Whatever lifts your luggage…

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So far, it's been overshadowed by the big BP oil spill, the Times Square bomber, Greece's financial crisis, and other hot news items. But quietly developing in the background is what seems to be the best euphemistic explanation for a sexual escapade since "hiking the Appalachian Trail".

According to Penn Bullock and Brandon K. Thorp, "Christian right leader George Rekers takes vacation with 'rent boy'", Miami New Times, 5/4/2010, the anti-gay activist Dr. George Rekers recently took a ten-day European vacation with a young man known as "Lucien", whom he met though a web site called rentboy.com:

The pictures on the Rentboy.com profile show a shirtless young man with delicate features, guileless eyes, and sun-kissed, hairless skin. The profile touts his "smooth, sweet, tight ass" and "perfectly built 8 inch cock (uncut)" and explains he is "sensual," "wild," and "up for anything" — as long you ask first. And as long as you pay.

In the Miami New Times article, Dr. Rekers is quoted as saying ""I had surgery, and I can't lift luggage. That's why I hired him."

In a response on Facebook to the blogger Joe.My.God., he told a different story:

I have spent much time as a mental health professional and as a Christian minister helping and lovingly caring for people identifying themselves as “gay.” My hero is Jesus Christ who loves even the culturally despised people, including sexual sinners and prostitutes. Like Jesus Christ, I deliberately spend time with sinners with the loving goal to try to help them.

'Lucien' confirmed to the New Times that Prof. Rekers found him through this online profile (definitely NSFW), which certainly seems to be the sort of place that someone in search of certain sorts of sexual sinners might look.

Joe.My.God. suggests that the Family Research Council (which Rekers co-founded) has already erased Rekers from its history, but I'm not sure that this is fair.  It's certainly true that in the most recent earlier version of the FRC's history/mission page at the internet archive, the section on "The Early Years" begins like this:

The idea of the Family Research Council originated at the 1980 White House Conference on Families. Among the conferees, James Dobson stood out because of his rare combination of Christian social values and academic and professional credentials. A practicing clinical psychologist and noted author, Dobson had recently transitioned into radio broadcasting and also launched a nonprofit, family service organization. He felt that the time was ripe to establish an organization that would drive the national debate on family issues. In 1983, the Family Research Council incorporated as a nonprofit educational institution in the District of Columbia; its founding board included Dobson and two noted psychiatrists, Armand Nicholoi Jr. of Harvard University and George Rekers of the University of South Carolina.

In the current version of the page, that section starts this way:

The seeds for FRC's growth were planted in a time of turmoil and watered with work and prayer. After attending a research planning meeting for President Carter's 1980 White House Conference on Families, Dr. James Dobson met and prayed with a group of eight Christian leaders at a Washington hotel. From that beginning resolve was formed to establish Family Research Council, and one of those present that night, Gerald P. Regier, became our first president. FRC's immediate goal was to counter the credentialed voices arrayed against life and family with equally capable men and women of faith.

But the page might very well have been changed at some earlier point. And the FRC's FAQ page still answers the question "Who founded Family Research Council?" with this answer:

Dr. James Dobson, Gerald P. Regier, and a few other like-minded pioneers first saw the need for an organization like Family Research Council during the 1980 White House Conference on Families. Following the Conference, Dr. Dobson, Jerry Regier, and five other Christian leaders met to discuss ways to make it easier for public policymakers to receive input from scholarly experts who have an appreciation for strong families and a respect for the time-honored truths that undergird family well-being.

Their idea became a reality in 1983, and Jerry Regier became FRC's first president. The founding board included Dr. Dobson and two noted psychiatrists, Armand Nicholi Jr. of Harvard University and George Rekers of the University of South Carolina medical school.

Anyhow, I expect that we'll be hearing a bit more over the next few weeks about Dr. George Rekers and his luggage-lifting companion(s).

[Update 5/5/2010 — The luggage-lifting explanation is back, with this posting today by professorgeorge on professorgeorge.com ("Misleading Internet Reports about Professor George Rekers", 5/5/2010):

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.

And according to Steve Rothaus, "Antigay psychologist George Rekers takes trip to Europe with Rentboy from Miami", Miami Herald 5/5/2010:

Both Rekers and Geo, who declined to give his real name, deny they had a sexual relationship during their 10-day journey to Spain and England.

