Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Study in Contrasts

In the past 4 weeks, there have been 4 cases of prominent people coming out as gay. Mark Foley, a Republican representative to Congress from the State of Florida; T.R. Knight, an actor on the ABC show Gray's Anatomy; Ted Haggard a prominent evangelical minister and national leader of the Conservative Christian right; and Neil Patrick Harris star of the 90's sit-com Doogie Howser M.D. and currently an actor in How I Met Your Mother on which, incidently, he plays a sleazy, womanizing, VERY straight character. What a contrast we've seen in these assorted revelations.Mark Foley comes out after being caught making inappropriate sexual advances toward Congressional pages some of whom were underage at the time. T.R. Knight on the other hand comes out to confirm rumors that had been floating around that he was gay. In a press release the actor said matter-of-factly, "I hope the fact that I'm gay isn't the most interesting part of me." Ted Haggard didn't even really come out, rather, a male prostitute exposed the evangelical preacher after a three years of "providing services" to the right wing Christian leader. Although Haggard initially denied any sexual wrongdoing (he claimed he had just received massages and bought drugs that he never took) he was suspended from his church for sexual misconduct and has since entered one of those ex-gay therapy facilities where, it is claimed, people can be "cured" of being gay. Finally we have Neil Patrick Harris who also was responding to circulating rumors regarding his sexuality, and is quoted as saying, "I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest...."

So what's the difference in these cases? In two cases we have two men who have accepted their sexual identity, are well adjusted to it and are leading happy, healthy, productive lives. In two other cases we have men who have supressed, repressed and/or denied their sexual orientation and the results of doing so are clear. Supression, repression and denial are dangerous, damaging responses to sexual identity. As seen in the cases of Foley and Haggard, they lead to self-loathing, self-destructive behaviors and dysfunctional (often dangerous) manifestations of sexual expression.

Who have led the better, more righteous and upright lives? Mark Foley and Ted Haggard by living lives of self-loathing and deception or T.R. Knight and Neil Patrick Harris by living honestly, openly and happily as gay men? I think that question pretty well answers itself.

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