Going Gay: Why Should Preachers Have All the Fun?

I’m bored to tears with being straight. starshine%20mug.jpgIt seems all the really cool people
these days are gay: T.R. Knight from Grey’s Anatomy. Sarah
Paulson from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Neil Patrick
Harris from How I Met Your Mother. From NBA player John
Amaechi to ’N Sync heartthrob Lance Bass, it’s in to be out. Being
gay even made Mary Cheney and Candace Gingrich seem hip, if just
for a few minutes.

The cultural cachet threatens to make anyone without a rainbow
sticker feel dreadfully dull. But there’s hope for us hum-drum

Just look at Rev. Ted Haggard, big-time Bush supporter and
founder of the New Life
in Colorado Springs. In November, the evangelical
preacher confessed to having paid a male hooker for sex during a
period of three years — which was awkward, since he’d been publicly
condemning homosexuality for years. Miraculously, Pastor Ted
recently announced that after just three weeks of intensive
spiritual counseling, he has “discovered” he is “completely
heterosexual.” Phew!

His swift return to righteousness didn’t stop the married
preacher from stepping down as his church’s leader and announcing
plans to flee, er, move to a new town. But perhaps that had less to
do with his sexuality than with the methamphetamine he was fond of
using during his frequent gay sex. No matter. The important thing
is the good reverend has settled on a sexuality that both he and
the GOP can feel comfy with.

For years, Christian groups have been beseeching gays to fight
their sinful urges and embrace the straight life. Focus on the
Family, a religious nonprofit based in Haggard’s hometown, helps
men “overcome” homosexuality and “leave their gay identity behind”
through prayer, counseling, and — as best I can
glean — male-bonding exercises. Another group, Exodus International,
promises liberation for those “looking for a way out” of same-sex
attraction. (This group also opposes laws that punish people who
commit hate crimes against gays — which, I’m pretty sure, is not
what Jesus would do.) “You can lead a life of fulfillment and
holiness as God intended,” claims Exodus’s Web site, “a life far
better than what you have experienced so far.” Damn if they don’t
make it sound nice … and so simple!

So I decided to give it a try. If it’s so easy to flip-flop
one’s fleshly fancies, why couldn’t Exodus help me reverse my
sexual identity? Why couldn’t I use the same principles to go from
garden-variety man-bait to rip-roaring lady-lover?

I didn’t expect it to be easy. Apart from a penchant for clunky
shoes and occasional impure thoughts about Mariska Hargitay and
Fergie (but not, like, at the same time or anything), I score
fairly low on the lesbian scale. But, hey, if those benevolent
evangelicals could break a hypocrite like Haggard, surely they
could help me.

I contacted all 11 of the group’s California ministries and told
them I was a straight mother of two hoping to “reorient” with the
Lord’s guidance, lipstick aversion therapy, marathon viewings of
The L Word, or whatever it took.

“Can you advise me on how I might finally achieve what may very
well be my destiny as a gay woman?” I asked.

“Our ministry only helps people move toward a heterosexual
identity,” replied the director of one ministry. “We have not heard
of any organizations that help people go the other way.”

“This is not a change that I would recommend,” explained

I’m not a person of faith, but I hold out hope that these groups
will eventually see the value in, well, “going the other way.”
Heterosexuality is so 20th-century and I’m guessing Haggard would
be the first to admit that life without variety is its own sort of

I look forward to the day when gay pop culture icons can team up
with homophobic Bible thumpers for a fresh new take on conversion
programs. We could call it Queer Eye for the Scared to

For more, visit www.StarshineRoshell.com.


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