Rev Irene Monroe

Ted Haggard issues with his homosexuality

Filed By Rev Irene Monroe | February 04, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Christian beliefs, evangelical Christian, Grant Haas, lou sheldon, Mike Jones, New Life Church, sexual hypocrisy, ted Haggard

After haggardcnn.jpga publicity junket promoting the HBO documentary The Trials of Ted Haggard, which landed him on Oprah and Larry King Live fallen evangelical star Haggard has risen from public obscurity to tell us he's not gay - he's "heterosexual with issues." And the issues Haggard is referring to are his "sexual thoughts about men, but they're not compulsive any more."

But Haggard's same-sex thoughts haven't been nearly as compulsive and destructive as his trysts with gay men.

First denying allegations about dalliances with gay men, Haggard was shamed into confessing "his sexual immorality" when his gay male prostitute Mike Jones went public about their affair. Haggard we find out was soliciting homosexual sex and methamphetamine from Jones off and on for three years.

The founder of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo, and Haggard was once a national bigwig. Time magazine in 2005 listed Haggard as one of the top 25 most influential evangelicals in America. And he wielded influence on Capitol Hill as part of a cadre of men who participated in conservative Christian leadership conference calls with the White House during the Bush administration.

Now banished from the GOP inner sanctum and the Christian Right's hallowed sanctuary, Haggard has lost his political platform and bully pulpit. Haggard traces his sexual struggles to allegedly being molested as a child. But Haggard's road to perdition is not about his sexual orientation; rather it is about the lies he tells about it.

"I do believe I don't fit into the normal boxes," Haggard said. "I do think there are complexities associated with some people's sexuality, but it just wasn't as simple as I wanted it to be, because I was so deeply in love with my life."

However, truth be told, Haggard is deeply in love with heterosexual privilege and homosexual sex.

In feeding Haggard internalized homophobia and the Christian Right's politically and religiously Biased Agenda-Driven (aptly abbreviated "B.A.D.") science like "reparative therapies," which attempts to prove that LGBTQ people are genetically flawed, an ex-gay reparative therapist depicted Haggard's sexual proclivity as " heterosexual with homosexual attachments."

But the real troubling attachment to Haggard's downfall is how the revelation of his furtive gay sex life exposes the broader hypocrisy of his church.

Long before Haggard's sex scandal was publicly disclosed church officials and friends knew of his homosexual trysts. Lou Sheldon, a friend and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition told The Jewish Week that "he and a lot of other people had been aware of Pastor Haggard's same-sex behavior for a while... but we weren't sure just how to deal with it.... Ted and I had a discussion. He said homosexuality is genetic. I said, 'yes it is'."

Younger evangelical Christians find the struggle Christian conservative churches are having with LGBTQ people is a culture war that don't want to engage in because the emphasis is political rather than focused on "the ethic of Jesus." And fighting against same-sex marriage is not on the top of their list of social concerns for the country.

When asked about same-sex marriage, Diana Smith, 27, an evangelical Christian from upstate New York said, "opposing [same-sex marriage] would not be at the top of Jesus' priority list. Jesus never mentioned homosexuals at all."

As a matter of fact, the top three social issues for this coming of age of evangelical Christians are the environment, children orphaned by AIDS, poverty and health care, all social issues they view as matters of faith and family values.

Older evangelical Christians, on the other hand, use homosexuality and sex scandals like Haggard's as a way to politicize their theological presence and control within the Republican Party. But the church knows, as many of its fallen disciples like Haggard, that it can neither get rid of or completely closet its LGBTQ people. The church, however, can be complicit in the deception.

Case in point: While on his publicity junket new allegations of a homosexual relationship surfaced concerning Haggard. This time Haggard's church got involved by paying the 20-year-old male church volunteer hush-money to keep silent. In a settlement reached by the man's lawyer to not go public, the church is providing the young man money to pay his college tuition, moving expenses and counseling.

Rev. Brady Boyd, the new senior pastor at New Life since Haggard's excommunication, doesn't see the exchange as bribery.

"This was compassionate assistance. It was to help him move forward, not a settlement to keep him quiet," Boyd told CNN.

Many feel that Haggard should be held accountable for his actions. And they are right. But so too should the church.

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in re your comment: "However, truth be told, Haggard is deeply in love with heterosexual privilege and homosexual sex."

Perhaps if the str8, gay and lesbian communities ALL actually acknowledged that sexual identify is a continuum and that many people really ARE bisexual, fluid, pansexual, homoflexible/hetroflexible, et. al. instead of making snarky comments behind people's backs, all sorts of disasters in MANY people personal lives could be avoided.

Yeah, but Ted isn't there either. And watching him on Oprah the other day, and the linguistic gymnastics he was doing to avoid saying anything that would cause people to think that he's either gay or bi, means that there he isn't quite there yet either.

