Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Persona - Οι Διάλογοι

Αφιερωμένο στον Γ.

You wanted
to talk with me, doctor?

Have you been to see
Mrs. Vogler yet, Sister Alma?

No, not yet.

Let me explain her situation

and the reason why
you have been hired to care for her.

Mrs. Vogler is an actress,
as you know.

During her last performance
of Electra,

she fell silent
and looked around as if in surprise.

She was silent
for over a minute.

She apologized afterward,
saying she had got the urge to laugh.

The next day the theater rang,

as Mrs. Vogler
had not come to rehearsals.

The maid found her still in bed.

She was awake
but did not talk or move.

This condition has now lasted
for three months.

She has had all sorts of tests.

She's healthy
both mentally and physically.

It's not even some kind
of hysterical reaction.

Any questions, Sister Alma?

Well, then,
you can go to Mrs. Vogler now.

How do you do, Mrs. Vogler?

I am Sister Alma.

I'm here to take care of you.

Maybe I should tell you
a little about myself.

I'm years old and engaged.

I graduated from nursing school
two years ago.

My parents have a farm
in the country.

My mother was also a nurse
until she got married.

I should go get
your dinner tray.

Fried liver and fruit salad.

It looked tasty.

Another pillow?
Is that good?

Sister Alma,
what's your first impression?

I don't know
what to say, doctor.

Her face looks soft,
almost childish.

Then you see her eyes...

She has a mean look, I think.

- I don't know. I shouldn't...
- What were you going to say?

I thought I should say no
to this case.

Did something frighten you?

No, not exactly.

Perhaps Mrs. Vogler
needs an older person

with more life experience.

- I might not be able to handle her.
- Handle? In what way?

- Mentally.
- Mentally?

If Mrs. Vogler's silence
and immobility are her decision...


That shows great mental strength.

I might not be able to cope.

I thought that you might want
to see the sunset.

Shall I turn on the radio?

There is a play.

I'm sorry, my love.

Oh, you have to forgive me.

I want nothing
but your forgiveness.

Forgive me and I can...

What are you laughing at, Mrs. Vogler?
Is the actress so funny?

What do you know about mercy?
What do you know?

What do you know about mercy?

Mrs. Vogler,
I don't understand those things.

I'm interested in film and theater,
but I don't go very often.

I have a tremendous
admiration for artists.

I think that art is of enormous
importance in people's lives,

especially for those
who have problems.

I shouldn't talk about these things
with you, Mrs. Vogler.

I'm skating on thin ice.

Let's see if there's some music.

Is that all right?

Good night, then, Mrs. Vogler.
Sleep well!


It's funny.

You can go about
as you please...

...do almost anything.

I'll marry Karl-Henrik
and have a couple of children,

which I'll have to raise.

All of this is predestined.
It's inside me.

It's nothing to think about.

It's a safe feeling.

I have a job
that I like and enjoy.

That's good, too...

...but in another way.

But it's good.


I wonder
what's really wrong with her.

Elisabet Vogler.


Mrs. Vogler, would you like me
to open the letter?

Shall I read it?

Shall I read it to you?

"Dearest Elisabet,

"Since I'm not allowed to see you,
I'm writing to you.

You don't have to read my letter.
You can ignore it."

"I cannot help
seeking contact with you this way.

"I'm haunted
by a constant question...

"Have I hurt you in any way?

Have I unknowingly hurt you?"

"Is there some terrible
misunderstanding between us?"

Do you really
want me to go on?

"I thought we were happy.

We have never been so close."

"Do you remember saying,

"'I'm beginning to understand
what it means to be married'?

'You have taught me..."'

I can't read it.

"'You have taught..."'

Now I see.

"'You have taught me
that we have to see each other

"'as two anxious children,

"'filled with good will
and the best intentions,

but ru..."'

Now I see.

"'... ruled by powers
that we can only partially control.'

Do you remember
saying all that?"

"We went for a walk
in the woods,

and you stopped
and grabbed the belt of my coat."

There is a photo with the letter.

A photo of your son.
I don't know if...

Do you want it, Mrs. Vogler?

He looks terribly cute.

Elisabet, I don't think
there's any point

in your staying at the hospital.

It's just hurting you to be here.

Since you don't want to go home,
I suggest you and Sister Alma

stay at my summer house
by the sea.

Don't you think I understand?

The hopeless dream of being.
Not seeming, but being.

In every waking moment
aware, alert.

The tug of war... what you are
with others and who you really are.

A feeling of vertigo

and a constant hunger
to be finally exposed.

To be seen through,
cut down...

even obliterated.

Every tone of voice a lie.
Every gesture false.

Every smile a grimace.

Commit suicide?

That's unthinkable.

You don't do things like that.

But you can refuse to move
and be silent.

Then, at least,
you're not lying.

You can shut yourself in,
shut out the world.

Then you don't
have to play any roles,

show any faces,
make false gestures.

You'd think so...

...but reality is diabolical.

Your hiding-place
isn't watertight.

Life trickles in everywhere.

You're forced to react.

Nobody asks if it's real or not,

if you're honest or a liar.

That's only important
at the theater,

perhaps not even there.

Elisabet, I understand why
you're silent, why you don't move.

Your lifelessness
has become a fantastic part.

I understand and I admire you.

I think you should play
this part until it's done...

...until it's no longer interesting.

Then you can leave it,

as you leave all your roles.

Mrs. Vogler and Sister Alma

move into the doctor's
summer house.

The seaside stay
agrees very well with the actress.

Her former apathy gives way
to long walks, fishing,

cooking, letter-writing,
and other diversions.

Sister Alma enjoys the seclusion
of the countryside

and takes great care
of her patient.

It's bad luck to compare hands.

Elisabet, can I read
a bit of my book to you?

Or am I disturbing you?
Listen to this...

"The anxiety
we carry with us,

"all our broken dreams,
the inexplicable cruelty,

"the fear of death,

the painful insight
into our earthly condition..."

"...have worn out our hope
of a divine salvation.

"The cries
of our faith and doubt

"against the darkness
and the silence

"are terrible proof

of our Ioneliness and fear."

Do you think it's like that?

I don't believe that.

To change...
but I'm so lazy.

And it makes me feel guilty.

Karl-Henrik always scolds me
for not having any ambitions.

He says I'm like a zombie.

I think it's unfair.

I graduated
with the highest marks in my class.

Maybe he means something else.


I'm sorry...

You know...

At the hospital,
where I graduated,

there is a home
for old nurses,

ones who've been nurses all
of their lives and lived for their work...

always in uniform...

and they live there.

Imagine having a calling that strong
that you devote your life to it...

Believing in something,
doing something.

To think your life has meaning.

I like that.

Sticking to it whatever happens.

I think you should be
of importance to others.

Do you believe that?

I know it sounds na¨ï¨ve,
but I believe in that.

What a downpour!

Yes, he was married.

We had an affair for five years.

Then he got tired, of course.

I was so in love,
and he was the first.

It was like a prolonged pain...

...Iong periods of pain
and short moments of...

I started thinking about it all
because you've taught me to smoke.

He smoked a lot.

In hindsight, it's banal, of course.
Sort of like pulp fiction.

In a strange way,
it was never real.

