No, really! Though he’s en route to a television career, what Ted Haggard really wanted to be is a journalist, but instead of going off to some fancy j-school he went to Oral Roberts University at the behest of his father, who tempted him with a free Pontiac LeMans coupe. So he took his pops up on his offer, with the nefarious goal of writing an expose on Christian colleges. Never happened, but we can dream, can’t we? Now, other secrets from Kevin Roose’s GQ profile of the pastor.
• He would identify as bisexual if he weren’t middle-aged. And a Bible-thumper. “‘I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual.’ After a weekend of Ted trying to convince me of his unambiguous devotion to his wife and kids, I’m at first too surprised to say anything. ‘So why not now?’ I ask finally. ‘Because, Kevin, I’m 54, with children, with a belief system, and I can have enforced boundaries in my life. Just like you’re a heterosexual but you don’t have sex with every woman that you’re attracted to, so I can be who I am and exclusively have sex with my wife and be perfectly satisfied.’ ‘But what does it have to do with being 54?’ ‘Life!’ he says. ‘We live an ordinary life.’”
• He is self-deprecating. “Ted is a goofily handsome man with sandy-colored hair that he parts on the side like a 1950s school principal. Even when he’s the loudest in the room, as is often the case, he’s good at creating a quick intimacy, addressing you by name and readily poking fun at himself. ‘Kevin, you just have to promise to write about my dashing style,’ he jokes as we load up the car, glancing down at his too-big New York Giants hoodie and dad jeans.”
• He is misunderstood. “He says that despite popular perception, he was never a right-wing power broker in the vein of Jerry Falwell. His reported weekly chats with George W. Bush were usually just briefings with low-level White House staff. He was never a homophobe, either, he says, and though he supported a 2006 amendment outlawing gay marriage in Colorado, he was also in favor of a ballot measure that would have extended domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples.”
• He did not fuck that meth escort. “‘We never had sex sex,’ he says, glancing at the car to make sure that [his sons] Elliott and Jonathan are asleep. ‘I bought drugs and a massage from him, and he masturbated me at the end of it. That’s it.’” (NB: Jones’ version remains different: “He can call it whatever he wants, but… please.” And Grant Haas, a former New Life volunteer who claims Haggard offered him drugs and jerked off in front of him on a church trip in 2006, might think otherwise.)
• He doesn’t have a rosy view of the world. “‘You’ve got to understand, Kevin, people are, at their cores, hateful,’ he says, rising to stamp out the fire’s embers and go to bed. ‘I don’t want to believe that, but the facts have prevailed over my idealism.’” (That’s not what his wife Gayle wants readers to walk away with: “Gayle, who has always been more careful around reporters than Ted, heard that he was in one of his moods up in the mountains, and she’s worried that I’m going to write that he’s a manic-depressive loon. I assure her that I’m not. ‘Oh, good,’ she says, sounding genuinely relieved. ‘I know how he can get.’”)
• He might still be watching gay porn. “You know, that’s really the core issue here,’ he continues, lowering his voice. ‘I bought the drugs to enhance masturbation. Because what crystal meth does—Mike taught me this—crystal meth makes it so you don’t ejaculate soon. So you can watch porn and masturbate for a long time.’ ‘And it would be gay porn?’ I ask. ‘It would be both. I enjoyed both then.’ ‘Do you watch porn anymore?’ ‘Now we’re getting into what should happen between me, my wife, and my therapist.’”