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Pre-2008 Posts

Anti-Lesbian/Gay Rights President of National Evangelical Association Steps Down. He’s Gay.

The Rev. Ted Haggard, pictured above, evangelist, head of the 30-million member National Association of Evangelicals, pastor of  14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and a married father of five, is in big trouble. A prostituted man Haggard has been paying for sex every month for three years has outed him, reporting that Haggard also often bought and used methamphetamine when the two were together. 

I’ve been watching this since yesterday.   First Haggard said he was innocent, it was all a big plot strategically timed to undermine the anti-gay-rights movement in the days before Colorado and seven states are scheduled to vote on gay rights legislation and amendments.  James Dobson stepped up to the plate to offer his support to Haggard and to voice his outrage over the accusations, as did other leaders and church members.  Haggard said he had never been unfaithful to his wife.

But today, various church leaders say he has admitted to at least some of the allegations. It’s tempting to roast the guy, and I know that’s what lots of people will be doing. 

I won’t be. 

Haggard is in for it, for one thing.  The first order of business for church leaders who will make decisions about Haggard, his future, his life, is going to be to get him into some sort of group or program which will help him to “repent” of his homosexuality and change his evil gay ways.  He’s probably going to try very hard to do what these “leaders” tell him to do because if he doesn’t, he’s history, and he knows it.  They’ll put him on some kind of a performance plan with periodic checkups to make sure he’s thinking the right thoughts, lusting after the right sex, and fleeing the people he’s supposed to be fleeing from.  He won’t be preaching anymore, no more teaching, no more leading, no more writing.  Those who have followed his ministry and who have been his friends will begin the process of scrutinizing every aspect of his life, analyzing everything he’s ever said or done.  Some will be enraged and will tell him so, making everything all about how much he has disappointed them.  Some will be crushed.  Life as he’s known it for all these years is over. 

His wife and his children, of course, are going to be devastated.  But this is just the beginning for them, too.  His wife is going to be reminded time and time again of the importance of forgiveness and submission.  If Haggard apparently “repents” and agrees to the program laid out for him, she’s going to be expected to support him and stay married to him.  She, too, will be set upon a performance plan with periodic checkups to determine how committed she is to being a godly wife.  It’s going to be hell– for all of them.

But in the end, if they survive what the church is about to do to them, there is the possibility that Haggard and his wife will finally come into the light, maybe for the first time.  

I was once outed in a spectacularly public way, too.  I was a leader in the same circles Haggard is a leader in.  Like Haggard, I was a good leader, a good speaker, dedicated and committed, but ultimately I couldn’t walk the walk, couldn’t believe it anymore, broke, couldn’t live that way anymore, bailed, jumped ship.   Powerful Christian evangelicals do not take kindly to this kind of thing.  They can be expected to do all they can, all in their power, to silence you, shut you up, because if they can’t shut you up, then you might just tell the truth — about them, about their religion, about your own life.  And when you tell it, it will have a credibility they cannot destroy.

I hope Haggard, his wife, and his children come through all they are about to go through without  ending up with wounds that can never be healed, brokenness that can never be mended.  I hope the progressive community, the GLBT community, feminists, come alongside to encourage Haggard to be honest and true to who he is, come alongside his wife to encourage her to be honest and true to who she is and to do what she needs to do for herself, including getting a divorce and moving on with her life without looking back.  I wish them all the best.  Living in the leadership fishbowl of the Religious Right makes people sick, makes people crazy.  I hope they can get well.

If they can, they might be, ultimately, committed allies in the work we are all doing as political radicals to create a better world, where men, women and children can be free, can live life by their own lights without being ashamed of who they are or who they love.  And I know as sure as I’m sitting here, writing this, and remembering, that there are probably many hundreds and even thousands of people who are part of Haggard’s church, part of his world, or who have followed his ministry who are also gay or lesbian.  If he gets free, they might get free.  That’s what the church is worried about and so they will work very hard to silence him and his wife now.  I won’t be participating in that or adding any fuel to that fire. 




31 thoughts on “Anti-Lesbian/Gay Rights President of National Evangelical Association Steps Down. He’s Gay.

  1. I wrote this elsewhere, but I think this is what I find highly problematic about framing gay rights as marriage rights. This man is gay/bisexual, but he has strong political/religious views about marriage. Now that only becomes an issue because gays and lesbians have pretty much put all their fights for rights onto the marriage buggy. Let marriage be between a man and a woman! Fuck marriage. I mean, really. Why are feminists getting alarmed that this man wanted to retain all the inherent patriarchal nastiness that marriage is?

