Q. HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH THE MEDIA EXPOSURE?
A. IT'S ALL GOOD. During my 15 minutes of fame I was treated very kindly by the mainstream press...ABC News, CNN (Don Lemon), The Joy Behar Show, NPR, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, People Magazine, Creative Loafing, Perez Hilton, The View, the Gayle King Show, and others were very gracious and fair in their coverage of everything concerning my coming out, and I greatly appreciated it. Not that it matters now, but there were some who said I was enjoying the press coverage a little too much and was playing to the media, but what they didn't know is that I turned down many more interviews than I accepted (Dr. Phil, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Wendy Williams, to name a few). A producer who makes movies for HBO approached me about doing a biopic, which I turned down, and even though we signed contracts for a reality show with Freemantle Entertainment, that project has not been picked up by any network as of yet, and I am totally fine with that. The stuff that was written about me was something over which I had no control, and I didn't ask for any of it.
Whatever about all that, but the biggest issue was, of course, the "Christian" press.
Ah, the Christian press...where do I start? I have, for the most part, kept silent about this for a year, but I feel free to address it now. All you have to do is google my name and you'll find dozens, maybe scores, of Christian gay watchdog groups who had a field day with discussing me, dissecting every word of my coming out message (one guy had so much time on his hands that he created an entire eight-part series off of that one message), and showing their general obsession with me and people like me. Some of these guys would try to post as many as 20 times a day on this blog (all anonymously, of course). Just think of how many homeless people they could have fed (something that Jesus actually talked about) in the time it took to post 20 homophobic rants a day.
It's hard for me to take them seriously as being anything that resembles being Christian because there is nothing at all about Jesus on their blogs and websites (maybe because Jesus was completely silent on the subject of sexual orientation)...just blatant intolerance, homophobia and hate speech. They and their followers (just scroll down and read the comments and you'll see what I mean) are so gossipy, judgmental, petty, Pharisaical, fundamentalist, closed-minded, vulgar, and just downright mean-spirited, that they compromise any moral authority they might otherwise have, in my opinion.
As I said, Jesus didn't say a word about homosexuality, but he said A WHOLE LOT about love ("this is the greatest commandment", "by this shall all men know you're my disciples", etc.). Just read these blogs and tell me if you read anything that sounds even vaguely loving written in them.
What I would say to them if I could (which I can't, because they have no willingness to listen to anyone but themselves) is...Why do you care so much? Why do you have an opinion about anything I do or say at all? I think you guys take the Scriptures out of context for your own agendas, and preach what Paul called "another Gospel", and yet I would never be arrogant enough to tell you what to preach or not to preach.
A very well-known, super-rich pastor of an Atlanta megachurch preached about me to his enormous congregation, and said that I was "a sign of the times"....evidence that "the very elect would be deceived in the last days". With having absolutely no idea of what people like me have struggled with their entire life, he dismissed it as me being unable to ignore my perverted "feelings", even though I've been married twice and have lived my entire adult life in opposition to my nature. Wow, thanks for the love, Pastor.
What I would say to him if I could would be: According to your eschatology (which I don't embrace) shouldn't you be happy that I'm a "sign of the times"? Aren't you supposed to "comfort one another with these words" and "lift up your head because your redemption draws nigh"? Instead of judging me, you should be praying for me, and should also be excited that Jesus is about to return!
And for the people who have told me anonymously online that I'm going to hell I would say, "Well, then...shouldn't that take care of it? If I'm going to hell anyway, there's really no purpose in writing pages and pages about me, is there? Why not just let God take care of me, or deal with me as He sees fit in eternity?
And to the pastors who have "demanded" online that I step down from the pulpit I would say, "Who do you think you are? God called me to the ministry, and only God could remove me from it. I probably disagree with nearly everything you preach, but would never have the audacity to tell you to step down. Jesus is Lord, not me.
Anyway, I could say a lot more about that kind of stuff, but I need to concentrate on answering the question above.
The main thing about the Christian anti-gay websites, however, is that I think there is a bigger problem with them, and that is that many of them are quite obviously dealing with their own sexual conflict in being so obsessed with someone else's sexuality. I have read about tests that have been done on these kind of "God hates fags" kind of Bible-thumpers who are the first to be physically aroused by gay pornography when exposed to it, and it doesn't surprise me.
Time and time again I am reminded of Shakespeare's immortal line, "Methinks thou doest protest too much"! (a misquoted line from Hamlet which actually reads, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." ) when I hear these guys preach their homophobic sermons or read their homophobic blogs. However it's quoted or misquoted, the meaning of it is that when someone insists so passionately about something not being true or untrue that people suspect just the opposite of what that person is saying.
To make my point, it would be too easy to mention people here like John Paulk (no relation to my Uncle), Lonnie Latham, George Alan Rekers, or even Ted Haggard...just a few examples of men who have been outspoken opponents of gay rights, or have preached condemnation to people with same-sex attraction, who have been caught in gay sex scandals. There are so many instances of that kind of thing happening that there is even an entire website devoted to exposing these guys called 'Evangelicals Who Hate Gay People but Love Gay Sex".
To further make my point I could refer to the brilliant HBO documentary Outrage, which tells story after story of politicians who, in the spirit of Roy Cohn (the man who worked for Joseph McCarthy in the 50's and exposed people for being gay but was gay himself and later died of AIDS) and J. Edgar Hoover, have made the lives of gay people miserable by their policies and unfair laws, but have been outed in even more gay sex scandals themselves. There is definitely a pattern with these guys. The ones who yell the loudest about it are generally the ones dealing the most with their own inner sexual conflicts
I would never out anyone myself, but I could even add some personal confirmation to this by saying that in the last year I have been privately contacted by men who say they have had sexual relationships with some of the people who have been the most critical of me and have said some of the most hurtful things about me for admitting to my sexual orientation. Some of them are people I know personally, but I choose to take the high road and not expose them for their hypocrisy. What they say and do is between them and God, and God alone is my vindicator, so I refuse to take these matters into my own hands.
I only mentioned the names of some people here because what happened to them is public record. I'm not exposing anyone or revealing new information in citing them as references. I've been asked about Haggard and Bishop Eddie Long in nearly every interview I've done in the last year, and I've chosen to keep my opinions to myself about them. I did sort of discuss Haggard briefly on The Joy Behar show, but that was more in the vain of stating my disbelief in the effectiveness of any kind of conversion therapy.
Anyway, the bottom line is that no weapon formed against me will prosper, the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (irrevocable), and I have favor with God and man.
The good news is that the haters online have given me a lot of great publicity that has ultimately attracted many new people to my ministry (Thanks, guys!)...
OK, enough about that...next question...
To be continued...