I don't know how
to describe it.

I was never real to him.

But my pain was real,
that's for sure.

In some way, that was a part of it,
in some nauseating way,

as if it should be like that.

Even the things
we said to each other.

People tell me
that I'm a good listener.

Isn't that strange?

Nobody ever bothered to listen to me.
Not the way you do now.

You listen.

I think you're the first person
to listen to me.

It can't be interesting.
You could read a book instead.

Look at me, talking.
I hope it doesn't irritate you.

It feels so good to talk.
It feels warm and nice.

I've never been in a mood
like this before.

I've always wanted a sister.
I only have brothers.

Seven of them. Strange, eh?
And then I turned up.

Boys have surrounded me
all my life, as long as I can remember.

But I like boys.

But you would know that
with your experience as an actress.

I like Karl-Henrik so much, but...

You probably only love once.

I'm faithful to him.

There are opportunities
in my profession, you know.

Karl-Henrik and I had rented
a cottage by the sea once.

It was in June,
and we were all alone.

One day Karl-Henrik
had gone into town.

I went to the beach on my own.

It was a warm and nice day.

There was another girl there.

She had come
from another island

because our beach
was sunnier and more secluded.

We lay there
completely naked and sunbathed...

...dozing off and on,
putting sunscreen on.

We had silly straw hats on.

Mine had a blue ribbon.

I lay there...

Iooking out at the landscape,
at the sea and the sun.

It was kind of funny.

Suddenly I saw two figures
on the rocks above us.

They hid
and peeped out occasionally.

"Two boys are looking at us,"
I said to the girl.

Her name was Katarina.

"Let them look," she said,
and turned over on her back.

I had a funny feeling.

I wanted to jump up
and put my suit on,

but I just lay there on my stomach
with my bottom in the air,

unembarrassed, totally calm.

And Katarina was next to me

with her breasts and big thighs.

She was just giggling.

I noticed that the boys
were coming closer.

They just stood there
looking at us.

I noticed they were very young.

The boldest one
approached us...

...and squatted down
next to Katarina.

He pretended to be busy
picking his toes.

I felt very strange.

Suddenly Katarina said to him,

"Hey, you, why don't you
come over here?"

Then she took his hand and helped him
take off his jeans and shirt.

Suddenly he was on top of her.

She guided him in
and held his butt.

The other boy
just sat and watched.

I heard Katarina whisper
in the boy's ear and laugh.

His face was right next to mine.

It was red and swollen.

Suddenly I turned and said,

"Aren't you coming to me, too?"

And Katarina said,
"Go to her now."

He pulled out of her and...

then fell on top of me,
completely hard.

He grabbed my breast.

It hurt so much!

I was overwhelmed
and came almost immediately.

Can you believe it?

I wanted to tell him to be careful
not to make me pregnant...

...when he came.

I felt something
I'd never felt in my life...

how his sperm
was shooting inside me.

He held my shoulders
and bent backwards.

I came over and over.

Katarina lay there watching
and held him from behind.

After he came,
she took him in her arms

and used his hand
to make herself come.

When she came,
she screamed like a banshee.

The three of us started laughing.

We called to the other boy,
who was sitting on the slope.

His name was Peter.

He seemed confused and was
shivering there in the sunshine.

Katarina unbuttoned his pants
and started to play with him.

And when he came,
she took him in her mouth.

He bent down
and kissed her back.

She turned around,
took his head in both hands,

and gave him her breast.

The other boy got so excited
that he and I started all over again.

It was just as nice as before.

Then we had a swim
and went our separate ways.

When I came home, Karl-Henrik
was already back from town.

We had dinner
and some red wine.

Then we had sex.

It had never been that good,
before or after.

Can you understand that?

And I got pregnant, of course.

studying to be a doctor,

took me to a colleague
who carried out the abortion.

We were both pleased.
We didn't want to have children.

Not then, anyway.

It doesn't make any sense.

None of it fits together.

You feel guilty for little things.

Can you understand that?

And what happens to everything
that you make up your mind to do?

Is it necessary to do it all?

Is it possible
to be one and the same person

at the same time?
I mean, two people?

Oh, Lord, it's so silly.

No reason to start crying.

I'll get a handkerchief.

It's almost morning.

And it's still raining.

Imagine, talking incessantly.

I've been talking and you've
been listening. How boring for you.

What could possibly interest you
about my life?

I should be like you.

You know what I thought
after seeing your movie that night?

When I came home
and looked in the mirror, I thought,

"But we look alike."

Don't misunderstand me.
You're more beautiful.

But somehow... I think I could
change myself into you if I tried.

I mean, inside.

You could be me, just like that.

But your soul would be too big.
It would stick out everywhere!

Go to bed. Otherwise,
you'll fall asleep at the table.

I have to go to bed now
or I'll fall asleep at the table.

That would be uncomfortable.

Good night.


Did you speak to me last night?

Were you in my room?

Shall I take your mail, too?

My dear,
I could live like this forever.

Silent, living a secluded life,
reducing my needs,

feeling my battered soul
finally starting to smooth itself out.

Alma takes care of me,
spoils me in the most touching way.

I believe that she likes it here
and that she's very fond of me...

perhaps even in love
in an unaware and enchanting way.

In any case,
it's very interesting studying her.

Sometimes she cries
over past sins...

an orgy with a strange boy
and a subsequent abortion.

She claims that her perceptions

do not correspond
with her actions.

You're reading a play.

That's a healthy sign.
I'll tell the doctor.

Do you think we'll leave soon?

I'm starting to miss the city.
Aren't you?

Would you like
to make me really happy?

I know it's a sacrifice,
but right now I could use your help.

Nothing dangerous.

I just want you to talk to me.

Nothing special.

We could talk about anything...
what to have for dinner,

if you think the water
is cold after the rain,

if it's too cold to go swimming.

Just talk for a few minutes.
One minute.

You could read aloud,
just say a couple of words.

I have to try not to get angry.
You remain silent.

That's your prerogative,
but now I need you to talk to me.

Dearest, please,
can't you just say one word?

I knew you would refuse.

You can't know how I feel.

I thought that great artists
had great compassion for people...

...that they created
through a great compassion

and a need to help.

That was stupid.

You have used me.
For what, I don't know.

Now that you don't need me
anymore, you throw me away.

Oh, yes,
I hear how false it sounds...

"You used me
and then you threw me away."

That's how it is, every word.
And then these glasses!

You've hurt me badly.

You've laughed at me
behind my back.

Yes, I read the letter
that you wrote to the doctor.

Yes, I did, because it wasn't sealed,
and I read all of it.

You made me talk.

You made me talk about things
I've never told anybody.

And you told.
What a study, eh?

You, you...

You're going to talk!

If you have something
to say, goddamn it...

No, don't do it!

That scared you, didn't it?

For a second,
you were really scared, right?

A real fear of death, huh?

"Alma has gone crazy,"
you thought.

What kind of a person are you?

Or maybe you thought,
"I'll remember that face,

that tone of voice,
that expression."

I'm going to give you something
you won't forget!

You're laughing, are you?

It's not that simple for me.

Not so funny, either.

But you have always
your laughter.

Does it have to be like this?

