Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Basketball Player And The Reverend

On the heels of yesterday's article about an astronaut's love life and mental health being front page news (see Why Is This Such Big News), another piece of "news" hit the press. The following tidbit appeared in the New York Times (All The News That Fits).

February 6, 2007
Haggard Pronounced 'Completely Heterosexual'
Filed at 9:59 a.m. ET

DENVER (AP) -- 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."

Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday's edition.

"He is completely heterosexual," Ralph said. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."

Ralph said the board spoke with people close to Haggard while investigating his claim that his only extramarital sexual contact happened with Mike Jones. The board found no evidence to the contrary.

"If we're going to be proved wrong, somebody else is going to come forward, and that usually happens really quickly," he said. "We're into this thing over 90 days and it hasn't happened."

Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals last year after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. He was also forced out from the 14,000 New Life Church that he founded years ago in his basement after Jones alleged Haggard paid him for sex and sometimes used methamphetamine when they were together. Haggard, who is married, has publicly admitted to "sexual immorality."

Haggard said in an e-mail Sunday, his first communication in three months to church members, that he and his wife, Gayle, plan to pursue master's degrees in psychology. The e-mail said the family hasn't decided where to move but that they were considering Missouri and Iowa.

Another oversight board member, the Rev. Mike Ware of Westminster, said the group recommended the move out of town and the Haggards agreed.

"This is a good place for Ted," Ware said. "It's hard to heal in Colorado Springs right now. It's like an open wound. He needs to get somewhere he can get the wound healed."

It was also the oversight board that strongly urged Haggard to go into secular work.

I guess that getting loaded on meth and having hot sex with a man now qualifies you as being "completely heterosexual"!

I thought that you had to be at least somewhat bisexual if you had sex with a member of the same sex.

I mean, even a little.

This wasn't a pubescent dalliance, this was a grown man enjoying multiple encounters with his male lover. Sure, they have added the cash value of prostitution to the story, which sort of changes it from "I'm bisexual" to "I'm a john"; but there is no way this can qualify as "completely heterosexual"!

A man having sex with another man is not what heterosexual men do! It is what perfectly normal, well-adjusted homosexual and bisexual men do.

I think this story should be change from "completely heterosexual" to "completely bisexual" (which is sort of oxymoronic, or redundant, I can't decide which). Or, "Reverend Haggard is a total john"! But, there is no way this guy is completely heterosexual!

Unless of course, you believe God created the world in six days, then took a one day rest before he got back to work. Or that every living thing on the planet exists because Noah managed to squeeze two of each of them onto an ark.

Actually, no matter what you believe religiously, you can't really believe that this guy is completely heterosexual. Or can you?


Thanks to Richard for sending this along!

And now, on the other hand . . . A role model.

When adults, especially adults in the public eye, come-out, they serve as a role model for the young people who are most isolated: gay men and lesbian women.

Ex-NBA player Amaechi comes out publicly
Wed Feb 7, 6:27 PM ET

The small, exclusive club of openly gay professional male athletes has a new member. Former NBA center John Amaechi, who spent five seasons with four teams, on Wednesday became the first NBA player to publicly come out.

Amaechi will appear on ESPN's Outside the Lines on Sunday, and his autobiography "Man in the Middle," will be released Feb. 14.

"He is coming out of the closet as a gay man," Amaechi's publicist Howard Bragman said.

Martina Navratilova, perhaps the most famous openly gay athlete in the world, praised Amaechi's decision and said it's imperative for athletes to come out because of what she called an epidemic of suicides among young lesbians and gays.

"It's hugely important for the kids so they don't feel alone in the world. We're role models. We're adults, and we know we're not alone but kids don't know that," she said. "He will definitely help a lot of kids growing up to feel better about themselves."

Three years after his playing career ended, Amaechi become the sixth professional male athlete from one of the four major American sports (NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL) to publicly discuss his homosexuality.

Former NFL running back David Kopay came out in 1977; offensive lineman Roy Simmons and defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo came out more recently. Glenn Burke, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A's in the 1970s, and Billy Bean, a utility player in the 1980s and 1990s, also have come out.

Each did so after retiring.

Burke died of complications due to AIDS in 1995.

"What John did is amazing," said Tuaolo, who came out in 2002. "He does not know how many lives he's saved by speaking the truth."

Tuaolo said coming out would be a relief to Amaechi.

"Living with all that stress and that depression, all you deal with as a closeted person, when you come out you really truly free yourself," Tuaolo said. "When I came out it felt like I was getting out of prison."

NBA commissioner David Stern said a player's sexuality is not important.

"We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always 'have you got game?' That's it, end of inquiry," he said.

In his book, Amaechi describes the challenge of being gay in a league where it's assumed that all players are heterosexual. He describes the blatant anti-gay language and attitudes he experienced in NBA locker rooms, and writes that while playing in Utah, coach Jerry Sloan used anti-gay innuendo to describe him.

Sloan said Wednesday that although his relationship with Amaechi was "shaky" because of the player's attitude, he didn't know Amaechi was gay. Sloan had no comment about Amaechi's contention that Sloan used anti-gay innuendo when referring to him. Amaechi said he found out about it in e-mails from friends in the Jazz front office.

When asked if knowing Amaechi was gay would have mattered, Sloan said: "Oh yeah, it would have probably mattered. I don't know exactly, but I always have peoples' feelings at heart. People do what they want to do. I don't have a problem with that."

Amaechi, 36, who was raised in England, writes in the book that he never touched a basketball before the age of 17. A quick study despite being a "terrible athlete," he found his confidence in the game and made it his goal to play in the NBA.

He competed for Penn State, then played in 301 NBA games over five seasons. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds. He began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995-96, then spent a few years playing in Europe. He rejoined the NBA to play for the Orlando Magic from 1999-01, then played two seasons for the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz traded him to Houston, which traded him to the New York Knicks. When the Knicks waived him in January 2004, he retired.

Amaechi came out of retirement to help England's men's basketball team to the silver medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.

AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney and AP Sports Writer Doug Alden contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

People like Amaechi are good people, honest people. People like Haggard are horrible, dishonest people.

Still, I have to ask: what kind of culture do we live in that one's pronouncement of sexual orientation can be a saving grace or devastating disgrace?

I am happy to say that this basketball player is a man of grace, and the reverend is a man of disgrace. Neither of them find their states of gracefulness because of their actual orientation, but because of the reasons that propel them to be public about it. The basketball player is helping others, the reverend is hurting others. The basketball player might make some money if his story sells more books, the reverend will only make money if his constituents believe his lies.

Thank God for men like John Amaechi!

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