In The Psychology of the Closet: Governor McGreevey’s New Clothes, psychotherapist Jack Drescher, M.D., contrasts New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey’s struggle to come out as same-sex-attracted, with the psychological complications faced by those who choose to remain closeted, to dissociate from their sexual orientation and to claim outwardly to be heterosexual.
Interestingly, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts also found the McGreevey exgay connection worth writing about. Pitts shares my view that the allegedly corrupt McGreevey is no hero. Nevertheless, Pitts also indicates that he grasps the difficult choices that confront same-sex-attracted people like McGreevey:
…You wonder if the lesson of all this is lost on the people who need it most, the ones who become apoplectic when gay people leave the closet and declare themselves human beings deserving of human rights. Such people fail to realize that gays have only two other options, neither of them particularly attractive.
One, they cease to be homosexual. The problem with that is, homosexuality is not a disease. Therefore, it cannot be “cured.” And yeah, I know that statement will not sit well with those religious fundamentalists who believe the opposite. I would only remind them of Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee, who in 1976 founded an organization called Exodus. Its stated mission was to grant “freedom from homosexuality” through the power of Christ.
Exodus is still around, but Cooper and Bussee are no longer affiliated with it. The two men left the group after they fell in love with each other.
Which brings us to the second option. If one can’t cease to be gay or lesbian, deny being gay or lesbian. Lie about it.
Pitts’ characterization of Exodus is a bit oversimplistic: Sexual orientation rarely changes, and the late Cooper’s role as co-founder is disputed. But I think Pitts’ presentation of choices may be essentially on target.