Perhaps you’ve heard of Lady G?
It’s the nickname given to Lindsey Graham, the conservative senator from South Carolina—and, according to Gay Twitter, a frequent employer of gay sex workers. We can’t substantiate the growing rumors about Lindsey Graham’s rapacious appetite for porn dick, but we can certainly weigh in on why it matters if the assertions are true.
But first—for the five of you who are late to the game—let’s review how this wildfire started. On June 4, in a now viral tweet, gay porn star Sean Harding wrote:
Soon, all of Twitter was frothing at the mouth with innuendo and demands for information—and referring to Graham as “LG” and the more campy “Lady G.” Normally, the prospect of outing someone is frowned upon, but kicking Graham out of the closet has special resonance for people all over the country. Much like the late Roy Cohn, his fellow confirmed bachelor in arms, Graham has a marked propensity for swallowing whatever load of vitriol President Trump is shooting off at the moment—and a wretched record with LGBTQ communities.
Graham Consistently Votes “No” on LGBTQ Interests
Graham’s quest to dismantle the most basic freedoms for queer lives includes voting against same-sex marriage, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (because it extended the original legislation’s protections to lesbians, gays, immigrants, and Native Americans), the right for gay people to adopt children, and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In 2002, he declared opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act—which would have protected LGBTQ people from job discrimination—and when the law finally made its way to the Senate in 2013, he followed through with a “no” vote.
That same year, he voted to keep LGBTQ people facing deportation in solitary confinement, and supported South Carolina’s refusal to issue benefits to same-sex spouses in the National Guard. Initially, he supported 2013’s immigration reform legislation, but flip-flopped like a verse top once protections for same-sex couples were added to the bill (for my straight friends, that means he voted against it).
After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act—a law that Graham co-sponsored in 1996, enshrining marriage “as only a legal union between one man and one woman”—and established same-sex marriage as a legal right, Graham called upon his Republican colleagues to let go of the issue, but not before reiterating his repugnance for LGBTQ rights, stating in a press release, “I believe in the traditional definition of marriage. South Carolinians have repeatedly said that is the definition they support as well. I have been a strong supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act. I voted for it as a member of the House of Representatives, and as a Senator wrote a brief to the Supreme Court to uphold this important law. I was disappointed with today’s outcome, but respect the Court’s decision.”
During the 2015 confirmation hearing of then–attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch, Graham pursued a line of questioning with Lynch to intentionally equate gay marriage with polygamy.
Graham’s Confirmed Bachelorhood and the Mysterious Viennese Lady Who Got Away
Even while voting against LGBTQ interests, including same-sex marriage, Graham has not escaped questions regarding his own personal life, particularly about the longstanding rumors of his bachelorhood being evidence of his own gay identity.
In 2010, Graham joked to The New York Times about “a clandestine affair with Ricky Martin,” then asserted, “I ain’t gay. Sorry.”
Proof of his supposed heterosexuality exists in his e-book memoir, My Story (find the link to the entire book at the end of this article). In it, Graham describes his lost shot at love, when he almost married a flight attendant named “Sylvia” from Vienna while he was living in Germany in the ’80s. “It wasn’t to be,” he wrote, sounding like a line from a Danielle Steel romance novel. On why he never married, his book gushes, “I never found time to meet the right girl, or the right girl was smart enough not to have time for me.” Graham’s flair for the dramatic has been apparent from his first moment on the national stage, when, in the middle of the Clinton impeachment hearings over the Lewinsky affair, Graham burst out, “Is this Watergate or Peyton Place?” With Lady G in the starring role, it was most certainly Dynasty.
During his failed 2016 presidential campaign, when asked who would serve as his First Lady, Sen. Graham told Daily Mail Online, “I’ve got a sister, she could play that role if necessary. I’ve got a lot of friends. We’ll have a rotating first lady.” I have a feeling that “Lady G” is the only lady that Lindsey Graham needs.
Perhaps comments like these are the reason that Graham opposes the LGBTQ community so virulently; because they remind him of the joy that he has denied himself. Just think of Jon Stewart’s 2013 Daily Show joyful lampoon of Graham as a wilting Blanche Dubois-cum-Truman Capote. It is possibly the most devastatingly recognizable impersonation anyone has ever unleashed on another human being. It can’t be easy to watch that and recognize how on point it is, while seething in silence at your inability to revel in the extravagance that you naturally ooze. But again, that is Graham’s choice. His life would certainly be easier if he took the invitation—that he come out of the closet already—offered on Twitter by Chelsea Handler and Patti LuPone.
Predictably, their tweets were assailed by bipartisan claims of homophobia, a level of support that Graham does not deserve. After all, they were only commenting on something we are all thinking: There is nothing wrong with being gay, unless you hate yourself and go out of your way with oppressing others to prove your straightness, or at least to hold onto power.
