If there is any upside to the whole Larry Craig situation, it's that the media fallout has provided some reports whose bizarro factor is off the charts. Rather than go for the truly interesting issues at hand (like, why does the GOP have so many deeply closeted members?), outlets like CNN and ABC News have opted for the far more accessible/sensational "gays are screwing in a public bathroom near you!" angle.
The reports are pretty amazing. In this CNN video, featuring the most inspired B-roll I've ever seen ("I need three minutes of toilet close-ups!"), the reporter uncovers the "surprising" fact that many men who look for anonymous sex in public bathrooms are engaged in long-term heterosexual relationships. I wouldn't say this is surprising, but at least he sort of made the point that not all men who engage in this activity are running back to practice their cabaret shows and fluff pillows like the public apparently expects.
This ABC News report is much more direct. "Secret Signals: How Gay Men Cruise for Sex" is the title, and it gets right down to business in laying out exactly how to find a bathroom catering to your specific anonymous sex needs and what to do when you get there (two words: toe tap).
At the very end, it does throw a bone to run-of-the-mill gays who prefer to have their anonymous encounters over the Internet like decent people by noting that "public cruising is practiced mainly by deeply closeted men" and providing this closing quote:
"Cruisers are not sex offenders. They are deeply, deeply closeted. There is a lot of self-hatred and shame and they can't allow themselves to come to terms with their sexuality. There is also the added element of danger and being discovered."
Way to bury the real issue at the bottom of the last page, after planting the seed of paranoia that every public bathroom in the country is a hotbed of gay sex. Why is it that this is being made into such a big deal? After all, when Senator Vitter of Louisiana was named in the DC madam case earlier this year, we didn't see a bunch of stories about how straight men frequent prostitutes.
It's actually kind of odd to see the word "cruising" pop up so much, and if I didn't know better, I'd think that Warner Brothers was behind all this in some elaborate viral marketing scheme leading up to the DVD release of the 1980 Al Pacino film. *Sigh*. How far things have come in 27 years…
Check out the video of a CNN follow-up report after the jump.