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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I Wish I'd Been a Girlie, Just Like My Dear Papa!

Two summers ago, on a hot summer day, I worked up a helluva' sweat on my bicycle ride to the courthouse. I always packed extra clothing to wear after the forty-five minute trip over the rolling hills between Nazareth to Easton. Once I made it, I stumbled into the men's room, a little slower than usual. I stripped off my soaking wet fancy bike clothes, cleaned up and was just getting ready to throw on some dry clothes, when court administrator Jim Onembo walked in on me. I gave him just one "come hither look," and the poor bastard ran out and down the halls.

I didn't even have a chance to do any toe tapping!

Apparently, the mere sight of a rotund, aging, hair ball au naturelle was too much to bear. Maybe it was the high heels. Onembo hasn't been the same since that fateful day.

He probably never played sports.

About six months after that incident, I sued Northampton County over its appointment of council members Lamont McClure and Tony Branco, claiming a Sunshine Act violation. It was only then that I began hearing comments about my lascivious bathroom behavior. Nameless council members whispered to county lawyers that I should be barred from the courthouse.


They also quietly told a reporter I had been arrested.


Eventually, a reluctant reporter asked me for details. Here's what I said.

"I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK.
I sleep all night and I work all day.
I cut down trees, I skip and jump.
I like to press wild flowers.
I put on women's clothing and hang around in bars."

The real implication in the message being passed down whisper alley? Bernie O'Hare is - shhh!- gay. That's right, bippy, a bunblaster who lurks in public restrooms, preying on unsuspecting civil servants with louche behavior.

What an insult to the gay community! Those dudes don't look like Bigfoot.

And that's why I have some sympathy for now former Senator Larry Craig. What's his terrible crime? Whether he acknowledges it or not, he was given the bum's rush from the senate because he's gay. That's no crime. Yet cops still prosecute this "deviant" lifestlye. As a NYTimes op-ed makes abundantly clear, "What is shocking about Senator Larry Craig’s bathroom arrest is not what he may have been doing tapping his shoe in that stall, but that Minnesotans are still paying policemen to tap back. For almost 40 years most police departments have been aware of something that still escapes the general public: men who troll for sex in public places, gay or 'not gay,' are, for the most part, upstanding citizens. Arresting them costs a lot and accomplishes little. "

Former New Jersey Guv' Jim McGreevey speaks of his own late-night close call when he was in his 20s. "I pulled into the rest stop, parked my car, flashed my headlights, which was 'the signal,' and waited. Glancing in my rearview mirror, I saw a state trooper approaching. I desperately tried to convince the trooper of my innocence, showing him my former prosecutor's badge, a gift from the office when I left. The trooper radioed his office and returned. 'I never want to see you here again,' he said. I survived for another day."

What a sad way to "survive!" Gay folks should do what we straighties do - blast a horn. Works every time.

In our homophobic culture, gay people learn to repress their tendencies. Many of them, at least on the surface, are very conservative. And this internal contradiction is the justification for outing a holier-than-thou conservative senator picked up in a men's room.

They're hypocrites, we piously proclaim.

But as Roy Clark at Poynter tells us, we're all phonies. "I'm a hypocrite. You’re a hypocrite. We are all hypocrites. Why? Because I violate in my private life some of the things I profess in public. I guess it makes me a hypocrite because I take public actions designed to encourage my children, my students, my colleagues, and my readers to be a little better than I am. I don’t always practice what I preach."

A few thousand years ago, someone put this a little more succinctly. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."


Blue Coyote said...

As a human being, I am supportive of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender (BGLT) people and their families. As a Christian, I believe in respecting the inherent worth and dignity of every person. This should apply equally to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

The Lehigh Valley should be welcoming the BGLT people into our religious, scholastic, political, civil and social communities. Each of us should work to protect the civil and legal rights of BGLT people and families across the country.

At the forefront is the same-sex marriage debates and the civil rights granted to heterosexual marriages, that are not granted to homosexual unions. I advocate for the right of each person to marry the partner of his or her choice.

The ability to inherit property from your partner, should be unquestioned. Adoption rights have been discriminated by judges. Don't ask, don't tell policies of the military is shameful. The lists goes on and on.

Some may say that the BGLT morality is unlawful. I would say to them that hate-bias is a crime. It's time to recognize same-sex unions for what it is, love.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Blue Coyote,

I agree. I think our society's condemnation of these alternative lifestyles is what makes a Larry Craig possible. Instead of being open, he and others (like McGreevey) are taught to bury their tendencies.

I feel bad that both of these worthy individuals had to live with such guilt, imposed on them by our own society.

Blue Coyote said...

