Eric Massa's discomfort and dishonesty expresses our whole culture's inability to come to grips with the range of sexual urges, including our own.
The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, March 11, 2010. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.
Why We Can’t Be Honest About Homoeroticism
Eric Massa is quitting Congress because he fools around with men sexually, but he's not allowed to say he's gay. He's not allowed to say it because you can't be gay and a politician where he lives. That's the situational reason.
The psychological reason he can't be gay is because he doesn't want to be gay - he wants to have a wife and kids, along with (previously) wanting to be a Congressperson.
And the existential reason he won't say he's gay is because he also has sex with his wife (I'm guessing here).
The outside game downside to all of this is Massa's idiotic palaver in TV interviews (his interview with Glenn Beck will be listed in the all-time hall-of-fame TV appearances). Aside from the tragic-comedy aspect of this, I could just as soon do without watching his buffoonery.
The inside game downside is the subterfuge gay tomfoolery he engages in - getting drunk in the Navy and groping shipmates, tickling and tousling aides, and whatnot - which may comprise sexual harassment.
Whether there's a problem at home with his wife when he or she wants to have sex, and whether that's changed recently, I couldn't say.
Our inability to discuss these issues is all over the media. Witness every news host joke anxiously about what Massa meant by "snorkling." Even iconoclast-in-chief Bill Maher couldn't handle that one, while making antigay-seeming comments ("I don't know about you, but I never felt like snorkling another man!").
It's not only Massa who isn't allowed to tell the truth about homoeroticism. Our society won't let him yearn for sex with men and yet be married and a father. Not only his conservative constituents won't let him. Neither will pro-gay liberals and gay activists who say, "You are either gay, or you are not."
Kind of cheeky of them, isn't it, to define other people's sexuality?
Did you catch the 2004 biopic, "Kinsey?" Remember the hot love scene between Liam Neeson and Peter Sarsgaard? Oh, you forgot that scene?
Their affair reflected Kinsey's research and evolved view that human sexuality occurs along a continuum. Kinsey found that sexual urges - including his own - were more diverse and amorphous than allowed for. He created a scale ranking people from totally heterosexual to completely homosexual - and all points between.
Describes you and me, doesn't it?
But advanced thinkers are no longer allowed to believe in the Kinsey scale - which Kinsey created since his research surprisingly showed that people had such a wide range of homoerotic urges and contact.
It is hard to be free in behavior - society has reasons for putting limits on such freedom. How those limits work for individuals varies a lot, however.
The need to suppress freedom and openness of thought is a trickier business. We believe we need to suppress free thought because otherwise it will lead to "bad" behavior, and because we need to reassure ourselves that our own way of thinking is right - is inviolable.
Humans are diverse sexually, but diverse thinking is tough.