I don't think the Rev's comment was snide - it was right-on. This particular man is willing to say whatever, and continue to say whatever, to maintain heterosexual privilege. Whether he's really bi or queer or gay or whatever is besides the point.

I don't believe most people are at all surprised that Ted Haggard "isn't there either", but it is tiresome and a real shame that the majority of the movers, shakers and opinion-makers in our own LGBT Community are at about the same place that he is.

If we could only get the Powers-That-Be in our own community to make a concerted effort making it clear that there is a reason it's called the "Kinsey scale" NOT the Kinsey two-step. That not everyone fits into a neat box of either a "Kinsey 6" or a "Kinsey 0" ,then in addition to making the lives of bisexual/pansexual people less difficult, a lot of the wind would be taken out of the sails of the ex-gay reparative therapy crowd.

Right now our own community is so heavily invested in the ""gay, straight or lying" scenario, that when an otherwise sensible person who has for years lived happily in the queer culture suddenly has strong feeling for a member of another gender they have no good frame of reference for what is going on. So they are easy pickings for the first quack or religious charlatan who comes down the pike and tells them any superstitious mumbo-jumbo about how they been suddenly "cured" of homosexuality.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 4, 2009 8:32 PM

The policy taken by Haggard's church doesn't just hurt him, but all the other brainwashed LGBT young people who fall for it.

What a waste of potential.

I hope the hush money was a lot, because integrity and self acceptance are priceless.

Way to call it out, Rev. I actually watched the documentary and got more angry at the way the church was doing everything (exiling him from an entire state? seriously?) than at Haggard himself.

Come out'll feel better!!!

I don't know if Haggard is gay or bi (though it aggravates me that the default position is that he must be gay, which seems to me to be symptomatic of assuming that bisexuality isn't any kind of real orientation), but he is clearly some flavour of queer.

If I were to engage in armchair psychoanalysis, I'd say he's so enmeshed in that far-right culture that the only option he can even begin to cope with is squashing himself into a tightly controlled, heavily policed, right-wing evangelical concept of masculinity. His comments that sexuality is multifaceted and complex is dead on. For many people there is still the belief that one must choose between a stereotypically straight identity or a stereotypically gay identity and that there are no other options available. It's oppressive in its narrowness of conception of what it means to be gay or straight, male or female - how much more oppressive it is when there is no awareness of gender, gender identity, and orientation as more complex, less easy to categorise and police. For someone who grew up with and remains enmeshed in a culture that emphasises the narrow definitions as the only acceptable ones, it must be even more terrifying to consider being authentically queer than it is for those of us who grew up in largely secular cultures with fewer constraints. And when your entire identity is as a LEADER in such a culture, the need to conform to that culture's norms must be intense, and probably leads to a more judgmental attitude to others who don't conform - because, hell, considering accepting them for who they are might mean accepting oneself, and that's one of the hardest things anyone can do.

I'm not giving the man a free pass for all the harm he's done others. I am saying that it's morbidly fascinating to watch the fallout from the dangerously narrow norms of right-wing evangelical culture in such a public way. And I'm saying that he might be gay - but that we are at fault for just assuming that he is, and thereby rendering invisible all the other possibilities. And that makes me really uncomfy.

I don't know if Haggard is gay or bi (though it aggravates me that the default position is that he must be gay, which seems to me to be symptomatic of assuming that bisexuality isn't any kind of real orientation), but he is clearly some flavour of queer.

Absolutely! People might want to look at the definition of "bisexual erasure".

And it is troubling that the greater Queer Community, who should know better, seem to be as clueless, superstitious, mean and hidebound as the religious right when it comes to clearly accepting that sexuality come in more than two "approved" flavours.

I think you could have left the title at "Ted Haggard has issues." That would have said enough.

as one who has struggled in some similar ways for many years, i have to say i find it unfortunate that haggard is being raked over the coals by everyone (gay, straight, etc).

regrettably, the likelihood that being found out will result in such vitriol is one of the major contributing factors in our ability to finally come out. i agree that the harm he's done to others needs to be scorned, but let's all understand that even the most devout believer is still a human being, and the frailties of the human condition always apply.

it is a shame that he feels the need to hide his desires from the world, yet based on his position and leadership role, it is perfectly understandable that he'd hide.

i don't know where else to take this discussion, except to ask for compassion for those of us who still struggle to deal with the duality of our lives.

The truth is that there's a lot of Ted Haggards out there in the world. Certain religious sects - especially Christian fundamentalism and Roman Catholicism - articulate a skewed, unbalanced, and unhealthy view of human sexuality. A young person who only aspires to be a "good" person internalizes this mindset into fear and self-loathing. Far too many are never able to psychosexually develop into mature adults. Rather than dealing openly and honestly with their sexuality, they co-opt the language and teaching of their religious upbringing and become voices of their own oppresion.

