We've all seen the "Strong" ad, we've heard Rick Perry calling to reinstate Don't Ask Don't Tell, we've heard him preaching homophobia for political gain at every opportunity. If you've lived in Texas for a long time, as I have, you've watched Rick Perry pivot towards using GLBT Americans as a wedge issue.
And it may have made you wonder about Perry himself, especially if you've heard the rumors that have circled for years -- that Rick Perry's a closeted homosexual who enjoys same-sex encounters.
I'm Glen Maxey. I'm a former six-term Legislator from Texas. I was also the first full-time lobbyist for the Lesbian/Gay Rights League, now Equality Texas, where I organized for gay rights in Texas. And now, I'm the author of a book, Head Figure Head: The Search for the Hidden Life of Rick Perry, which asks two questions: is it possible to prove that Rick Perry has homosexual encounters? And if I can prove it, can those rumors ever be published in a reputable publication?
Join me below to learn more about my weeks of research, hundreds of hours of interviews, and thousands of email exchanges. I suppose I'm either a great amateur investigative reporter or simply a persevering gay gossip queen. You decide which.
On June 23, 2011, a reporter (aka "The Journalist") from a national news outlet called me. Rick Perry was making noises about running for president, and The Journalist wanted to know about rumors that Perry possibly may have had homosexual sex. I had obviously heard the rumors, but never bothered to investigate them. The Journalist's phone call, however, made me curious, and I set out to see what I could prove. I sent out messages to my wide network of gay and political contacts. Within hours, I had received astonishing information from multiple sources. For the next five months, my life was consumed with investigating the rumors and stories about Perry.
While it's not my policy to "out" people, it was Perry's hypocrisy on GLBT issues that motivated me to dig into the stories I'd heard since the 1980's. I don't care what people do in the privacy of their own homes with consenting adults. But I do care when politicians who have secret homosexual sex use the GLBT community as a target for hatred and bigotry, especially when it's for naked political gain.
It's the hypocrisy that kept me motivated to keep digging. Along the way, I learned about people like James, who claimed to have had an encounter with Perry through a Craigslist casual encounters; Joey, a $200-an-hour hustler whose friends claimed was hired for several trysts with Perry; and a host of other people who had friends who'd claimed to have first-hand experience of Perry's homosexual proclivities.
After months of research, The Journalists's publication refused to print the story, lacking a smoking gun that would protect them from the lawsuits that the Perry legal team was already threatening. So last week, I published the story of my own adventures as a gay gumshoe. It's as much a story of the men who may well populate Rick Perry's little black book as it is the story of investigative journalism in the digital age, when every source is only a mutual Facebook friend away from a phone conversation. It's also the story of what it takes to expose a scandal of this size and scale, and what burden of proof I had to meet to bring down a sitting governor and presidential candidate. Reviews are positive, and I hope you'll pick up a copy through Amazon and find out for yourself.
So far, my book has been featured on Gawker, Wonkette, and Burnt Orange Report. A post in Political Wire connects the dots between the book and an earlier Politico post that Arianna Huffington had spiked a story about the Perry rumors in late summer.
Here's an excerpt from the book, just to get you hot and bothered enough to want to read the rest:
By 1990, I was the most prominent and visible GLBT activist in Texas. I was on television almost weekly addressing GLBT issues and engaging in huge debates on HIV/AIDS legislation at the Capitol. About this time, I was also volunteering for the efforts in Travis County (which includes Austin) to support Ann Richards's gubernatorial campaign.What followed from that phone call became Head Figure Head: The Search for the Hidden Life of Rick Perry, now available on Amazon as an e-book for $9.99 and in paperback for $19.99.
As I told The Journalist, during those early years of public GLBT advocacy, on multiple occasions gay men asked me about Rick Perry while I was out socializing and networking in local gay bars. They would always start with something like: "Hey, aren't you Glen Maxey, the guy who works at the Capitol?" After I confirmed my identity, they followed with an oft-repeated inquiry: "Do you know a representative named Rick Perry?" I'd reply that I did, often with a comment about his bubble butt or some other gay-oriented remark. They responded in several ways. "Well, I'm messing around with him." Or, "My friend is hooking up with him." This happened at least four times in Austin's newly opened gay bar, Oil Can Harry's, and I distinctly remember the men calling Rick Perry by name.
Because my policy was (and still is) not to "out" people, and Rick Perry was at the time a harmless legislator as far as the gay Lobby was concerned, I would always reply "lucky you" or some other dish remark. It never occurred to me to note the guys' names and I don't remember any of them being men known to me before the conversations.
I told The Journalist these stories and said I would give him a call if anything else came to mind. But his inquiry planted a seed. I thought about Perry's decidedly right-wing detour since his first term as Governor, his growing anti-GLBT agenda and willingness to use the community as a wedge political issue, and his willingness to associate himself with people and organizations that have a history of inflaming bigotry against GLBT individuals. I started to wonder what I could do to find the evidence supporting the truth of the two stories. If anyone had the Rolodex and gay gossip network to prove these rumors, it was me. I have been around Texas politics for over forty years. I had worked on over a hundred campaigns, from precinct chair to President, worked as an aide to two Texas Senators, as a gay-rights lobbyist, and served six terms in the Legislature.
To put it mildly, I know a lot of GLBT people, political activists, and Texas Capitol denizens. So that afternoon, after the Journalist's call, I began making a list of people to ask about Rick Perry rumors.
Pick up your own copy, and decide for yourself if the stories are true, and if so, why no "reputable" mainstream publication will take the risk to publish them.