    Eh, this isn’t coming out as clearly as I like. This man isn’t the “other.” He *is* gay/bisexual. He *is* the face of many, many gay men and lesbians in this country. But this friggin fight for marriage rights is doing exactly what I thought it might: the only good queer is a married queer (or a queer who desires to marry). So any closeted gay man or lesbian is really just left to friggen fend for themselves while the good queers gleefully sell them out and pat themselves on the back for their progressiveness. Bah.

    I like what you said about the harm done to his wife though. That is an important point, and I don’t want to detract from that.

    I’m just sad to see another gay man pilloried because he was closeted and not as fortunate as some of the rest of us who found ways to get out of the closet and get over our internalized homophobia.

    Posted by Q Grrl | November 3, 2006, 7:16 pm
  2. Exactly, Q-grrl, and right on re the focus on lesbian/gay rights being marriage rights and the way that has shaped gay/lesbian, feminist and progressive politics, just in general.


    Posted by womensspace | November 3, 2006, 7:33 pm
  3. I have not one shred of pity for him. This is his karma coming to bite him in the ass. I’m too bitter about the harm he’s done to millions to cry over the harm he’s done to himself. It *is* a shame about his family, though.

    Posted by Amananta | November 3, 2006, 9:34 pm
  4. I’m not sure I agree with Q-Grrl, mostly because I’m not sure where I stand on “sexual identity,” whether it’s a factual thing, a cultural thing, etc.

    I think that Haggard’s sexual identity is that of a top: does paying men to have sex with him make him gay? Maybe, depends upon how you look at it, how you need to see it for a particular agument.

    I guess I’m not as sympathetic (although I share your concern for his wife). Hell, I “learned” about sex from Dobson, having been forced to listen to his audio tapes for adolescents from the church library. I think it’s highly possible for white males to step away from that sort of business of their own accord, internalized-anything or not: you don’t become the boss of 30 million souls by quaking in a closet, you do it by being a monster.

    Posted by Rich | November 3, 2006, 10:27 pm
  5. Heart, your compassionate angle on this would never have occurred to me.
    Truly, religious ostracism must be devastating to the faithful, and this is something I have never experienced, not even close.

    And to follow on Rich’s point, about him being a top, and synthesize with Q-Grrl’s statement about good married queers: It’s true that the gay marriage proponents paint a very fuzzy picture of egalitarian marriage, whereas marriage in many cases is a coercive instituition They seem to gloss over the fact that gay relationships can also follow patriarchal models.

    Posted by saltyC | November 4, 2006, 3:20 am
  6. Rich said: >>I think that Haggard’s sexual identity is that of a top: does paying men to have sex with him make him gay? Maybe, depends upon how you look at it, how you need to see it for a particular agument.

    Posted by Sophia | November 4, 2006, 4:09 am
  7. This is the problem I have with the current orthodoxy (in some circles): the orthodoxy which says that since marriage is here to stay, gay people should be able to get on its putative gravy train as well. I am very old fashioned, enough to still be saying that marriage is a patriarchal institution. It should wither away, not attract new adherents.

    Posted by profacero | November 4, 2006, 5:19 am
  8. Heart…Perfect description of the pressure from the church that Haggard’s family will now experience. My compassion blows right past Haggard to his kids. I grew up in the evangelical church, and it’s a helluva way for a kid to try to learn about God or the truth! Life as Ted’s kids know it just ended and they, unlike Ted, don’t have a community they identify with waiting to welcome them. They’re faced with either having to deny all that makes sense to bend to the crazy-making religious pressure you described…or they can face the very brutal fact that their versions of truth and faith are man-made emotional mine fields. At a very vulnerable time, they were just blown out of their lives without the luxury of an adult understanding of things. And why? Because every morning their father, claiming to be God’s spokesperson and role modeling a 5-star relationship with God, taught them and others that God wants them to tell the truth…until the truth is over some obscure evil line…then it’s best to deny it and turn to publicly condemning it in others instead.

    Here’s what I’ve learned: Those who want to tell the truth, don’t need faith to do it. Those who can’t face or don’t want to tell the truth, use faith to rationalize living a lie. If you’re looking for the truth, you’re better off next door than in a church.

    Posted by naturegirl | November 4, 2006, 8:00 pm
  9. I am interested in the actual sex Haggard had with this man. Reason being is if Haggard was the sole penetrator, then I would question his misogynistic tendencies and his desire to power over by any means necessary including feminizing another male through sex.

    If Haggard allowed penetration then it would be different dynamics.

