The interwebs are atwitter over the revelation that Greg Davis, the conservative mayor of Southaven, MS, came out of the closet after a “questionable” expense at a gay novelty store in Toronto, Ontario. “Forced out of the closet,” they say. “He’s a hypocrite who was all about family values,” they say. Yes, it’s a scandal, but I think we’re missing the point on just what the scandal really is.
First, Southaven, Mississippi isn’t a rural hick town in the sticks of the South. For all intents and purposes, it’s a suburb of Memphis, one of the largest cities in the South. Granted, Memphis has a long history of dealing with anti-gay politics, but it’s still a metropolitan area. Southaven is just a part of that conglomerate.
Second, the story isn’t the fact that a closeted gay man got married and had kids, only to be forced out of that closet by a momentary lapse of indiscreet spending. Yes, it’s a story, but not the story.
The real story is the fact that this is a person who very likely abused his power and his expense account. After spending up to $170,000 on “questionable expenses,” his receipts have been undergoing intense scrutiny — leading to the possibility of criminal charges.
It’s really a simple matter. If you abuse your expense account, expect to be called on it. And if you do get called on it, prepare to deal with the consequences. Definitely expect to pay back what you charged. Apparently, he’s already paying some of it back. According to the Commercial Appeal, he’s already paid back $96,000, so he’s well on his way.
To be sure, I’m glad he was honest with the public about his sexuality — it’s a bold move for anyone to share their homosexual orientation, bolder still if you ran for office under the “family values” label. He could have said that he “went to the bathroom” or that he bought a soda at the store. His frank declaration is one that’s worth at least a nod — but if it weren’t tied to the financial issue, it might even be worth congratulating.
As it is, it’s a classic case of “wagging the dog,” letting his sexual declaration trump the story that he may very well have swindled his own government out of thousands of dollars for his own personal benefit. Gay or not, he has much to answer for.