Me and Ted

I feel really bad for Ted Haggard. He’s been living a lie for so long now. Not that I expect him to divorce his wife and come out of the closet, nor do I think he should. I don’t know if he really is gay. It seems he has some attractions to men, but that doesn’t necessarily make him gay. I think that part of the reason that people like Haggard fall into this kind of behavior isn’t because they’re gay. Rather, I think their obsession with gays backfires on them and turns into prurient thoughts. People sexualize gays. When Evangelicals talk about gays, they aren’t talking about a loving relationship between two men. No, they’re talking about two men having sex. I think it’s only natural that when you talk about and think about and devote so much energy to two men having sex, that you can’t help but be tempted. I think the repulsion becomes a curiousity.

I can totally relate to Ted. He has one identity with his church and family and another identity within himself that eats him alive. He knows that if people knew he would be rejected. Just like he said in his letter to the church, instead of talking honestly with the people in his life he shoved these feelings down deeper until he finally acted on them. I don’t know if he could have ever said, “Hey, Pastor Ross, I’ve been thinking about having sex with men.” I think it still would’ve been a scandal.

As a lesbian, I also have multiple identities. There’s who I am with Mel, who I am with my family, who am I at work, and who I am to myself. That’s a lot of identities to keep straight. It’s hard to do. This past week when I started exploring some of the things that keep these identities separate, I got a very big surprise when the identities started crashing into each other and coalescing. There’s no Mike Jones in my closet, but I have realized how uncomfortable I am with my lesbianism. It’s not that I’m questioning my sexual orientation and lifestyle choice (Yes, I choose to be a lesbian.), but I’ve internalized messages about being sick. Being a lesbian doesn’t make me sick. And being a lesbian doesn’t give anyone the right to sexualize or exploit me. All you straight girls back off! I’m not your opportunity to play lesbian.

So I can tell Ted that he can’t keep these identities separate. They have to come together. And the ones that don’t get on board have to go. In my case, I have no fear of losing those who are closest to me or mean the most to me by revealing my truest self. I hope the same is true for Pastor Ted.

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5 Comments

Filed under The way the world works

5 responses to “Me and Ted

  1. Reading that letter actually made me sorry for him, too. I didn’t think I could be sorry for him. But to be turned over to the care of people who view same sex attractions as sickness. To give yourself over to that care. He has a long painful road ahead of him. I don’t believe that you can live as an out gay man in the Evangelical faith and be loved and accepted– even if you do not act on your attractions to men.

  2. I agree that you can’t live as an out gay man in that faith. For that matter, I don’t think you can even say you have temptations. Obviously, Ted knew what would happen if he spoke openly about his feelings and thoughts. He helped to create that environment of judgement and hate.

    I don’t know when the Evangelicals are going to get it. Being judgmental forces people to be dishonest. It’s this dishonesty that makes it possible for scandals to occur. I’m not telling Evangelicals to accept gays and lesbians into their faith. That’s up to them. I think you can say, “That’s not our thing”, without so much hate and judgment. You’re essentially saying – Hey, I don’t want you in my group. That’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when you take another step and say, “You’re wrong, and I’m right,” watch out. I don’t see any love or compassion in that statement.

  3. I personally find it reprehensible that faiths such as the Evangelicals run around saying they are God’s children, instruments of Jesus, good Christians etc. when somehow they’ve totally missed the boat on the whole Jesus accepts everyone, and the love your neighbors as you love yourself message that is so prevalent in Jesus’ teachings and writings no matter what versions of the Bible you are reading. If they don’t want someone in their group fine but to be openly hateful and judgmental in my opinion is a gross misinterpretation of the exact same Christianity they are selling.

  4. Your comment about internalizing messages about being sick struck a chord with me. I think that lots of very secure and grounded glbt people have internalized that without realizing it and its very insightful of you to notice.

    I considered myself a lesbian for over 10 years. I happened to fall in love with Kit, so even though I think I lean gay on the kinsey scale I’m obviously not completely gay. When I started to live this “heterosexual lifestyle” I realized just how much convenience and contentment you miss when you’re living a gay lifestyle. It’s a million simple things that you learn to overlook — not being able to hold your significant other’s hand in public places, deciding whether or not to come out every time you jointly rent an apartment or buy a bed or get asked out or see someone cute on tv, wondering if the friends-of-friends and relatives-of-relatives are cool or just trying not to cause a scene, always being somewhat on guard. It is sad that this society does that to some couples, and it takes a toll even when you are well accustomed to overlooking it.

  5. Shae,

    Thanks for your comment. I can only imagine what you describe because I’ve never been in a heterosexual relationship.

    The more I think about myself and my relationship with Mel in terms of not being sick, the less I want to be around certain people. I have less desire to be around my family, for example. They never really say anything outright, but I know there are different rules for me. For example, I would never be allowed to take any of my cousins for a sleepover.

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