Answer these questions:
5 years ago
The past few years have been a growing experience for me, and I feel I have changed. The greatest factor in my life-changes is that I was married to a gay man. Sharing that will help me, and I hope others won't feel so alone.
…When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life, it gave me the hope to one day live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married.
(This was about where he started to have tears in his eyes.)
I want to thank my mom who has always loved me for who I am, even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches or by the government or by their families that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours. Thank you, thank you, and thank you God for giving us Harvey Milk.
"I think it's a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect on their great shame and their shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."
Am I Innocent?
I lay on my back stretched out on the Futon. The cat hovered above me, her white-tipped paws firmly planted on my chest. She watched me through her green eyes leaping out of tufts of grey fur. She purred as I gently rubbed my hands up and down the length of her body. Suddenly the cat lowered her head and rubbed her forehead on mine, marking me as her possession.
The cat reminded me of the time my partner Derrick and I burst through the door of my sister’s home with red racing cars for Luke, art supplies for Francis and a board book for Louis. My nieces and nephew danced around our feet. “I want to show you my new room,” Francis screamed in competition with Louis waving her new board book in search of a reader. Luke scurried across the living room to play with his new cars.
As Louis sat next to me on the couch and I read her stories, I wondered how she would receive me after "the talk" about her uncle and his friend. Would she grow up like family members who want me to stay away from her. Maybe Louis would never have "the talk", but hear Pastor Dell, Elders Kevin or Don or even her Christian school teacher rail about how "homosexuals are destroying the moral fabric of the nation." Would Louis continue to view me with the innocence we shared learning the alphabet from her new board book?
I just realized how often I ask this question, even subconsciously. Am I innocent? Most of the time, I don’t even hear my soul breathing the question as my family, church and society enforces their reality that being gay or transgender is not innocent.
The cat finished rubbing her forehead on mine, lay down on my chest and slowly lowered her eyelids for a nap. She purred and swirled her tail between my legs.
My insomnia finally surrendered and I fell asleep in the innocent embrace of the cat.
...the things you say on your blog make a lot of sense to me. Theologically I may be in a different place, and to be honest I have no idea right now how to live in both of these worlds, but I'm okay with that. I trust that if I need to figure it out, God will help me, and if I don't, I can still be supportive of my gay brothers and sisters without understanding everything.
by Michael Shermer
I just watched the HBO documentary film, The Trials of Ted Haggard, produced by Alexandra Pelosi (which the media seem curiously intent on identifying not as a filmmaker but as the daughter of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House). The film is a follow-up to her 2007 film Friends of God, in which Haggard was prominently featured just before his downfall from revelations that he had homosexual relations with a male prostitute, with whom he also did methamphetamine. And all this happened right in the middle of the political debate about gay marriage, in which Haggard condemned homosexuality as an abomination and gay marriage as a sin that should never be legalized.
Now, I enjoy roasting a hypocrite as much as the next person, and I sat down to watch Pelosi's film sharpening my typing fingers in preparation for slicing this evangelical hypocrite to pieces, especially after just watching him on Larry King Live, in which he failed to apologize to gays for condemning the very "lifestyle choice" he also presumably made. (In his Christian worldview homosexuality is a choice--a bad choice, a sinful choice, but a choice nonetheless). But I came away feeling some compassion for Ted Haggard, sympathy for the devil as it were. I don't know if Pelosi intended her film to have this effect--I suspect not from her off-camera comments in the film as she follows the fallen preacher around Phoenix selling insurance door-to-door and bumming rooms off friends at which his family can live. But given what we know about the power of belief, and the fact that this man devoted his entire life and essence to being an Evangelical Christian and all that stands for--which is a lot when you are the titular head of the 30 million-strong National Association of Evangelicals--what a striking conflict his life has been (and by all accounts still is).
By now, most of us know that homosexuality is not a "choice," any more than heterosexuality is a choice. Asking a gay person "When did you choose to become gay?" makes about as much sense as asking a straight person "When did you choose to become straight?" The answer is the same: "Uh? I didn't choose. I've always felt this way." Right, and all the evidence from biology, psychology, and behavior genetics (twin studies) points to the fact that most people are born straight, some people are born gay, and some are even born bisexual, and that's just the way it is. In a large population (and six billion members of a large mammalian species certainly counts) with considerable variation in most characteristics, it is inevitable that even something as seemingly straightforward (if you'll pardon the pun) as sexuality will likely show variations on that central theme.
To find peace and happiness in life you have to be true to yourself, and herein lies Pastor Ted's conflict: Being true to himself meant being in absolute conflict with his religion, which was, at the time, not just his faith but his livelihood and the only means he had of supporting his family. As Upton Sinclair observed: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."
The only resolution for Haggard was to live a secret life, and when that secret was revealed there was no way for him to peacefully resolve his conflict. And from what was shown in the film and in his public interviews of late, that conflict is still not resolved for the simple reason that if you are gay or bi you cannot simply choose to feel differently, even if you are given such bizarre diagnoses as these suggested by his Christian counselors: "heterosexual with homosexual attachments" and "heterosexual with complications." Haggard's response was refreshingly honest: "I wasn't sure what that meant."
Me neither Ted, because it's a bullshit diagnosis by people who don't understand the psychology of sexuality because their religion is driving the science, and that's a recipe for quackery. Yes, you can choose (or at least try to choose) not to act on your feelings (don't go to gay bars, don't watch gay porn, etc.), but short of a Clockwork Orange scenario of extreme behavior modification protocols (and even this is unlikely to do the trick), Ted Haggard cannot and never will be able to square the circle of his sexual essence with his religion. Something has to go, and that something is his religion, or at least his religion's attitudes about homosexuality.
Christianity needs to change its beliefs about homosexuality and to quit condemning those--even those in its own flock--to a life of guilt, self-loathing, and conflict. Not only does Ted Haggard need to publicly apologize to the gay and lesbian community for condemning them, his Colorado Springs New Life Church--and Christianity in general--needs to apologize to Ted Haggard for ruining his life, not only by exiling him from his home, community and friends, but by forcing him to live a lie. The data are in: homosexuality is not a choice. Christianity needs to follow the data instead of forcing the data to fit its religious dogmas.
In the film you can hear the guilt in Ted Haggard's voice and see the self-loathing in his face. Ted Haggard is a broken man, broken not by his biology but by his religion. You cannot "fix" people's biology, but you can change their religion, and it's time for Ted Haggard to give up on his religion--and perhaps religion altogether. Short of that, perhaps one of the most charismatic religious movers and shakers of our time can change his religion from within by standing up to his fellow Evangelical leaders and saying to them (and to everyone else) something like this:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I was wrong. When I preached that homosexuality is a sin, I was wrong. When I proclaimed from the pulpit that being gay is an abomination, I was wrong. When I dissembled and pronounced that I 'hate the sin but lover the sinner', I was wrong. I say this not because I was a hypocrite in denouncing the acts that I myself was committing, but because our beliefs about and actions toward homosexuals is un-Christian. I make no excuses for my actions or pronouncements, but I will remind you that I was mirroring what was taught to me by my Evangelical mentors, whose beliefs about gays led them to comb the scriptures for passages that best suit their prejudices--much like the slave-owning Christians of centuries past justified with holy writ their abominable beliefs and actions toward their fellow humans by treating them as chattel. My mentors were wrong. My teachers were wrong. The church is wrong and I am wrong. Homosexuality is no more a choice than heterosexuality is a choice. People are born with their sexuality, and so to condemn a person to a life of guilt and shame over something they have no control, is to do violence to the very nature of human nature and to contradict truth and deny reality. So, in the words of the great Anglican defender of the faith and champion of religious tolerance, Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.'"