After a Fashion

Stephen weighs in on the whole Cipel / McGreevey thing (you know, the gay governor scandal), and lucky for us, we have never made untoward advances toward Our Style Avatar, especially now that we know how he feels

Cary Jackson on the runway for last year's Regular Jo Fashion Show
Cary Jackson on the runway for last year's Regular Jo Fashion Show (Photo By

GAY FOR PAY? We're going to skip the frivolous fashion stories and the litterbox of cheap gossip and superficial parties to discuss something totally different. I loved reading Cindy Adams' New York Post column and her Sept. 7 tirade against Golan Cipel. Cipel, as you may well know, is the other man involved in the scandal that brought down New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey. Reportedly, Cipel threatened a sexual harassment lawsuit forcing McGreevey to admit to an adulterous homosexual relationship. (We'll refer to Cipel as McGreevey's "mister," since, well, we can't call him McGreevey's "mistress," can we?) Personally, I think it's despicable when lovers break up and then decide to call "foul" in a court of law, airing their dirty laundry and sacrificing any shred of dignity or decency they may have retained. And I think it's doubly despicable when one allegedly gay person does it to another. As gay people we're working too goddamn hard to gain our rightful place at the table, and in the hostile face of the Bush Regime, we have everything to lose. Using gayness as a weapon against another is so reprehensible – especially when perpetrated by an ex-lover – it should be punishable as a crime. But since this case involves a power dynamic within one of the most powerful political offices in the Northeast, who knows what really went down? And Cipel is certainly not the only one in this scenario to do ridiculous things. If the alleged affair indeed took place, putting Cipel on his payroll and providing him with cushy, well-paying positions were the first of McGreevey's blunders ... but l'amour, l'amour, toujours l'amour. Did the handsome Cipel feel dissatisfied? Controversy began to swirl as the public began questioning Cipel's suitability for his positions (such as Homeland Security chief). As Cipel's own security became threatened, things appeared to unravel. His reported behavior could be likened to a shrew caught in a trap, as he virtually threatened with extortion the man who supposedly loved him. If McGreevey hadn't bowed to the pressure and offered his resignation, he might have weathered the scandal. But the implication remained that he had betrayed the trust of his state by placing his lover in high positions. He could have retreated to the closet and asked God's, his wife's, and his constituents' forgiveness, and in many ways, it's admirable that he did not. Instead, he choose to publicly admit he is gay and to resign his post, with his sad, deer-caught-in-the-headlights wife at his side. The irony is that if McGreevey had waited a short time longer, Cipel's ultimate decision to drop the case might have spared everyone the agony and public humiliation of what is a very complicated story. Unfortunately, how people see this and how history will remember this is that a governor resigned and his sexual orientation had something to do with it, instead of the more compelling tale of how infidelity reflects on character. It is pathetic that a public figure should have to step down because he or she is gay. One doesn't just turn gay overnight, and if one has been doing a good job at the position they were elected to, then what's the problem? One problem certainly is when a public official denies their gayness, carefully constructing a facade of a loving heterosexual family unit for so long, their eventual coming out, instead of being perceived as admirable and honest, comes off as betrayal of the public's trust. The lie is the issue, but somehow orientation takes the hit. In the long run, McGreevey did the best thing, which was to give up the lie he was living. Though he may feel like he's lost it all right now, ultimately as an ex-governor, he will be a fine consultant and speaker, and perhaps even return to politics. As for the mister, Cipel comes off as a spurned lover who decided to make a scene because his meal ticket was coming to an end – whether that's the case or not. The drama this has created is the kind that plays out better on Judge Judy. Perhaps Cipel, who is now claiming to be heterosexual (whatever!), was smitten with the power McGreevey held and hedged his heterosexual bets in a "gay for pay" scenario. Or perhaps he gave in to the fairly common (but usually denied) desire to explore homosexuality. In either case, by retreating behind the mask of victimization and using the "gay card" against the man who may very well have given him everything, the story now becomes less about possible misuse of power and inappropriate work behavior, and instead has relegated Cipel to pitiful footnote-status: as the gay Monica Lewinsky.

PUTTIN' ON THE DOG Our friends at Jo's Hot Coffee (1300 S. Congress, 444-3800) and EFN Events invite you to the second annual Regular Jo Fashion Show on Sunday, Sept. 26, 5-9pm. Showcasing fashion from SoCo style-setters such as Blackmail, Creatures, FactoryPeople, Five Oceans, and Service Menswear, with women's hair and make-up by Deborah Carter and her crew from Pink Salon, and Stacie Smith. The Regular Jo models are a bevy of beauties from Jo's, the Hotel San José, Gardens, Uchi, Bouldin Creek Coffee House, and By George. This show proves irregular by featuring the best accessories in town: precious pooches that are looking to adopt a warm-hearted owner. The animals are from Blue Dog Rescue and SARA Sanctuary, and the show is emceed by Carla Work, with music by Trey Lopez, spay/neuter education from Emancipet, goodies from Two Unemployed Democrats, and on-site voter registration. Spokeswoman Emily Fleming-Nash says the free show is "open to all fashion-minded, dog-adoring, beer-drinkin', coffee-sippin' folks at the best people-watchin' joint in town."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More After a Fashion
After a Fashion: A Stitch In Time
After a Fashion: A Stitch In Time
Fort Lonesome will not be lonely for long

Stephen MacMillan Moser, July 5, 2013

After a Fashion: The Main Event
After a Fashion: The Main Event
Your Style Avatar would look great sporting these parasols

Stephen MacMillan Moser, June 28, 2013


AAF 24-04, Monica Lewinsky, GAY, Cindy Adams, NYPost, Golan Cipel, New Jersey Governor, James McGreevey, Bush Regime, Judge Judy, Jo's Hot Coffee, EFN Events, Regular Jo Fashion Show

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle