A weekly commentary by Hemant Mehta, adapted from his blog "The Friendly Atheist."
Feb. 3, 2010
Gayle Haggard has been appearing everywhere, from Oprah to Larry King Live, to talk about her new book, Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made In My Darkest Hour.
The title is in reference to the decision she made to stay with her husband, disgraced pastor Ted Haggard, after he admitted to cheating on her with a gay male escort. Gayle now says that "Ted was ‘cured' of his homosexual compulsions."
A couple years ago, I interviewed Mike Jones, the aforementioned gay male escort who brought this whole story to the media's attention. He said he was sad that no GLBT groups or progressive groups were reaching out to him, or even acknowledging his existence.
When Gayle's book came out this week, I wondered what Jones' reaction was to all the recent publicity. I figured attention on the Haggards' story might also mean renewed attention on Jones and his book.
I was wrong. It looks like everyone is still avoiding Mike Jones. This is part of an e-mail he sent me–he gave me permission to post it:
"It is very difficult for me because no press will talk with me. Not even the gay press. …The gay community should be so outraged at the Haggards right now, but you do not hear a peep. They are saying that being gay not only can be cured, but it is the dark and evil side of life. WHERE IS THE ANGER!
I exposed myself to expose this man, and no one really cares. My life has been in shambles, and the Haggards are making money again because the Christian community is coming back to them. I only wish I could have that kind of support.
The question I wish someone would ask Ted is, was Mike Jones your whore or your lover?"
Yeah… he's still upset. And he has some good reasons to be. The GLBT community has been relatively mute when it comes to speaking out against Gayle Haggard's book. I haven't heard much from them, anyway. (That said, I still support gay marriage, the repeal of DADT, etc.) They've done little outreach to Jones after he exposed one of their greatest foes as a hypocrite.
While the Haggards have been making money off this whole escapade, Jones has been moving from job to job, afraid of getting fired every time the Haggards make a media appearance.
Also, as he said in the interview, by exposing himself, much of his family distanced themselves from him.
It's not like Jones' background is perfectly spotless, but he has little to show for having the courage to come out publicly as an escort in order to bring Haggard's secret life out in the open. Meanwhile, the Haggards have come out like heroes.
I asked Mike if he had any desire to see Ted Haggard again–maybe to accept an apology from him, or just to speak his mind in person. He said, "I have always been open to meeting him. In fact, I wrote him a letter about a year ago suggesting that, but he never responded. So, I tried."
After all this, I get why Mike is frustrated. And I wish him all the best.
About Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist
(Hemant Mehta is the Chair of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) Board of Directors. He has worked with the Center for Inquiry and is also an SSA representative to the Secular Coalition for America. Hemant received national attention, including being featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, for his work as the "eBay Atheist." Hemant's blog can be read at FriendlyAtheist.com and his book "I Sold My Soul on eBay" (WaterBrook Press) is now in bookstores everywhere. He currently works as a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago.)