    My bestest best friend growing up from 2nd grade on was a homosexual. He died December 1992, at the tail end of the 1985-1992 Aids Does Not Really Exist era. We had numerous and I mean numerous men who were more than willing to allow him to perform oral on them, and then a few more that wanted to penetrate him, but they would not do oral or allow penetration. These men had wifes/girlfriends and lived the pretense of a heterosexual life. My instincts caused me to hate most of them, because most of them were usually very mean men.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | November 5, 2006, 12:56 am
  10. I left out a phrase:

    “We had numerous and I mean numerous men who lived in our neighborhood who were more than willing……

    Without the phrase it sounds like him and I had them together. I was not part of the sex acts.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | November 5, 2006, 12:59 am

    In the wake of all of the recent sex scandals in the past couple of years, months, weeks and days in Washington and elsewhere that occasionally monopolize the news because they often involve high profile individuals such as politicians, clergy etc. For this reason I believe it is high time that the “closet” needs to be mentioned and understood. I believe it will provide the necessary context from which to view some of these scandals. The closet, meaning where people hide heir sexual orientation, whether one is a man or woman but particularly I am speaking of men at this time because I believe men use the closet even more often than woman because of societies very narrow view and expectations of what behaviors are considered appropriate for men. Woman can be Tomboys much easier than men can be sissies. Of course not all gay men are effeminate by a long shot but that is a stereotypical image of gay men and therefore many men attempt to cover up any behaviors they may have and believe may bring on suspicion. Therefore men, whether they be gay or straight, will practice stereotypical masculine behaviors to thwart any suspicion often out of fear and necessity, particularly if they feel pressure to do so to protect their careers or career advancement. However, many gay men for a variety of reasons whether they have difficulties reconciling their religious views with their natural inner feelings and same sex attractions or also may do so out of fear of social denunciation. These men will then join the astounding numbers of men that are also hiding in the closet.

    The fear of being discovered can be enormous and absolutely terrifying. These men will often then do what they believe society expects from them. They will often marry and have children perhaps out of desperation in an always unsuccessful attempt at trying to make these natural longings go away and try and hide these powerful feelings of attraction that we all know very well and have experienced ourselves whether toward the same sex or the opposite sex, its all the same. They may also marry and have homosexual secret liaisons with men and feel terrible guilt in doing so. They will do their very best to compartmentalize their lives the best that they can, but I believe and have found that the longer one stays in the closet the more damage is done to them emotionally. It is very difficult to compartmentalize for a long period of time these very powerful feelings without developing some emotional problems to varying degrees. Also many develop coping mechanisms such as addictive behaviors of all sorts whether they be alcoholism, prescription or non prescription abuse. They may develop addictions to pornography sexual addiction or other self-destructive ways of acting out. Once again unfortunately the longer one stays in the closet there will also then be more victims because of their closeted lifestyle choice. The victims may be their wives and children, their friends, parents and siblings, all feeling like they have been betrayed if their true nature is discovered as it was for ex-governor of New Jersey, Mr. McGreevy. I feel very sad for the victims as well as I very much understand the sadness and despair he and many others feel once the closet door is flung open. For some, the shame is just too unbearable and suicide seems like the only alternative to ending their pain and shame.

    Society needs to take some responsibility with this matter of the closet by being more accepting of alternative lifestyles. Without the closet just think of how much less pain many people and families would have to endure. Not only the ones that feel that living in the closet is their only alternative but for the victims that find themselves feeling betrayed and the breaking up of families. We as a culture have some soul searching to do on this matter and not be so self-involved and self-righteous. There are a variety of ways of loving and living. We need to accept that what seems to be normal for some is not necessarily normal for all. With what I have just said in no way excuses adult men from making wrong choices that victimize others such as the irresponsible behaviors demonstrated by the now ex-congressmen Foley. I’m not even going to go so far as to say his closet behaviors are the reason for his conduct. I don’t know. I don’t know him. However, as I said the closet can cause deep and very troubling emotional problems that can manifest in abhorrent behaviors. This may or may not be the cause of his behaviors. However one thing I do know is that he does know what’s right and wrong and as he surely knew, his attractions to under aged teens is not only illegal but inappropriate an attraction and should have sought therapy before creating victims. However, because there is still so much shame yet in this day and age and our rather hypocritical puritanical society, cause many gays to not seek help concerning issues they may be struggling with from the appropriate professionals. I generally do not recommend clergy because it can cause further damage do to their religious agendas which can deepen one’s shame and depression. The is a very complicated issue that society has to become more compassionate about or we will continue to shame gays enough and inhibit their comfort level preventing them from seeking the appropriate help for any specific personal issues in which they may be struggling with.

    One can read more about this issue and many other disturbing issues involving gay culture of today in my new book; “why gay men do what they do”, an inside look at gay culture.

    Posted by aaron jason silver | November 5, 2006, 1:26 am
  12. “I believe men use the closet even more often than woman because of societies very narrow view and expectations of what behaviors are considered appropriate for men.”

