Alex Blaze

Ted Haggard Is a Bisexual, 21-Year-Old, Masturbation Guy

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 27, 2011 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Media
Tags: oprah winfrey, ted Haggard

Instead of an urge to go to high school students and tell them there's so much more for them out there, I feel the urge to run to Ted Haggard and just kiss him for being so precious. ted-haggard-oprah-winfrey.pngTed Haggard, who two years ago was telling Oprah that sexuality is so complicated that one can't call him straight, gay, or bisexual, tells GQ that he'd be bisexual if life turned out differently:

For the first time since we've met, Ted isn't looking directly at me. "Here's where I really am on this issue," he half whispers. "I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual." After a weekend of Ted trying to convince me of his unambiguous devotion to his wife and kids, I'm at first too surprised to say anything.

"So why not now?" I ask finally.

"Because, Kevin, I'm 54, with children, with a belief system, and I can have enforced boundaries in my life. Just like you're a heterosexual but you don't have sex with every woman that you're attracted to, so I can be who I am and exclusively have sex with my wife and be perfectly satisfied."

"But what does it have to do with being 54?"

"Life!" he says. "We live an ordinary life."

He also says that he only bought crystal meth to masturbate, but he didn't say that for years because he was worried about being labeled a "masturbation guy":

When Gayle leaves to pick up lunch from a nearby Italian joint, I mention that I visited Mike Jones in Denver. Ted tenses and preemptively begins debunking Jones's claims again--no sex, no repeat massages, no kinky stuff. He admits that he bought drugs from Jones "five or six times" but maintains that he wasn't an addict.

"Sometimes I'd throw it away," he says. "Other times, I'd go someplace and masturbate and use it. But it was for masturbation. And that's one of the reasons why I haven't been real clear. I don't want to stand up publicly and say, 'Hey, I'm a masturbation guy!'

"You know, that's really the core issue here," he continues, lowering his voice. "I bought the drugs to enhance masturbation. Because what crystal meth does--Mike taught me this--crystal meth makes it so you don't ejaculate soon. So you can watch porn and masturbate for a long time."

"And it would be gay porn?" I ask.

"It would be both. I enjoyed both then."

Who knows if any of this is true, since Ted Haggard has lied a lot. He comes clean later, then lies some more. In the interview, he accuses everyone of lying about him, even while he admits that he did some stuff with people.

But maybe it's easy to misread his statements on sexuality as someone who's got something to hide when instead what's going on is someone is caught between two different understandings of sexuality. He was heavily invested in the evangelical movement, and they see homosexuality as a behavior that one is tempted towards because of humanity's imperfection, and now he's finding himself in a world with an increasingly identity politic-based understanding of sexuality where one is what one is and can't do anything about it.

His flirtations with the sort of misunderstanding of queer postmodernism that evangelicals like (that sexuality can't be defined and isn't directed at one sex but is simply rendered legible with words like "gay" and "straight," so therefore it can/should be controlled and repressed through conscious choice) make him sound more like someone looking to please everyone instead of someone who's deciding for himself what's going on. His coming out as bisexual has a certain... well, we'll see. While I think he's hoping people see it as a reason to visit male prostitutes, there are plenty of bisexuals who stay monogamous and if he's searching for an excuse for what he did to get back into the good graces of evangelicals or square himself away with his past, it's not a great one.

Consider this passage from the GQ interview, where Haggard says he never said he was "completely heterosexual." Those may not have been his words, but I don't remember him correcting the record either:

Soon after Ted signed the separation agreement, the Haggards began their exile in Phoenix, where Ted took a job as a door-to-door insurance salesman. He attended therapy sessions in which a counselor used a technique called eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to trace Ted's same-sex urges to having been molested by one of his father's employees at age 7. After just three weeks of EMDR, a member of Ted's advisory committee told The Denver Post that Pastor Ted was "completely heterosexual."

