dina misses the point that it wasn't just lust that had McGreevey neglecting his wife to fly to his lover, it was romance. Generally, married homosexuals (who are bisexual in the technical sense but are innately homosexual) such as McGreevey, take huge risks or come out once they finally develop emotional feelings for another male. This may have helped McGreevey begin to develop some kind of gay identity; maybe not. [In any case he only "came out" -- after he and Cipel were no longer together -- due to the blackmail. Otherwise, he might still be in the closet and using DMM as a beard.]

There are always two ways of looking at situations like this. For the gay community, a person's coming out and accepting themselves is a cause for celebration. Unfortunately, for the discarded wife or husband, it's the exact opposite. Of course, many straights see a spouse's coming out as some sort of tragedy -- a sentiment I always find rather obnoxious, although I understand it -- and this attitude is certainly intensified if a person is homophobic.

While I wouldn't quite describe her as "gay-friendly" necessarily -- maybe because she simply knows so little about the subject, ironically -- DMM doesn't indulge in gay-bashing in her book. Admirably, she acknowledges her husband's contributions while rightly condemning his utter stupidity in giving his boyfriend a post -- related to national security no less -- that he was not at all qualified for and which could have had serious consequences. However much McGreevey may have wanted to come out and declare his love for Cipel deep down, he certainly went about it in the wrong way. As I've said before, McGreevey is no gay hero and should not be seen that way by anyone.

Recently one of McGreevey's former male aides, Teddy Pedersen, has claimed that he had threesomes with both Jim and his wife, and that Dina had to know all about her husband's homosexuality. However, he also states that his sexual interactions were strictly with Dina, and that at the time of these alleged incidents he didn't know if McGreevey were gay or not. So if he didn't know, why does he think that Dina did? The couple may have been swingers -- although I tend to doubt it -- but unless McGreevey had actual sex with this aide right in front of Dina, how would she know? There are straight guys who like to watch their wives have sex with other men. Somehow I can't see McGreevey bothering with this, however. [NOTE: DMM has denied the threesomes story, saying it was fabricated by McGreevey and Pedersen, who is a good friend of the former governor's. Jim McGreevey says that the stories are true. As of this posting, the McGreevey's are still locked in a bitter divorce battle and scurrilous charges will undoubtedly go back and forth. McGreevey wants people to believe DMM knew he was homo all the time; I don't think such was the case.]

Unless they marry men whom they already know have an attraction to other men, be they gay, bi, or even straight-identified, women generally don't know that their husbands are gay. In fact, I believe DMM when she writes that she actually thought her love rival was McGreevey's first wife. McGreevey even went so far as to throw a party for the woman, without inviting Dina! He told Dina that his ex-wife hadn't been in the states for a while and he wanted her old friends to have a chance to see her. Sounds somewhat reasonable, but it's also another in a long line of McGreevey's utterly thoughtless actions in regards to his second wife. Dina only found out about the party from somebody else.

According to DMM, McGreevey lied in his book when he claimed that their daughter was living with him and his partner. She writes that she found much support at the Straight Spouse Network. [I'm not at all surprised that such an organization exists, but saddened that even in the 21st century we've got this kind of shit going on.] The Straight Spouse Network is pro-gay and, unlike DMM, even supports gay marriage. The theory is that these kinds of hurtful sham marriages, such as the McGreevey's, do not help anyone, and might become a thing of the past with increased (self)acceptance of homosexuality as well as an acceptance of gay marriage equality. The SSN is also against conversion and religious "therapy" as practiced by the ex-gay movement. Good for them!

I suppose some may be surprised that I, a gay man and activist who always rejoices when someone comes out of the closet, seem to support DMM more than Jim McGreevey. I think I've explained myself, but to reiterate: McGreevey only came out because he was forced to, and he treated his wife miserably. Now that he's out of the closet he may or may not become a nicer person, but he and I are not of the same species. I paid my dues -- he was just a craven user and adulterer. I came out in my twenties, and I have never used women as beards, although I had enough of a hetero component in my make up to do so had I chosen.

Jim McGreevey has a new man in his life. Hopefully Dina will have a new man in her life, too, in the near future. Perhaps one day when she's in a happy marriage, she'll change her attitude toward marriages for well-adjusted gay people, getting past her religious intolerance and negative experiences with a self-hating closet case.


Fragmentadora de Papel said...

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Bill Samuels said...

Many thanks for your comment!

"Billi" said...

I am happy that you have such clear and balanced view of the ex-gov and his wife. I think Jim is a user through and through and is using his new life as a front for the really venal person he truly is. I hope Dina can get over it.

Bill Samuels said...

I hope so, too. Thanks for your comments. Bill