Considering it’s the weekend, Sly has not been as carefree as he’d like.

The why is not so easy to explain. While Sly enjoys a good auto-hoisting via petard moment just as much as the next person, the Haggard scandal has not provoked joy or merriment for him.

Indeed, my more traditionally liberal compatriots have been celebrating with a fervor that strikes me as perhaps gauche, even problematic. You see, while never condoning abusing trust within a relationship or the use of meth…I beleive I understand some degree of the pressures that might help a person make such stupid choices. There but for the grace…

As I considered leadership in a church that is still struggling with homophobia, one of the things that I told myself is that I could not put myself into a position where I would be serving from the closet. I have seen the Shower of Stoles too many times, heard too many stories to contemplate that. But I can imagine having a greater fire for my calling that could leave me impatient, unwilling to sacrifice that vocation…unable to protect myself from the homophobia of the church.

What if I had accepted the closet? What would I have to say on a daily basis to keep passing? How long would it take before I realized that I had been burning myself, now empty, and writing one of the narratives pinned to the back of a stole…the kind that had made me cry as a younger man?

I don’t know exactly how Ted Haggard got to this place. And I resent that he was willing to pass so completely as to be exercising power against his queer family.

But the fervent glee celebrating his downfall in some quarters of the left, the openly misogynistic “excuses” being given, and the renewed sense of fear of on the right that queers are everywhere…

For us queers who are still connected to the church, this is not going to be an easy time.

In the end, Haggard’s story is not a particularly attractive one. We much rather prefer stories of selfless leadership in a church that ended only when the closeted queer had nothing left to give, soul destroyed by the pressure. Or spotless and upstanding folks, denied or rejected outright. We prefer our tragedies simple, our victims unblemished.

For whatever specific choices he is responsible for, Haggard is still a tragedy of the homophobic church. His story belongs, just as much as the more innocent queer martyrs do, on a stole…in our memory of the devastation that the homophobic church has wrought. His culpability is not erased by the tragedy, nor does our sympathy erase how he used the power of the church and the state to harm us.

Simply, I’m scared again. Christendom again pulses with the renewed energy of fear and hate, as no person or place is “safe.” The conventional, political left feels powerful with this gun, this weapon of theirs that seems to make bashing the fundies so easy, so electorally powerful…

We’re in the middle. Scared of our church, that once again looks to cast us out. Scared of our political “allies” who use our lives and pain as leverage.

Excuse me for not cheering.

-sly

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