I Had To Say Something

Posted by Censor Librorum on Sep 1, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

Over coffee and a buttered roll (so New York) this headline caught my eye, “Fallen Pastor Seeks Aid to Pursue Studies.” The former Rev. Ted Haggard, who left the 10,000 member mega church he founded after admitting to “sexual immorality”, sent an email to his old supporters asking for financial help while he and his wife pursue studies in counseling and psychology.

The story didn’t make me think of Haggard so much as I did of Mike Jones, the male escort who “outted” him on a Denver radio station. Jones’ disclosure that Haggard was a client dealt a terrible blow to the Evangelical and Republican political machine just before a crucial midterm election. This shift cost right-wing moralizers momentum, credibility and moral high ground. And votes.

Mike Jones helped every single gay person in the United States feel a little safer. The unscrupulous-who bash gays by day but troll for gay sex at night-now feel a little less safe, understanding they could wind up on the 5 o’clock news with a lot of “splaining” to do to their wife or husband, family and community.

Like probably thousands of other gay people, when the news hit I thought, “Wow. What a great guy. But he’s a prostitute.” I guess that sentiment wasn’t unique.

During a June interview a NY Times reporter told Jones, “Millions of people appreciate that you spoke up, but still, as a prostitute, you’e hardly a shining exemplar of gay accomplishment.”

Jones responded, “I prefer the term ‘male escort.’ If I was strictly a prostitute, people would think I was working the street. And I’m not. These men were coming to me with big emotional issues, and I was comforting them.”

“I don’t feel like a hero,” he went on. “I wasn’t trying to be a hero. I’m at the age of 49. I saw a lot of my friends going through hell in years past, where one of the partners would die and the other family would come in and say get out of the way, and just rape the house, and there was a lot of crying. I felt like this was a responsibility to my fellow gay brothers to do this. I’ve had some people say “You’re an immoral whore, bitch, fag.” But I’ve been called all those names all my life. So it’s not new. But I will tell you, when it finally broke, when he resigned, I have to be honest with you, I just broke down. I had so much emotion.”

Jones has had hundreds of calls from individuals, but no official recognition from any gay or lesbian groups except the Harvey Milk Club in SF and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force in NY. “No other group has contact me to say, even, Are you O.K.? It has been a very lonely time for me. I can only guess that they think I’m a bad example of the gay community.”

His comments about “comforting” closeted gay men and personal loneliness brought me up short. It made me rethink how I perceived him as a person; and also, paid sex. He held and comforted a great many people. Who is to say it’s less?

Jones present situation also made me think whether Superman or Batman, being a hero and savior is a lonely and often, thankless, job.

Thank you, Mike.

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