What saddens me the most, is that our governmental and religious institutions propagate this behavior against alternative lifestyles. If you go to other more progressive countries in northern Europe, you would find alternative lifestyles accepted.

We have a long way to go in this country. And I am sure I will hear, "That if I don't like the US, move!", from bigots. Acceptance of the BGLT community would only enrich us. Yet, we managed to shoot ourselves in the foot with resignations of these politicians.

Bernie O'Hare said...

When you think about it, the toe tapping or headlights signals are designed precisely to prevent the very thing that seems to be bothering most people - an unwanted sexual advance. It seems there is an elaborate ritual to make sure these really are two consenting adults. It's a shame things have to be done this way and that people can't be a little more open about it.

Anonymous said...

I think he is being forced out of office because he votes according to his supposedly conservative beliefs and religious convictions but he lives a completely different lifestyle.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I understand the argument is that he's a hypocrite, but the reality is that he is being forced out of office simply because he is gay.

If Congress were truly interested in ridding itself of phonies, we'd soon have two empty chambers.

Take a look at Alaska senator Ted Stevens (FBI raids his home, but he is not even the subject of a senate probe) or Senator Dave Vitter (a family values type consorting with hookers, but at least he's straight)

Jerry Kott said...

In a world where Truth is valued, maybe. We live in a Culture where if Craig sent a veil message to a young women for sex, he would have been given a pat on the back, cheers and had a Park name after him and a Parade in his honor. Homophobia is a very mercurial thing. It appears that Homophobia ( Gay Marriage) got Bush elected ( should I say selected) the first time and the recent switch to the Democrats having the majority in Washington can be attributed to Homophobia ( Mark Foley). It is a double edged sword in Politics. Hypocrisy and Homophobia are often synonymous.
We do live in a Culture that uses the Gay Card, the icky factor, to humiliate, shame and put people in compromising situations where they have little if an defense and where the bullies have little if anything to offer other than their own primal fears. Degenrating Gay people always seems to work and inferring someone being Gay still has Power.

Welcome to my Universe!

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember that Bubba had an affair with an intern and the Republicans tried to impeach him. So I wouldn't say that hetero sex scandals don't exist. The cloak and dagger thing going on in a public restroom is shady whether it's for gay or hetero sex.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jake, Very well said.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:15,

That's my point. Because the gay lifestyle is so reviled, those "cloak and dagger" bathroom antics become the norm for those with alternative lifestyles. I'm not aware of too many public restrooms used as a rendezvous for those with more conventional sexual tastes. If you know of any, please fill us in.

Anonymous said...

You actually believe it normal to be naked in a public restroom. You definitely have a major problem. You should do yourself a favor and get checked by a Psychiatrist. That could be interpreted as lewd and lascivious behavior. The DA should be investigating your activities in the courthouse also. Can you tap dance? If so, you really have a major problem.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, if I drop my car keys at the courthouse, I'm kicking them all the way outside to my car ... not that there's anything wrong with that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:42,

I can't tap dance, but I love singing show tunes.

Jerry Kott said...

Mea culpa, How could I forget about Clinton. I am embarrassed at how he was hounded for a consenting sex act however inappropriate it was. But then again many don't believe that oral sex is actually sex, an appetizer but not an entree, almost sex.

To many Gay folks, this Craig episode is a lesson of sorts that only brings home the the reality that some protest too much and that Sexuality is not a clear a picture as we all would like it to be.

CNN did a report on Sexcapades in restrooms in airports. The vice officers interviewed said that the high majority, almost exclusively, of vice arrest are professional men( doctors, professors,lawyers etc.) wearing wedding bands-Married and having children. This underground, an aspect of the Downlow, only propagates the illusion that gay people are naturally deceptive, which many do believe.

Oppression warps reality.

Bernie- I have been to the mountain, thanks for ditto

Anonymous said...

Homosexuality will never be tolerated in the political arena...unless the pope changes his mind and informs the Roman Catholic Church (and the Republican voters) that God loves all human beings, not just the straight ones.

anonymous said...

I find it unbelievable that Craig was only in a bathroom and did not actually do any specific sex act and is being forced out of office while several years ago our president was actually doing a sex act with an inturn while in the white house and um, I think he was not forced out of office? Could this be the media again, protecting whomever they see fit and destroying whomever they want to?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:41, careful with the misinformation.

Your ire at the Pope is directed precisely because he calls on us to love all humanity as God taught us, while, at the same time, condemning all of humanity's sin.

While I'm admittedly not homosexual, I like the concept because I'm a sinner nonetheless, and need all the help I can get.

State your displeasure with the Pope because you don't like that he calls homosexuality an abominable sin. But don't state that the Pope says God only loves heterosexuals. That's simply false.

In a world of phony flip-floppers, the consistency of the Pope's message - and that of those who despise his teachings - is reassuring.

Funny how homosexuals are hard-pressed, however, to muster similar heated criticism of Islam, its teachers, and adherents. Islam zooms right past the "love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin" thing and goes directly for beheading so-called "deviants".

Anonymous said...

4:17. The catholic church's only consistency is that they are intolerant towards views different from the their own (i.e., the Spanish Inquisition, theory of evolution, Copernicus discovering that the planets did not revolve around the earth, etc.). The whole homosexuality thing confuses me when over 1,400 claims of sexual abuse by priests (many on young boys) clearly indicates that homosexuality is part of human nature; otherwise, priests would only molest girls.

Anonymous said...

The word "intolerance" much like "gay" has been unfortunately bastardized by its politically charged modern usage.

Slavery was tolerated; leaving its victims feeling less than gay. Not all that is tolerated is good for society.

Jerry Kott said...

Why is it that the topic of Homosexuality has to sidetracked by the judgement of religion? That can of worms of Hypocrisy and double standards just muddies the discussion have no expectations of acceptance by you or any Political party. However I do have expectations of being treated civilly and when people violate my civil rights that accountability is in order. Religions can't agree on which of their Gods is more powerful. I remember seeing a 60 minutes, in the middle of the sexual abuse scandal, where Ratzinger, now the Pope was being questioned by Bill Bradley about the allegations of HIS sexual harassment of young seminarians. He pushed the camera away and refused to discuss the charge Also I remember when the illusion of the church's concern for the young victims of sexual abuse, started to crumble. When the church members in Boston demanded action against the sexual predator Priest and when Cardinal Law pretended that the problem would simply go away if they kept ignoring it.The church is just a building , the people are the church. I see parallels on how our Government ignores the will of the People.
I try to keep my eye on the shell. I am a recovered Roman Catholic and have no interest or concern with the churches teachings other then to Love thy neighbor. All the other issues morph, are cultural and many other things appear like a buffet table where people pick and choose their illusions, yet have time to pass judgement which appear to give them a sense of Power.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Jake, too many people in this country vote on the basis of religion. My hope is that some day, we won't require candidates to answer questions on abortion, stem cell research, same-sex marriage, and every other issue the pope deems an abominable sin.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:06,

As a human institution, the Catholic Church has made many mistakes in its long history. It's a bit better than that now. In fact, after the Second Vatican Council, a person is permitted to maintain beliefs contrary to the teachings of the church so long as he agrees not to advocate the position.

But what really bothers me about the church now are those voter guides and all that crap they hand out to voters while not seeming to give a damn about the fact that there are hungry and homeless kids right here in the LV.

Bernie O'Hare said...


Once again, very well said. Much better than my original post. Thanks for your insight.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 7:56,

Yes, there are some things we should not tolerate - a culture that allows 7 year old children to go homeless and hungry - a society in which your access to health care is limited - racism - homophobia.

Anonymous said...

Yes Bernie, and let me pile on the ad hominem broad strokes by stating that religious people are intolerant, uneducated homophobes and bigots (Catholic Charities included).

And all those starving seven-year olds! The streets are littered with them while you're advocating public funding of skateboard parks and other non-essential goodies. You're a real humanitarian. Maybe the needy seven-year olds can seek shelter under the skateboard ramps. Let 'em eat turf.

Anonymous said...

8:32 Here are some definitions according to Webster's dictionary:

Intolerant - unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters.

Homophobic - irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.

Bigot - a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

I wouldn't say you need to use broad strokes to describe the Catholic Church using any of these terms.

BTW, this has nothing to do with being educated or with skateboarding.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:32,

Not $1 of your tax money was spent for that skatepark. I've told you this before, yet you continue to complain. So since it's not the money, maybe you just resent kids.

And sadly, the reality is we do have hungry and homeless kids, right here in the LV. There is one skateboarder in nazareth, about 7, who has been ignored by his own family. Other skateboarders have taken him under their wing. They even pitched in and bought his skateboard.

Anonymous said...

A devastating retort based on a falsehood, a personal attack, and a single anecdote. I love this lofty forum.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Not $1 of your tax money was spent for that skatepark. That's the truth. The "public" money used comes from impact fees assessed against developers. had it not been used, it would have been sent back to the developers.

I've mentioned this before when writing about the skatepark. I've heard those words out of Herbst's own mouth. I've heard it discussed in borough council. I've read Ross' reports about it, and he has said much the same thing.