    Hence the reason why men/males should invest in subverting patriarchy.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | November 5, 2006, 3:05 am
  13. Ignoring for a second that the above is almost pure spam, that’s exactly the kind of essentialized “gayness” that I’m not sure is useful for this discussion. Actually, I am sure it’s not useful. It’s a political dead end: patriarchy doesn’t even enter the picture that Silver is painting up there (or he gets it backward with “it’s ok for lesbians to be tomboys!”), it’s just the same insipid rant about puritanism that you can hear, well, just about everywhere.

    You know, maybe the “closet” isn’t such a bad place to be when you own the mansion it’s in.

    Haggard wasn’t living a lie, he was taking whatever he wanted, whenever he could get it. Yeah, it’s crappy for him that some of those wants contradicted according to society’s conventions (that he had no small part in reinforcing). I don’t think the wife and kids, the Jesus empire, all the riches that came with both are just props Haggard used to shield himself from homophobia: they are riches after all, and they come at the expense of others.

    I think the “underneath it all, he’s really ‘a gay’ no matter what he does” argument goes two places:

    1. Narrative wrestling matches: everyone gets to place Haggard in a box depending upon their rhetorical requirements, Haggard gets to choose his own box (“well, I made a few mistakes, yada yada”), but either way the debate answers only to the gnostic. Meanwhile the concrete realities of his choices are put into the background. His wife and kids exist. The Jesus empire exists. His prostitute exists. Haggard’s “gay gene” probably doesn’t.

    2. In trying to achieve parity between gay and straight men, “man” itself remains pretty untouched. While I think gay marriage might be an acceptable short term solution (since we’re encultured to see that parity as a “natural” one), I don’t think that in a perfect world a “gay” man should be able to helm the National Association of Evangelicals as that organization wouldn’t exist in a perfect world: it only exists now at the expense of others. If they gave up on homophobia they’d just pick a new target (they already have more than a few) and I’m sure Haggard would be more than willing to paint a bulls-eye on someone else.