Well-known examples of this phenomena include Rev Bruce Ritter, Rev Jimmy Swaggart, Rev Jim Bakker, John Paulk, and the recent priest abuse scandals.

I saw both the HBO documentary and the Oprah interview. What poppycock, sophistic, tap-dancing bullshit! More loathesome than this lying hypocrite Ted Haggard is his appallingly unChristian like followers in that hateful, ingorant church. He taught 'em. Fuck them all. Suck crap. Jesus weeps.

Yes, Haggard's linguistic gymnastics are now seen as self-serving rationalizations but I believe we are witnessing the early stages of this drama. He must eventually admit that his church is in error not his God.
Aside from his elevated status and the expected media focus, Haggard's crisis parallels that which many of us raised with religious backgrounds have had to reconcile.

I don't care if Haggard's gay, straight, bi, or what: I do know that his words have been consistantly hateful towards GLBT people, twisting the Holy Bible into out of context loops to justify their prejudice. I have no love or respect for Haggard, and hope to see him asking for fries with that.

If you're Bi, then you actually and truthfully DO HAVE A CHOICE about your sexuality and there is no reason at all to be tortured in your mind about it. You can simply choose to be straight/act only on your opposite sex attractions! I don't know how much easier it could be for you. Gay people do not have this luxury. We are only attracted to and fall in love with people of the same sex. We have zero sexual attraction to the opposite sex.

I've only known a few bi men in my life (I'm 100% gay). To me it seems that the gay sex part for bi men is simply a sex thing with no emotions or feelings involved. Bi men don't like to kiss other men either. But of course I'm not bi so I can't speak for them. And Bi men are not gay so they have no idea at all how we feel either.

Ted Haggard is so tortured that he is most likely gay. With all the power this Jesus thing is supposed to give you, if you're Bi, it would be extremely easy to reject the same sex attraction without any inner turmoil at all.

OMG not again!! Another person who once thinks they kinda, sorta maybe might have met a couple of people who said they felt that they might possibly identified more as bisexual than gay. So now I'm going to be told who I am, how I feel, how I should/could live my life and all about my community.

Well Thank You Jesus! Where ever would we poor ignorant li'l bisexual folk be if the great gay and lesbian community didn't constantly explain it all to us!!!

Dear Jim,

It will obviously come as a complete surprise to you to find out that like other members of the human race bisexual people to DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE ABOUT OUR SEXUALITY EITHER. Neither I nor anyone else in the Queer Community woke up one fine morning and decided "you know today I think I'll have waffles for breakfast, I'll wear my blue and white striped Brooks Brother's shirt and oh yes I think I'll be bisexual."

We came into the world like this. And you know what else? It's completely OK. It's just another natural variation found in all animal species on this planet. Just like being straight is or being gay is or being a lesbian is. We can no more "pray the gay away" than anyone else. And you know what else? Except for an unhappy closeted few, we don't want to either. We are perfectly happy being queer, it is how god/ess made us and who we were meant to be. It is the reaction of the ignorant and bigoted portion of society we don't like. THAT is what causes unhappiness and sometimes even great mental anguish in our lives. Not our innate orientation as the "B" in the greater LGBT community.

And just like you, we do not actually have a choice about who we fall in love with, or in lust with or even in like with. Nope, not at all. As amazing as it may seem to you, bisexual/pansexual people do NOT actually have some sort of magic power that makes it so that we are only attracted to "socially acceptable" people. So nope, sorry, we cannot and will not just dump our partners because it might make our lives more convenient and would make you, the religious right and all the other people who are "squicked out" by bisexual, fluid, pansexual and all the rest of us folks in the broad middle of the Kinsey Scale happier.

I also see that you admit that you have "only known a few bi men". I would caution you against thinking that any and all of the characteristics of those few people that you remember meeting should be expanded to cover an entire class of people. For example would you say because some men of African-American background are in the NBA that ALL black men are good at basketball? Or maybe because some people have know a Chinese-American person who made good grade and was a Science-Whiz that it is correct to say that ALL Asian Americans are nerdy and good at science?

And guess what, I know "a few" gay men who are major queens, who work as hair-stylists, who would wear things with sequins and feathers everywhere if they could get away with it, who are found most every night at the hottest clubs dancing up a storm and have a different "sweetie" every week (or to be truthful sometimes every hour if you get my drift). So from that do you think it is fair for bisexual people to conclude that ALL gay men are disco-dollies who screech, flame, 'ki ki", are fashion obsessed, "do hair" and are not actually what we might call deeply committed to EVER having a serious monogamous relationship?

No of course not. This is called stereotyping. A thing that has also frequently been done to gay men. A thing that you probably deeply resent when it is done to you. So guess what? Bisexual people don't like it when it happens to them either. So don't do it. It's not true, it is deeply hurtful and it is just plain ignorant.