Salon offers a look at New Life Church in Colorado Springs following the dismissal of Ted Haggard, with special emphasis on how very gay Haggard's ministry was all along. And this leads me to a thought which is not especially original, but always bears repeating:
By definition, every homophobe is either a closet case or desperately afraid he or she might be one.
I'm not saying that every gay-basher has actually had gay sex with a male prostitute while hyped up on methamphetamines. Of those who have done this, we might define two categories: those who are cynically hiding in the anti-gay ranks because they think "they'll never look for me here" (hello, Mark Foley) and those who are genuinely so full of self-loathing at their own same-sex impulses that they take an anti-gay position out of a misplaced penance and self-punishment. But even those who rail against the nefarious evil of homosexuality and have never had a gay experience themselves still live in constant terror that they might.
You do not fear something unless you believe it has greater power than you do. These people think of gayness as something that overpowering and overwhelming, something waiting to seize them and convert them, something that if they allow it to merely exist will be so tempting and attractive that no one will be able to resist it. Their vision of human sexuality must be something like the end of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is the logic by which such people decide that gay marriage is a threat to straight marriage, and allowing it would debase the whole institution...because if you could get gay married, who would ever want to be straight married? The whole practice would die out! For these people, heterosexuality isn't something that a person might simply prefer -- much less a trait beyond conscious choice -- but something that must be enforced and protected. Who thinks like that unless they first believe gayness is more attractive and offers more pleasure than boring old straightness?
I think this pattern holds true even for the many decent and compassionate people who make up the congregations of churches like New Life across the country. Many of these people wouldn't hurt a fly, let alone lynch a gay man or lesbian. But they've been taught all their lives that these things are abominations that will spread unchecked and claim them too if they aren't stopped...and who teaches them this? Closeted bullies and hypocrites like Haggard.
In case I haven't made the point clear enough: it is not just coincidence or some ironic twist that so many gay-bashers are outed as closet gays -- believing that homosexuality is more powerful and tempting than heterosexuality is an absolutely necessary precursor to being homophobic. And once we recognize this, it's easier to see that if you've been taught all your life that being gay is something evil and loathesome, you have to smash and destroy that thing you must never ever be allowed to express in yourself.
Now, I have lived in the heart of Greenwich Village since I was eleven years old, and all this open gayness all around me for all these years has never cured me of my obsessive fixation on having sex with women. This is not to say I've emerged completely unscathed: I spend an immoderate amount of time thinking about hair care products, I have a weakness for certain Broadway musicals, and though I wish I could deny it, I think Liza Minelli is actually a very interesting person. These are all worrisome traits. But as to the man-sex, not so much. And I never liked Doogie Houser.
All this said, I will not tolerate or support any efort to legalize interspecies love between humans and dogs or cats. Because I know I'm not strong enough to resist that temptation. My next door neighbors have a pretty Wheaten terrier and a positively flirtatious Bichon Frise, and if it were legal I'd totally tap that.