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Posts for May, 2010

Anderson Cooper on “Luggagegate”

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2010

Jo-Vanni Roman comes across as a pretty solid young man in this piece.

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Rentboy #2?

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2010

There are bound to be others, aren’t there. Another former escort and self-described former porn star now says that he was hired by George Rekers to provide full body massage with “light sexual contact.” He said this happened “when I was in my 20′s” — he’s 41 now. He also claims that he’s a close, personal friend of Ted Haggard and believes that Haggard “is a faithful husband to his wife,” and that very much unlike Rekers, Haggard “is a dedicated Christian, and he is no enemy of gays.”

Jo-vanni had the fortune (or misfortune) of having been photographed with Rekers in the Miami airport, which makes his connection to Rekers indisputable. Proving “Chaz’s” connection to Rekers might be extremely difficult, and I don’t know how he will be able to make the connection stick. But whether this particular allegation is true or not, I do believe we can be certain that there are more Jo-vanni’s out there just waiting to come forward. Some, under all kinds of motivations. Caveat emptor.

Craig Ferguson on George Rekers

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2010

Craig Ferguson is my favorite late night talk show host, and last night’s monologue was priceless. The George Rekers commentary starts at the 2:15 mark.

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His advice to anti-gay activists: If you’re really really anti-gay, then just “knock it off and buy yourself something fabulous.”

Details of CNN’s Interview with “Lucien” Leaked

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2010

Details of CNN’s exclusive interview with Jo-Vanni Roman (a.k.a. “Lucien”), the Miami escort who accompanied anti-gay activist George Rekers on a ten-day trip to Europe, appeared briefly on the AC360 blog briefly, but it now appears to have been pulled. We don’t know if it’s because they didn’t want to give too much away ahead of time, or if other news stories (the Nashville floods, the oil spill in the gulf, financial problems in Greece, British elections) threaten to push this story off to another day. At any rate, we were able to capture some of what you can expect to see, assuming the story airs tonight:

Here’s the background. “Lucien” says Rekers hired him by answering his ad on the website, RentBoy.com. He says Rekers would have been exposed to all kinds of naked men in compromising sexual positions on the website before getting through to the ads for male companions.

“Lucien” showed me the contract he signed with Rekers. It does show he was hired to carry Rekers luggage because he needed help with that, but #3 in the contract terms spells out that Lucien “will provide George Rekers a massage for at least one hour each day of the trip in their shared rooms using the same procedures (“Lucien”) provided to George Rekers in Florida.” “Lucien” told me he had given Rekers two “sexual massages” in Florida at hotels before they even left for Europe and that Rekers had requested the massages be “sexual.” “Lucien” says he gave Rekers what he called the “long stroke” which included touching his genitals. He said the massages took place in their shared rooms in both London and Madrid. For his services, “Lucien” was paid $75 a day plus the cost of his air travel.

In a statement, George Rekers said “I hired him as a companion and to help with luggage, and that I did not hire him as a prostitute for any sexual purpose.” In a separate statement, Rekers said, “Professor George Rekers requires an assistant to lift his luggage in his travels because of an ongoing condition following surgery… Dr. Rekers found his recent travel assistant by interviewing acquaintances. There was nothing inappropriate with this relationship. Professor Rekers was not involved in any illegal or sexual behavior with his travel assistant.”

Lucien wasn’t paid for our interview and says he has turned down payments from other organizations for his story. He isn’t looking to make money on this. He says Rekers became sort of a “father figure” to him and he feels sorry for him. He told me George Rekers has asked him repeatedly not to talk to the media and not to tell anyone about his “sexual massages” but “Lucien” is talking because he wants people, especially in Florida, “to know who Rekers really is.”

CNN also got a comment from Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, whose office paid Rekers $120,000 to serve as an expert witness in the state’s defense of Florida’s adoption ban for gay couples:

McCollum’s office told us Rekers came to their attention “by recommendation from another academic after an exhaustive search” and that Rekers “had exceptional credentials and he had provided testimony in similar cases on two separate occasions, one of which was a Florida case in Federal Court.” The statement goes on: “The contract was executed at the direction of the Department of Children and Families, and the ACLU did not object to his position as an expert at the hearing. He has completed his testimony and is no longer involved in this case.”

AC360° airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and 7:00 p.m. Pacific

Creepy Bookcover Watch

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2010

This is the book cover for George Reker’s 1982 book, “Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Identity.”

Click to enlarge. I don’t know if that’s Rekers in the photo or not, but he was 34 years old when this book came out. We now know that Rekers hired a 20-year-old escort, a young man who just happens to be the exact same age as Rekers’ adopted son. Reker’s son was adopted at the age of sixteen. Freud is scratching his eyes out in his grave and I’m going to go and take a shower myself.

“Lucien” Speaks To Joe.My.God, Will Appear On CNN Tonight

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2010

Jo-Vanni  Roman, the 20-year-old escort identified as “Lucien” in the latest Luggagegate controversy involving longtime anti-gay fixture Dr. George Rekers, spoke for about 90 minutes in the wee hours this morning with Joe Jervis, who has a synopsis posted on his web site. Roman says that there was very little “Gospel sharing,” and confirms that the massage was indeed sexual, although it also appears that sexual contact didn’t go beyond the massages. Roman also confirms that Rekers has had three hernia operations, and really did need assistance with the whole luggage lifting thing. Joe’s assessment is that Jo-Vanni is “maive perhaps, but not dumb” (Jo-Vanni didn’t know who Anita Bryant was, but then how many twenty-year-olds do?) It’s very well worth reading Joe’s account in its entirety.

Jo-Vanni also revealed that he would be appearing in an interview with “the gay reporter on TV,” apparently referring to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. His program, AC360°, airs tonight at 10:oo pm Eastern, 7:00 pm Pacific.

Univ. of S. Carolina clarifies purging Dr. Rekers

Timothy Kincaid

May 7th, 2010

We’ve heard a response from the University of South Carolina Medical School

Hello, Mr. Kincaid,

I have received your inquiry about Dr. Rekers’ bio information on the School of Medicine Web site. Recent media coverage called attention to the fact that his information was still on the site, when actually Dr. Rekers has been retired from the University of South Carolina since July 31, 2005, and has not had an affiliation with the university since that time.

I Hope this is helpful and that you have a very good weekend.

Sincerely,

Margaret M. Lamb
Media Relations Director
University of South Carolina

Which is nice and all that. But it does not explain why other retired professors continue to be listed as emeritus.

I’ve written back inquiring as to the school’s criteria.

UPDATE: I’ve heard back and It appears the Rekers situation has inspired the school to do a little housekeeping. And it seems that they will be applying a consistent standard:

Glad to try to eliminate confusion. The medical school does not have a policy, and, indeed, some emeritus professors, volunteer faculty and other retired faculty are still listed because they have maintained some contact with the medical school as active faculty by remaining available for teaching, consulting and service. However, medical school staff are going through Web site and over the next few weeks will post only names of active faculty whether employed and or volunteer.

I certainly can’t fault the school for that.

Rethink that lawsuit, Dr. Rekers

Timothy Kincaid

May 7th, 2010

Yesterday Dr. George Rekers threatened to sue the Miami New Times for publishing claims that he had gone on RentBoy.com and hired a gay prostitute for sexual gratification. Unfortunately for Dr. Rekers, the paper wasn’t simply relying on hearsay from Lucien; they were in the room when Rekers was talking on speakerphone to him.

Lucien was offended, too, by what he had learned from friends and press reports of Rekers’ three decades of anti-gay activism, a record the Baptist minister tried to downplay.

“I just stay in the background,” said Rekers, a co-founder with James Dobson of the Family Research Council, a vehemently anti-gay lobbying group. Of gay people, he said: “I’ve never picked a fight with them.”

“What was going through your mind when you went on that website?” demanded Lucien, referring to rentboy.com, the gay escort site where he had posted his profile.

Rekers paused for several seconds, considering. “Well, I’d be happy to sit down and talk to you more about that.” He paused again. “We have to deal with the situation that we have, and make sure it doesn’t get worse.”

It can’t be easy being Lucien at the moment. My thoughts and best wishes are with him at this very stressful time.

As for Dr. Rekers, well at this point it probably won’t get worse. But it will never go back to what it was. The long long journey of denial and double life and hidden motivations and secret yearnings is over.

There’s no more room to deny or to claim innocence.

He had a long run. For decades he was the accomplished professor with impressive credentials who was an “expert” on sexuality. For over a quarter of a century Dr. Rekers could make claims about gay people that, while untrue, were considered to be scholarly.

That’s over now.

FAQ: Hiring Someone To Lift Your Luggage

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2010

Q. Wait! You mean I can hire someone to lift my luggage?

A. Yes, apparently you can. Before this week when longtime anti-gay activist Dr. George Rekers was discovered having done that very thing, I didn’t know it was possible. But now I’ve learned that not only can you hire someone to lift your luggage, there’s an entire industry dedicated to it. Isn’t it amazing how well the free markets respond to meet every need?

Q. Why should I hire someone to lift my luggage when I can get someone to do it for free anytime I want?

A. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Who are you trying to kid? I don’t know about you but in my lifetime I’ve had to lift my own luggage much more often than I care to remember. So let’s be honest about this and act like grownups.

Sometimes when you’re single and you don’t have anyone available to lift your luggage, turning to a professional can be a very exciting option. This can be particularly true as you get older and the junk that’s in your trunk isn’t so hot. That’s when you’ll discover you can’t just pick up anyone to pick up your bags like you used to. Turning to a professional can be a very satisfying alternative. But even younger folks can discover that hiring someone can be a convenient alternative to the hassle of finding a volunteer, particularly when you’re traveling and there you are in a strange city all alone holding the bag.

But hiring someone to lift your luggage isn’t just for single people. It’s a sad fact that many married men also hire other men to lift their luggage. Reasons vary, but they often have to do with the fact that these married men haven’t resolved the conflict within themselves between who bests lifts their luggage and society’s expectations of who ought to lift their luggage. Men who haven’t adequately dealt with this conflict often find that hiring another man to lift their luggage is their only viable option. But it also appears that this option isn’t necessarily a bad one. Florida anti-gay adoption expert witnesses have found that the experience can even be quite therapeutic, particularly after surgery.

Q. Would my health insurance cover hiring someone to lift my luggage?

A. I don’t know, but this possibly former professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of South Carolina’s medical school may be able to answer that question.

Q. Where can I find a professional to lift my luggage?

A. Some people search personal ads from the back of alternative newspapers while others turn to Craigslist. But NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee members have learned that Rentboy.com is a particularly useful web site which specializes in providing a forum where professionals who will lift your luggage for a fee can advertise their services.

Q. What should I look for in selecting someone to lift my luggage?

That’s a deeply personal question, and there’s no stock answer that applies for everyone. For example, Family Research Council founders prefer smooth and skinny 20-year-olds to lift their luggage. I find that option appealing myself, but I sometimes tend to pack heavy. So my choice, if I were to go that route, might be a bit different (NSFW). Everyone’s luggage handling needs are unique, which is why it’s very important to evaluate the candidate’s profile to see if his services are a good fit for you. You might even want to interview a few before making your selection. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine who can lift your luggage the best.

Q. How much will it cost to hire someone to lift my luggage?

Rates vary by city. In Miami, for example, it looks like it runs about $200-300 per hour. Since most people can get their luggage lifted in under an hour, that’s probably the most common arrangement. But If you think you might need more than an hour to fully lift your luggage, most will charge a bit of a discount for the second and subsequent hours. If you need your luggage lifted overnight, that can run $1000 to $1500, depending on the lifter’s reputation and what the market will bear.

But if you think you need to bring someone to lift your luggage during an extended 10-day European vacation, then you’ll have to negotiate with your preferred professional as costs can vary widely. If it’s someone in high demand, he may charge a daily rate of a thousand dollars or more (plus airfare, meals, transportation and lodging), but he’ll be there day and night to schlep your satchel any time you want. A few of the younger ones just starting out might lift your luggage for free or for next to nothing in exchange for the free travel. And if that’s the case there are opportunities to economize a bit further. Bogus American College of Pediatricians members have learned that luggage lifters will always accept your offer to share your hotel room (as well as the Gospel) with them.

Q. What other services can I expect from a luggage lifter?

A. According to some of the profiles on rentboy.com, some of the other services include massage, nude modeling, stripping, dancing, and watersports. So don’t forget to pack your scuba gear and swimming trunks. One NARTH officer in particular prefers luggage lifters who excel in the long stroke.

Q. What about sex?

A. “Any money exchanged is exclusively for time and companionship. If anything else should occur, that is a matter of personal mutual choice between two or more consenting adults of legal age, and is not contracted for, nor is it requested to be contracted for, or compensated for in any manner whatsoever.”

So yes, of course. Sex too.

And one final note: there are many options when it comes to lifting your luggage, but it’s a regrettable reality in today’s society that hiring a professional carries a huge stigma, both for the professional luggage lifter and his client. This, I think, is grossly unfair. The few luggage lifters I have spoken to (and in full disclosure, I haven’t hired one myself) are invariably kind, engaging, attractive, friendly, and exceptionally smart. In fact, many have paid for college by lifting strangers’ luggage. I find it hard to imagine a more difficult job, and they tell me that it’s not as glamorous as it might sound, even if they do get to travel.

But the better ones take great pride in their work. They are very attentive to their clients’ needs, and those needs often go beyond merely lifting a sack here and there. Sometimes time and companionship really are the most important services they offer. So while we may snicker at what they do, they’re still people with heart and soul, and they deserve a great deal of respect just like anyone else.

So if you do hire someone, please remember that you’re not just hiring a pair of sure hands, strong arms, sturdy thighs, powerful chest and a set of well-developed shoulders. You’re hiring a real live person. Talk to him. Get to know him a little. If you do, you’ll find your experience to be much more satisfying than if you just ordered him to lift your bags and was done with it.

And if you’re as satisfied with the results as I suspect you will be, don’t forget to leave him a tip. And be sure to pass along your recommendations to me because after having done all that research on Rentboy.com for this piece, my bags are starting to feel really heavy.

Dr. Rekers becomes desperate

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2010

When one is caught in scandal, there are a few responses that may possibly be effective in clearing your name or, at least, providing hope for a future recovery.

One can provide a clear, consistent, and immediate response that clarifies the situation and leaves no outstanding questions. One laugh off the accusations as being beyond ridiculous. Or one can plead the sinner, go through steps of redemption, and hope for a limited recovery.

If none of those are possible, you just shut up and become inaccessible until the whole thing blows over.

However, Dr. George Rekers is taking exactly the wrong approach. He is becoming defensive, providing inconsistent and implausible explanations, and never really addressing the questions that everyone is wondering.

And like a dog worrying a bone, Rekers just can’t stop. And the more he says, the worse it looks.

Now Dr. Rekers is threatening to sue the Miami New Times for printing a story in which his rentboy/travel assistant claims that Rekers is homosexual and received daily nude massages from him during the trip. This tactic seldom works. If you are as rich as Tom Cruise and can truly ruin someone’s life, you can sue. If you are pure as the driven snow and have no secrets that you want revealed in court, you can sue.

But Rekers is going to do nothing but provide free publicity to the Miami New Times by suing them for informing their readers what their source is claiming.

And to make matters worse, Rekers is trying to diffuse reflection on his own sexual desires by listing four questions upon which he and Lucian reached agreement: (Washington Post)

1. Did Dr. Rekers in fact hire you to lift my luggage when necessary as a travel assistant during the trip, because I cannot do so myself since I had surgery?
Together we agreed that I in fact hired him to lift luggage when necessary as a travel assistant during the trip, because I cannot do so himself since having surgery. We agreed that this is what my travel assistant agreed to do for pay prior to taking the trip.

2. Did you in fact lift my luggage during the trip each time it was necessary, or did Dr Rekers lift his own luggage during the trip?
We agreed that my travel assistant did in fact lift my luggage each time it was necessary, that I did not lift my luggage, and my travel assistant did all the lifting.

3. Did Dr. Rekers hire you as a prostitute for the trip?
We agreed that I hired him as a companion and to help with luggage, and that I did not hire him as a prostitute for any sexual purpose.

4. Did Dr. Rekers spend time explaining how the Christian faith is based in love to you during the trip?
We agreed that I explained the Christian faith to my travel assistant in conversations on several days during the trip.

But those questions and answers will satisfy no one. Because nobody – no one at all – cares whether Rekers preached to Lucian. And everyone assumes that Lucian probably did assist Rekers in lifting luggage and was a charming companion.

Because ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether Lucian was hired to “lift luggage” or hired as a prostitute, if he was providing daily nude massages. Rekers could provide a notarized copy of a Travel Assistant Application and a contract for the number of pieces of luggage lifted, in triplicate, and it still would not explain just how an elderly anti-gay activist came to be naked in a European hotel with a very young rentboy.

The real questions that need to be answered are:

1. Did Dr. Rekers and Lucian meet through RentBoy.com? If not, then how? It is not likely that an older white retired anti-gay psychology professor and a 20 year-old Puerto Rican gay prostitute run in the same social circles.

2. What were the qualities that made Lucian an ideal “companion” for a ten day trip? Considering the considerable difference in age, background, education, and interests, what did Lucian have other than his physical attributes which made Rekers desire his companionship?

3. Are the details about daily nude massages true? Had Dr. Rekers paid for massage services before from Lucian? Had he purchased any other services from him in the past? Had he rented anyone else from RentBoy.com or other such sites?

4. How, exactly, does Dr. Rekers reconcile his claim that he is not homosexual with his behavior on this trip?

Until Dr. Rekers can answer these questions in a way that alleviates all suspicion – which, at this point, seems unlikely – then he does himself no favors by his continued protestations about luggage.

No “Rekers Purge” At Family Research Council

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2010

There have been numerous reports across the internet saying that the Family Research Council has “purged” Dr. George Rekers from their web site following news reports that Rekers had returned from a 10-day European vacation in the company of a male escort.

We did not post that report here at BTB because we were unable to confirm that a purge had actually taken place. David Robert, at Ex-Gay Watch looked into it and determine that the FRC’s protest that they haven’t purged Rekers from their web site appears to be correct:

At some point in the past, perhaps as far back as 2007, the FRC restructured it’s web site. The page describing their origins was changed to eliminate a couple of academics, Armand Nicholoi Jr. of Harvard University and George Rekers of the University of South Carolina. It now focuses more on conservative political figures such as Gerald P. Regier, Department of Health and Human Services in the Reagan administration.

The verbiage concerning Rekers and Nicholoi was moved to their FAQ where it remains (in the answer to the second question). However, even the May 1 Google cache of the page in question shows that it is the same as it was before the Miami New Times story broke.

That’s not to say that a purge isn’t on the way. But it doesn’t appear to have happened yet.

NARTH Responds To Rekers Controversy

Jim Burroway

May 6th, 2010

The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality just sent this statement out moments ago:

NARTH RESPONDS TO THE RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE OF DR. GEORGE REKERS

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is a professional scientific organization with hundreds of academic, research, and clinical members dedicated to assisting individuals dealing with unwanted homosexual attractions. While NARTH is focused on the science of homosexual attraction, personal controversies often deepen the existing cultural divide on this issue. Such is the case in the recent news stories concerning one of our members, Dr. George Rekers.

NARTH takes seriously the accusations that have been made,and we are currently attempting to understand the details behind these press reports. We are always saddened when this type of controversy impacts the lives of individuals, and we urge all parties to allow a respectful and thorough investigation to take place.

At this difficult time for the families and individuals involved, we extend our sympathies. We also wish to reiterate our traditional position that these personal controversies do not change the scientific data, nor do they detract from the important work of NARTH.

NARTH continues to support scientific research, and to value client atonomy, client self-determination and client diversity.

Translation: Pay no attention to that man hiding behind the curtain. Or the closet door, as the case may be.

