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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The dark side of the closet

A New Jersey Turnpike Rest Stop




May 22, 2006 -- Jim McGreevey shockingly admits that before he became governor of New Jersey, he'd have anonymous gay sex at Garden State highway rest stops.

"All I knew was that my behavior was getting crazier and crazier," McGreevey says of his torrid truck-stop trysts in an upcoming book that details his tortured life of lies and sexual repression.

"With each new encounter, I was getting nearer and nearer to being caught - which surely would have generated headlines, especially after I became executive director of the state parole board" in the mid-1980s.

"The closet starves a man, and when he gets a chance he gorges till it sickens him," he writes in his book, titled "The Confession."

McGreevey revealed to The Post that he spent time in a psychiatric hospital at an Episcopalian monastery in the Hudson Valley after his stunning resignation as governor in 2004.

His turgidly written tale, whose subject matter sometimes seems better suited to a sleazy dime-store paperback than to a former governor's memoir, is due to be published next fall by Regan Books.

Excerpts from the tome - for which McGreevey reportedly will be paid up to $500,000 - were printed yesterday by The Star-Ledger of Newark after the newspaper obtained them at a publishing-industry convention in Washington.

McGreevey, who is now separated from Dina, currently lives with his boyfriend, financial adviser Mark O'Donnell.

McGreevey felt such shame, he writes, that he "split in two" - living on the one hand a life "that stands for tradition and values and America," and another life that he pretended to ignore as "something spoiled, something disgusting."

But that duality only made his problem worse, and also made his forays into the world of illicit sex more risky and degrading.

"In my case it went from the simple passions of a young adult - for physical and romantic love and happiness - to a particularly rank, unfulfilling variety of lust. I felt it get ranker and less fulfilling with each passing year," he writes.

McGreevey longed to have a healthy relationship with another man, "with someone I love," whom he could kiss, hug and with whom he could plan a life together.

"I used to make long lists of guys I had crushes on, scribbling their names like a teenager," he writes. "But I never allowed my conquests to be anything like that.

"As glorious and meaningful as it would have been to have a loving and sound sexual experience with another man, I knew I had to undo my happiness step by step as I began chasing my dream of a public career and the kind of 'acceptable' life that went with it.

"So instead, I settled for the detached anonymity of the bookstores and rest stops - a compromise, but one that was wholly unfulfilling and morally unsatisfactory."

And if he hadn't used his wives and girlfriends to hide his homosexuality, it might not be such a problem.

He wants to be seen as a hero for coming out while hurting everyone around him, appointing his boyfriend to a critical state job and basically living a deceptive, dishonest life.

And then, after betraying the state party with his antics, he now drags out the dirtiest aspects of his sex life, sinking an even deeper knife into the back of his friends and family. Basically, he lived the life of a coward and liar, and wants to now explain himself.

I have no idea of how hard it is to be a gay man, but that is no reason to laud McGreevey's selfish, unethical life. I do know people make choices. He didn't have to remarry and then cheat.
His wife has to feel like an idiot to not know any of this. He made some ethical choices, which gay or straight, a grown man does not get a pass on.

But despite the sleazy tone of the Post article, it only emphases how heroic an act it is for gays and lesbians to come out and live an open life. Because it takes courage, courage which was foreign to McGreevey until he had no choice.

posted by Steve @ 12:01:00 AM

12:01:00 AM

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