Saturday, January 31, 2009
EX-GAY THERAPY....THEY MAKE YOU STRAIGHT ENOUGH TO SLEEP WITH A WOMAN, LONG ENOUGH TO BREAK HER HEART
Several have asked me what I think since the interviews with Ted Haggard have surfaced. I have often thought I should name this blog, "What I think." That might be more descriptive than even "My heart goes out." But even though I share my thoughts, I still feel a lot of compassion for the Haggard family.
I was only able to watch Oprah, where Ted and Gayle Haggard were the guests, and I've seen several clips on youtube. I wrote notes to help me keep track of all that they said, and I'm very close to the feelings that Gayle expressed. These are some thoughts...
The family of Ted and Gayle Haggard have been in a spotlight for years, and Ted was always gay. He built a mega-church, and he was gay. He preached, and organized, and inspired, and he was gay that whole time. Whether or not he was having gay sex, or whether or not it ever would have been reported, he was gay. God used him tremendously in building that church and as loved as he was with his congregants, he was always gay. He should have been 100% faithful to his wife, and there is where he failed. He did not fail in being attracted to men. He now admits both of those things to be true.
In sharing more of what I think, I have personally met with (and paid the big bucks for) 3 different psychologists. With the fourth and my main therapist (who never charged me anything, God bless you, Jane) I met over a period of several months in order to understand a lot of what I was going through. I've discussed with individuals and with couples what they go through when they are in a mixed-orientation marriage. One book that really helped me was by Amity Piere Buxton, "The Other Side of the Closet." The situations in that book showed how when one member moved OUT of the closet, it put the straight spouse INTO it. I have been in that situation, and I think I've said enough on this blog to share all that in other places.
I have read current material that is supported by the American Psychological Association. But I have never met the Haggards, so I only speak from my own experience.
But some counselors, in the exact opposite of any of the above authorities, as well as all of the professional medical trade associations, are those who call themselves reparative counselors (also known as X-gay therapists), and they say "there is no such thing as a homosexual, only heterosexuals with issues." These counselors, usually from conservative Christian backgrounds are doing what they can to keep together families that are coming to them with problems.
The Haggard family is seeing Ted's same-sex attraction from the view of these hopeful Christian counselors. I understand their thinking, and I know they are relying on to their fundamentalist theology. I have spoken with one other couple who I'm friends with, and this couple, too, is staying together. They say the same things and it sounds a little bit too canned for me. I suppose that is a solution that works for them, but it isn't my situation. I can understand that both couples are feeling that they are doing the right thing.
Back when Kinsey first made his scale, he used it to demonstrate that there are variations in sexual orientation. To deny that there even exists such a thing as homosexuals one would have to come to the conclusion that the Haggards' theology (and many other evangelicals/fundamentalists/literalists and whatever one is called) works. Of course this is convenient for those who are married and one is same-sex-attracted, because it continues their hope that this behavior will not recur. Unfortunately this is rarely the case.
When I was an active member of the Yahoo group, "Wives of gay/bi husbands," it was heartbreaking for me to see so many, many wives who were hurt continually by their gay husbands. These good women (or who knows, they could have been regular women) wanted in every way to believe that their husbands were never, ever again going to act on their sex drives with other men. Unfortunately, it was a rare man who didn't go to the computer or video store for porn, visit a park for anonymous sex, or keep a boyfriend on the side. The actions of these men left their families at risk for disease. They disrespected their wives by lying. They harmed the women they had once loved by use of drugs and alcohol. But more than anything else, in their wake they had hurt everyone, and they many times did all this while telling their wives "I'm not really gay." Yeah, right.
I am not trying to have a self-fulfilling prophecy that the ones who claim to be "not-gay" will eventually act on their feelings. I am not trying to say that their love is not real, nor would I encourage others in this situation to leave one another or abandon their families. But as I've stated before, it is a travesty to tell a young person that the "feelings will change," if they marry someone of the opposite sex. It is wrong to tell them, like Ted Haggard is doing, that "the ideal is to marry." That makes other relationships inferior, and they are not.
A friend sent me this quote from the TV show, Rick and Steve. Although I have never seen that show (nor do I endorse it) a character had this to say about reparative therapy: "Ex-gay therapy...They make you straight enough to sleep with a woman, long enough to break her heart."
For Gayle to love Ted and to forgive his behavior, I'm so proud of her. For Ted to say he is going to not lie and not "act compulsively," good for him. I personally doubt that the troubles are over for the Haggards.