Today I was watching a snippet of daytime TV with a friend, and the subject was a discussion of a “scandal” that had peeked out of the political establishment, of the old fashioned politicians and prostitutes type. I tend to find the reactions to these things puerile and moralistic, often deeply disingenuously so. It’s like virtue signalling, but made in the threadbare image of the Edwardian era.
In this case the politician was a “family man” who it has emerged had been consorting with male sex workers, and he’s now resigned.
The daytime TV program (Loose Women) had some varied opinions, the one I sympathised with most defending the politician on the basis that this really was not a public issue, and he had not acted hypocritically when measured by his stated positions on things like sex work, and we should just stop this kind of media circus. Others felt more critical, and one of the issues (aside from the public service angle), was the issue of the moral aspect of his “cheating” on his wife.
One person said she thought “in this day and age” people could be openly gay, and they should be able to live openly, and this kind of thing should not be happening. But I really think this misses the point of how far we have to go in bringing about real, meaningful freedom for people, not in terms of gay rights, or anything that can even be primarily tackled by the whole “militant” rights type of thinking, but in terms of how many people aren’t free to live as themselves openly. This man might not be gay, and sexuality is far more subtle and nuanced than ticking one of three boxes. He might specifically gain a certain kind of fulfilment from liaising with sex workers, as people have for thousands of years. He just isn’t the idea of a “family man” that people have. We don’t know, and it isn’t our business, and aside from maybe conjecturing that he and his wife might or might not have some communicating to do about their respective needs, no one knows, or should know, anything there either.
It really points out to me how our society has and hasn’t changed. Yes, we do have equal rights for gay people, and that is something to be proud of and grateful for. Honestly, we have it good. But there is a great deal else to question with compassion and openness, such as why not polyamory, validated sex work, alternative relationship forms, and a release from this whole thing of gay, straight or bisexual, stamped and sealed or else (get judged as something shady, confused or dishonest). This isn’t the stuff of politics, it’s the stuff of hearts and minds. How much greater could we be, if we appreciated the real tapestry of human nature, sexual and otherwise?
What we need is a sexual humanism.