Is it really important
that you don't lie, that you tell the truth,

talk with a genuine
tone of voice?

Can you live
without talking freely?

Lie and make excuses?

Isn't it better to give yourself
permission to be lazy and lie?

Perhaps you get better
if you just be the way you are.

No, you don't understand.

You don't understand
what I'm saying.

You're unapproachable.

The doctor said you're healthy,
but I wonder about your madness.

You're acting healthy so well
that everyone believes you.

Everyone but me,
because I know how rotten you are.

Look at me behaving like this.


Elisabet, forgive me.

Oh, my God,
I behaved like an idiot.

I don't know what came over me.
I'm here to help you.

It was that awful letter.

I was so disappointed.

You asked me
to talk about myself.

It felt so good. You seemed
so kind and understanding.

I had been drinking.
It felt so good to talk about it all.

I was flattered that a great actress
like you bothered to listen.

Somehow I thought it would be nice
if it was of some use to you.

But it is so awful.
It's sheer exhibitionism.

Elisabet, I want you to...
I want you to forgive me.

I care for you so much.
You mean so much to me.

I've learned so much from you.
Let's not part as enemies.

You don't want to forgive me
because you're too proud!

You don't want to give in
because you don't think it's necessary.

I won't...
I won't...

... doesn't speak, doesn't listen,
can't understand...


What means... can't use...
to make listen?


When you sleep,
your face is relaxed...

...your mouth
is swollen and ugly.

There's a mean wrinkle
on your forehead.

You smell of sleep and tears.

I can see the pulse
on your neck.

It has a scar
you normally cover with makeup.


He's calling again.

I'll find out
what he wants from us...

...out here,
far away here in our solitude.


I'm sorry if I frightened you.

I'm not Elisabet.

I have no demands.

I didn't want to disturb you.
Don't you think I understand?

The doctor has explained things.

But it's hard to explain
to your little boy.

I do the best I can.

There's something deep down,
difficult to get a grip on.

You love somebody,
or say you do...

...it's tangible, like words.

Mr. Vogler, I'm not your wife.

You are also loved.
You form a bond.

It gives you security,
a chance to endure, doesn't it?

How can I say it all
without losing myself?

Without boring you?

I love you as much as ever.

No. Don't worry, my love.

We have each other.
We trust each other.

We know each other's thoughts.
We love each other.

That's how it is. Isn't it?

More important is the effort.
Not what we accomplish, right?

To see each other as children,

tormented and helpless,
Ionely children.

Tell your little boy
that his mother will be back soon...

...that Mommy has been ill,
but she longs for her little boy.

Remember to buy a toy for him.

Tell him it's a present from Mommy.
Don't forget.

I have such
a great tenderness for you.

It's almost unbearable.

I don't know what to do
with my tenderness.

I live on your tenderness.

Elisabet, is it good for you with me?
Is it nice for you?

You're a wonderful lover.
You know that.

My dearest!

Give me a sedative,
throw me away.

No, I can't go on anymore...

My darling...

Leave me alone!
It's shameful, all of it.

Leave me alone!

I'm cold and rotten
and indifferent.

It's all lies and imitation.

What have you got there?

What are you hiding
under your hand?

Let me see.

It's the picture of your little boy,
the one you tore up.

We have to talk about it.

Tell me now, Elisabet.

Well, then, I will.

It was an evening
at a party, wasn't it?

It was late and rather noisy.

In the early hours,
someone said to you...

"Elisabet, you have everything
as a woman and as an artist,

but you lack motherliness."

You laughed because
you thought it was ridiculous...

...but you couldn't stop thinking
about what he had said.

You grew more worried...

...so you let your husband
make you pregnant.

You wanted to be a mother.

When you knew it was definite,
you became afraid,

afraid of responsibility,
afraid of being tied down,

afraid to leave the theater...

...afraid of pain,
afraid of dying,

afraid of your swelling body.

But all the time you acted,

played the part
of the happy expectant mother.

And everybody said,
"She has never been this beautiful."

You tried several times
to get rid of the fetus.

But you failed.

When you knew it was inevitable,
you started to hate the child

and wished it would be stillborn.

You wished
that the baby would be dead.

You wanted a dead child.

It was a long and difficult delivery.

You suffered for days.

The baby was delivered
with forceps.

You looked with disgust
at your screaming child

and whispered,
"Can't you die soon? Can't you die?"

But he survived.

The boy screamed
day and night...

...and you hated him.

You were afraid.
You felt guilty.

In the end, relatives and a nanny
took care of the boy,

and you could leave your sickbed
and return to the theater.

But the suffering wasn't over.

The boy was seized by a massive
and unfathomable love for his mother.

You resisted desperately

because you felt
that you could not return it.

You try and try...

...but the meetings with him
are cruel and awkward.

You can't do it.

You're cold and indifferent.

And he looks at you.

He loves you, and he's soft,

and you want to hit him
for not leaving you alone.

You think he's repulsive,
with his thick lips and ugly body

and his moist and pleading eyes.

You think he's repulsive,
and you're afraid.

What are you hiding
under your hand?

Let me see.

It's the picture of your little boy,
the one you tore up.

We have to talk about it.

Tell me now, Elisabet.

Well, then, I will.

It was an evening
at a party, wasn't it?

It was late and rather noisy.

In the early hours,
someone said to you...

"Elisabet, you have everything
as a woman and as an artist..."

"...but you lack motherliness."

You laughed because
you thought it was ridiculous...

...but you couldn't stop thinking
about what he had said.

You grew more worried...

...so you let your husband
make you pregnant.

You wanted to be a mother.

When you knew it was definite,
you became afraid...

...afraid of responsibility,
afraid of being tied down,

afraid to leave the theater...

...afraid of pain,
afraid of dying,

afraid of your swelling body.

But all the time you acted,

played the part
of the happy expectant mother.

And everybody said,
"She has never been this beautiful."

You tried several times
to get rid of the fetus.

But you failed.

When you knew
it was inevitable...

...you started to hate the child...

...and wished
it would be stillborn.

You wished
that the baby would be dead.

You wanted a dead child.

It was a long and difficult delivery.

You suffered for days.

The baby was delivered
with forceps.

You looked with disgust
at your screaming child

and whispered,
"Can't you die soon?

Can't you die?"

The boy screamed
day and night,

and you hated him.

You were afraid.
You felt guilty.

In the end, relatives and a nanny
took care of the boy...

...and you could leave your sickbed
and return to the theater.

But the suffering was not over.

The boy was seized by a massive
and unfathomable love for his mother.

You resisted desperately

because you felt
that you could not return it.

You try and try...

...but the meetings with him
are cruel and awkward.

You can't do it.

You're cold and indifferent.

And he looks at you.

He loves you, and he's soft,

and you want to hit him
for not leaving you alone.

You think he's repulsive,
with his thick lips and ugly body

and his moist and pleading eyes.

You think he's repulsive,
and you're afraid.


I'm not like you.
I don't feel the same as you.

I'm Sister Alma.
I'm only here to help you.

I'm not Elisabet Vogler.

You're Elisabet Vogler.

I would like to have...

I love...

I haven't...

I've learned quite a lot.

Let's see how long
I can hold out.

I'll never be like you.
I change all the time.