It was the sort of easily mocked, over-the-top statement that Ted might make, but he himself never actually put it in those terms. Ted has been vague about his sexuality since moving back to Colorado Springs in 2008. He says that he still believes the Bible is clear that "homosexuality is not God's best plan for people," but his stance on the issue has softened to the point of near incomprehensibility. After the camping trip, when I asked him about the wording he once used to describe his same-sex urges--in 2006 he wrote in a letter to New Life's congregation that he was warring with a "repulsive and dark" part of himself--he backtracked, saying he never meant it that way. "There's nothing repulsive to me about that world, but it's not a temptation anymore."

The interview in GQ is an interesting read, and not just for the sexy parts. It seems like Ted Haggard really did start a church instead of just starting a "church" as a tax-exempt organization to run speaking fees through as he implied last year:

After the final amen, I strike up a conversation with Wing, Guy, and Art, three parishioners who come every week to stock up on Ted's encouragement. Wing was evicted from his house after falling behind on payments, and he's been living out of his car for the past two weeks. Guy's wife left him last week, taking their daughters with her. Art, a burly Hispanic man in a sleeveless shirt, was addicted to meth when his brother told him about a new church with an unconventional pastor.

"At first I thought, Man, I don't wanna go to no faggot's church," Art says. "But the first day I was here, Pastor Ted looked at me and said, 'You've been struggling with drugs, haven't you? Today you walk free.' I haven't touched it since."

Part of what these guys love about St. James is that it helps struggling people in real, tangible ways. During the offering, when most churches pass the plate, Ted instead has his saints give money to one another. Today the gifts included a $500 donation to fix one man's car and money for another man to pay his electricity bill.

"I'd rather have that conversation with a handful of people," Ted says to me after the service, "than have a worldwide TV audience and everyone think I'm a hotshot."

His voice trembles, "That $500? That's Jesus to me now."

It's nice to think of pastors eschewing the limelight in favor of humble acts of direct charity, but after this guy told so many lies and spent so much of his life conning people out of money, large sums of money, I'll remain skeptical.

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Amazing. There are so many, many layers of deceit and denial in this man that deciphering what to believe is a pointless exercise.

I'm sure for most people (gay or straight), Ted's plight is either incomprehensible or morally reprehensible. As a casualty of society's repression of all things gay, I can empathize and relate to Ted on many levels. As a bisexual man growing up in the bible belt, you either witness (or personally experience) the shame of being bi or gay and the pressure to conform. As a bisexual, you have the option to be somewhat satisfied with dating the opposite sex. You learn to repress the same-sex attraction - for a while. After all, you do not want to be the subject of ridicule and torture that the gay or femme guy's get. In many guys, this shame drives you to excel in other ways; to earn the respect of society. In Ted's case, he became an excellent orator. And to add more credibility to his persona, he joined with the crowd and preached against homosexuality. Unfortunately, repressing your gay side is like a gay or straight person repressing their sexuality. After a while it just explodes. The life force that is half of your sexual being must be let out. One way or another.

Not uncommonly one tries to relieve the pressure secretly in small doses. After all, to the closeted and successful bi-man, coming out and being honest about one's real sexuality would be career and family suicide (based on the belief system learned during his formative years). Believe it or not, Ted, most likely, really does love his wife and family and did not want to hurt them. He wants to protect and provide for them -just like any other married man. But it is hard to satisfy two masters. Most gay and straight people cannot relate to Ted's plight. They really have nothing to compare to.

So, please do not be eager to judge another's actions. Sexuality is a tremendous life force not easily repressed; not even by an otherwise successful person. So, be slow to judge and quick to forgive. Try repressing and hiding your own sexuality for 20 to 30 years before you judge another's ability to do so.

Thank you, Alex. A very difficult post to read. He's clearly tortured.

I'm about his age. I completely understand the pressures. At some point, "coming clean" is just healthier.

He's come a short distance on the honesty continuum. He's got a long way to go. I hope he gets there. For his own sake, and for the sake of those who did or do love him.

The extent to which that includes a church, probably only complicates his journey. The trail he needs to walk, is a solitary one, and it's the toughest thing he'll ever do.

