6 Of The World's Most Influential Anti-Gay Activists That Turned Out To Be Gay
It is no surprise that the United States is chock-full of anti-gay activists. From Republican politicians to certain religious personalities, many individuals have made it their sole goal in life to undo the progressive strides that we, as a society, have made towards equality.
However, what is surprising is how many of these "anti-gay" activists turn out to be gay themselves. Here's a list of some prominent anti-gay figures that ended up coming out, one way or another.
Steve Wiles is best known as a Republican candidate who is supportive of anti-gay legislation, including an amendment to ban same-sex marriage in North Carolina.
Although he does not consider himself to be "anti-gay", his political views seem to suggest otherwise.
However, it may come as a surprise to most that Wiles used to be a promoter for the "Miss Gay America" pageant. He also went by the name "Miss Mona Sinclair" during his time as a drag queen.
According to a report published in the Winston-Salem Journal, Wiles used to work as a drag queen at the now-defunct Club Odyssey, which was a popular gay nightclub in the North Carolina city. Two past co-workers of Wiles, co-owner Randy Duggins and former employee Gray Tomlinson, also claim that Wiles was openly gay at the time.
Wiles response to his outing as a former-drag queen has ranged from denial to admissions to apologies.
At first, Wiles simply stated "That's not me," when asked about Mona Sinclair. When asked if we was gay, he responded "No."
However, three weeks later, during an interview, Wiles seemed to change his tune regarding the incident without directly mentioning it.
"I have already apologized to the people who matter most to me for the things I did when I was young," Wiles said (without actually addressing what he was apologizing for). The same week, Wiles campaign website, Facebook page and Twitter handle were taken down.
According to Duggins, Wiles started off as a frequent patron of Club Odyssey in the late 90's before beginning to work there in the early 2000's. He was employed as a show director, meaning he would book performers and also ran the show as Mona Sinclair, the emcee.
Duggins said he has zero doubts that Wiles is indeed the same Mona Sinclair that worked for him.
"I recognized his picture when I was looking in the paper. That definitely him. He has aged some, but that's him," Duggins said. "I have no ax to grind against him. I just think he's a liar."
According to the Miss Gay America website, Wiles was suspended for "conduct unbecoming to a promoter of the Miss Gay America pageant system." When asked in a telephone interview, Larry Tyger, a co-owner of the Miss Gay America pageant, said that he does not discuss suspensions.
George Rekers began his professional life as a psychiatrist. In the early 1980's he became a co-founder of the Family Research Council, an organization that lobbies against gay rights.
Since then he has authored many books with such titles as "Shaping Your Child's Sexuality" and "Growing Up Straight: What Every Family Should Know About Homosexuality." Rekers has also testified as an expert witness against gay adoption in Florida and Arkansas.
He even acted as an expert witness on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America when they were facing scrutiny for discriminating against gay scoutmasters.
Overall, Rekers has over 20 years of experience in political homophobia. Aside from his anti-gay activism, Rekers was also reported to have conducted experiments meant to alter sexual orientation on children in the 1970's.
During one of these experiments, Rekers attempted to cure a 5-year-old boy of 'exaggerated feminine behavior' with an aggressive regimen of both psychological and physical rewards and punishment.
According to Rekers, the boy, who he referred to as "Kraig," ended up having "a normal male sexual identity," after successful treatment. Rekers is estimated to have conducted experiments on up to 60 children, and it was his experiments on Kraig that earned him his doctorate.
An in-depth investigation by CNN revealed that Kraig's real name was actually Kirk Murphy, and he had committed suicide in 2003 at the age of 38. Murphy's family has since publicly stated that they believe it was Rekers' experiments that lead to his suicide.
Regardless of Rekers' impressive history of anti-gay practices and rhetoric, he was eventually spotted with a male sex worker after returning to the U.S. from a 10-day trip to Europe.
Rekers initially denied any sexual contact with the male escort. He claimed he wasn't even aware of his sexual services, and only hired him to help carry his bags. After photographic evidence showed Rekers handling his own bags, he changed his tune on the subject.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Rekers offered his new explanation.
"I deliberately spend time with sinners with the loving goal to try to help them," read Rekers' statement.
The sex worker in question claims that Rekers is, in fact, gay and that they did have intimate contact throughout the 10-day trip in Europe. This includes a move which Rekers would frequently ask the 20-year-old to perform, which Rekers refers to as "The Long Stroke."
Rekers continues to deny that he is gay, and claims he is the victim of propaganda and slanderous articles.
Randy Boehning, the Republican state representative from Fargo, had his name and photo published on the Forum after voting against legislation that would protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
Dustin Smith, an openly gay man living in North Dakota, was not surprised when he read that state legislators refused to make discriminating against gays illegal. North Dakota is one of America's most conservative states, after all.
