TV & Radio
Former N.J. governor to go on Oprah show
By ANGELA DELLI SANTI, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, who has remained publicly silent since resigning from office two years ago after announcing he was gay, is set to tell his story on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
Winfrey landed the exclusive interview with 49-year-old McGreevey because of her sense of faith and spirituality, according to friends of the former governor. McGreevey is said to be a fan of Winfrey's education and anti-poverty work, two issues to which the former governor is devoting more time in his post-political life.
About a dozen friends accompanied McGreevey and his partner, Australian financial adviser Mark O'Donnell, 42, to Chicago for the taping scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Some segments of the show, including clips from the Union County home McGreevey shares with O'Donnell, were filmed previously.
The interview will air Sept. 19, the same day McGreevey's political memoir, "The Confession," goes on sale.
The book traces his life through two failed marriages, his rise to the governor's office and the sudden, public implosion of his political career.
McGreevey announced his homosexuality and his impending resignation in the same speech on Aug. 12, 2004, declaring that he had been involved in an affair with a man. A Democrat, he was governor from Jan. 15, 2002 to Nov. 15, 2004.
State Sen. Ray Lesniak and Rahway Mayor Jim Kennedy were among those planning to attend the taping of the Winfrey show.
Lesniak, who was interviewed by Winfrey's staff in preparation for the program, said they were interested in how McGreevey is now compared with how he was as governor.
"They are two different people," Lesniak said. "The first person was very guarded and very concerned about how he was perceived. He was driven to achieve and was somewhat uncomfortable.
"The McGreevey I know now has accepted who he is and has shared that with the rest of the world," he said. "He is comfortable with himself and concerned about being authentic to himself and his beliefs."
Washington Post Editorial
It's a Boy!
The little prince lets Japan off the hook -- for now.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006; Page A22
THE BIRTH of a child is always a joyous occasion, but the birth of a 5-pound, 10-ounce son to Japanese Prince Akishino and his wife, Princess Kiko, has been a cause for particular celebration there for a single reason: the baby's gender. The baby is the first boy to be born in the imperial household in 41 years, thereby allowing the country to sidestep, at least for now, an emotional national debate about whether to permit a female to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne. As the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun exulted, "The birth of the little prince has completely erased the dark mood of Japanese worried about the nation's future."
Our best wishes to the family, but it's too bad the arrival of the little prince is letting the country and its archaic system of royal succession off the hook. The baby had hardly had his first diaper changed when politicians rushed to postpone consideration of a measure that would have allowed female succession; Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife, Princess Masako, have a 4-year-old daughter.
It's a bit odd to complain that the rules of any particular monarchy are outmoded; in this democratic age, the entire institution is anachronistic. Yet the Japanese emperor has evolved with the times: Once revered as a living god, the emperor renounced his divine status after World War II to become, as the Japanese constitution provides, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." Symbols matter, and in a country whose institutions and society remain pervaded with sexism, a female emperor could hardly be a better one.
NY's gay baths become sex clubs of last resort
By Matthew Verrinder
Mon Sep 11, 8:24 AM ET
Wearing just a small white towel and a smile, Bob prowls the dark halls of the East Side Club, looking into dozens of its closet-sized rooms and hoping eye contact with another man will lead to sex.
"It's better than going to a bar and taking your chances," said Bob, a 46-year-old garden supplies salesman from New Jersey who declined to give his last name. "You always know something is going to happen here."
For some gay men, the city's two 24-hour bathhouses -- the East Side Club in midtown and the West Side Club in Chelsea -- live on as a spot for sex without strings despite a recent trend toward more men hooking up online.
They rent small rooms to have sex in at a cost of $21 for four hours, after paying a nominal annual membership fee.
Bathhouses, pushed to the fringes of the gay scene in the mid-1980s when the city shuttered most of them to stem the spread of AIDS, still offer patrons something a bar or the Internet cannot -- near-guaranteed sex in a safe environment.
"In a bathhouse you meet a person in the flesh in a relatively safe and clean environment where everyone has the same agenda," said Bill Stackhouse, director of the Institute for Gay Men's Health at the Gay Men's Health Crisis, a group that fights AIDS in New York City.
"It's safer than the Internet, where all you have is a photo and maybe some video footage before you go to someone's home," he said.
Operating a business for the purpose of sex violates state law. City officials say they do inspect the bathhouses, but they are not legally allowed to look inside the rented rooms.
"We do not access private areas within establishments, 'private' meaning closed-door, to make observation," said Isaac Weisfuse, deputy commissioner for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Several officials, asked why the city effectively turns a blind eye to the bathhouses, declined comment. The office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg also declined comment.
AN ITCH TO SCRATCH
The two clubs are owned by businessman Ancil Brown, who declined an interview request, but managers at the clubs allowed a reporter to tour the facilities and interview patrons.
Nearing midnight on a Saturday at the East Side Club, dozens of middle-aged men roamed the labyrinthine hallways, hoping to have anonymous sex. Downstairs, five men waited to get in from the lobby, looking as ordinary as any group of suburban fathers waiting at a dental office.
Peter, 57, a construction manager with silver hair, goes to the East Side Club once every two weeks and has for years.
