Monday, May 7, 2007

The queer tale of Jeff Chevalier


What 50-something high-flying corporate giant with a taste for much younger men could resist the charms of one Jeff Chevalier? Judging from Chevalier's photo, I think Lord Browne can be forgiven for such a tryst, despite the damage the dalliance has caused him personally.

The recently exposed affair between the former Canadian rent boy and the outgoing CEO of British Petroleum, Lord Browne, has been getting much ink on both sides of the Atlantic. The Mail of London published its long awaited expose on the weekend.

The whole scandal has been strangely titillating to me. Intergenerational love affairs (as long as the younger one was at least 18 years of age) have always turned me on just a bit.

But the whole scandal has also been worrying. Old-fashioned homophobia in the corporate workplace seems to be as strong as ever.

Tales of the many high class dinners with prime ministers and vacations with Euro entertainment heavyweights seem to indicate that, on the surface, most of the upper class Euro world has no problem with homosexuality.

But none of that is new. People as powerful as Lord Browne have been excused for their "lifestyles" for decades, if not centuries, as long as they kept it all hush-hush.

It was mildly upsetting that these revelations made it necessary, in Lord Browne's mind, to resign from his position immediately so that he wouldn't be a "distraction" for his company as it moves forward. If Lord Browne had been straight and caught lying about an affair with a pretty younger woman 30 years his junior, would the result have been the same? Perhaps.

I've always gravitated toward more progressive professions. Currently, I'm employed in the media where issues around sexual orientation are over and done with. No one cares who's gay or who's straight in my workplace. Most queer people instinctively stay away from professions where a closeted life is all but guaranteed (if one wants to succeed and advance.) Take a look at this story in the Globe & Mail today for more insight.

In the end, this is a simple and unoriginal story about a powerful, dirty old man whose life was turned upside down for the oldest reason in the book.

Ultra-success in the business world has always been unimpressive to me. "Wow, you were really good at raping and pillaging the world for your own personal profit, congratulations!" is my typical reaction to private, corporate success.

As head of BP, Lord Browne's contributed well to global warming, got exceedingly rich doing it and even got to enjoy the treats of a handsome young stud 30 years his junior for several years. I won't be shedding any tears for Lord Browne, I can tell you.

As for Mr. Chevalier, all I can say is, "Good for him." I hope he's enjoyed being a sex object for so many tender years, hobnobbing with the Euro elite in a way he himself described as "unbearable." He even reportedly said, "I could not remember all the 'important' people (with whom they were socializing) and that made me feel inferior."

News flash, Mr. Chevalier: you were inferior, you were just a kept man using sex to climb the social ladder. Elton John and others had earned their status, as had Lord Browne.

Chevalier was reportedly a kept man in his early 20s in Canada, and a very well-kept man in Lord Browne's hands in his mid-later 20s. Chevalier seemed quite unable to stand on his own two feet; he had to leech off of wealthier older men to get ahead. When affairs ended, he found himself back in poverty. It's unsurprising, if not again very unoriginal, that Chevalier would go for the buck and sell his story to a newspaper.

The problem for Jeff Chevalier is pretty clear: his biggest asset - his youthful face and body and apparent charms - will surely fade in a few short years, at least in the eyes of the older men he's been courting.

If I were a 50-something richie looking for a much younger lover, would I take an almost 30-year-old who sold out his last lover for a quick buck, or a much younger, more innocent 20-year-old with a clean record and firmer body?

Soon it seems Mr. Chevalier is going to have to learn to provide for himself, or at least start aiming a little lower on the social circuit.

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