Graham’s Macho Man Air Force Exploits
Unwittingly playing into stereotypes, Graham has frequently cited his 33 years with the Air Force (mostly in the Reserves) to bone up his macho cred. Sadly, closer inspection of his record unveils a penchant for giving sloppy interpretations of the truth.
Investigative journalist Craig Whitlock’s detailed 2015 reporting for the Washington Post uncovered that Graham was promoted twice during his 10 years in Congress—to lieutenant colonel in 1998 and to colonel in 2004 by President Bush—even though his personnel file revealed that he had completed little to no work. From 1995 to 2005, Graham received credit for 108 hours of training, cumulatively, which amounts to less than 11 hours per year instead of the 160 hours per year mandated for other reservists. Meanwhile, his actual war zone experience overlapped with carefully arranged congressional photo-ops. By all appearances, it was a circle jerk arrangement; he got to play dress-up in a uniform, while the Air Force retained an influential lawmaker in its deck.
Graham’s own disclosures summarize his military career best: “At one time, I almost thought about getting out, because I felt like, OK, what am I doing here?” On his failure to complete coursework, training, or deployment, he pouted, “If you really want to keep members of Congress and people at the level I’m serving with in the Reserves, those requirements are probably not going to be met.”
An Associated Press article published in 1998 agreed with this assessment, revealing that in contrast to his fluffed-up claims about serving during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, LG “never got closer to the war than McEntire Air National Guard Base” in South Carolina. According to the report, Graham was able to claim veteran status because he “processed wills for soldiers deploying to the Gulf and helped their family members with legal issues,” while allowing readers to assume that he had seen actual combat.
Despite declaring each article a political attack, his limp protestations did little to put the reporting to bed. As Whitlock commented afterwards, Graham called the “story ‘a political hit job.’ But doesn’t dispute any of the facts.”
I’m sure that Graham will say the same thing about his alleged tastes in gay porn stars. But let’s be clear, the only reason any of us care about Graham’s alleged faggotry is because of his hateful record. If he wants to spend his money on rent boys, I’m all for letting him stimulate the economy that way.
Graham’s Mixed Record on HIV and Health Care
But none of this is a joke. Graham’s voting record has horrific consequences for people all over the country, most pressingly for anyone living with HIV. Consider the Affordable Care Act; not only did he vote against it, but he has done the most to destroy, repeal, and rewrite it with fewer protections for people living with preexisting conditions. He even rejected Medicaid expansion in his own state, which disproportionately affects African-American communities.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, South Carolina currently has 389,000 uninsured adults who would be eligible for Medicaid if the state expanded its Medicaid system. 297,000 of those adults would be new to eligibility, while 92,000 are already eligible but currently unenrolled. More than 24% of South Carolina’s 1.4 million–strong African Americans live in poverty. African Americans comprise 27.1% of the state’s population.
While Medicaid expansion falls within the jurisdiction of the governor, Graham wields tremendous influence over policies within the state. Think of how many of these American citizens are suffering for want of basic health care because of his grandstanding on saving money.
To be fair, this is in stark contradiction to his consistent support for HIV/AIDS funding—most notably, the Ryan White CARE Act—which Graham uses to deliver tens of millions of dollars for treatment and preventative care to his state every year.
Calling for fiscal responsibility, if not downright austerity, for other states, while claiming a lion’s share of funding for his own constituency, speaks to Graham’s appalling world view: Screw everyone else, as long as my own are taken care of. This is reinforced by his relationship with his sister Darline, whom he adopted after their parents died so that she should enjoy his military benefits. It’s a story that he loves to tell, ignoring the fact that his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act—which allows parents to cover their dependents until the age of 26—deprive other families from taking care of their own.
But Republicans (who don’t want to deal with the scrutiny of the public when conservatives who are responsible for driving anti-queer legislation are also LGBT people themselves) often use the notion of privacy when it comes to discussing the sexual orientation of members of their own rank.
“People’s sex life should have nothing to do with any kind of a policy,” former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly once told Politico. I agree, unless those people are living out their self-hatred to destroy entire communities. However, to quote openly gay former Massachusetts Congressmember Barney Frank, “People have a right to privacy. But they don’t have the right to hypocrisy.”
Easy quips and cheap shots about being in the closet aside, I truly hope that Sen. Lindsey Graham is not gay. I don’t want him in my community. And let’s remember, even as we anticipate his ruin, more than his presumed dick thirst, it is his hateful views and eagerness to oppress poor, Black, and gay people that puts a mark on his back. It’s the same mark that has ruined other homophobic lawmakers whose self-hatred pushed them to set LGBTQ lives on fire.
After the smoke has cleared from these latest claims, one wonders if Graham will be all aflame.