"In all honesty, I did go on the trip with him," Geo, 20, told The Miami Herald on Wednesday. "He was setting me up as a companion. In all honesty, he's a very kind family-values man."

Rekers, 61, said via e-mail that he hired Geo as "an assistant to lift his luggage in his travels because of an ongoing condition following surgery."

A picture of Prof. Rekers and Geo dealing with their luggage as they arrived in Miami is here.]

[Update 5/6/2010 — Stephen Colbert takes a shot at promoting the luggage-lifting meme, asking WBWJR ("What Boy Would Jesus Rent?"); and there's more here from 'Lucien', if you're interested, on the details of just whose luggage was lifted, and how.]


  1. Rubrick said,

    May 4, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

    scholarly experts who have an appreciation for strong families and a respect for the time-honored truths that undergird family well-being.

    I'm sure the good doctor merely wanted to test the young man's strength and examine his, um, undergirding.

  2. Colin said,

    May 5, 2010 @ 12:13 am

    Wait a minute. Rentboy.com isn't where you go to get a bellhop?

  3. Sili said,

    May 5, 2010 @ 12:49 am

    Well, ", Role Playing" is on his CV, so I'm sure you could get him to dress up as Spirou, if you wanted to, Colin.

    I certainly wouldn't mind being his Fantasio – rawwrrrrrr.

  4. Thomas P said,

    May 5, 2010 @ 3:03 am

    I wonder why this mundane matter tickles Mark's linguistic fancy?

  5. Nick Lamb said,

    May 5, 2010 @ 5:53 am

    Thomas, no doubt Mark is influenced a little by the fact that this particular hypocrisy matches the established and completely hilarious stereotype – anti-gay bigots turn out to have something hidden in the closet. But it's interesting in general to guess which catch phrases will make a permanent mark on the language, will "hiking the Appalachian Trail" last? I don't know if anyone could have guessed that quisling would have such a long life, and certainly if you'd written an SF story in 1972 in which 21st century people used "-gate" as a suffix meaning "scandal involving" you would have needed an appendix to explain your thinking.

    "loving goal" in particular seems ripe for use as a euphemism. "So, my wife found out I had a loving goal" or maybe it makes sense as a name for a gay club or a priests and choirboys themed night… Plus if it became established in the lexicon you have the opportunity for puns like "Love in goal" a collection of short stories about forbidden love in the mens soccer league.

  6. [links] Link salad likes living in Portland | jlake.com said,

    May 5, 2010 @ 7:29 am

    […] Christian right leader George Rekers takes vacation with "rent boy" — Loves me some family values. Look, over there! Teh gay! Let's persecute! I see nothing but bigotry and hypocrisy in the anti-gay movement. (Thanks to danjite.) And a bit more of a funny on this from Language Log. […]

  7. kiki said,

    May 5, 2010 @ 10:52 am

    Oh I can't stop laughing.

  8. ShadowFox said,

    May 5, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

    All he had to say, "Oh, Jesus! Lift my luggage!"

    As for role playing, "I'll be the Archbishop and you be the altar boy…"

    "Is that my luggage or am I paying by the hour?"

    OK… I'll stop now… I have nothing linguistically constructive to add–potential contribution to folklore notwithstanding…

  9. ShadowFox said,

    May 5, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

    Thomas, look at the headline again… Then check the first paragraph…

    The point is that "lift my luggage" may well travel the same path very soon that was previously covered by "hiking the Appalachian Trail". Sorry if you missed it.

  10. blahedo said,

    May 10, 2010 @ 1:35 am

    Dan Savage gave a talk at Knox College on Friday night and used the phrase in just the sense Mark guessed—"Whatever floats your boat, lifts your luggage, whatever." I think most of the students in the audience didn't catch the reference, but it's out there. :)

  11. Private Zydeco said,

    May 10, 2010 @ 4:46 am

    I.O.N., "W.L.Y.L earns W.O.T.D. on U.D. (LOL1!1!!)

  12. Joy said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

    Hasn't "Whatever lifts your luggage" always meant do as you wish to do, George Rekers ? Urban dictionary

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