So since no tax money was spent for that skatepark and you keep complaining, isn't it fair to suggest that you just resent kids? After all, in the same breath that you complain about the skatepark, you also disparage an artificial field that is actually safer than real grasss and less expensive to maintqain in the long run. Maybe it's not kids you resent, maybe it's just kids having fun.

Given your ridiculous statements, these are all fair questions.

In your original comment, you sneer at the suggestion that here are hunbgry and homeless kids here in the LV. I'll tell you what, call the Northampton County DCED and ask to speak to the woman who runs community development. She'll open your eyes.

I laud any community that makes an effort to take care of its children, its weak and its elderly. I think that's why government exists.

As far as this being a "lofty" forum, I'd rather that it be honest. And you weren't being honest about that skatepark. You were just using it as an excuse to launch into your own diatribe.

Anonymous said...

The truth is that public money was used for the skateboard park (I read about the procuring of grants on this blog). You can massage the terminology, but the grant money represents public funds. You'd simply like to parse a definition to differentiate between certain types of the same public money. It's kind of like what the meaning of "is," is I guess.

Artificial turf has as many dangers (turf toe, ligament strains due to unforgiving traction, etc.) as the grass field that served honorably for years. Don't take my word for it, just look at professional sports and their trend toward returning to natural grass.

We live in a country where denying goodies to certain groups is interpreted as being against those groups. It's a logical extension of the nanny state and its generation of demanding crybabies.

There's more than enough wealth among us to care quite well for those who truly need compassion. It's unfortunate these truly needy have to wait in line behind far less necessary priorities.

Here's hoping nobody gets caught in a bridge collapse on their way to skateboarding.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"There's more than enough wealth among us to care quite well for those who truly need compassion. It's unfortunate these truly needy have to wait in line behind far less necessary priorities."

I actually agree. Three groups that need our special attention - the young, those in need, and the elderly.

What you are doing is snarking two programs designed to take care of our young. Without a skaterpark, kids would have no place to do their thing. They could stray into less desirable activities, like drugs or gangs or vandalism. The skatepark is a more positive environment.

An artificial turf field, built by today's standards, is actually both safer and cheaper than natural grass. The tiny bits of rubber make falling much more forgiving. I've done some research, and that's what I've learned. I'll study it some more tonight or this weekend, and if you're right, I'll admit it. But right now, I think those new playing surfaces are actually safer.

Now it would have been nice if the idiots designing the damn thing had made the gate a little wider for the ambulance, but I wouldn't throw out the baby w/ the bathwater.

Although a lot of public $ was spent for that artificial turf, I'm making no complaint because it's actually going to save taxpayers $ in the long run.

What you suggesting? That Nazareth take grant money asnd send it for bridge repair? That NASD take school money and spend it on bridges for your SUVs?

We need to pay more, and not less, attention to our kids. We need to help people unable to afford health care. And we need to look out for our elderly. It's a little ridiculous to suggest we have a nanny culture when 45 million Americans can't afford health insurance.

And I reiterate, not one penny of borough tax money was spent for that park. Yes, there was public money. And yes, some of that is derived from other taxes. But most comes from impact fees on developers. And $7400 came from private donations.

It seems that you're focused on the latest popular flavor of the month - those dangerous bridges. But you also seem to be suggesting that we freeze spending from funding sources that could never be used to repair a bridge.

In your little world, we'd have no skateparks, no football fields and eventually, no bridges. In your little world, I don't think anyone would ever be truly needy enough for government help.

I think that you are probably a classic conservative while I'm a classic liberal.

Some spending programs are wasteful. But where I think we differ is that I'd rather have a wasteful spending program intended to reach those in need than just get rid of them all. I don't think that's a nanny culture, although I like your analogy. Guess I'm one of those whining crybabies.

Eventually, you'd be saying that the needy should rely on charity. We tried that. it didn't work too well.

Gotta' go to work, or I'll soon be one of those needy people. I appreciate the argument. Have at me.

Anonymous said...

Then again the "churches" views have adapted to the changing mores of society- Divorce has more leeway and the stigma attached to it has waned in our culture. With 95% of Fortune 500 Companies extending benefits to same sex couples revealed in a recent survey, people live in a secular Landscape and times are changing.

I for one believe that if you shake every Family Tree hard enough a few Homosexual people will fall out. The Craig event and all the hypocrisy involved in it only shows that Closets are only locked from the inside. He is not alone in his illusion, it is very common here and you would be surprise who has a double life in the valley. Not being know for it's progressiveness, this region has a long way to go in realizing that not all Gay folks are ashamed and live in a closet . If you want to know what scares someone, pay attention to what they use to try to scare you.

Double Lives, like Craig's,are still very common here.