Balkinization  

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Let's Be Very Clear: Ted Haggard is a Zero on the Kinsey Scale

JB

From the New York Times:
One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is ''completely heterosexual.''

So is he really a 0 on the Kinsey scale, or at most a 1? Does the fact that Haggard admits to only one same-sex experience mean that he is "completely heterosexual," or does it mean only that he has lacked opportunities?

For reasons I've explained elsewhere, I think this is the continuation of a very sad story. Obviously, Haggard and his associates can declare him to be anything they like. What makes the story sad is the use of the term "completely". It is clearly very important to the ministers-- and to Haggard himself-- that he not have any speck of homosexual desire, for to have any such desire, no matter how small, would be polluting. It is, sad to say, all too similar to the Jim Crow theory that one drop of black blood made you black and therefore socially inferior to "pure" whites.

The Kinsey scale, whatever its limitations, was premised on the assumption that sexual orientation in human populations is not a matter of either opposite-sex or same-sex, or of healthy desires and polluted ones; rather it involves a continuum of possible orientations that are spread across a population distribution-- as are so many other human traits. What Haggard and his friends particularly want to deny is this fact, because it changes the meaning of normalcy and undermines their way of seeing the world.


Comments:

Yeah, I caught that story too.

Completely hetro? "Cured?"

Who's crazier? Haggard or the "professionals" who supposedly treated him? Or the reporters who merely report this crap without pointing out just how CRAZY this all is?

And yes, queerness is the ultimate taint for Biblical literalists. Kinda wrecks their "sex is divinly dichotomous" fairy tale (pun intended).

Signed by a
Very Cranky Queer
 

The Onion's archives have the definitive statement on true-blue heteros like Haggard.
 

But aren't there also plenty of people on "the left" who adhere to the same rules? It's not just white supremacists who consider someone with one black parent and one white one to be black. And aren't there gay activists who believe "bisexual" men are just unwilling to fully embrace their homosexuality?

In fact, I'd say that viewing the black-white and gay-straight dichotomies as absolute is pretty much the way society as a whole acts, not just right-wing crazies.
 

But aren't there also plenty of people on "the left" who adhere to the same rules? It's not just white supremacists who consider someone with one black parent and one white one to be black. And aren't there gay activists who believe "bisexual" men are just unwilling to fully embrace their homosexuality?

It would be easier if you could cite to someone on this point. I'm sure there are people who make arguments like this; there are 300 million of us and somebody is bound to hold just about any position. I'd be a little surprised, though, if any "left" group with the same relative prominence as those cited in the post took such a position.

FWIW, my own view is that I identify people however they choose to be identified. If they consider themselves white, they're white. If black, they're black. If Cablinasian, well, that too.
 

I wonder when exactly TH chose to be heterosexual. The fact that he chose to be straight, is just further proof to me that he is and remains gay.
 

I think the more adamantly a person declares that they are completely heterosexual or homosexual, the more likely it is that they are repressing contradictory urges, which of course doesn't mean that they would ever consider acting them out, or would even want to do so.
 

Wonder what kind of "counseling" good ol' Ted received. Electro-shock? Truthiness serum? Paddling?

Be interesting to know.
 

KCinDC said
In fact, I'd say that viewing the black-white and gay-straight dichotomies as absolute is pretty much the way society as a whole acts, not just right-wing crazies.


That makes intuitive sense, at least, at the face of it. Psychologically leaning on rigid structures seems like a way many people conserve mental energy. It just seems to happen more on the extreme right, but it doesn't make sense that they have a monopoly on it.
 

Maybe I shouldn't have brought in "the left", but I stand by my statement that the dichotomies are far from confined to the extreme right. Are Barack Obama and Adrian Fenty described as black, or white, or mixed-race? How many children of black-white couples identify themselves as black, how many white, and how many "other" or "multiple" or "none"? People of mixed race may be getting more recognition than they used to, but they have a long way to go.

Similarly, bisexuals are largely ignored by society as a whole. Everyone is expected to be either gay or straight.

People in general like having neat categories.
 

KCinDC said:
Maybe I shouldn't have brought in "the left", but I stand by my statement that the dichotomies are far from confined to the extreme right. Are Barack Obama and Adrian Fenty described as black, or white, or mixed-race? How many children of black-white couples identify themselves as black, how many white, and how many "other" or "multiple" or "none"? People of mixed race may be getting more recognition than they used to, but they have a long way to go.

Similarly, bisexuals are largely ignored by society as a whole. Everyone is expected to be either gay or straight.


It brings to my mind the old saying "every situation is unique" (well a quote really). It seems the fewer preconceived notions one brings to a situation the more one sees (some call it beginners luck).
 

As to K., identity labels is a tricky matter, and the comments address a real point. For instance, articles have been written addressing the fact that Sen. Obama isn't really "black" in the eyes of many people, including some "black people."

So, what exactly does "100% heterosexual" mean? "Black" sometimes means "socially considered black," which can be the case if you are biracial etc. To me, sexuality is part of one's identity and inner drives.

I have problems accepting TH is now "completely" heterosexual. If he means "socially heterosexual," well maybe. The final comment by JB is telling: "their way of seeing the world." This selective use of reality to formulate their own little worlds might be deemed problematic ... even w/o the fact that it affects us in the long run too when they use it to promote public policy.
 

It only took thirteen minutes for Mark field to get the example he wanted, in the very next post.
 

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