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Tiptoe Through The Tearooms:
The Glory Hole Days of Matthew Glavin

By Jack Nichols

t had been a tough two weeks for anti-gay Republican moralists. First, John Paulk, the leader of the bogus Ex-Gay movement was caught frolicking in a Washington, D.C. gay bar.

Paulk now admits to having lied when he said he hadn’t known what kind of bar it was and that he’d simply wanted to relieve himself in the restroom. His Newsweek-cover-boy reputation as a married man who’d supposedly left his homosexual inclinations to wilt in a ‘sinful’ past has collapsed in a dismissive hail of ridicule.

Paulk, who profited on the miseries of gay men and lesbians at odds with themselves because of their fundamentalist religious beliefs, fully deserves his place in whatever hell he’s created. He seems to have fallen prey to my curse that never fails:

"I wish you upon yourself!"

But if Paulk’s damage to the interests of America’s right-wing Republican moralists was not enough, another slimy, closeted, self-hating conservative has helped make GOP hypocrisy even more evident.

Matthew Glavin was forced to resign last week as president and CEO of the Southeastern Legal Foundation after having been twice charged with public indecency in a Chattahoochee River park, a popular spot for men who regale in outdoor same-sex cruising. Glavin, the legal beagle who’d led major ‘morality’ campaigns against President Bill Clinton, now joins Paulk and other such creeps in the Hall of Hypocrites.

Glavin had most recently been savoring the initial successes his legal organization had initiated to have the U.S. President disbarred from the practice of law in Arkansas. He’d been one of the principals
critiquing Clinton’s testimony about Monica Lewinsky during the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Paula Jones now apparently admits that she’d been the willing pawn of right-wing Republican zealots.

Glavin was a prime defender of former FBI Agent Gary Aldrich, when he’d faced legal challenges for attacking the Clintons in the pages of a now-discredited book.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that Glavin’s Southeastern Legal Foundation has been active in anti-gay crusades as well, helping the Boy Scouts "fend off a court challenge to their anti-gay posture," and leading "a charge against an Atlanta City Hall initiative to provide insurance and other benefits to same-sex partners."

He’d fought the Clinton administration's efforts to use statistical sampling in the U.S. Census and had filed local anti-tax lawsuits. His organization had became a household word among hard-core Republicans for its having led a series of successful court challenges to set-aside programs that benefited minority-and female-owned businesses.

But it was his campaign against Clinton that pleased Hypocrite Glavin most. Like Paulk, he is not only married, but he has children. And, like Paulk, he’s failed miserably—as self-haters usually do—to conduct his life with the kind of discretion we’d expect from one who sharply criticizes others on moral grounds.

Strangely, mainstream media, with the exception of Sunday’s Atlanta Journal Constitution, has, so far, been unconscionably silent about Glavin’s most recent arrest, one in which he’s been accused of masturbating and then fondling an undercover federal agent in a public place.

The South has always been a little-known bastion of tearoom sex. No doubt most Southerners and Northerners vigorously oppose tearooms as cruising spots. But the reason these cruising spots exist is because of the anonymity they provide for married men and others who are, in fact, sadly closeted.

Anybody who lives in a tiny Southern hamlet knows that without tearooms, 90% of the rural Faeries on the one hand, and 75% of the strait-jacketed men who are even remotely attractive on the other, would be up the creek for their quickies.

In rural Georgia, for example, where sex with cows is most certainly the farm boy’s norm, can you imagine how the farm boy’s heart beats excitedly when he gets to visit the one-horse bus station 38 miles distant and, in the tearoom there, inserts his proud growth into a live human receptacle?

Perhaps we should take such things into consideration before waxing too judgmental about Matthew Glavin’s predicament. He is, after all, only a product of society’s ignorance and insincerity. He’s probably a tortured man accepting without question, as he does, the Southern Baptist mores that climb like termites through his brain.

Should we wish that the majesty of the law fall like a guillotine upon any Georgia-farm-boy’s red neck as he sticks his member through the large round hole in the barricade that has been a portal to ecstasy for several generations of farm boys?

The great Shakespearean actor, Sir John Guilgud, recently passed away. But does anybody recall how, nearly fifty years ago, he’d been apprehended in a London subway john? But the British, in one of their more significant displays of civilized behavior, "forgot" and forgave him with a tumultuous ovation when he returned to the stage.

I am similarly willing to forgive Matthew Glavin for hanging out around Glory Hole Land, now that he’s resigned from his prestigious perch and knowing as I do that he was simply following in the closeted footsteps of many another red necked Southern tearoom aficionado.

