In Case You Missed It: Smile, Youve Been Propositioned!
January 13, 1999
6408 Edsall Road, Alexandria, Va., 22312
By Karen Murray
A couple of days before Christmas, the grand old man of area gay activism, Frank
Kameny, stated during a radio interview that he personally propositioned the entire adult
population of the state of Virginia, with particular emphasis on all prosecutors, police
chiefs and police officers, and judges in the state.
It is not, one gathers, that Kameny hopes to become a poster boy for Viagra, so much as
to point up the vestigiality, indeed idiocy, of the Virginia sodomy statute that, although
rarely enforced, is still trotted out every time some anti-gay faction wants to take pot
shots at a gay-friendly policy for "promoting illegal activities."
Give me strength. For anyone who cares, the state statute makes no distinction between
genders when it prohibits (brace yourself) acts of oral or anal sex even in the privacy of
(I dont know why Im worrying if Ive offended someone. The
homosexuality-is-a-sin crowd loves to dwell on the anatomical details. Karen Jo Gounaud
and Bill Wheaton have done so, right here in this space.)
A separate law makes it a crime to even invite another person to commit
"sodomy," a thought to ponder for anyone whose idea of a good put-down is
"Hey, kiss my ...."
Well, moving right along. The thing about Kameny, you gotta love him, is I think he
would probably take on anyone to prove his point, which is that only a few
shorts-in-a-twist characters really think it would be worth the states time
enforcing a law about crimes against nature when nature has not lodged any complaints.
(Ken Starr might, but at least the Oval Office is in D.C.)
Kameny has been in there slugging since the 60s, his activist debut having
involved an embarrassingly gracious and well-dressed picket line of gay citizens lobbying
in front of the White House for an end to anti-gay federal employment policies.
The guy has attitude that makes the ACT-UP crowd look amateurish. Offered pity in a
60s radio interview for never having had a "truly satisfying heterosexual
experience," Kameny shot back: "I feel sorry for you because youve never
had a truly satisfying homosexual experience!"
In other words, to each his own. (Said the old maid as she kissed the cow, which was
the tag line my mom always added to that, but well leave that for another day.)
Nature isnt complaining, and you arent either unless youre excessively
concerned with other peoples sexual mechanics.
The shtick with Kamenys solicitation is that he hopes to make the likely failure
to prosecute a springboard for taking the law off the books. Virginia can do without laws
of a type which, nationwide, tend to be invoked selectively in a harassing way.
If you really want to whammy a prostitute of either sex, or a child molester, you throw
in the accusation that their activities included offers, solicitations or acts of sodomy.
Child molesting had better carry enough penalties on its own, hookers bear the burden of
societys hypocrisy about sex, and divorce cases are messy enough without
someones aggrieved spouse charging that he asked her to ... and so on.
If you think these laws arent broken on every block in suburbia, youre
kidding yourself about the lives of heterosexuals. Oh, stop being offended. Youve
heard enough from the conservative columnists about things like "gay bowel
Interviewed by the Washington Blade, Arlington Commonwealths Attorney Richard
Trodden said he has no plans to prosecute Kamenys offer (in any sense) but that he
doubts that dereliction will form grounds for repeal in a state as conservative as
Personally I think Kameny should solicit members of the legislature, or ask them to
take a polygraph about their own experiences, this being a hot issue in electoral politics
Whatever the answers, if the Republicans who prevail in Richmond really want to get a
name as the party of "less government," rather than just "less taxes,"
this is a good place to start.
Meanwhile, hmm, I guess the line forms to the left. Frank, I love ya.
Karen Murray lives in Arlington. Her column appears Wednesdays.
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