live in Colorado Springs, home to the right-wing conservative
evangelical movement. As the nation recently learned, the
founder of New Life Church, Ted Haggard, was fired after a
male prostitute revealed that Haggard bought sex and drugs
from him. It’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for him, even
though I have always hated everything Haggard stood for. How
do you view all of this? Does Haggard deserve our sympathy?
Or do we point our fingers and laugh?
should make a joyful noise, CC, whenever a powerful hypocrite
is exposed. God should bless Mike Jones, the male prostitute
who exposed Ted Haggard, and you should balance whatever sympathy
you feel for Haggard against the misery he inflicted on the
countless numbers of gay young people his church has “counseled.”
If you want to feel bad for someone, feel bad for Haggard’s
kids, not Haggard himself.
Now, I realize Haggard is ancient fucking history at this
point—there was an election last week, huh?—but there’s something
I just gotta get off my chest: For more than a decade, the
religious right has insisted that homosexuality can be cured.
Just give your heart to Jesus and—poof!—you’re straight!
If there is any justice in the world—and there seems to be,
judging from last week’s election returns—Haggard’s downfall
should be the death of the “ex-gay” movement. No more ex-gay
ad campaigns, no more credulous stories about “successful”
ex-gays in daily papers or on cable news.
Arguing with religious people about the futility of giving
your heart to Jesus—at least where “cures” for homosexual
orientation are concerned—can be maddening. As with evolution,
they’re not moved by science, data, or irksome facts. Not
even the existence of ex-ex-gays gives them pause. Anything
is possible through Christ, they blandly insist, and if you’re
sincere enough in your devotion to Christ, if you invite him
into your heart, he will cure you.
Hello, fundies? I know you’re reading this, because every
week I get e-mails from concerned Christians who just happened
to chance upon my column—cough, cough—and write to
share the wonderful news: I don’t have to be gay! If I give
my heart to Jesus—if I have faith—he will cure me!
Well, my fundie friends, did you see that letter of apology
Haggard wrote to his congregation? I’d like to wrap it around
a brick and shove it up all of your fat asses. But since I
can’t do that, I’ll just quote from it. In his mea gulpa (Haggard
gives lousy head, according to Jones), Haggard copped to “sexual
immorality” and described himself as “a deceiver and a liar.”
Those details made it into most of the headlines. These details
a lifelong battle against temptations that were
contrary to his teachings,” says the Denver Post. “[Haggard]
had sought assistance ‘in a variety of ways,’ and while he
had stretches of ‘freedom,’ nothing proved effective.
‘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.” (Emphasis added.)
If you believe that Jesus Christ can change the sexual orientation
of a believer, why on earth did he refuse to cure Haggard?
He founded a church that has 14,000 members! Thousands were
brought to Christ by Haggard’s preaching. Mixed in with Ted’s
meth-fueled gay sex romps and hypocritical gay bashings were,
without a doubt, thousands of good works.
Did Jesus help Haggard out? No. Haggard struggled with temptation
all his life. He tried to battle off his “dark” desires, but
nothing proved effective. There was no cure for Haggard, no
miracle. No matter how long he struggled, no matter how much
faith he had, Haggard’s sexual orientation remained unchanged.
Nothing helped. Not prayer, not Jesus H. Christ on his cross.
If giving his heart to Jesus couldn’t cure Haggard, what hope
is there for the likes of me? If Jesus can’t be bothered to
work a miracle for the most powerful evangelical minister
in the country, what “hope” is there for the average dyke?
The ex-gay thing is over. It’s dead. It was bullshit from
the start, and it’s bullshit now. And I will personally track
down and bitch-slap the next fundie douche who sends me an
e-mail explaining how Jesus can cure me. And I will personally
track down and shit in the mouth of the next cable-news anchor
who entertains—even for an instant—the notion of a miracle
cure for homosexuality.
Consider yourself warned, Paula Zahn.
I wanted to congratulate you on playing a big part in
Rick Santorum’s humiliating defeat. The Santorum euphemism
made the man a joke in the eyes of many, many voters. It feels
good, doesn’t it? But I can’t help feeling that it’s wrong
for me to feel a sense of schadenfreude watching his stuffy
kids cry onstage. He makes outrageous, illogical statements
regarding homosexuality; and I can laugh at his weeping progeny.
That’s OK, right?
been deluged with e-mails—thousands of e-mails—thanking me
for Rick Santorum’s defeat. I did my part, but I can’t claim
the credit for his defeat. I mean, come on.
But one person did get it right: Four years ago, Savage Love
readers—the new definition of “santorum” was a reader’s idea—set
a single stone in motion. While Santorum would have been defeated
even without a filthy, lowercase definition of his last name
floating around out there, having a name that can barely be
mentioned in polite company anymore didn’t help. So effective
was our “frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes
the byproduct of anal sex” campaign that the editor of the
National Review was fuming about it in a column published
on Election Day itself. We helped to make Rick Santorum into
a national laughingstock—with an invaluable assist from Rick
Santorum, of course.
The political power of satire should never be underestimated.
There’s a reason monarchs and despots once locked up cartoonists
and satirists. Being made ridiculous? That’s politically disempowering
However, the real credit and mad props, as the kids once said,
go to the people of Pennsylvania. You wiped Santorum from
the floor of the U.S. Senate, and a grateful nation salutes
you! Bravo! Well done! (Electing him in the first place? Not
so well done. But all is forgiven.)
As for Santorum’s kids, well, once again we’re put in the
position of having to feel sorry for the offspring—the
oddly attired offspring—of a delusional bigot. But just
how bad should we feel? I remember listening to the radio
when Santorum said something obnoxious about gay couples:
An anti-gay-marriage amendment was a homeland-security measure,
Santorum said, which makes gay couples terrorists. My son,
who happens to be the same age as Santorum’s younger daughter
(the one weeping and clutching a doll in that widely circulated
photo), was in the room at the time and he got pretty upset.
So, yeah, we should all feel bad for Santorum’s kids—what
kind of parent drags a sobbing child in front of the national
media?—but let’s also feel bad for all the other kids that
So is that all the gloating I intend to do over Rick Santorum?
Nope. For a full-throated gloat-a-thon, go to www.thestranger.com/savage/ricksantorum.
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