So, the one person about whom I haven’t directly spoken much throughout all the Foley news is Mark Foley. There’s some reason for that—as soon as the story broke, Foley whisked himself tout de suite to alcohol rehab and has been thusly cloistered away from the epicenter of the shitstorm he created, while Hastert, Reynolds, et. al. dance in the spotlight.

Late yesterday, Foley’s lawyer made a statement conveying two new admissions by Foley, in addition to his recently revealed alcoholism: 1) He was “molested between ages 13 and 15 by a clergyman.” 2) He’s gay.

And why didn’t he disclose this information before now? “Shame.”

Drunk, abused, gay, and ashamed. Are you feeling sorry for Foley yet?

That may sound like I’m being flippant. I’m not. It’s not easy to be an addict, or a sexual abuse survivor, or a gay man in America (thanks in large part to Foley’s own party). And the obvious and easy comments are being made that most addicts, sexual abuse survivors, and gay men don’t prey on underage kids, making Foley’s excuses pretty damn weak. True enough. I don’t need to drive that point home any further. I will point out, however, that there are addicts, sexual abuse survivors, and gay men and women who are honest and brave enough to openly discuss being addicts, victims, or gay—and Mark Foley, in hiding in his big, boozy, molested, gay closet of shame until his ass got busted doing something most people, no matter what their experience, never do, and wheeling out this information as some sort of defense, has shit all over all of them.

Every addict who has courageously admitted addiction, every sexual abuse victim who has fearlessly discussed his or her molestation or rape, every LGBT man or woman who valiantly stepped out of the closet, without the impetus of a public disgrace, has done their part, consciously or not, to remove the stigma of addiction, surviving sexual exploitation, and homosexuality. They put themselves out there—for judgment, for ridicule, for condemnation—and not only did Mark Foley not do the same; he now feels no compunction about associating addicts, survivors of sexual abuse, and gay men with his criminal predilections, in order to excuse his inexcusable behavior.

If there were something about which Foley should feel shame, it isn’t being an addict, a sexual abuse survivor, or a gay man. It’s about being a cowardly, disingenuous shirker of his own responsibility, who never sought the solace uncoerced admitted membership in these groups provide, but instead uses his reluctantly admitted membership as an explanation for why he’s a dirtbag. And in so doing, he has cast dispersion on every other member.

I’m sorry, truly sorry, that Foley is an alcoholic. I’m sorry, deeply and sympathetically sorry, that Foley was a victim of sexual abuse, in a way only another victim can be. I’m sorry, so sorry, that Foley lives in a country where coming out can still be an intimidating proposition. But I do not feel sorry for him in the way he so clearly wants me to. I have not one single, tiny, infinitesimal speck of sorrow for a man who cravenly endeavors to repackage the cowardice of justification by association as the brave admissions of a man who has overcome his shame.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus