I’m a tobacco smoker, have been for about 20 years. It is a filthy, stinky, disgusting, expensive habit that is bad for me. But I enjoy it and have no actual desire to quit as of yet. I’m also a mom. And I’ve told my kindergartner that she should never, ever smoke. Never touch them, never even look at cigarettes, ever. When the discussion led to the inevitable, “but you do it” phase, I explained hypocrisy to my 6 year old. She’s relatively bright, so she grasped it pretty quickly.
Which is why I have such a hard time understanding adults who fail to grasp their own hypocrisy. Take, for instance, Wes Goodman. Goodman was a Republican state legislator for Ohio. He ran on a platform of family values. He has been described as the “conscience of the conservative movement”. Goodman’s campaign website proclaimed, “Healthy, vibrant, thriving, values-driven families are the source of Ohio’s proud history and the key to Ohio’s future greatness…The ideals of a loving father and mother, a committed natural marriage, and a caring community are well worth pursuing and protecting.” He has consistently said that “natural marriage” occurs only between a man and a woman.
So it will come as no surprise to a lot of us that this man has become embroiled in controversy after being caught having sex with a man in his office. A witness to the incident reported it to Ohio House Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe, who in turn reported it to House Speaker Republican Cliff Rosenberger. Rosenberger then met with Goodman. During their meeting, Goodman “acknowledged and confirmed the allegations”, and decided to resign.
While I consider myself an ally to the LGBTQIA community, I am a cis gender, hetero woman. I can sympathize with the issues, but have no personal experience in that area. I can somewhat understand the struggle of admitting who you are in the face of a life that has taught you that who you are is abnormal. I can somewhat understand self-loathing brought on by years of being taught that who you are is an abomination.
What I cannot understand is a level of self-loathing that would cause you to follow a career path where your entire life becomes hypocrisy. Goodman spent his working hours trying to make life harder for the LGBTQIA community by attempting to block their basic human rights, and therefore denying their humanity, all while hiding his inner self. He hated himself so much, that his hatred manifested into disavowing an entire group of people. And that is something that I just don’t understand.
Even sadder, in my opinion, is that these lawmakers disappear once their hypocrisy is made public. They make their apologies, resign, and disappear from public life.
Goodman, and those who came before him, never attempt to publicly atone for their actions. Goodman can’t undo the years he spent spreading vitriol about the LGBTQIA community. But he could take a step back where he learns and grows, and then come back to politics and the public arena as a voice for the underrepresented and disenfranchised. It would take time, but in that way, Goodman could find the acceptance he has so clearly been missing, and he could do some good.