You can do what you want.
You won't get to me.

Say nothing...
cut a candle.

Not now. No, no.

Warning and timeless.

When it had to happen,
it didn't, so... failure.

You stand there,
but I should be.

Not inward, not close...

Say collect and advise others.

Desperate, maybe...

I take... yes,
but what is the closest...

What is it called?

Us, we, me, I...

Many words and disgust,

unbearable pain,
the nausea.

Try to listen to me.

Repeat after me...



No, nothing.



That's right.

That's how it should be.

Goodnight. Ta ta. Goodnight. Goodnight


PHLEBAS the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Γυναίκες σύζυγοι με διπλή ζωή


When Nikki was 20 years old she thought she'd met the man of her dreams. She married at age 22, but soon after her wedding things started to change. Nikki began sleeping with a woman.

"I was playing that push-me-pull-you game. I'm gay. I'm not gay. I want to be with my husband. I don't want to be married," Nikki says.

It was after her husband returned home from a business trip that Nikki finally confessed her true feelings. "I remember he stopped in the middle of us making love and said, 'What is wrong with you?' And I said, 'I think I have feelings for a woman.'"

Nikki says she and her husband tried to work it out, but in the end it really wasn't about him, it was about her. "My therapist handed me a book and it was a book about women with two lives. And it gave me three choices," Nikki says. "I could stay in my marriage and be unhappy, I could stay in my marriage and carry on an affair, or I could let both of us go and live my truth. I chose that third option."

Finding true love »

Nikki met Carole at a dinner party, and says it was love at first sight. "It was truly a scene from a movie. The room stopped," Nikki says. "There's like this aura around Carole and I'm hearing everything, you know [in slow motion]."

Carole, who felt an instant attraction to Nikki as well, says she had also struggled to come to terms with her sexuality. "[It wasn't] until my late 20s when I started to really feel confident about myself and knew who I was. [And] I started to experience feelings towards other women," Carole says. "I was scared. I was frightened. And I tried to suppress [my feelings]."

Together for five years, Nikki and Carole say they couldn't be happier. "[She's] the love of my life," says Nikki.

Oprah's Show

Friday, July 20, 2007

Η ομοφυλοφιλία ως αξεσουάρ

Ενας από τους καλλιτέχνες, έργα των οποίων θα εκτεθούν στην 1η Μπιενάλε της Αθήνας τον ερχόμενο Σεπτέμβριο, είναι ο Ντέρεκ Τζάρμαν (1942-1994). Ο Τζάρμαν, ένας από τους σημαντικότερους πειραματικούς κινηματογραφιστές και εικαστικούς καλλιτέχνες των δεκαετιών 1970 και 1980, ήταν επίσης μαχητικός ακτιβιστής υπέρ των δικαιωμάτων των ομοφυλοφίλων. Συζητώντας προ ημερών με προσωπικότητα του χώρου των τεχνών άκουσα το σχόλιο ότι η όλη υπόθεση με τη σεξουαλική κατεύθυνση και τα δικαιώματα των ομοφυλοφίλων είναι «πασέ». Πέραν του προφανούς προβληματισμού μου απέναντι στην αντιμετώπιση των δικαιωμάτων μιας ομάδας του πληθυσμού με όρους «τάσης» - λες και πρόκειται για αξεσουάρ -, σκέφτηκα επίσης: όποιος θεωρεί μια τέτοια προβληματική στην τέχνη ή αλλού «πασέ», έχει άραγε δώσει αίμα πρόσφατα; Εχει δει την οδηγία όλων των νοσοκομείων προς κάθε φέρελπι αιμοδότη, τυπωμένη πάνω στη φόρμα με τις πληροφορίες, ότι δεν πρέπει να δώσει αίμα «όποιος είχε ομοφυλοφιλική σχέση»; Το γεγονός ότι, βάσει μιας συλλογιστικής αισχρά αντιεπιστημονικής και ρατσιστικής, η επικινδυνότητα ορισμένων συμπεριφορών (όπως το σεξ δίχως προφύλαξη ή η αλόγιστη εναλλαγή ερωτικών συντρόφων) ταυτίζεται με αυτή καθαυτή τη σεξουαλική ταυτότητα δεν αποδεικνύει ότι ορισμένες συζητήσεις δεν γίνονται όχι επειδή είναι «πασέ» αλλά ακριβώς επειδή είναι επείγουσες;

Αυγουστίνος Ζενάκος/Το Βήμα/15-07-2007

Έβλεπα προχθές αργά στον ΣΚΑΙ τη συνέντευξη του James McGreevey στην Oprah (Το μεσημέρι μας την πέταξε έξω η φωτιά στον Υμηττό). Έχω αναφερθεί και σε παλιότερα posts από αλλού για τον κυβερνήτη του New Jersey ο οποίος μετά από δυο γάμους και με πολύ πετυχημένη πολιτική καριέρα αποφάσισε να παραιτηθεί ομολογώντας δημόσια πως είναι ένας gay Αμερικανός και πως δεν θέλει άλλο να συνεχίζει να εξαπατά τους ψηφοφόρους και τη γυναίκα του με την κρυφή ενσυνείδητη ζωή του δίπλα σε άντρες ερωτικούς συντρόφους.

Το παρακάτω κείμενο είναι μια σύνοψη του πολύκροτου βιβλίου του "The Confession" (H Madonna μάλιστα λέγεται ότι με τον τελευταίο δίσκο και περιοδεία της έκλεινε πονηρά το μάτι στον κύριο McGreevey) και αφιερώνεται στον κύριο Αυγουστίνο Ζενάκο για το εύστοχο σχόλιο του στο Βήμα της Κυριακής.

Κι επειδή στην Ελλάδα δεν πρόκειται καμιά λουλού της Βουλής και της Εκκλησίας να πετάξει βέρα και ράσο και να διεκδικήσει ένα ζωτικό προσωπικό και ειλικρινή χώρο σεξουαλικής έκφρασης -αλλά και καμιά λουλού του ελληνικού πενταγράμματος, σκηνής και τηλεόρασης, θαυμάστε παρακάτω πως ένας άντρας μεγαλώνει και γίνεται άντρας μόνο όταν ομολογεί την αλήθεια της ζωής...

Και παρεπιπτόντως διαβάζω ένα καταπληκτικό βιβλίο στο οποίο θα αναφερθώ σε επόμενο post για τις γυναίκες και τους ομοφυλόφιλους όπου επιτέλους :

α> Καταρρίπτεται ο μύθος του bisexual

β> Διασαφηνίζεται γιατί οι γυναίκες ελκύονται τόσο πολύ από ομοφυλόφιλους άντρες

Κι έτσι όπως μας τα λέει το βιβλίο φίλες και φίλοι, ο ομοφυλόφιλος υποψήφιος του μέλλοντος φαίνεται ότι θα είναι ο υποψήφιος με τις περισσότερες ψήφους από το γυναικείο φύλο...

New Yorker λοιπόν και...

The Making of a Gay American

Thirty-four days after I was elected governor of New Jersey, I began a secret affair with an aide named Golan Cipel. It destroyed my career, ruined my marriage, and helped me discover who I really am.