    Posted by Rich | November 5, 2006, 3:35 am
  14. I appreciate everybody’s really good thoughts about this. I’ve been following it, reading whatever I can find about it that is insightful.
    I was following a comments thread from a San Francisco Gate article which I thought was interesting. One of the commenters said that true heterosexuals never care if someone is gay, but if someone is a homophobe, he’s or (she’s) fronting. (Well, that’s my version of what the commenter said.) I think that’s very true and fits with what you’ve said, Aaron Jason Silver.
    Although I think that sexual orientation is “malleable” for lack of a better word, can change and shift over a person’s lifetime and can be informed by, and can be changed by, a person’s politics, I also think we cannot discount the power of sexual attraction. I think there are people who never experience attractions to opposite sex people, I think there are people who always do, and I think there are people who sometimes do. I don’t think anybody can say, as yet, why human beings are attracted to whomever. As Aaron Jason Silver said, these attractions are intense and can be really hard to resist, to deal with. I think that no matter the kind of sex Haggard had with the prostituted man, he only would have had it if he was sexually attracted to men. I think it’s true that impulses towards dominance probably figured in, but that’s kind of the male condition, you know? That’s how male sexuality is constructed under male heterosupremacy. There’s a sense in which all heterosexual sex has to do with dominance and submission, if we consider that it all takes place within the context of patriarchy, just as encounters between men can be about dominance and submission as well. Nevertheless, underneath it all, Ted Haggard was sexually attracted to men and sought out sexual encounters with men, though he was married, meaning he was a closeted gay/bisexual man. Like Q-grrl said, he IS the face of most gay men in our country and many lesbian women as well. Jones, the prostituted man says 80 percent of his “clients” are married men and a large number of those are clergy.
    I think it’s very true that part of being closeted is over compensation– going way overboard in terms of presenting and behaving in ways which are gendered. I think you’re right, chasing moksha, that feminism is a hugely important answer to that. If we eliminate gender stereotypes, then no one will be driven to comply with them because they won’t exist.
    It’s interesting– Haggard was the face of the “new evangelical.” He wasn’t old school patriarchal Religious Right. He was the kinder gentler fundie. He ruffled Bush Administration feathers and RR feathers by making very strong statements against the torture of prisoners, including those suspected of terrorism. He was vocal in his commitment to anti-racism work and to environmentalism and fighting global warming. He stood alone among evangelicals in that he publicly praised and supported a 2003 Supreme Court decision that struck down a Texas anti-sodomy law. He did some things that seem telling and ironic, like regularly going to gay bars and inviting men there to his church. He didn’t view being gay or lesbian as sinful; he just viewed “persisting” in gay or lesbian sex as sinful. I can envision the mental machinations. Every time he paid Jones for sex, he probably told himself it was going to be the last time, he wasn’t going to “persist” in his sinful behaviors, God would forgive him, and so on. Same with buying drugs. That’s the way that kind of thing goes down usually. I think there are worse, much worse, conservative Christian men than Haggard was. MUCH worse. Unfortunately, these guys will never get caught because they won’t involve themselves in sexual sin, the only kind of sin (in men) that conservative Christians really recognize as unconscionable (because het marriage is so central for them). I can only wish someone would, for one example, call in some folks to investigate and excommunicate Fred Phelps, or any and all of the Christian Reconstructionists and millions of garden variety conservative Christian men for their power tripping, their abuse of their wives, families and congregations, their racism, their warmongering, their destructive politics and teachings. That’s never going to happen. In that world, you get excommunicated for basically one thing (if you’re a man): having sex with the wrong person. How shortsighted, idiotic, and abjectly valueless and immoral is that? It is TOTALLY immoral in my view. If you’re going to shun someone for having sex with the wrong person, then you’d better shun people for all of the other sins with consequences at least as destructive and usually far more destructive, but no, ain’t going to happen. Abusers will continue to lead visibly and to not only get away with their abuse but to enjoy all sorts of praise for what great guys they are.
    I just think the time is long past that all human beings are recognized as fully free to love whom they love, no matter who that might be. I facilitated workshops on confronting the Religious Right last summer and spoke at length with a very cool woman who had had SO many experiences similar to my own. She had first been a political radical (in college), crunchy granola hippie, had then gotten married, had kids, got “saved” in the Jesus people, moved through a series of increasingly controlling and authoritarian fringe-y Christian groups. Throughout ALL of these years she had sexual relationships with women who were also in the church. Here is the craziness, and if you haven’t been part of this world you won’t understand this, but *it didn’t cross her mind that she was a lesbian*. She knew that she would be in trouble for having sex with women because it was adultery and the church forbade same sex relationships, but still she didn’t understand herself to be a lesbian. I mean, she was married with kids. When you’re in that world, you don’t think in the ways people outside of that world think. You think of yourself as a heterosexually married person who can’t control your sinful impulses, you are bent, something is wrong with you, and you need to get a grip, pray more, read the Bible more, be more obedient. Same sex attractions can take you by surprise, take your breath away, feel like a sucker punch to the gut and scare the shit out of you, in part because they don’t fit the idea you have of yourself or the way you are conducting your life. You don’t know what to make of them. You can think they are a spiritual attack of some kind, whatever, especially if you’re in a charismatic church, which Haggard’s was.
    It’s too long a story to recount but in the end, the woman I talked to at Fest was publicly excommunicated as I was, which turned out to be the best thing in the world for her, just as it was for me. Painful, painful, excruciatingly painful as it was, we both got free, left the deception, denial, behind, moved forward with our lives.
    Having said all that, it came with a horrible cost for both of us, we both suffered tremendous loss and experienced some pretty horrifyingly dark times. I think that’s what’s in the cards for the Haggard family. They are in for some deep pain, all of them.
    Well, Haggard has resigned. Investigators in his church say yeah, he did it. The police are investigating. It’s a very big mess.
    I have great respect for the Episcopal church and other open and affirming churches which are ordaining openly gay and lesbian bishops and priests and have been forever, one of my sheroes being one of the first woman Episcopal priests, the brilliant Second Wave lesbian, radfem writer and thinker Carter Heyward. Episcopalians are severely under fire for this but they are moving forward anyway. Go them. That world will never change unless some in it have the courage to say “enough” and to begin to not only accept gay and lesbian people as fully human, but to envision and imagine a deity who looks as much like a lesbian or a gay man or a transsexual or transgendered or otherwise queer person as it looks like a white male heterosexual patriarch. I believe this is a penultimately valid site of feminist resistance.
    Well, my thoughts for now

    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2006, 4:15 am
  15. I don’t know what happened to the rest of my comment? Anyway, I just wanted to say that the model of “sex” that pays someone to have sex is one, as Rich pointed out, of power-over. As in ancient Greece, it didn’t matter so much that men had sex with other men, but that a man of higher rank be sure to be the one penetrating not the one being penetrated. That was reserved for lower social ranks, i.e., women. Being penetrated was akin to being a woman and lowered a man’s social status.

    The point, which will be entirely missed by Haggard’s community and by most of the country, is that it’s not sexual lust that’s at issue, nor is it the choice of sex of the one lusted after, but the lust for power over others, particularly power over women and those perceived as “woman-like” (i.e., out gay men, despite their burly muscles). I dunno…seems to me everyone ought to be riled up more about the power differentials and social stratification. But they’re not. Instead they’re focusing on the idea of hypocricy. Actually, he’s not being a hypocrite where his idea of manhood and power are concerned. He’s toeing the line. He’s being a hypocrite because he condemns gay marriage? No. He didn’t want to marry his lover. He wanted to pay him for sex.

