Former Congressman Relates Life of Drinking, Gay Sex in New Book
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Robert Bauman, the former Maryland congressman, says he was introduced to homosexual sex as a teen-age page on Capitol Hill, and spent the next 25 years leading a secret, sordid life of gay encounters and heavy drinking.
″Why did I do it?″ Bauman writes in his forthcoming book. ″In many ways I was driven by a force over which I seemed to have little control. I was willing to risk my marriage, my wife, my children, even life itself.″
Bauman, 49, was the darling of the conservatives and an acknowledged parliamentary wizard in the House until his defeat in 1980, a month after he was accused of soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy. The charges were dropped after Bauman underwent counseling for alcoholism.
Excerpts of Bauman’s book, ″The Gentleman from Maryland,″ due out in August, are published in the July issue of The Washingtonian magazine. Bauman now works as an attorney in the nation’s capital, but says he has had difficulty attracting clients and he wrote the book for money.
Bauman’s book paints a picture of a man tormented by his sexual ambivalence, wracked by shame, remorse and guilt and desperately avoiding self-examination by plunging into the whirlwind of politics.
″My homosexual encounters were an aberration that plagued me, but I would overcome this by sheer force of will,″ Bauman wrote, adding that long after he was exposed ″I was still fighting″ accepting his homosexuality. ″And to some extent, I still am.″
Most of the time, Bauman said he felt a gnawing loneliness and an ″inner powerlessness that I tried to abate by control, manipulation, domination and coercion of those around me.″
His feeling of inadequacy was temporarily relieved by having sex with a ″handsome, well-built man″ - the ″conquest over someone I deemed to be more perfect and attractive that I was - all this produced exhilaration.″
He said his first homosexual experience occurred when he was a page in the early 1950s; he rented a room near a homosexual boarding house and had brief flings with men who frequented the place, including local toughs, congressional employees and college students.
In college, Bauman met his future wife, Carol Dawson. At first, they had a relatively normal married life, and Dawson, now acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, bore Bauman four children before the marriage was annulled in 1982.
Still, Bauman said, the marriage was fraught with tensions caused by his deceit.
Bauman said his secret life was dangerous. Once he picked up a hitchhiker and drove him to the American Conservative Union because the man had no place to go. There, the stranger ″became a snarling animal with a switchblade″ who demanded money. Bauman, former ACU chairman, got out of the situation by driving to a hotel, running inside and calling the police.
Another time, he was beat up by two assailants he’d picked up and driven to a spot near the Anacostia River next to the Naval Air Station.
The son of an alcoholic, Bauman said drinking, which he started after graduating from law school in 1964, loosened his inhibitions and contributed to his promiscuity.
″The drinking gave me the ‘courage’ to relax the moral and philosophical strictures by which I was said to live, by which I said others must live.″ During his career, Bauman told constituents that homosexuals ″are in need of treatment and cure,″ and backed the conservative domestic agenda.
But alcohol blotted out his public views. ″Some nights I would cruise by the ‘meat rack’ on New York Avenue. ... There I would be, driving my big blue Mercury bearing license plates with the Maryland state seal and the legend ‘Member of Congress 1.’ My head throbbing from alcohol, I would edge up to the curb, nod my head, and a young man would jump in.″
The police, Bauman later learned, were watching the area as part of a crackdown on the sex exploitation of juveniles. The FBI learned of Bauman’s activities through surveillance and the use of informers.
Today, Bauman regularly attends group sessions for alcoholics, and he has not had a drink since 1980. He also sought counseling to deal with his homosexuality.
Bauman said he feels frustrated that he is not using his talents in the public or private arena.
″The closets of Washington are full of gay Republicans and gay conservatives. Many of them serve in high Reagan administration posts, some in the White House,″ he said.
″That has made my treatment at the hands of some in the conservative movement all the more hurtful,″ he said.
As for his future, Bauman said he still thinks about politics, but, ″I don’t have any plans for getting back into serious politics. And I doubt there will be any drafts.″