"You have that itch, and it feels good to scratch it," said Peter, who also did not want to give his last name. "There is still a place to go for it. You should see this place at 6 (p.m.) before all of the guys go home to their wives."
Both clubs smell of chlorine and loud techno music bounces off the ceiling and walls of the thin, dark hallways, which are lined with about 100 rooms and separate steam rooms and showers. They are both housed anonymously in Manhattan office blocks, identified only by discreet entries on the tenant directory inside the lobby of each building.
Customers can rent lockers or rooms, which are about 6 by 8 feet, of which a bed with a 2-inch-thick (5-cm-thick) mattress takes up more than half. A small lamp dimly lights the rooms.
In the 1970s, there were many such bathhouses in New York, and musical acts like Bette Midler and Barry Manilow would perform at them to crowds that arrives after a night of hard partying at nightclubs.
In the old versions, people would "talk to each other and socialize" in lounges and snack bars, and sex "was part of the agenda instead of the whole agenda," like it is now, GMHC's Stackhouse said.
"There was a time before AIDS when the baths were more integrated into the gay male community," Stackhouse said. "Now they're looked upon as some last resort thing that you do privately and don't talk to your friends about."
Despite popular notions that the clubs are havens for illicit drug use and the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, they are also a place where a captive audience can be taught about safe sex, activists say.
"At least bathhouses are public and a place where you can educate people about disease prevention," said John Riley, of the New York chapter of ACT UP, an AIDS activist group.
"You can't get to them in other places," he said, referring to private sex parties and hooking up online, which have flourished, partly due to the lack of bathhouses.
Volunteers from GMHC visit the clubs twice monthly and hand out condoms and brochures on safe sex, said Mark Kornegay, a GMHC community health specialist.
"Almost all of them take the condoms," Kornegay said.
In 10 recent conversations with bathhouse patrons, none said they engage in unprotected sex. The clubs give out condoms and towels when customers sign in.
However, Peter said that he has encountered many men at the bathhouses who would rather not use protection.
Unprotected sex "seems to be coming back into vogue," he said. "There's a lot of advertising for it in the magazines and demand for it in the personals. I don't know why you'd put your life on the line."
Gay Republican fights to hold Minn. seat
By PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press Writer
Monday, September 11, 2006
State Sen. Paul Koering once fit neatly into the profile of socially conservative central Minnesota: abortion opponent, supporter of gun and property rights, outspoken supporter of veterans.
But last year, Koering was the only Republican in the Senate to join Democrats in opposing an effort to force a floor vote on a constitutional gay marriage ban.
That stirred up long-standing rumors at the Capitol about Koering's own sexuality, and within a few days he revealed that he was gay — a move the area's GOP chairman called "political suicide."
In Tuesday's primary, he will find out if that is true.
"There's going to be a lot of people watching to see if the voters can look at my record and say, 'He's doing a good job,'" said the 41-year-old Koering. "Or, will they look at my personal life and say, 'I can't support him because of that.' If that's how they're going to vote, I may be out of a job."
Kevin Goedker, a city councilman who's challenging Koering in Tuesday's GOP primary, says it isn't because his opponent is gay. But he's making an explicit appeal to voters whose values guide them in the voting booth.
"People of high moral values and integrity must rally and support candidates who will work to bring ethics, morals and family values back into government," Goedker's father, Gene, his campaign treasurer, wrote in a fundraising letter.
Patrick Sammon, executive vice president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, said it's important to the future of the Republican Party that politicians like Koering can find support.
"If the Republicans want to be a lasting majority party in America, they can't just shut out gays and lesbians," Sammon said.
The Victory Fund, which raises campaign funds for gay candidates, said there are currently 325 openly gay elected officials in the country, out of about 511,000 elected offices. The group doesn't break that figure down by party, but "the vast majority of them are Democrats," spokesman Denis Dison said.
"We are seeing more instances of openly gay Republicans, but there are still going to be significant parts of the country where that's going to be difficult to pull off," Dison said.
Like Koering, most prominent gay Republicans came out only after they were in office, including U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (news, bio, voting record) of Arizona and former U.S. Rep. Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin.
It doesn't help that a significant portion of the Republican base is dead-set against legal recognition of gay relationships, the leading front in recent years in the battle for gay rights. More than any other issues, those opposed to Koering's re-election cite his decision to break from the party line on gay marriage.
Indeed, since that 2005 vote, he has changed course, siding with fellow Senate Republicans in more recent efforts to get a statewide vote on the definition of marriage. Koering said it's what the majority of his constituents want, though he won't say how he'd cast his own ballot if it ever comes to a statewide vote.
Koering is not without his supporters among local Republicans, and in April he won the party's endorsement after seven rounds of balloting. Goedker decided to run in the primary anyway.
The winner will face Democrat Terry Sluss, a county commissioner, in the November election.
Goedker said he wouldn't vote for Koering in the general election.
"In my opinion I think it'd be tough to be gay and to be somebody I'd vote for based on some of the life choices they make," Goedker said. "To me it's a more liberal point of view."
On the Net:
Log Cabin Republicans: http://online.logcabin.org