    Posted by Sophia | November 5, 2006, 4:40 am
  16. Sophia, not sure what happened to your post, but WordPress has been doing that lately. Sometimes it wipes out entire blog posts leaving only the title. :/

    I went ahead and approved it so you’d come back and talk more so as to fix it. 🙂


    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2006, 4:46 am
  17. Thinking more about this, I want to say that Haggard was not any kind of great progressive guy, despite his anti-racism, environmentalist inclinations. He was for “pre-emptive war,” had no problem with killing in war, describing God as a bloody God and the Bible as a bloody book, which it is. He was as much a war-mongerer as anybody. He believed a lot of horrifying things and practiced them in the name of God, in the name of religion.

    I’m just saying, if the issue is hypocrisy, this was his hypocrisy. Let’s excommunicate him, if we’re going to be excommunicating people, for being a bloodthirsty warmonger. Let’s not excommunicate him for violating the sanctity of male heterosupremacy, heteronormativity, which is really what this is all about when you get right down to it.

    I don’t admire or respect Haggard. I don’t feel compassion or pity for him. I’ve reserved those feelings for his wife and his children. I’m just saying, if the issue is hypocrisy, 90 percent of evangelical men need to be excommunicated. If the issue is sexual sin, ditto, because at least 90 percent sexually violate women in some way, by using porn, by using their wives’ bodies, by objectifying women. If the issue is prostitution, well, yeah, Haggard bought the sexual services of a prostituted man. But if you read what he’s written and said, he also bought the sexual services of his wife, as do most evangelical men.


    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2006, 7:19 am
  18. My apologies for my series of posts here– I don’t get much chance to discuss these issues with feminists, mostly because most feminists unwisely dismiss events like this as the act of whacko nutjob fundies without taking the time to do the kind of analysis I think we need to do. So, processing takes a bit of time– I’m not as exercised as I wish I were.

    The point, or one point, I wanted to make up there in all of those many words was, this is the way powerful male patriarchs regulate, police and enforce *gender*. It looks like all of this beatific stuff about the “sanctity of marriage” and the glories of marital fidelity and the sinfulness of homosexuality, prostitution and all of that, but that’s smoke and mirrors. Central — absolutely central — to the ongoing reign of male heterosupremacy is heterosexual marriage and men conforming to the rules and regulations of male-ness. And that’s why you see fundies AS interested in discussing how this will affect anti-gay-rights legislation as they are in discussing how heinous this guy is and how disappointed they are. This is powerful heterosexual white male patriarchs smacking down up and coming male patriarchs who color outside the lines, not only so far as maleness goes, but so far as other patriarchal values go (i.e., he’s the kinder, gentler, environmentally friendlier fundie man). This is how they regulate. This is how they police. If some man rises to the top and turns out to be gay, that is catastrophic to the centrality of one of the central planks of their platform, that being that men absolutely must be heterosexual ad they must absolutely dominate one woman for life. Nobody can be a leader or figurehead in that world, or at least, nobody can sit on the top of the dominance heirarchy who doesn’t practice this and/or cheerlead for it.

    The following is from an article written about Haggard a year ago and published in Harpers. “Ted” is Haggard:

    Pastor Ted wore a black suit and a red tie. Earlier in the week, at a staff meeting, he had announced that he would use the wedding as an illustration, and to that end he delivered a lengthy prenuptial presentation with slides, in which he laid out a fractal-like repeating pattern of relations, shrinking and expanding: that of God to man, reflected in that of man to wife, which is in turn a model for a godly society. Just as we conform ourselves to God’s will, so, said Ted, must “the Woman.” The Woman must take on her man’s calling, her man’s desire.

    “Mmm-hmmm,” murmured Linda, eyes closed.

    In return, Pastor Ted continued, the Woman gets the Man’s love; authority just wants to serve. “Total surrender!” he called. “True or false?”

    “TRUE!” answered the 8,000 assembled.

    The Man is the Christ; the Woman is the Body. He is coming; she is the church; she must open her doors. United, they are the Kingdom, ready for battle. “The Christian home,” preached Pastor Ted, “is to be in a constant state of war.” This made many so happy they put their hands in the air, antennae for spirit transmissions. “Massive warfare!” Ted cried out.

    It’s really *this* that is at stake here.

    As well as this:

    When I visited, Commander Tom’s wife stayed in the kitchen, but his son, Junior Commander T.J., joined us in the living room. The two men—T.J. is only fifteen, but he’s been bar mitzvahed, about which more in a moment—owe their officer’s ranks to the Royal Rangers, a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts. The largest “outpost” of the Rangers in the country, 475 boys and men, rallies at New Life.

