"Husband?" I had been unaware that Stanley Rosenberg was gay -- let alone openly gay. So much for my keeping up with the news. So much for being any closer to figuring out how homosexual couples determine who is "husband" and who is "wife," a small matter I have always wondered about.BOSTON — The Democratic leader of the Massachusetts Senate said Thursday he supports an independent investigation into allegations that his husband sexually assaulted and harassed several men, including some with business before the Legislature.Senate President Stan Rosenberg, in a statement, also promised to recuse himself from any matters related to the investigation or the allegations reported by The Boston Globe.The newspaper said it spoke with four men who said Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner, sexually assaulted and harassed them over the past few years. Three of the men told the Globe that Hefner grabbed their genitals and one said Hefner kissed him against his will.[Daily Hampshire Gazette]
And reading the story took me back in time to a bar in Berlin where a band played Dixieland and I had a stammtisch or regular table. I was sitting there some 50-plus years ago when a guy I knew vaguely from the top-secret army unit we both worked for pulled up a chair. He was a nice-looking guy whose name I've forgotten. I assumed was letting off army steam, as I was, by consuming beer. As we chatted aimlessly about this and that, it came home to me that he was drunker than I was, an assessment I had confirmed when suddenly he blurted out that he was homosexual and scared shitless about it. I was aware that the admission might in fact might be an invitation (I had grown up in Greenwich Village in New York where homosexuality was part of the tableau), but the anguish on his face was compelling. Homosexuality, in our unit, was a distinct no-no: There was too much potential for being outed and giving away the secrets our unit strove to keep secret. Anyone admitting he was gay risked being sent to a punishment post ... counting snowflakes in Alaska or some such. Not ratting out a homosexual likewise risked some punishment, so I was immediately on guard.
I grew up in a world where homosexuality was aberrant. Men went with women. Women went with men. That was the social norm. I couldn't imagine choosing a male partner over a female one, but that was just my enduring bias. Anyway, the information I was being given was ... off the social rails. But it was the look on his face .... It was as if he had been carrying a painful tumor and simply had to get it off his chest. I determined then and there never to mention what he had told me, whether it was a camouflaged pass or not. The pain on his face was too great ... like being forever an outsider because you had five fingers on one hand. The judgment was horrific and cruel and intrusive and totally fubar ... fucked-up-beyond-all-recognition. Why would I want to do that to anyone? I was jolted.
And yet I was jolted today as well to feel the old up-bringing floating to the surface. "Husband?" How wonderful that I have been left behind, left in the dust. Having passed through a time when homosexuality was out of bounds both legally and morally -- and not my taste in any event -- I had come into an era where gay and straight simply flowed into society and was subject to the same manipulations and wonderment that any relationship might evince.
Time passes and things change -- sometimes actually for the better. But it is hard to think that I might ever have bought into something less than equality ... in love or anything else.
Oh well, live and (possibly) learn.