I ’ve never been much for self-revelation. In two decades of public life, I always approached the limelight with extreme caution. Not that I kept my personal life off-limits; rather, the personal life I put on display was a blend of fact and fiction. I invented overlapping narratives about who I was, and contrived backstories that played better not just in the ballot box but in my own mind. And then, to the best of my ability, I tried to be the man in those stories.

In this way I’m not at all unique. Inauthenticity is endemic in American politics today. The political backrooms where I spent much of my career were just as benighted as my personal life, equally crowded with shadowy strangers and compromises, truths I hoped to deny. I lived not in one closet but in many.

Ironically, the dividing experience of my sexuality helped me thrive in that environment. As I climbed the electoral ladder—from state assemblyman to mayor of Woodbridge and finally to governor of New Jersey—political compromises came easy to me because I’d learned how to keep a part of myself innocent of them. I kept a steel wall around my moral and sexual instincts—protecting them, I thought, from the threats of the real world. This gave me a tremendous advantage in politics, if not in my soul. The true me, my spiritual core, slipped further and further from reach.

There were moments when the ripping misery of this life became too great, moments when I thought about “becoming gay” and all that that entails. One of these moments came after I lost my first race for governor to Christine Todd Whitman in 1997. I thought to myself: You’re at a fork in the road. You could give this up and be yourself. This is your last chance.

But I felt compelled to keep running for governor. I’d lost by a mere 27,000 votes. My political potential was enormous. I think I decided that my ambition would give me more pleasure than integration, than true love. Coming to this realization made me feel not suicidal, exactly, but morose. It’s hard to describe how it feels to surrender your soul to your ambition.

Among other things, I was anxious about marrying Dina. I had met her at a campaign event—she was an uncommonly beautiful 31-year-old blonde in a red double-breasted suit. When the event was over I walked her out to her car and kissed her. I’m still not sure what made me do it. Loneliness, I suppose. Maybe she just seemed like the perfect politician’s wife; it might have been that self-serving. Our romantic life was troubled from the start, but I loved her deeply as a friend and companion. And I did believe I was offering her some things she truly coveted: the stability of marriage, the prospect of a loving family, a chance to share a life of public service, political excitement in spades.

In November 1999, I won reelection as mayor of Woodbridge by a landslide. And the following February, on Valentine’s Day, I slid an engagement ring on Dina’s finger. All the while, I never stopped campaigning for governor.

Three weeks after I proposed to Dina, I went to Israel as part of a delegation of 750 elected officials, politicians, and cultural leaders organized by the United Jewish Federation of MetroWest. The trip, called Mission 2000, was billed as a chance for us to open our eyes to Israel’s significance in world affairs.

One afternoon, we took a bus trip to a local arts center in Rishon Lezion, a rather featureless city just outside Tel Aviv. We were greeted there by the mayor, but it was his 32-year-old communications director, a former Israeli naval officer, who caught my eye. That’s too casual a way to put it. My attraction to him was immediate and intense, and apparently reciprocated. Our eyes met over and over before we were introduced. “This is Golan Cipel,” said the mayor. “He is familiar with New Jersey—for a number of years he worked at the Israeli Embassy in Manhattan.”

We shook hands for a long time. “I followed your campaign very closely,” Golan said. “Twenty-seven thousand votes is a very narrow margin.” He went on to describe my strengths among various constituencies. I was startled by his knowledge of my campaign.

At lunch I made sure to sit next to him. “Democrats take Jews for granted. It’s a powerful constituency. You have to develop relationships with them,” he said. “You got a good percentage of the overall Jewish vote. But if you’d gotten even a small number of Orthodox votes, and all of the Reform Jews, you would be governor today.”

He had smart ideas about my campaign, but I was only half-listening. Watching this handsome man talk—and show an interest in my political standing—totally mesmerized me. Nobody commits to memory the demographic standings of a politician halfway around the world as an academic exercise. I was flattered beyond anything I’d ever experienced before.

I assumed he was straight, but what was happening at this lunch if not flirting? I flirted back, a bit shamelessly. I can’t say I ever had a more electrifying first meeting—so dangerously carried out in a room full of politicians who could ruin us both.

Impulsively, I invited him to join my campaign, and he accepted with equal enthusiasm.

Golan came to New Jersey in early fall 2000, and immediately began directing my campaigning in Jewish strongholds around the state. Watching him work was as exhilarating as it was exhausting. And once or twice, climbing back into the campaign car after an endlessly long day wearing yarmulkes, I kicked off my shoes and spread out on the backseat, resting my feet across his knees. He didn’t seem to mind. With my eyes closed, I could allow myself to pretend I had it all: the governorship, the family, the male lover—and the final piece of the puzzle, love.

I craved love. For years sex had been all that was available to me. From the time in high school when I made up my mind to behave in public as though I were straight, I nonetheless carried on sexually with men. I visited bookstores in New York and New Jersey and had sex in the small booths there until I became too famous to risk discovery. I lurked around parkway rest stops, exchanging false names and intimacies with strangers. But there never was an emotional meaning to these trysts, even the few that were repeat engagements.

The only place where I had ever found any real pleasure in these encounters was in Washington, during my law-school years. At the juncture of Sixth and I Streets, just around the corner from Judiciary Square, there was an abandoned synagogue and a narrow alley leading to the long-forgotten gardens in back. Every night, rain or shine, this hidden pocket of Washington filled with men just like me—almost all of them wearing business suits and, on most of their left hands, proof that they’d made the same compromises I had. We were the power brokers and backroom operatives and future leaders of America. We just happened to be gay.

I felt as though I’d come upon a sanctuary—it was a churchlike, almost spiritual place. Moonlight squinted through the stained-glass windows into our garden, catching an inviting eye or a face stretched in ecstasy. I looked forward to my visits there, sometimes two or three a week. I quickly learned whom to approach and whose advance to wait for, when to move quickly, which posture said “no thanks” and which said “please.” One evening, as I stood on one of the metal platforms back there, a word came to me: liberated. Standing there in full sight of this group of men, I’d finally found a way to show who I was. I am finally free, I told myself. When of course I was just in a bigger cage.

How do you live with such shame? How do you accommodate your own revulsion with whom you have become? You do it by splitting in two. You rescue part of yourself, the half that stands for tradition and values and America, the part that looks like the family you came from, the part that is acceptably true. And you walk away from the other half the way you would abandon something spoiled. You take less and less responsibility for the abandoned half, until it seems to take on a life of its own—to become something you merely observe. And when you’re on the other side, in the shrubbery or behind the synagogue, you no longer recognize your decent self. Years later I realized I’d become both Gene and Phineas from A Separate Peace: the soul and the body, the person who tumbled from the tree and the person who made him fall.

On November 6, 2001, I won the election for governor of New Jersey by fourteen points. I remember thanking my supporters at the Hilton and letting the state troopers drive me over to Dina’s hospital room so I could give her the news myself. By this point we were expecting a child, and it was turning out to be a difficult pregnancy. Dina had gone into preterm labor—five days before the election, twelve weeks before her due date—and was ordered into bed for the duration. I went to her side Election Night, as I would every night for the next month, until our precious daughter Jacqueline was born by emergency C-section on December 7, still premature but healthy.

