by Dan Savage
on Fri, May 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM
The gay movement—which can be overly concerned with appearances—didn't know what to do with Mike Jones after he outed Ted Haggard, then the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and a good buddy of George W. Bush. Gay organizations and groups treated Jones like he was radioactive because—gasp—the man was a sex worker. Jones was left feeling bitter and broke after he did gays and lesbians everywhere a huge service stepping forward and outing/truthing Haggard. By exposing Haggard, Jones did real and lasting damage to the credibility of anti-gay ranters everywhere.
Joe Jervis got an interview with Jo-Vanni Roman, the male escort that George Rekers hired to handle his baggage on his European vacation, and it's clear that Roman—who can do a real service to the gay rights movement by telling the truth about what happened in Europe and bring down a malicious, malignant, and possibly/predictably self-hating, anti-gay gay bigot in the process—is in way over his head. Rekers made Roman sign a confidentiality agreement and he's threatening to lawyer up and sue anyone and everyone he can to restore his "good" name. (Sorry, George, but it's too late for that.) Roman needs a lawyer and he needs one now. Writes Andy at Towleroad:
I hope someone in South Florida is stepping up to give Lucien some good advice and offering him some support. The young man really sounds in need of guidance, though I do commend him for speaking out for what he believes and exposing this dangerous, anti-gay hypocrite.
Let's hope that someone steps up? No, let's demand that one of the big gay orgs—HRC, Lambda Legal, NCLR—steps up and provides Roman with the lawyer and the advisors he needs. Let's not treat this kid, who is just 20, like he's done something wrong, or like he's an embarrassment to the gay rights movement because—gasp—he was doing sex work, as has been reported, to pay his college tuition. This kind of hypocrisy—Haggard's kind, Craig's kind, Rekers' kind—needs to be exposed. And it's likelier to be exposed if the people who bring it to light aren't treated like pariahs and are instead offered real and tangible support.
Bringing something like this—this being the appalling, malicious hypocrisy of George Rekers—out into the open can't become a path to fame and/or fortune. It isn't and shouldn't be something that sets a person up for life, or something that an escort cashes in on as he leaves the rentboy business. Because that dynamic would undermine the credibility of anyone who does the right thing and steps forward when a powerful political or religious leader is saying one thing in public about homosexuality and doing quite another thing in private. But we can't leave people like Jones or Roman dangling, not if we want people like Jones and Roman to keep stepping forward.
And we do.
UPDATE: Powerhouse blogger Joe Jervis is organizing support for Jo-Vanni. Good on you, Joe, and here's hoping a national organization steps up to the plate.