Pardon my French, but what a bastard!
John Cloud. Cloud is a gay man -- a very liberal and dangerously promiscuous one, if a graphic article he once wrote about visiting an anonymous gay sex club is any indication. Indeed, Cloud's older piece subverts a main point of his Time dissertation - i.e., that the notion of gay men as promiscuous and reckless is a dangerous stereotype.
Again -- and here is where I may get in trouble with my fellow religious conservatives -- I don't care that in 1997 Cloud -- who at the time had a boyfriend -- visited a house in Washington, D.C., and paid $8 to watch men having group sex and watch gay porno.
Cloud doesn't admit the bias, and his disdain for those who disagree is not well hidden.
Bias runs through the Time piece, and its germ is found in the gay bathhouse story he wrote in 1997. The latter appeared in the Washington City Paper, a tiresome hispter weekly published in DC. In "The Naked City," Cloud ventures to a house in the Adams Morgan section of the city and, after paying $8, is admitted into the house. Cloud's intention was clear: "I had always assumed (and, admittedly, hoped), that while one of the activities might well be massage, other activities were even more...well, hands on. I got a couple of friends to admit that they had attended, and one of them described the parties this way: 'It's sort of like a bathhouse without the baths."
Indeed. There's no need to go into the details of what Cloud saw, which is sickening. Some of it was hard even for Cloud himself to take -- well, kind of. "Feeling equal measures of pity, disgust, and horniness," he writes after seeing something out of latter-day Rome, "I skulk back into the hallway and then into the 'smoking room.'" Cloud gets "groped here and there" before escaping Hell House, but not before making this observation: "Though I'm not sure, I imagine most of the guests to be closeted, and a fair number married. With their conservative styling [!], I can also imagine most of them in K street law firms or federal office buildings or Northern Virginia computer companies. Strangely, I can't imagine them at a sex party, even as I watch them have orgasms."
Cloud also wrote a guide to DC gay bathhouses for the City Paper. No need for details, you get the idea.
Cut to the present. Cloud, now ensconced at Time, offers a gigantic cover story on gay teens. According to Cloud, "Kids are disclosing their homosexuality with unprecedented regularity -- and they are doing it much younger." Moreover, even conservatives are getting on board. "When their kids come out," Cloud writes, "many conservatives -- just ask the Vice President -- start to seem uncomfortable with traditionalist, rigid views on gays." The kids these days are entering a brave new world: "Until recently, growing up gay meant awaiting a lifetime of secrecy -- furtive encounters, darkened bar windows, crushing deracination." Sounds like a memory from his days in DC.
The Time piece is nothing so much as a position paper for the Human Rights Campaign, America's largest gay lobby. These days gay teens "no longer need endure the baleful combination of loneliness and longing that characterized the childhood of so many gay adults" (not to mention the adulthood of certain journalists). Books, networks, movies and big business all cater to gays. These days, "at many schools it is now profoundly uncool to be seen as anti-gay." Furthermore, "it's important to note that nearly all mental-health professionals agree that trying to reject one's homosexual impulses will usually be fruitless and depressing."