The revelation that Religious Right/anti-gay bigot George Rekers hired a traveling/sex companion from rentboy.com has brought about much of the usual ridicule and fun-making. And while that is all well and good (I like a good stab at hypocrisy as much as the next person), what gets lost is the profound sadness that we ought to feel for Rekers and others like him.
Perhaps George Rekers and Ted Haggard are not the most sympathetic folks. Their crusades against the LGBT community are many, and their work has produced untold suffering for gays and lesbians. People like Rekers and Haggard use Christianity, a religion that teaches love, acceptance and forgiveness, as a cudgel to impose their own twisted morality on others. And for that, we might rightly condemn them.
But when a Rekers or a Haggard are exposed for being homosexuals themselves, might we not show them some compassion? Sure, they demonized fellow homosexuals for their own advancement in Religious Right politics. But how much of that was motivated by a deep sense of self-loathing.
I do not claim to be know what is in these men’s hearts or souls. But I can imagine that for someone who grew up in a certain environment, in a certain time period, coming to terms with their homosexuality could have been beyond difficult. Though we have made strides towards a more inclusive culture, even today countless LGBT children and adolescents suffer from bullying and worse. And some suffer so much so that suicide becomes a way out of that nightmare.
So imagine what it must have been like decades ago, coming of age in a conservative Christian household, where being gay or lesbian was a one way ticket to the fiery depths of hell. The societal and familial pressures to be hetero-normative must have been enormous. Maybe so much so that denying one’s own sexuality led to bitterness, resentment and despair. Which in turn may have lead to persecuting others gays and lesbians as some sort of sick self-punishment.
My point is not that Rekers or Haggard or Craig or any of the numerous other anti-gay homosexuals should be excused for what they have done to our community. Rather, it is that we ought to extend, in a way that they were never willing to, a bit of forgiveness, acceptance and love to these deeply flawed humans.