    Royal Rangers wear khaki military uniforms and black ties. They study rope craft and smallbore shooting and “American Cultures.” There is a badge for “Atomic Energy,” which boys can earn by making scale models of a nuclear reactor. Mainly, though, Rangers earn merit badges for reading the Bible. Most boys go book by book, which earns them a special vest stitched over entirely in badges; but truly dedicated Rangers take it all in one giant swallow, a feat of reading for which they earn a single Golden Achievement Badge. T.J., who traveled to Los Angeles last year to claim second place in the regional Ranger of the Year competition, has such a Golden Achievement Badge. His favorite book is Ecclesiastes—“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”—a moody, introspective scripture at odds with his demeanor. He is a sturdy boy, with a swimmer’s shoulders and an honest, rectangular face. He would be a teen dream, no question, but T.J. doesn’t meet many girls. He is homeschooled, his “hobby” is reading, and most of his out-of-the-house hours are dedicated to the Rangers, an all-male organization. T.J.’s purity ring, which he wears on a delicate silver chain, is a symbol of his commitment to virginity until marriage. It was given to him two years ago by Commander Tom on the occasion of T.J.’s bar mitzvah.

    The bar mitzvah was Commander Tom’s idea. A heavyset man with glasses and a mustache, Commander Tom decided his son deserved a ritual to mark his entrance into manhood, just like the Jewish people have. T.J. took as his text not a portion of Torah but the song “Shine,” by a Christian rock band called the Newsboys. Dull as dirt / You can’t assert/The Kind of Light/That might persuade/A strict dictator to retire/Fire the army/Teach the poor origami—unless, the song goes on to say, you “shine” with Holy Ghost power.

    When T.J. was coming up in the Rangers, little boys started as “Straight Arrows” and proceeded from there to “Buckaroos.” T.J. and Commander Tom are both members of an elite Ranger cadre known as FCF, Frontier Christian Fellowship, in which boys and men regress to pioneer life in pursuit of ultimate Christian manhood. Father and son are still Frontiersmen, which is the lowest level, but they dream of becoming Buckskin Men. “The problem,” said T.J., “is that it takes time and money. Because you have to make an outfit. And it has to be out of leather.”

    “If you’re a Frontiersman, you can’t wear regular clothes,” Commander Tom explained.

    “You don’t have to catch the deer yourself,” said T.J. “You can just buy the leather at a store. But you gotta learn how to sew it.”

    “And you gotta make up something you can live off.”
    “A trade.”

    You can’t have gay men, or women, but especially not lesbian women, at the top of the hierarchy which is really set out in the above paragraphs. It spells doom for your empire building and maintaining.

    And this is why the absolute worst sin in those circles is to violate the rules around heterosexuality and het marriage. This is the one thing people will get clobbered for.

    Which is why it is discouraging, as Q grrl said, and Professor Zero said, that so much of GLBT politics has been reduced to the right to marry, to be “let in” to what amounts to an essentially subordinating institution.


    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2006, 3:37 pm
  19. Here’s the link to the Harper’s article, very worth reading:


    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2006, 3:38 pm
  20. A “true heterosexual” can never be a homophobe? It’s always a front? So therefore is a “true white” never a racist? It must always be a front for having some black ancestry somewhere back there? I have no doubt that *some* homophobes are really just compensating for having “unacceptable” homosexuals feelings, but that’s ALL it is? There is no such thing as just plain prejudice and bigotry against homosexuals by the “truly heterosexual”? That sounds bullshitty to me.

    Posted by Branjor | November 5, 2006, 4:21 pm
  21. Branjor, if we use a comparison with race, I think the commenter was saying something more like that a white person isn’t going to struggle with internalized self-hatred around not being white just like a het person isn’t going to struggle with internalized self-hatred around not being het, along the lines of what Q-grrl said:

    I’m just sad to see another gay man pilloried because he was closeted and not as fortunate as some of the rest of us who found ways to get out of the closet and get over our internalized homophobia.

    The discussion was about the way these egregious expressions of homophobia seem to so often mask the fact that the homophobe is, himself, gay or bisexual. It wasn’t a statement about institutionalized or systemic homophobia or a suggestion that het people can’t be homophobic in belief or practice.


    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2006, 4:49 pm
  22. ***The discussion was about the way these egregious expressions of homophobia seem to so often mask the fact that the homophobe is, himself, gay or bisexual.***

    Sort of a scapegoating then. A denial of one’s own undesired characteristics – “it’s not me, it’s HIM.” And then punishment of the one onto whom the undesired characteristics are projected. Yes, that is a very salient characteristic of patriarchy and one from which we all have suffered greatly. I know I have.

    Posted by Branjor | November 5, 2006, 7:14 pm
  23. In a letter of apology read to the congregation of New Life Church Sunday morning, Ted Haggard confessed to sexual immorality and described himself as “a deceiver and a liar.”

