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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Indiana Anti-Equality Representative Phillip Hinkle Caught Cruising Craigslist M4M Section

First and foremost, I think there is an object lesson to be learned in the story of Rep. Phillip Hinkly, who was recently caught trying to pay an 18 year old young man for sex. That lesson is one for those Christians on the traditionalist side who are convinced that the healthiest and holiest thing any homosexual can do is ignore their feelings and try to live a heterosexual life, essentially to live in the closet. Rep. Hinkle's life and behavior provide a telling glimpse into that closet.

Many gay men and women will talk about how awful being in the closet is from the perspective of the damage to the self, the self-loathing, depression, loneliness and isolation. These are all valid points, but to my Christian friends I would like to point out one other aspect of the closet, abject immorality. You know that image of the gay man on the prowl in the park, bathroom or bathhouse that the right enjoys holding up as normative for the gay community so much? Those men are almost always closet cases. The ones who are not generally picked up the habit during their time in the closet.

As I've noted before, no amount of prayer or therapy will make the need for intimacy go away. That deep seated desire to hold and be held by someone you truly love, are truly attracted to, doesn't go away. And when that desire is sublimated, ignored or repressed it tends to come out in destructive ways. Many on the traditionalist side of this debate argue that our sexual passions are an incredibly powerful thing, that we ought to heed God's will for them lest they run rampant in our lives, controlling us and eventually destroying us. And I absolutely agree with this assessment. That is why I find it so important to consider the fruit produced by what we do and say, how we live our lives, especially when it comes to something as important as ones sexuality.

Below you will see an example of the fruit produced by the closet. You will see what happens when one attempts to hide, deny or otherwise repress their natural, God-given sexuality. You see the closet is a place of darkness where the light of God and the church cannot shine. It is a place lacking entirely in integrity because it is a place of deception and obfuscation. And in this place of darkness patterns of sin can, and usually do, emerge. Patterns that can lead an outwardly upstanding, Christian man to send the following emails to an 18 year old teenage boy...
"Cannot be a long time sugar daddy, but can for tonight. Would you be interested in keeping me company for a while tonight?"
"I am an in shape married professional, 5'8", fit 170 lbs, and love getting and staying naked."
"How about $80 for services rendered and if real satisfied a healthy tip? That make it worth while?"
"Final for the record, for a really good time, you could get another 50, 60 bucks. That sound good?"
"If u want to consider spending night u might tell ur sis so she won't worry. Would have u back before 11 tomorrow. No extra cash just free breakfast and maybe late night snack."
Now Rep. Hinkle's story is blowing up because he is an anti-gay politician who has now been caught soliciting an 18 year old for gay sex. But don't kid yourself, this kind of thing goes on in the lives of regular people all the time. The ex-gays rarely hold on to that "ex" part, and those who do are still often caught "relapsing" at least once in their lives. And as any addict can tell you, for every time someone "relapses" publicly, there are certainly numerous times they've gotten away with it.

The closet, whether in its original incarnation or when gone back into after going the ex-gay route, is place lacking entirely in integrity. It is a place into which no light can shine, and thus a place in which all manner of evil can thrive.

8 comments:

Jim B. said...

I agree that it is dishonest to caricature all gays as rest stop creepers. Isn't it just as dishonest to characterize all "ex-gays" as the same? In fact, isn't the use of the term "ex-gay" in this context dishonest? The term, as I understand it, typically refers to folks who have identified as homosexual, obtained some form of counseling/therapy/etc and now identify as heterosexual. How are these folks anything like Rep. Hinkle and the rest stop creepers? Are you saying this kind of activity is typical of those who are open about their struggles with homosexuality and desire to resist it, and - if possible - change?

You're right about the closet. Nothing good comes from hiding. And the church's interaction with homosexuals and homosexuality in the past has often been less-than-helpful. We've put many professing men like Hinkle in a position where they feel they can't be honest about their struggles in this area. Tragically, the LGBT movement's embrace of a black & white/take no prisoners approach to this issue - casting themselves as heroes and martyrs and everyone who takes a traditional view of homosexuality as villainous and ignorant bigots - makes it that much more difficult for men like Hinkle.

Because the reality is - like it or not - that many homosexually inclined persons do now and always will view that inclination as something sinful and/or unwanted. To close off the possibility of engaging with this issue in a way that is not either celebratory embrace or hateful disgust is neither heroic nor helpful.

On another note: It never ceases to amaze me how people (politicians especially) will blame shift even when caught red-handed in the most humiliating misdeeds. "Shakedown"? Really? Even if there were some truth to the charge, the guy caught with his wiener in the wind really oughtn't be the one pointing fingers.

P.S. Did that book make it to your new place?

John Blatzheim said...

"I agree that it is dishonest to caricature all gays as rest stop creepers. Isn't it just as dishonest to characterize all "ex-gays" as the same? In fact, isn't the use of the term "ex-gay" in this context dishonest? The term, as I understand it, typically refers to folks who have identified as homosexual, obtained some form of counseling/therapy/etc and now identify as heterosexual. How are these folks anything like Rep. Hinkle and the rest stop creepers? Are you saying this kind of activity is typical of those who are open about their struggles with homosexuality and desire to resist it, and - if possible - change?"

I'm mostly talking about those who never come out, while also noting that ex-gays have in essence gone back into that closet. If by, "those who are open about their struggles with homosexuality and desire to resist it," you mean what are commonly called Side B gay Christians, then I'd probably agree with most of what you say. It is one thing to recognize that you are gay and simply try to live a celibate life and another to do the ex-gay thing.

When you mention "change" I have to assume you're talking about ex-gays. And yes, I do think this kind of behavior is relatively common among ex-gays. While it is pretty much impossible to prove that point scientifically (not a whole lot of studies on the rate of "relapse" among ex-gays) I do believe the history of those who have achieved fame in the ex-gay movement are likely representative of the wider ex-gay community. And the track record there isn't particularly good (http://christiangays.com/articles/ex_gay.shtml,http://www.truthwinsout.org/scandals-defections/). When I can easily find a parade of "ex-gays" who have either recanted or "relapsed" at least once, I believe that says something about the ex-gay movement in general. Of course I still support everyone's right to pursue whatever kind of therapy they wish, even if I think it is dangerous or a waste of time and money.

John Blatzheim said...

"You're right about the closet. Nothing good comes from hiding. And the church's interaction with homosexuals and homosexuality in the past has often been less-than-helpful. We've put many professing men like Hinkle in a position where they feel they can't be honest about their struggles in this area."

While I think this sentiment is a step in the right direction, I am also a bit skeptical of it. Albert Mohler, for example, caught a lot of flak from the conservative christian community for simply stating what you have, that the church has practiced a form of homophobia it needs to repent of (http://www.onenewsnow.com/Church/Default.aspx?id=1371676). The problem is that he then went on to write an op-ed all about how no one can really be a Christian and pro-LGBT (which I wrote about here http://queer-christian.blogspot.com/2011/07/albert-mohler-on-reparative-therapy.html and here http://queer-christian.blogspot.com/2011/07/hate-sin-and-sinner-more-on-albert.html). So while I'm glad that some conservatives are moving in the right direction, I'm skeptical as to how much of that is little more than a PR move. You don't have to be accepting of homosexuality, but it would be nice if those on your side of this debate didn't condemn not just gay people, but anyone who supports them, to hell as heretics. I've never been sure as to which makes me angrier, having been told that I was an evil sinner, or having our father told (at first) that it was his fault and then (now) that he is an evil sinner as well for supporting me. How can we have a civilized debate when one side refuses to even admit that it could have misinterpreted the scriptures?

John Blatzheim said...

"Tragically, the LGBT movement's embrace of a black & white/take no prisoners approach to this issue"

What I find interesting about this statement is that I feel the very same way about conservatives. As I pointed out above, those in the traditionalist camp (such as Mohler) tend not to want a debate on this issue but rather a lecture. Somehow I doubt I'd ever be given a chance to explain my point of view in your church. I believe that this stems from an absolutist view that see's itself as holding the one and only truth. While I admit that the experience of being gay in and of itself creates some bias (you are unlikely to convince me that I am mentally ill or don't experience "real" love given my life experiences) it is almost nothing compared to the bias of many conservative Christians. I constantly run into people who are convinced that they have the total, absolute truth handed down to them from God. These are the types who see any attack on their opinions as not just an attack on their views, but on God himself. This kind of absolutism is, in my opinion, poisonous and damaging to the Christian community. While most gay people are certainly not particularly open to the idea that they are really mentally ill sinners in need of repair, at least they have the excuse of having lived as gay people. What excuse do the countless numbers of Christians who claim to know SO much about us have? What life experiences have they had that prove how obviously evil and sinful homosexuality is? Do they have anything outside of a handful of contested passages from scripture?

