Minnesota’s Lavender Magazine celebrated Pride season by tracking down a local minister , a man known for his preaching against homosexuality, at a confidential support group for people struggling to overcome their homosexual urges. “It’s a common human foible to say one thing, and then do the exact opposite,” the magazine’s story about the minister begins.
That premise is true in general, and it’s relevant to the debate over outing public figures. The anti-gay movement draws much of its energy and leadership from one big, seething closet . Except for Mormons, who are busy overcompensating for polygamy , straight people tend to have other political priorities.
But there are different kinds of self-loathing gays in the activist vanguard. Some are plain frauds, who routinely indulge in same-sex sex (or even have ongoing same-sex relationships) in private, even as they crusade against homosexuality in public. Some have heterosexual marriages for social and reproductive reasons, while pursuing gay sex on the side.
The Minnesota minister, though, appears to be something else. He is single, and he was attending meetings to try to stay celibate. When he confessed to straying while on a trip to Europe, even in Lavender’s unsympathetic account, it sounded like an occasion for genuine regret—like the confession of a lapsed gambler or lapsed alcoholic.
Is this a healthy way for a person to view his own homosexual attractions? By many people’s standards, it’s not. The minister sounds unhappy, and he would probably be better off if he went ahead and let himself be queer.
That doesn’t make him a hypocrite. Despite Lavender’s setup to the piece, the minister was not doing the opposite of what he preaches. He was trying to suppress homosexuality in the broader culture, and he was trying to suppress homosexuality in himself. Call him wrongheaded; call him pathological; call him a bigot. But based on this would-be expose, call him honest.