    “There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life,” Haggard wrote.

    Describing a lifelong battle against temptations that were contrary to his teachings, Haggard said he had sought assistance “in a variety of ways,” and while he had stretches of “freedom,” nothing proved effective.

    Well… yes. Because you are gay. And while paying for sex might be dark and repulsive, there is nothing repulsive or dark about being gay.

    Gayle Haggard also released a letter to the congregation. In it, she professed her commitment to her marriage and her belief in the teachings of the church.

    “I would not change one iota of what I have been teaching the women of our church,” Gayle Haggard wrote. “For those of you who have been concerned that my marriage was so perfect I could not possibly relate to the women who are facing great difficulties, know that this will never again be the case.

    “My test has begun; watch me. I will try to prove myself faithful.”


    Here is where her ordeal, her pain, her suffering begins. It isn’t going to work, my darlin. It won’t work. You can have your own life and it can be a good and wonderful life.

    Geez. This all brings up so much for me.

    To his credit:

    Haggard asked the congregation of the church he founded 26 years ago to forgive him. He also told church members not to be angry at his accuser, instead urging them to thank God for him.

    “He didn’t violate you; I did,” Haggard said.

    He was dismissed and so he will not be disciplined. He will never return to a leadership role at the church he started.


    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2006, 7:30 pm
  24. Re: the Nerve link, sure, they’ll publish crap mocking fundamentalists, but they’ll also publish crap celebrating “feminist submissives.” I wasn’t really impressed with the article: I mean, how hard is it to make fun of Christian literature these days? Really? Of course, porn and prostitution = homosexuality = feminism = anything else that’s all perfectly equivalent (and valid) just because Christian men hate it. Which is why picks up Nerve’s garbage and promotes it as radical and revolutionary, even though it’s just another sex glossy that’s about making money, not politics.

    Interesting to know that all the jesus dudes are into Malcolm Gladwell though.

    Posted by Rich | November 5, 2006, 7:45 pm
  25. Interesting, from a 2004 BBC article:

    Perhaps most startling of all was Pastor Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a huge born-again Christian movement that some outsiders dismiss as simple Bible-thumping.

    Mr Haggard voiced party-line opposition to abortion and gay marriage – but also backed the Supreme Court decision striking down bans on gay sex.

    “I’m pretty liberal on that actually. I don’t think the state should have any business with what goes on between two consenting adults in their bedroom,” he said.

    He made a distinction that many Americans support: Merely because he believes something is wrong does not mean the government should outlaw it.

    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2006, 8:15 pm
  26. Rich, I don’t disagree with you, really– I posted that link mostly because I thought Sharlet said some interesting things about homoeroticism in conservative Christianity, about the inability of conservative Christians to imagine lesbianism at all (i.e., all the lesbians/bisexual women in the church who are married and don’t even consider anything except that they are under spiritual attack and are sinful, which I was commenting on earlier), and I also thought the Dobson quote got right to the heart of what I’ve been wanting to talk about:
    Dobson: “Everything we do is influenced by our gender assignment,” he writes. “Any confusion… in the relationship between the sexes… must be seen as threatening to the stability of society itself.”
    In another article somewhere, should find the link, Sharlet says this essay actually grew out of stuff he decided to leave out of his Harper’s article about Haggard, which is another reason I linked to it.

    Posted by womensspace | November 5, 2006, 8:25 pm
  27. Hmm, it’s possible that Haggart isn’t gay, but just a sex-purchasing perv like the rest of the guys in Congress and church leaders and other positions of power who enjoy doing “dirty, immoral” things because they have the money and power to do so. I think there’s a difference between the “gay” and “asshole with money and sense of entitlement who likes doing subversive self-serving crap in his alternate life,” and one is not really deserving of sympathy, especially when someone like Haggart is not only a total hypocrite, but trying to fuck up gay people’s rights on top of being a hypocrite.

    Posted by karen | December 8, 2006, 8:47 am
  28. Yeah, I hear you, Karen. Based on what I was able to read about everything, my sense is that Haggard has been a closeted gay man and split as people with secrets can be in that world which exists to condemn everybody but those who tow its very, very narrow male heterosupremacist line. I’m not really sympathetic to Haggard so much as my heart goes out to the whole family, particularly Gayle Haggard and the children. And I think fundamentalist Christianity must be called to account for what it does to lesbian and gay people and families. Yes, what Haggard did was destructive and wrong. But what that whole world does so far as lesbian and gay people is wrong and horribly bent; it is a breeding ground for situations just like this. I just think we have to look at the bigger picture, not focus on Haggard as though he is some anomaly or demonize him. We don’t get to the more important analysis if we stop there.


    Posted by womensspace | December 8, 2006, 1:40 pm


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