John Blatzheim said...

"casting themselves as heroes and martyrs and everyone who takes a traditional view of homosexuality as villainous and ignorant bigots - makes it that much more difficult for men like Hinkle."

I can't help but laugh at this. So it's not the fault of those who tell people like Mr. Hinkle that being in love with someone of the same sex is evil, sinful and mentally disturbed that he chose to keep his feelings a secret? And even more, it's actually out and open gay people's fault? Because we what...forced him to feel the way he did? Forced him to hide rather than seek counseling (whether mainstream or ex-gay)? This is almost as ridiculous as many anti-gay leaders claims that it's really the Christians who are persecuted here, they are the ones who face the REAL violence and danger. As someone who has, on more that one occasion, feared for his safety and life simply for holding the hand of the I person I loved, I find this line of thought asinine and incredibly offensive.

It is neither my fault, nor the fault of pro-gay organizations, that Mr. Hinkle did what he did. Period. End of story. Let's take that great conservative ideal of personal responsibility seriously now, the only one responsible for Mr. Hinkle's actions is Mr. Hinkle.

John Blatzheim said...

"Because the reality is - like it or not - that many homosexually inclined persons do now and always will view that inclination as something sinful and/or unwanted."

I actually agree. While we may disagree on the course of action a therapist ought to take with such a client (with me favoring an affirmative approach that emphasizes that gay people do not have to abandon their faith and you favoring the ex-gay approach) I agree with your basic premise. As I said above, people have the right to seek whatever kind of counselling they believe will be the most beneficial to them.

Will I stop talking about my experience with such therapies and how they affected my life and faith? Of course not. Will I stop talking about the fact that there is no evidence for actual orientation change occurring among ex-gays? Nope. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and I will continue to defend mine while also hopefully leaving room for others to express their differences.

John Blatzheim said...

"To close off the possibility of engaging with this issue in a way that is not either celebratory embrace or hateful disgust is neither heroic nor helpful."

Again for the most part I'd agree. But show me anyone on your side who isn't, even while trying really hard to be neutral, coming off as being disgusted by homosexuality. Robert Gagnon, whom you seem to have latched onto, is a perfect example. Going into lurid detail about every possible gay sex act while blatantly distorting research (look into Paul Cameron, who Gagnon cites repeatedly) in order to paint gay people in the most negative light possible seems like the actions of someone who is disgusted by people like me. Gagnon and his ilk go to incredible lengths to make the point that gay sex is horrifyingly disgusting and unhealthy. Again this strikes me as falling on the side of "hateful disgust" rather than anywhere in the middle.

And of course that highlights another point I think, there are very few people whose antipathy towards homosexuals isn't directly connected to a disgust towards our sex lives. I have found very few anti-gay crusaders who don't feel the need to constantly paint gay sex as vile, disgusting, unnatural etc. And the few who do avoid such rhetoric, such as Tony Campolo, are often criticized for not being tough enough on the gay issue. The fact is that however much those on my side point to the romance, commitment and love of our relationships, the other side constantly drags our sex lives into the equation. Why is that? Could it be that a visceral disgust at what goes on in the bedroom of gay couples is really at the heart of much anti-gay campaigning?

John Blatzheim said...

"On another note: It never ceases to amaze me how people (politicians especially) will blame shift even when caught red-handed in the most humiliating misdeeds. "Shakedown"? Really? Even if there were some truth to the charge, the guy caught with his wiener in the wind really oughtn't be the one pointing fingers."

I definitely agree here. Even if the whole thing was a shakedown, he still was obviously trolling for some young gay men to begin with. If he'd actually gotten shaken down, awesome! That's what pervy guys who try to pick up young people on the internet deserve.

"P.S. Did that book make it to your new place?"

Yup.

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