Who to blame? Why the undercover cops, natch. Southerners, like the British, know that these undercover police chase ‘sexual outlaws’ not out of spite so much as enjoyment: the whole vicarious peep-show through a vent grating with an occasional blow-job accepted in the line of duty. The police know all the spots and always have. The reason they don’t close them with a bang is simple: they’d be closing the door on their own good fun.

Also, they know, suburban fathers in suits and ties would have no place to relieve themselves of the frustrations caused by their role-bound marriages if the tearoom queens awaited them not in the faceless white privacy of the toilets.

Kentuckian Mattachine president, Dick Leitsch, wrote over 25 years ago that a coin box on the stall is any self-respecting tearoom cruiser’s insurance. Was he making a capitalist joke?

How can we ignore the fact that besides Matthew Glavin, there have been Supreme Court appointees, Congressmen of our national government, and top presidential aides caught in public lavs or nearby with men’s protuberances in their orifices?

I once offered my condolences to Congressman Hinson of Mississippi who’d helped to turn the men’s room in the Congressional Office Building into a place of note.

Heaven knows, if the undercover police really became relentless tearoom busybodies, the United States Government might have to restrain them in its own interest. Does anybody remember how LBJ’s personal aide (of 25 years) was discovered three blocks from the White House during election time with his trousers at half mast in the basement bathroom of (horrors) the Young Men’s Christian Association? (Sing it, Village People!)

So, although I rejoice at the fact that another right-wing hypocrite has bitten the dust, I fear for those many others who cruise public parks and tearooms in anonymity because they know that their desires for same-sex fulfillment are unacceptable to their Southern Baptist neighbors.

When the Southern Baptists change their tune about same sex love, I will be more than glad to reconsider the ins and outs of the tearoom etiquette that prevails in their neighborhoods, although I’d never for a moment be so base as to suggest arrest for an act which—if it does not express romantic love, at least expresses adventuresome lust; such a very human quality. And it expresses loneliness, too. Should we arrest lonely persons? Really, it’s not chic.

The wonderful Edward Carpenter (1844-1928) wrote that "a kind of love which is relegated to holes and corners, is the subject of washroom humor, despised, prohibited, outlawed, can hardly be expected to show its best side to the world." He wrote about such matters in the 19th century, which shows that in many locales, things haven’t changed that much.

I liked the way Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson treated Walter Jenkins when he was arrested at that YMCA. They got the cops off his back, told the media he was overworked, and sent him back to Texas to manage their home front empire. They treated their own tearoom cruiser with Southern democrats’ dignity, given the times. But the Republicans, we know, are less forgiving. Now that Matthew Glavin has resigned his post, we can bet he’ll no longer be invited to those fat cat Republican soirées to which he’d grown accustomed.

There was one very funny side-effect to that national tragi-comedy during the presidential campaign of 1964. The most notorious closet conservative of them all, FBI Director J.Edgar Hoover, in ignorance of Walter Jenkins’ reason for ‘convalescing’ after the YMCA episode, sent him a lovely bouquet of flowers. The press found out and laughed at poor J. Edgar some more…ha ha ha, adding to the rumors about him, those he was beating down as though surrounded by rising flames.

But the press laid off on Walter’s tearoom encounter nicely, and Senator Goldwater declined to make the president’s aide a campaign issue. All quite rightly, of course.

And that is why we must never make tearoom cruising a matter for strict regimentation, certainly not arrest. And that is why, because tearoom cruisers are real people in a staid and hypocritical society, and are often quite nice—that we must defend them from police abuse in this sorry, affection-starved upside-down culture.

I’m overjoyed that Matthew Glavin, in more ways than one, has been exposed. But now that he’s resigned his stupid post, I call upon the sovereign state of Georgia to drop all charges against him. Let him carry on his conscience the forgiveness of those whom he has wronged, and let us blame not just his ignorance and his hypocrisy, but that of the culture in which he was reared.

As Presscott Townsend, Boston’s first gay liberationist put it to me:
"It’s the culture we’ve got to change, the culture!"


 Jack Nichols is Senior Editor at GayToday www.gaytoday.badpuppy.com. Jack Nichols is also the author of Men's Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity (Penguin); Welcome to Fire Island: Visions of Cherry Grove & the Pines (St. Martin's Press); and is co-author with Lige Clarke of I Have More Fun With You Than Anybody (St. Martin's Press); and Roommates Can't Always Be Lovers: An Intimate Guide to Male/Male Relationships (St. Martin's Press)



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