Christian Right Mounts Defense as Rent Boy Scandal Grows
As the story of Family Research Council co-founder George Alan Rekers has grown in the media, the Christian right has cast about for ways to explain away or excuse the European trip that Rekers took with a 20-year-old male escort that Rekers reportedly hired off RentBoy.com. The young traveling companion in question has since told the press that during the week and a half long trip, he gave Rekers daily massages that included contact with the anti-gay leader's genitals and anus.
The new revelations were reported by the Miami New Times in a May 6 article. The escort, dubbed "Lucien" by the Miami New Times, reportedly told the press that Rekers favored a technique called the "long stroke," which the young man said involved contact "across his penis, thigh... and his anus over the butt cheeks." Added Lucien, "Rekers liked to be rubbed down there."
It was also the Miami New Times that broke the story originally on May 5, running a photo of Rekers, a stack of luggage, and a young man whose face was obscured. Rekers, the original story noted, has worked behind the scenes for decades to obstruct legal equality for GLBT individuals and their families.
In one instance, Rekers served as an "expert witness" in a court case over a ban on adoption by gay and lesbian prospective parents in Florida, for which he and a colleague were paid $87,000 by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. His influence as co-founder, in 1983, of the anti-gay Family Research Council, together with James Dobson, another highly prominent anti-gay activist, has meant that Rekers has had an even broader impact on GLBT equality in American law and culture.
Moreover, Rekers is a board member for the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group that claims that gays can be "cured" and "converted" to heterosexuality, in contradiction to the findings of ethical mental health professionals, who confirm that sexual orientation is innate and warn that so-called "reparative therapies" may well do more harm than good.
"While he keeps a low public profile, his fingerprints are on almost every anti-gay effort to demean and dehumanize LGBT people," said Wayne Besen, the founder of Truth Wins Out, in a news release. "His work is ubiquitously cited by lobby groups that work to deny equality to LGBT Americans," Besen added. "Rekers has caused a great deal of harm to gay and lesbian individuals."
The Miami New Times dubbed Rekers' travel companion "Lucien," and noted that Rekers claimed that due to recent surgery he needed an assistant to help him with his luggage during the trip. Unzipped.net claimed in a May 4 posting that "Lucien" and a 20-year-old RentBoy.com advertiser who goes on the site by the designation BoyNextDoor/Geo were one and the same.
A May 5 Advocate.com article said that "Lucien" is known at Facebook and MySpace as Jo-vanni Roman. When he was contacted by the Advocate, Roman would only say that he didn't wish to discuss his trip to Europe with Rekers because he privacy had not been respected by the press.
Anti-gay bloggers at conservative chat site FreeRepublic.com, where GLBT news of all sorts is routinely discussed at length, were less circumspect, with some posts accusing the "liberals" of trying to set Rekers up for a smear campaign and others alleging that Rekers, as an "ex-gay," might be relapsing.
The comments also illustrated how successfully Rekers had stayed out of the limelight. Wrote one chat participant, "I've been a fundamentalist Christian for over 50 years (currently a Deacon in my church) and I've never heard of George Rekers. However, as you stated, this can't be good. At best, it gives the appearance of impropriety. At worst, it's an embarrassment for The Family Research Council and by association, Dr. James Dobson."
Continued the posting, "If Rekers really was 'renting' a 'boy' for homosexual sex, this will give the secular media and the Christian-haters an opportunity to point fingers and scream 'hypocrite!' at the top of their lungs as they try to smear every Christian that follows scripture and opposes homosexual behavior as a 'closeted homosexual'."
Another posting made the bitter accusation that, "The dip-wads who were saddened to learn a Tea Partier wasn't behind the Times Square bombing will be wetting themselves with delight to learn a Christian has a 'Rentboy'."
Another attempted to pass off closeted conservatives as not being "true" conservatives. "Whenever a homosexual gets caught masquerading as a Christian conservative," the posting read, "the leftists trumpet this as a lesson about Christian conservatives. What it really is is a lesson about homosexuals."
Rekers has said that he was attempting to follow the model established by Jesus by ministering to a "sinner." Rekers also said that he needed a travel assistant because surgery he had undergone left him unable to hoist his own luggage. Chat participants took note of these explanations, but opined that even if they were true, Rekers' actions were ill considered.
"Maybe in some bizarre way he was trying to minister to the young man," wrote one chat participant, "but the more probable explanation is the most obvious one." Added the posting, "This is probably what it looks like and, if so, the guy is a hypocrite deserving of criticism."