Why Ted Haggard Deserves Your Respect
"I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual."
So says Ted Haggard, the shamed former megachurch pastor who in 2006 was forced to step down from atop his New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when it was discovered that he had spent time with gay escorts and taken crystal meth. In the immediate aftermath of the scandal, Haggard entered "intensive counseling" sessions led by some of his evangelical colleagues, who deemed the pastor "completely heterosexual" after three weeks (though they would not let him return to New Life). Then, in 2009, Haggard announced that more therapy had convinced him he was more accurately a "heterosexual with issues."
It's now two years later, and while he's still not identifying as gay, by calling himself a "bisexual," Haggard, who had once vociferously denounced homosexuality, is at least admitting an attraction to men. It's a step—a big one for Haggard—and it doesn't end there. In fact, in a a new interview with GQ, the 54-year-old gets pretty graphic about his sexual proclivities, both past and present:
About former meth dealer and escort Mike Jones, Haggard says: "We never had sex sex. I bought drugs and a massage from him, and he masturbated me at the end of it. That's it."
He admitted to buying drugs "five or six times" from Jones, but adds: "Sometimes I'd throw it away. Other times, I'd go someplace and masturbate and use it. But it was for masturbation. And that's one of the reasons why I haven't been real clear. I don't want to stand up publicly and say, 'Hey, I'm a masturbation guy!"
"You know, that's really the core issue here," he added. "I bought the drugs to enhance masturbation. Because what crystal meth does--Mike taught me this--crystal meth makes it so you don't ejaculate soon. So you can watch porn and masturbate for a long time."
It's not too often you get a man of the cloth to admit that he's a bisexual "masturbation guy," let alone one who'd been as far-right as Haggard.
As you might imagine, many people have taken to laughing at Haggard's most recent foray into the public eye. That's simple enough, but we can't help but feel a newfound respect for the man. Five years after being forced to completely reevaluate his life, he's salvaged his marriage, gotten sober, opened a brand-new church in Colorado that welcomes recovering addicts and gay and bisexual members in Colorado, and started to come to terms with who he is. He also says, "I don't judge people anymore. I know life happens to everybody." That's a difficult path for anyone to take, but especially someone whose deepest beliefs led them to live a lie for decades.
It's a redemption story any Bible thumper could love.