Gay History: Haggard’s Law

“The louder and more frequent one’s objections to homosexuality are, the more likely one is to be a homosexual.”

Haggard’s Law is an adage named after Pastor Ted Haggard — despite his not being gay in any way, shape or form. It is used as a purely sarcastic musing that people who strongly object to homosexuality may be likely to engage in homosexual activities, and is based on the numerous public scandals of famous figures who oppose homosexuality and homosexual behavior.

Instances of Haggard’s Law are gleefully spread by the media for an audience that revels in such scandalous behavior.

“Racists never imagine what it’s like to be like the person they hate, homophobes imagine it in graphic detail for hour upon hour.” – Bob Schooley

Haggard’s Law made its first published appearance in an article, written by Dennis DiClaudio of Comedy Central fame and is named after American evangelical preacher Ted Haggard. It was created after and is reference to a scandal involving prostitute and masseur Mike Jones who alleged that Haggard had paid Jones to engage in sex with him for three years and had also purchased and used crystal methamphetamine. Although Haggard denied using methamphetamine or having sex with Mr. Jones, the scandal has caused many evangelicals to view Haggard as extremely hypocritical about his spoken views, as he was known to publicly preach against homosexuality.

Original quote by author Dennis DiClaudio

Haggard’s Law — The likelihood of a person harboring secret desires to engage in sexual and/or romantic activities with members of the same sex is directly proportional to the frequency and volume of said person’s vocalized objections to homosexuality.

The “law” is more generally used to reference hypocrisy in public figures who lead the moral opposition of homosexuality, and then are discovered to have partaken in homosexuality or homosexual behavior.

Is Haggard’s law true?

So far, there are no scientific evidences supporting Haggard’s law which, therefore, should be taken only as an ironic term describing some hypocritical homophobes. In fact, testing scientifically if there is some truth in Haggard’s law is quite hard, because of the following reasons:

• There is no easy way to know with certainty the sexual orientation of a person. Statistical studies which rely on the sexual orientations reported by the subjects are hardly useful, since of course no homophobe would reveal their homosexuality. Methods measuring sexual arousal via biometrics are also problematic, because they measure only a physical response to a stimulus, not sexual orientation, and it is possible that similar physical responses are due to completely different psychological reasons. Probably, the only sure way to know the sexual orientation of a person would be spying on them to see if they actively look for and engage in heterosexual or homosexual activities, but of course that poses both ethical and practical problems.

• The scandals behind the history of Haggard’s law, although numerous, are statistically irrelevant with respect to the whole number of homophobes, who have never been caught in homosexual activities. Indeed, believing in Haggard’s law because of such scandals is an instance of the Toupée fallacy.

Penile plethysmography

In a 1996 study, 64 men were assessed by the “homophobia index” and split into two groups: “homophobic” and “non-homophobic.” Then, their arousal by homosexual and heterosexual images were measured via penile plethysmography, a rubber gauge used to measure erectile responses. In the “non-homophobic” group, 66% showed no arousal yet in the “homophobic” group only 20% managed to restrain themselves from getting aroused – and significantly underestimated their own arousal.

However, it should be noted that what was measured as arousal may have been the result of the uncomfortable feelings the homophobic group were feeling on seeing homosexual imagery. As pointed out by the authors of the study: “It is possible that viewing homosexual stimuli causes negative emotions such as anxiety in homophobic men but not in nonhomophobic men. Because anxiety has been shown to enhance arousal and erection, this theory would predict increases in erection in homophobic men. Furthermore, it would indicate that a response to homosexual stimuli is a function of the threat condition rather than sexual arousal per se.” Hence, this confounding factor may explain the results more consistently.

Implicit measures

Studies that rely on implicit measures both to gauge a subject’s same-sex attractions as well as their level of homophobia do give credence to the suspicion that there is something to Haggard’s law.

Statistics

By a 2011 survey, 33% of the USA population believes that “homosexuality is a way of life that should not be accepted by society”. On the other hand, another 2011 report estimates that about 8.2% of Americans have engaged in same-sex sexual behaviour.

On the basis of said polls, no more than 24.8% of those 33% of American homophobes — i.e. one in four active gay bashers — could be a closeted homosexual. This means that a literal interpretation of Haggard’s Law (e.g. ‘homophobe perfectly implies homosexual’) fails in at least 75.2% of cases.

However, this conclusion is flawed, as the 8.2% figure only considers those who have admitted to same-sex sexual activity.

Ethical calculus

It’s entirely possible to be raised to believe that homosexuality is evil yet still turn out to be homosexual. There are many ways for the human mind to rationalize this away, where everyone else is a “sinner” but you are unique, or some other cognitive dissonance. But one way to justify “sinning” is to remove more “sin” than you cause, sort of like how every third house fire fighters save they get to light one up for funzies. So if a politician or preacher manages to convince other people to avoid or give up homosexuality, then surely they have made the world “less sinful” and are thus still “good”, right?

Bisexuality?

Haggard’s Law could sometimes be a bit of a misnomer as the newly-outed may not only be attracted to their own sex, but “swing both ways.” Haggard himself insists that he can still “exclusively have sex with my wife and be permanently satisfied.”

Some instances of Haggard’s Law

• Ken Adkins, a notoriously anti-homosexual pastor who made the news for attacking the victims of the Orlando shooting, was arrested in August 2016 for not merely being gay, but having molested a young boy who was a member of his church. Ironically, one of his chosen lines of attack seems to have been that all gay and trans people were paedophiles, as he was banned by court order from using the phrase “child molester” without proof after numerous attacks on a local school board member via social media.

• Gary Aldridge, pastor at Thorington Road Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, was found dead of autoerotic asphyxiation while wearing two complete rubber wetsuits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, reportedly with one dildo in the anus covered with a condom. You read that correctly.

• Bob Allen, anti-gay Florida politician.

• Ernest Angley, internationally known televangelist, sued for sexual abuse by a former pastor, and caught on tape admitting to a homosexual encounter.

• Roy Ashburn, Californian anti-gay politician caught on a DUI after picking a man up at a gay bar.

• Larry Craig was a Republican Senator from Council, Idaho who is not gay and never has been gay. He is best known for his hardcore theocratic bent and for pleading guilty to “lewd conduct” in an airport restroom. He is totally not gay.

• Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines and homophobe, says he “cured himself” of homosexuality.

Official photo of Mark Foley. “What, me? That kid? Naw, never!

• Mark Foley is a former United States Representative (R-FL). He is famous for validating Haggard’s Law after he sent sexually explicit emails to young male congressional workers. Rep. Foley resigned from Congress when his particular scandal broke. The irony was that Foley was on House committees to protect children from exploitation and fought against child pornography, as well as promoting causes like sex offender registration and requiring FBI fingerprint/background checks for adult volunteers and employees of child groups like Boy Scouts of America. While being against gay marriage and gay adoption, he had previously donated to LGBT causes and was endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans. He has since come “out” and is now selling real estate in Palm Beach.

• Wes Goodman, Republican state legislator for Ohio, resigned after being caught having sex with a man in his office.

• Marc Goodwin, sent to prison for murdering a gay man in a homophobic attack, later became one of the first two men to receive a gay marriage in a British prison.

• Ted Haggard, duh

• Dennis Hastert, possibly, although the target of his affections appear to have been students on his high school wrestling team.

• Eddie Long was the senior clergyman at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a 25,000 member megachurch in Lithonia, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. In what has become an almost timelessly classic Christian story line, in September 2010 the homophobic minister was accused of coercing young men into sexual activity. Several plaintiffs brought suit against the heretofore triumphant exponent of the prosperity gospel. Describing Long as a ‘monster’ in an interview with WAGA-TV in Atlanta, one of Long’s victims alleged that he offered “holy scripture to justify and support the sexual activity.”

• Pastor Matt Makela, a married father of five, reportedly routinely argued gay people should sublimate their same-sex desires—while he was simultaneously chatting up guys on Grindr.

• Possibly Omar Mateen, the 2016 Orlando nightclub gunman. Multiple media outlets have reported that he had a gay dating app on his phone, and was a regular patron of the gay nightclub he later attacked.

• Jonathan Merritt, son of James Merritt, former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention.

• Matt Moore, who claimed to be ex-gay thanks to religion, was found using gay hook up services.

• Matthew Dennis “Denny” Patterson, pastor of Nolensville Road Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, was arrested in 2018 for molesting multiple children, mostly boys, over the course of his 20 year ministry.

• Possibly Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, according to former church member Lauren Drain.

• Timothy Lee Reddin, anti-gay pastor from Turner Street Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was arrested in August 2018 for soliciting what he thought was a 14-year-old boy for sex online.

• George Rekers is a Southern Baptist minister and typical religious right activist who has written numerous books about the evils of homosexuality. Rekers has long been affiliated with James Dobson and the Family Research Council, as well as appearing as an “expert” witness in several court cases espousing how homosexuals aren’t fit to raise children, and so should be prohibited from adoption. He also testified on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America in support of their gay ban. When a judge was suspicious of Rekers’ testimony, describing it as “extremely suspect” and said that Rekers “was there primarily to promote his own personal ideology”, Rekers went on a tantrum describing the trial as “utterly corrupt”. In May of 2010, he was spotted returning to Miami International Airport with a young Hispanic gentleman hired “to carry his bags”. Like all baggage assistants, the young man had been hired from a website entitled “Rentboy.com”. Much hilarity ensued, of course, with Rekers even admitting he had hired the boy from the escort website—while still insisting he had only hired him for “baggage handling”. At UCLA in the early 1970s, Rekers ran “The Sissy Boy Experiment”, a reparative therapy program. The program came under intense media scrutiny following the suicide of Kirk Murphy, whose parents enrolled him in the program when he was five years old. Murphy suffered physical abuse as part of the plan to cure him of his feminine behavior. Murphy’s family blames the program for his depression and eventual suicide.

• Bill Sanderson, a family values conservative Christian Republican lawmaker from Kenton, Tennessee, resigned his seat on the same day it was revealed that he was allegedly using the online dating service Grindr to hook up with gay men.

• Gaylard Williams, (possibly) former) pastor of Praise Cathedral Church of God in Seymour, Indiana, arrested for battery after soliciting gay sex at a park. After he was arrested, police discovered a gay porn DVD in his vehicle.

In fiction

The 1999 film American Beauty

Reference

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