An intense and inevitable thing happens after you win a big election. The jostling for power is wild. Republicans had controlled the governor’s mansion for sixteen of the past twenty years, and now we were overwhelmed by pressure to bring Democrats and their supporters in from the cold.

All my financial contributors were vying for payback as well. My goal had been to raise $40 million for the campaign, which, unless you’re a Clinton or a Bush, is an obscene amount to pull out of pockets. You can’t take large sums of money from people without making them specific and personal promises in return. People weren’t shy about saying what they expected for their “investments”—board appointments to the Sports Authority or the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, for example, which were coveted not just for their prestige but because they offered control over tremendously potent economic engines, with discretionary budgets in the tens of millions. The plum was the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; directors there controlled a multi-billion-dollar budget. I tried to stay as naïve about this horse trading as possible. But I allowed my staff to intimate things to donors. This is the daredevil’s dance every politician faces.

Some appointments drew quick criticism. Republicans were all over my decision to appoint Charlie Kushner, who with his family and business had donated more than $1 million to my campaigns, to the board of the Port Authority. They complained it was political payback, but that was wrong. Kushner refused my appointment three times before finally accepting.

At the same time, I was trying to staff my administration. Golan made it plain that he wanted a significant portfolio in Trenton. Several times a day he demanded meetings to discuss his future. I found his insistence both boyishly charming and unbelievably churlish. My staff saw only the churlish side. He moved himself into the transition office, bragging that he had a “personal relationship” with me that gave him unassailable insights into my likes and dislikes. He demanded to look at office-assignment charts and even redrafted my inaugural speech, all without my authority. Finally, when I’d had enough, I went to his apartment to talk to him about diplomacy and office politics. It was a fastidious place, with a fluffy cat I was surprised to learn he’d named Jimmy.

“Gole,” I said. “You’ve got to learn to be part of the team.”

“My only team is you,” he said.

As the transition efforts progressed, I found myself increasingly relying on his advice and candor. His main interest was fighting terrorism; he was consumed by the subject. One night he made me drive with him to the foot of the George Washington Bridge to watch the police screening large trucks there in a method he considered inadequate.

“Any one of those parked trucks could blow up the bridge,” he said. Nothing about my education so far had prepared me to think that way. But Golan had grown up under the threat of terror. Talking to him, I realized that New Jersey needed an office of counterterrorism to think about security and anticipate trouble.

On our private security stakeouts around the state, something else was happening. A tension was growing between us that excited me. He talked about girlfriends and I talked about Dina, but there was a thick subtext to our conversations that was about the two of us.

On December 10 or 11, after I rebuffed several requests for meetings, Golan reached me on my cell phone, upset that I’d been out of touch. I invited him over to the condo for a late dinner, to assure him that he had a future in the administration. He arrived in a suit and tie, dressed impeccably as always. With Dina still in the hospital with our newborn, I was left to my own devices for dinner. I think we ate cold cereal.

He was politely appreciative. We sat at the dining-room table talking and half- watching the cable news, our shared addiction. I don’t know at what point it occurred to me that something more was about to happen. But I know how it started. I stretched out on the couch and placed my legs over his knees, as I’d done previously in the car. I then leaned forward and hugged him, and kissed his neck. His response was immediate and loving.

It was wrong to do. I wasn’t an ordinary citizen anymore. There were state troopers parked outside. My wife was in the hospital. And he was my employee. But I took Golan by the hand and led him upstairs to my bed. He kissed me. It was the first time in my life that a kiss meant what it was supposed to mean—it sent me through the roof. I pulled him to the bed and we made love like I’d always dreamed: a boastful, passionate, whispering, masculine kind of love. When he was gone, I realized that this might all explode on me one day, but I just didn’t care. I felt invincible then.

My circumstances made having an affair excruciatingly difficult, but not impossible. I visited Dina and Jacqueline every day in the hospital, and my heart ached to have our baby home, but until they returned I spent as much free time as I could with Golan. I loved our time together, whether talking politics over cups of tea or trying to remember whose T-shirt was whose at the end of the bed.

When Dina finally got home, our condo became a scrum of familial activity. But, knowing how much work I had ahead of me, the crowds at the condo paid little attention to me.

Once, after an exhausting day in the transition office, I made secret plans with Golan to see him later, at his apartment. The state troopers, now my constant companions, dropped me at the condo and parked around back. When I was sure they couldn’t see me, I pulled on my running clothes and slipped out the front. Golan’s apartment complex was roughly half a mile away, but difficult to get to on foot. I ran along the sidewalk for a while, then below a railroad underpass before returning to the sidewalk and ducking into his building.

He greeted me in his briefs. “Did anybody see you?” he asked, closing the door quickly. We kissed, hard.

I was totally in love with this man. He loved everything I loved. Politics never bored him. He loved strategy and demographic analyses. He loved power, philosophy, justice. He never stopped thinking about these things, and that’s what gave his life purpose and joy. I think Golan expected me to end up in the White House. Maybe that’s what he loved about me—my potential to bring him to Washington. If he was using me as the engine driving his own ambition, I didn’t mind. I liked seeing myself reflected in his eyes.

I finally settled on an ambiguous title for Golan: special counselor to the governor—part scheduler, part policy strategist, part consigliere. I was pleased at the notion that I’d found a way to meet Golan’s expectations while keeping suspicions to a minimum. But of course neither was the case.

On February 14, 2002, I slipped up. I was sitting with the editorial board of the Bergen Record at their offices in Hackensack, reviewing details of the budget. Commenting on my plan to modernize the Department of Motor Vehicles, which was still issuing easy-to-counterfeit paper driver’s licenses, I said, “After the attacks, this became an urgent goal for New Jersey. We will not skimp on security. We actually brought on a security adviser from the Israeli Defense Forces, probably the best in the world.”

Why did I bring up Golan in this context? It was hubris. I’d won office by a landslide, and then quickly squeezed $3 billion out of one budget and $5 billion out of another. I’d done all that while managing a love affair under everybody’s noses. Twice Golan and I had managed to spend whole nights together—once in Philadelphia, where we’d gone for the Army-Navy game and a Jewish event, and another time for a meeting of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., where we had the nerve to tell the state troopers we would share a double-occupancy room “to save taxpayers’ money.” We made love on the floor that night, fearing the troopers would hear a squeak from the beds.

Given how dramatic those first few months had been for me, I suppose I felt like bragging a little. Look at me, I was saying. I’m so smart I’ve got an Israeli doing security, even though offering security insights was only one informal part of his job.

Little did I know how badly it would play. The next day our switchboard was burning with calls from reporters, demanding Golan’s background and credentials, his immigration status, and his Israeli military records. On February 21, the Bergen Record published a story about Golan. I read it in a cold sweat.

Rather than calling him a naval officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, they called him a “sailor.” Somehow they found he had written a collection of poems in high school, so he was also “a poet.” But the worst line was this: “Democrats close to the administration say McGreevey and Cipel have struck up a close friendship and frequently travel together.” I wasn’t sure if I was reading too much into this article’s innuendo or too little.

That confusion ended when my mother called me. “Jimmy, they’re saying you’re both gay,” she said in disbelief.

I’d been in office for just five weeks, and already my secret life was in jeopardy.