In some ways, the journey never ends. But he's doing it in fits-and-starts.

If in college, his grade would be: "Incomplete."

He needs to talk less, and think more. Interviews are not a good idea.

His poor wife and kids. Ayeyiyi.

Thanks for the link Alex. As Mark Twain once remarked ... A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.

Paige Listerud | January 27, 2011 2:08 PM

"If I were 21, I'd be bisexual." ????????

Right. And if I were 5, I'd be an astronaut.

I predict divorce in three years. After that, Ted will be as 21 as he wants to be.

Hey, you know?

I could have been Oprah ... if life had just turned out differently ...

"His flirtations with the sort of misunderstanding of queer postmodernism that evangelicals like..."

YES

So in other words, he's spent so much time in the closet that he thinks it's safer just to stay in the closet.

Because that's where all his friends are

I have high hopes for Pastor Ted. I think he's evolving slowly - and so is his wife. It may not be the path we think he should take or the time we think it should take, but he's slowly coming to the realization that he has to be able to bring his world back into some sort of focus.

I try to get him to talk to me on Twitter, but I think he's afraid I'm just out to flame him.

Try giving him a call. 719.244.9915

Tony Soprano | January 28, 2011 1:28 AM

From the Bible:

"Many will come in my name;
but, I will not know them".

(i.e. beware of hypocrits and falsehoods).

I hope Ted Haggard - and all of us - bears these words in mind.

Wow! Thanks, Alex. It is so easy to have disdain for Ted Haggard. He represents so much of the ugly side of humanity. But at the same time, I appreciate and even feel some of the empathy expressed in the comments from FLBiGuy and Rick. There is much truth to what they say. This is a guy who has come this far only because he got caught, and I think he should be grateful and hope he can continue his journey toward honesty and integrity. I'd say it likely will not include the current charade with his family.

The many men (and I have no idea how many women) who live the life lie of being straight--as husband, father, etc. Such men are a product of the warped U.S. society that is overly influenced by crazy, damaging, nonsensical religious beliefs. Had they been "allowed" to be themselves when they were in their teens and twenties, they would be so much healthier and they would not have hurt so many other people. Extricating oneself from the situation at age 40 or 50 or beyond is very complicated and it is hard to make judgments about what the "right thing to do" is. For those who have never walked in the shoes, it likely seems simple; but it is not.

While I have no fondness for the likes of Haggard, I can appreciate the difficult life situation he's in. I, too, think he has taken an unsustainable position. We'll see.

All this jaw-flapping out of him certainly put bisexuality in a bad light: typical no-boundaries speak. I'll say it again: a committed relationship to one gender doesn't ALWAYS mean there is some unrelenting desire to be with the other. Desires being what they are, there are no definites, and it's bi prejudice, or at least bi ignorance.

Why does he have to pick it apart at all? Can't he just say he liked to masturbate, he likes sex, he likes to watch and have sex with both genders? Yes, it is painful to watch him twist, and it's not fair for him to have to twist at all. He could just quit acting like the world will end for being sexual. That said, we all have our own demons.

And that's one of the reasons why I haven't been real clear. I don't want to stand up publicly and say, 'Hey, I'm a masturbation guy!' You know, that's really the core issue here.

That's exactly what it's about... He hit it on the head, but probably didn't realize it. It's about keeping up appearances, and keeping the facade of the closet, instead of being honest.

Until he learns that, he's still adrift, and frankly still dangerous, to himself and to the community. You can't live with one foot in the closet, which is exactly what he's trying to do. Worse, it's what he's probably preaching now, which is almost worse than what he was preaching before.

My first thought was, "He's still in denial." He's not, he knows exactly who and what he is (as we do). He's just still slinging the bullshit to try and keep the public persona that he wants to show. Bisexual? Naw, he just figures that society is more willing to accept that ambiguous bi label (read: possibly straight) vs. the completely gay label. He's still a fucking moron, deceiver and a sad excuse for a supposed Christian.

eagander you confuse me. How would you define bisexual and how would you define Ted?