Univ. of S. Carolina dumps Rekers from website

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2010

As recently as this morning, here’s what you saw when you searched the website of the University of South Carolina medical school:

Now the site looks a little different:

That was quick.

I’m curious as to the exact criteria for removing any mention of Dr. Rekers. Was it because the University of South Carolina was delighted to have an anti-gay activist as a respected and privileged emeritus professor, but not so delighted to have a man who was revealed to be engaged in behavior that is homosexual in nature?

We have inquired with the office of the President of the University for an explanation.

(hat tip to a reader who caught the change)

Rekers and Roman had sex (kinda)

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2010

What is sex?

Have you ever noticed that the definition of sex isn’t really a problem when it’s all above board. When both parties are legally, emotionally, and socially entitled to do whatever they want, sex includes all sorts of activities. It can be hardcore and involve the exchange of fluids or it can be mild and intimate and involve little actual genital contact. When there’s no guilt to be assigned, sex is whatever lifts your luggage.

But when it is illicit, when cheating and lying gets involved, then sex has very very rigid narrow definitions that let a weasel dance around in declaration of innocence. “I did not have sex with that woman!”

Or, in this case, “Professor Rekers was not involved in any illegal or sexual behavior with his travel assistant.”

The Miami New-Times has now provided additional information about the relationship between Dr. George Rekers and Jo-vanni Roman (who prefers to be identified as “Lucian”), his RentBoy/travel assistant/suitcase lifter.

The male escort hired by anti-gay activist George Alan Rekers has told Miami New Times that the Baptist minister is a homosexual who paid him to provide body rubs, once a day, in the nude, during their ten-day vacation in Europe.

Rekers allegedly named his favorite maneuver the “long stroke” — a complicated caress “across his penis, thigh… and his anus over the butt cheeks,” as the escort puts it. “Rekers liked to be rubbed down there,” he says.

This is probably a lot less hardcore than many folks imagined. And Rekers may insist, “oh, but that isn’t sex, I only paid for a massage.”

But I think that he may only be playing a game of deception. If, indeed, there is nothing untoward about the services for which Lucian was procured, if Rekers truly believes that there was no “sexual behavior”, then why didn’t he simply announce, “I hired the young man to accompany me to Europe to give daily nude massage” and let that statement stand on its own?

Rekers’ FOURTH clarification of just how he came to select his travel companion

Timothy Kincaid

May 5th, 2010

Earlier today we posted Dr. Rekers’ explanation about why he was traveling in Europe accompanied by Jo-vanni Roman (“Lucian”/Geo). He now appears to have found that particular explanation to be inadequate and has revised it to read as follows:

***MISLEADING INTERNET REPORTS ABOUT PROFESSOR GEORGE REKERS***

A recent article in an alternative newspaper cleverly gave false impressions of inappropriate behavior because of its misleading innuendo, incorrectly implying that Professor George Rekers used the Rentboy website to hire a prostitute to accompany him on a recent trip. Contrary to Internet stories based on this slanderous article, following medical advice Professor George Rekers requires an assistant to lift his luggage in his travels because of an ongoing condition following surgery. His family, local friends, and even another university professor colleague have offered to accompany him on trips to assist him in his travel. Dr. Rekers found his recent travel assistant by interviewing different people who might be able to help, and did not even find out about his travel assistant’s Internet advertisements offering prostitution activity until after the trip was in progress. There was nothing inappropriate with this relationship. Professor Rekers was not involved in any illegal or sexual behavior with his travel assistant. [emphasis in original]

The new part is in bold.

Ya know, if I were, say, a straight married 61 year-old anti-gay activist who unexpectedly discovered that my 20 year old traveling companion was a gay prostitute, and If I were questioned about why I was traveling with the young man, I would probably respond immediately with the facts that led to my association with him. And they would likely not be nonsensical.

I’d say, “he’s the son of my colleague” or “we used to be neighbors” or something that showed the basis of the relationship. Because, at this point, it’s pretty hard to backtrack from “I evangelize to gay prostitutes” and end up with the rather vague “I interviewed different people”.

Unless, of course, that is the the prelude to further revelations about other young men who interviewed for the position.

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