After the Record story, things between Golan and me never returned to normal. In April, Dina and I finally moved into the governor’s mansion, Drumthwacket, creating an even larger barrier to the secret affair. Now I lived behind a remotely powered gate in a building surrounded by state troopers and domestic staff. I was miserable.

At my encouragement, Golan moved from Woodbridge to Princeton to be nearby. He found a townhouse he liked in the West Windsor community but was apprehensive about taking on the expense. I inspected the property with him and offered to co-sign the mortgage if he needed. Clearly I was courting discovery more actively now.

I was glad to have him so close, but it was never like Woodbridge. In our fishbowl existence, I managed to visit him there only once. It seemed like a mistake. He hadn’t yet hung any curtains on the back of the house, whose windows looked into the woods.

“This is insane,” I told him. “The state troopers are sitting in the parking lot.”

Golan was as cautious as I was. We locked ourselves in his bedroom, fearful refugees from our own lives.

We even started curtailing our official interactions, to quell talk among the staff. But our affair continued, in a fashion. It was crazy. We knew that reporters were increasingly curious about what appeared to be a “special relationship.” The Gannett chain had sent reporters to Israel; Golan’s childhood friends were asked about his history with men and women.

Golan couldn’t stand the pressure. His calls to me became frantic. For him, I think, being known as gay would have been worse than death. The idea of people digging through his personal life paralyzed him with fear.

Of course, I have to admit that there’s a chance Golan isn’t gay. I have thought about this often. Though he claimed he’d never had sex with a man before, I didn’t believe him. Since our secret became public, he has denied having a homosexual identity. I don’t believe that. But it’s possible that our shared attraction did tempt him to cross the aisle, just as my love for my first wife, Kari, and later for Dina had carried me into heterosexual romance. Still, he never expressed any conflict or regret about our time together.

One afternoon in May, after a meeting at Drumthwacket, Golan stayed behind in the rather uncomfortable library on the first floor as the other state officials left. Dina was upstairs with Jacqueline. I looped through the kitchen and dismissed the cook and building manager, returning to the library with two cups of tea. Behind the library was a more intimate study, a small room lined with historic books and oil paintings.

Golan was frustrated. He felt that I was freezing him out of my inner circle. It had been weeks since we’d seen each other.

“Of course, I want to be with you—selfishly,” I told him. “But my time is fully regulated now. The scheduling process is brutal.”

I closed the blinds. We kissed. There was a feeling of doom, as if we both knew this was the end. The thought made me crazy.

“I love you, Golan,” I said. “You make me so happy. I’ve never, you know … ”

He looked so sad just then; I knew he understood.

“I could leave all this behind. I could leave the governor’s office and the career in politics. I would. I would leave it all for you if you told me we’d be together forever.”

He seemed shocked. “Do you mean that?” he asked.

I did mean it. But looking into his eyes I could see that life ever after was not a possibility. He was not willing to walk into the sunlight with me if it meant walking out of politics. He was like me that way—desperately wanting two things that could never fit together.

“Yes,” I answered.

He didn’t reply.

Although we never said a word about it, we both knew this was the end of our affair.

Over the course of the summer, the press scrutiny grew more intense and Golan and I grew further apart. Under mounting pressure, I called him to a meeting at my statehouse office to ask him to leave. I knew politics meant the world to him. He’d come halfway around the world to see how far his political talents would take him in America and I was cutting it all short. I apologized in a million different ways.

“Gole,” I said, “it’s about the government, it isn’t about individuals. You did nothing wrong. But you can’t stay. It isn’t tenable.”

“You said you’d give it all up for me,” he threw back at me.

“Golan, I said I’d give it all up if you were with me. If we’re together as two individuals in love, that makes sense. But I’m not surrendering government for the sake of your job.”

In August, he finally agreed to resign. But almost immediately he began demanding his job back. He found me on my cell phone at all hours, interrupting everything from daybreak trips to the gym to late-night dinners with Drumthwacket staffers. He felt tricked into quitting, he said. I sometimes thought his desperate sadness was about losing me, about losing our love. But that was just self-flattery. I think he hated losing access to power.

It was after one of these calls that Dina confronted me. She had been putting Jacqueline to bed while I stood in the doorway, watching the two of them and listening to my former lover on the phone.

I had no reason to believe that Dina suspected my affair with Golan, or even the fact that I was gay. She probably already knew I didn’t love her anymore, not in the way a man loves his wife. Lately, what drove us forward had been little more than the momentum of a public life.

After we were safely out of Jacqueline’s earshot, she turned and glared at me.

“This whole thing is ridiculous,” she said.

I knew exactly what she meant. “What thing?” I asked anyway.

She walked back toward me, in the darkened hallway, until we were close enough for her to study my face. “Are you gay?”

I said nothing.

I don’t remember how I spent the early-morning hours of Friday, July 23, 2004. What I do remember is the expression of my chief of staff, Jamie Fox, when I arrived at the office. He looked like he’d just gotten news of a nuclear accident.

“We have a bit of a problem,” Jamie said. “Michael DeCotiis is on his way over.” Michael was our general counsel.

“What is it, Jamie?”

He looked at me brokenheartedly. “Michael got a call from a lawyer representing Golan. He’s suing for sexual assault and harassment, unless you pay $50 million.”

It was the other shoe I’d been waiting for. Golan would go public, on fantastically trumped-up charges, or try to extort a fortune from me to keep him quiet. Either way, since he could no longer be a part of my administration, apparently he’d decided to burn it to the ground.

In the weeks that followed, my friend and lawyer Bill Lawler had a series of bizarre meetings with Golan’s attorney, an entertainment lawyer named Allen Lowy.

Lowy hinted that Golan had claimed I sexually assaulted him in the back of a van on the way to Washington, D.C., before an audience of three state troopers—a ridiculous lie. I had never committed any sexual assault or harassment. This was only a love affair I never should have allowed myself, in a world that wouldn’t understand it, with a man who was betraying me.

“The governor is running for reelection, and this is life-and-death for him,” Lowy said to Bill. “The governor needs to pay my client for the damages he has suffered. And although we think we will get $50 million, we’ll take five.”

When Bill pressed for evidence of these charges, Lowy walked out of the meeting.

But Lowy wouldn’t take no for an answer. He wasn’t dissuaded by my lack of money, either, demanding that I reach out to my legendary fund-raising network to meet Golan’s demands.

From the first moments of this crisis, we considered going to federal law enforcement. But I was reluctant. I knew it would stop the extortion campaign, but once an official complaint was made, my heterosexual pretense was over. My story would land in the pantheon of messy love affairs—an entanglement so ill-fated that we needed cops to break it up.

With every passing day I felt my grip on Trenton growing more tenuous. It had begun to occur to me that I might not make it through this. No matter what happened, I knew I owed Dina an explanation. A couple of weeks after Golan threatened to sue, I sat down to talk to her in an elegant living room in the private wing which we rarely used. I took Dina’s hand. “I hadn’t planned this,” I told her. “It was broken off years ago. But he never let go. I want you to know how sorry I am. I beg you to forgive me.”

She was silent.

“We have talked this over a million ways, Dina. I may have to resign as governor.”

On her face she wore an inscrutable mask. When she finally spoke, she said with no trace of bitterness, “Where are we going to live?”

The world of artifice I’d created for myself was tumbling down, and the oncoming trauma was already excruciating. “I can’t keep doing what I’m doing,” I told my close friend Curtis Bashaw, whom I admired both for his considerable knowledge of state politics and for his ability to live an open and integrated life with his partner, Will. What I meant was, I couldn’t go on posing as straight. “I suppose I could stay with Dina. I love and respect her, I really do. But I don’t want to fix it.”

“Do you think you might be gay?” he asked.

After spending a week admitting to my lawyers, to my wife, that I had had a gay affair, this was the first time I’d been asked about my sexual orientation.

“Yes,” I said without hesitation. And then I started to cry in a way I had never cried in my life. Not sobbing, not angry—free.

Curtis hugged me.

“That’s it!” he shouted. “The truth will set you free. Tell it to everybody. Hold a press conference. Suddenly the tawdry affair with your political appointee makes sense. You were a man in the closet, and now you’re free. This is huge, Jim. I think the voters will understand.”

I closed the blinds. We kissed. "I could leave all this behind," I told Golan. "The governor’s office, the career in politics. I would leave it all if you told me we’d be together forever." He seemed shocked. "Do you mean that?" he asked.

He dialed Jamie and handed me the phone.

“I’m coming out,” I told Jamie.

“I’m coming right over,” he said.

By the time my old friend State Senator Ray Lesniak arrived at Drumthwacket that afternoon, Jamie, Curtis, and I had become a kind of support group in the governor’s mansion.

“I’m coming out,” I told Ray. “I’m a gay American.”

He looked at the three of us, not knowing what to say. I doubt Ray had ever knowingly been alone in a room of gay men before. (Jamie, my chief of staff, was also openly gay.) When Michael DeCotiis pushed through the door, Ray flung his hands in the air. “Guess what, Michael,” he joked. “I’m gay, too!”

When we recovered from a long laugh, I saw my plan laid out before me. I wanted to hold a press conference in two days, on Friday, August 13, 2004, to confess my infidelity and tell my truth.

That night, I had to tell my parents. I knew it would crush my father that my political career was taking this unexpected blow. But what I dreaded most was my mother’s disappointment over my violation of my marriage vows.

It went better than it might have. My father’s first response was, “You make a choice, Jim—Coke or Pepsi. You were married twice, you have two wonderful daughters. Why don’t you try to make that work? Why don’t you make the regular choice?”

“Dad, I’ve known my whole life. This is who I am.”

“You will always be my son,” he said, shaking my hand stiffly.

My mother, whose love for me has proved tremendously resilient, mostly kept her thoughts to herself. But when we parted, she took me into her arms and gave me a long and tender hug. “We will always love you, no matter what you do,” she said.

Back in the car, I called Curtis with a report, but his news took precedence. “We have to push up the press conference from Friday to tomorrow,” he said. “Somebody in Golan’s camp leaked the news. ABC is getting a story ready. We’ve got to keep out in front of this thing.”

I was so tired the next morning, the day of the press conference, that I rolled downstairs in sweatpants and a T-shirt before taking a shower. I was surprised to find the place overrun with political operatives, some of whom I didn’t even know. They shouted over one another, rendering opinions, speculating about the press and the courts. Straw polls were being taken on whether I should resign.

“This is what I want to say,” I interrupted them. “I admit shamefully that I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man, which violated my bonds of matrimony. It was wrong, it was foolish, it was inexcusable. And for this, I ask the forgiveness and grace of my wife.

“This individual now seeks to exploit me and my family and perhaps the state through financial and legal means which are unethical, wrong, and immoral. Let me be clear, no one is to blame for this situation but me. I must now do what is right to correct the consequences.”

Jamie wiped tears from his eyes. So did Ray.

But the other people in the library, the party stalwarts, had moved to the perimeter of the room, returning cell-phone calls and positioning themselves for their next assignments, which no doubt included handicapping who would take my seat in the next election. As Curtis later remarked, “The light drained out of the room immediately for them. You were dead.”

My core group of supporters still felt I should serve out my term, but not run for reelection. I wasn’t convinced that was penance enough for my transgressions. What I did was not just foolish, but unforgivable. Hiring a lover on state payroll, no matter the gender, was wrong. I needed to take my punishment—and to begin my healing out of the fishbowl of politics. At the last minute, I decided to rewrite the last section of my speech.

We held the press conference that afternoon. Members of my staff were crying uncontrollably as I entered the statehouse, holding Dina by the hand. Accompanying me that day was the last thing in the world she wanted to do, but she was the picture of composure in a crisp blue suit and a guarded smile. We took our place on the dais before a hundred microphones, next to my unhappy parents.

I thought I would be queasy, racing through my resignation in a blur of words. But an easy silence fell on my mind and everything seemed to stand still. It was as if nothing mattered in the world besides this moment.

History books will all say that I resigned in disgrace. That misses the point entirely. Resigning was the single most important thing I have ever done. Not only was I truthful and integrated for the first time in my life, but I rejected a political solution to my troubles and took the more painful route: penance and atonement.

If my relief at finally coming out made me momentarily ebullient, I soon sank into an agonizing depression. A week before the press conference I had enjoyed a relevance and influence. Now I was trivial and inconsequential.

I felt a need to be doing something. And so during the last days of my administration, in total secrecy, I began drafting an executive order that I knew was going to detonate like an atom bomb. I wanted to take on the “pay-to-play” system of New Jersey politics. No one benefited from pay-to-play more than I did. Under my rule, the party had raised tens of millions from developers and lawyers who then were awarded handsome state contracts in return. The system, though perfectly legal, was morally corrupt and indefensible. I’d taken a million ethical shortcuts to climb the ladder, all the time thinking that that was the only way to amass enough power to serve the collective good. But in the end I’d done a great deal of damage.

There was no way a politician with a future in New Jersey would strike a meaningful blow to the system. But to borrow George Wallace’s phrase, I was “the lamest lame duck there could be.”

My order prohibited donors from receiving significant state contracts if they had given any money to a winning gubernatorial candidate, the ruling state party, or the ruling county party boss within eighteen months of the contract’s disbursement.

At the end of my political career, I was as integrated on a policy level as I’d become on a personal level. It was my proudest moment.

On November 15, 2004, I left Drumthwacket and the statehouse for good. I tried to imagine what our lives would look like once we’d put this behind us. There would be a divorce and complicated negotiations about raising our daughter. I prayed that Dina would find happiness and maybe even the strength in her heart to stop being angry.

For my future, I forced myself to imagine a career in public service that didn’t involve elected office. I doubt that it’s possible to live as a totally integrated person and succeed in the backrooms of America’s political system. That, more than my sexuality, would prevent a comeback. Nonetheless, I hoped to find a place in public life where I could perform a valuable service, where I could be uncompromised and of use.

Mostly, I allowed myself to picture a life organized in harmony with my heart. I fantasized about being in love, really in love—ordinary, boring, romantic love, the kind that takes you into old age, the kind my parents still have.

James McGreevey now lives in Plainfield, New Jersey, with his partner, financial adviser Mark O’Donnell. He is working as an education-policy consultant.

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