10.29.09 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshotI feel guilty, but at the same time there’s a part of me that can’t quit smiling. I’ll explain in a minute.

But why is it that when a person or a group who opposes us gets in trouble, we take quiet, although satisfying, pleasure in their misfortunes? Admit it, when an anti-gay preacher or politician gets caught in a sex scandal—Larry Craig, for example—we chuckle a bit.

So many of us won’t admit this, but we took pleasure in watching the Idaho senator with a long history of voting against LGBT rights repeatedly deny his homosexuality, even though he was caught red-handed, so to speak, in an airport restroom soliciting sex from an undercover (male) police officer.

If a “family values politician” divorces his or her spouse we sometimes get a thrill, although it may be expressed internally. The “protecting marriage” argument never seems to be brought up when said politician is in divorce proceedings or is remarrying for the second time. But when two men or two women want to be legally bound, we’re threatening the sanctity of marriage.

It’s wrong to take pleasure in other people’s pain. I get that. But at the same time, the “what-goes-around-comes-around” mantra seems to play repeatedly in my head when I hear about these cases.

Irony, I guess, is the fuel behind the story that has me laughing today. Earlier this year the City of Gainesville defeated an ordinance aimed at preventing transgender people from using public restrooms that were appropriate to their identity. If the ordinance failed, supporters said, child molesters could sneak into the opposing gender’s loo by claiming they were transgender and grab a sneak peak at children.

Compelling argument, I suppose.

This is just one of several beliefs that were repeatedly voiced by Gainesville resident and CVS store manager Jonathan Matheny. He consistently expressed the “values” he was protecting by supporting such an ordinance. He actively sought signatures on petitions supporting the law in area neighborhoods. When it was defeated, Matheny dropped from the spotlight.

That is, until last week.

The 27-year-old was arrested Oct. 19 for filming women using the bathroom in the store he managed. This wasn’t something that he was suspected of doing—authorities charged him with video voyeurism after a customer found his cell phone hidden in the restroom. Police say that Matheny admitted to recording at least 50 women in that same restroom. Authorities are currently searching his computer and other electronic devices to see if he shared any of the “footage” he collected.
Do I feel sorry for those women this guy allegedly recorded? Of course I do. But do I think it’s hilarious that he was arrested for committing such a hypocritical crime? Definitely.

A similar sense of satisfaction came over me in 2000 when the then-Chairman of Exodus International, the Orlando-based ex-gay movement, was spotted inside a Washington D.C. gay bar. John Paulk initially said he was just using the restroom inside the dark bar, but later admitted he was there for different reasons. Immediately, Paulk was removed from the board and resigned from the right-wing organization. Part of me felt sorry for him and hoped he would finally find his true self and live happily as a gay man. What a great, inspirational story of finding one’s true self for the LGBT community.

But that didn’t happen. Today Paulk is with Love Won Out, a division of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, and he continues to preach about the supposed success of the ex-gay movement.
I guess with any culture war there are setbacks on both sides. This war is far from over—despite incredible gains for LGBT equality in recent months. But even when full equality is found, I’ll still get some guilty pleasure from the irony of it all.

So, the next time an anti-LGBT person speaks out against equality, I’ll admittedly take some slight comfort in knowing that just around the corner, another hypocritical crime is destined to make it into the headlines.

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