He was surprised, however, when he came across Boehning's name and photograph in the article he was reading, which was titled "These are the members of the House who voted against legal protections."
"I'm sure I've talked to this person before," Smith recalls thinking to himself at the time, in an interview with the Washington Post. "Suddenly, it dawned on me: I think I've seen this guy on Grindr!"
After Smith confirmed that he recognized Boehning's face, he began searching through his conversations on Grindr - "the world's largest social networking app for gay men," - to find him. Sure enough, there was Randy Boehning, the Republican state representative from Fargo, under the username 'Top Man!'
Reading through his conversation with Boehning, Smith found a multitude of sexually suggestive messages. He even found an unsolicited picture of the politician's private parts.
"I just felt like this story had to get out," Smith said. "A [representative] had voted against a bill for the LGBT community and here he was talking to me on Grindr."
Boehning has been a hardcore conservative since he was elected in 2002, and this is the second time that he has voted against expanding legal protection for people based on their sexual orientation. However, since his expeditions on Grindr have been exposed, he has been having somewhat of an identity crisis.
When confronted with the photographs that he sent to Smith, he admitted he was gay and defended the messages he sent on the app.
"That's what gay guys do on gay sites, don't they?" he told the Forum. "That's how things happen on Grindr. It's a gay chat site. It's not the first thing you do on that site. That's what we do, exchange pics on the site."
Boehning also gave two reasons for voting against the bill despite him being gay. The first was that he had an issue with the language of the bill, which would have protected people "perceived," to be gay.
He also said that he voted against his self-interest because of the political and social climate in Fargo.
"This has been a challenge for me," he said. "You don't tell everyone you're going to vote one way and then switch your vote another way - you don't have any credibility that way."
In the end, the politician says he was relieved to not have to hide his secret anymore.
"The 1,000 pound gorilla has been lifted," Boehning said. "I have to confront it at some point."
Ted Haggard, the leader of the New Life Church, was once one of the most influential evangelical personalities in the U.S. At the height of his career he had an audience of more than 30 million people.
He began counseling foreign dignitaries and was also meeting with then-President George W. Bush on a weekly basis. By 2005, Time magazine named him one of the most powerful evangelical figures in America.
His empire eventually came crashing down in 2006 when a male sex worker, named Mike Jones, publicly stated that he had been in a three-year relationship with the pastor.
Haggard immediately denied these claims. However, three days after the scandal broke, a voicemail recording was released which featured Haggard asking Jones for crystal meth.
After the recording was made public Haggard admitted to buying drugs as well as what he referred to as "sexual immorality." He later resigned from the church that he helped create.
"It was the first time that dark area of my life I'd worked so hard to fight against was coming to the surface," Haggard said during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. "And to say it, and talk about it, was so shameful and shocking. Even to me."
According to Haggard, he has spent years trying to deny his attraction to other men. He said he was constantly fighting between this attraction and his love for being a pastor, referring to this conflict as "the internal war inside of me."
Haggard told Winfrey that it was only during therapy sessions after the scandal that he was able to come to terms with his sexuality. However, he has faced criticism for undergoing controversial religious counselling for it.
He says that his therapist described him as "heterosexual with homosexual attachments," and, although he still does not consider himself to be gay, he also says that he does not fit into "the normal boxes" people use to define sexuality.
According to Gayle Haggard, Ted Haggard's wife of 30 years, Haggard had told her early in their marriage that he "struggled with homosexual thoughts."
She assumed, after decades of marriage and having 5 children together, that he had gotten "those thoughts under control" through prayer.
Despite this, Gayle was as shocked as everyone else when the scandal broke. She says she even laughed when she heard Jones give the interview in 2006, because the accusations against Haggard seemed so far fetched - specifically the drug aspect of the claims.
"I thought '[Jones] obviously does not know my husband,' because my husband didn't drink alcohol, didn't smoke cigarettes. Not even in high school did he tamper with any kind of drugs," she said.
Haggard still maintains that he isn't gay. However, he has apologized to Jones and the LGBT community for his homophobic response when the scandal broke, and claims to have a more open mind now regarding individual's sexualities.
Since then, Haggard has opened a new church, the St.James church, and wants people of all sexualities to join it.
"St.James church is for anyone, and I do mean anyone...If you are straight, gay or bisexual, I want to walk through the scriptures with you," Haggard said during a press conference.
While most cases of anti-gay activists coming out usually involve a consensual relationship, some, unfortunately, involve sexual assault.
Glenn Murphy Jr. is a former Clark County Republican Chairman and used to be a well known figure in the 800-person town of Utica, Indiana. He was also a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage.
However, his reputation took a turn for the worse when he was sentenced to six years in prison for criminal deviate conduct.
This occurred after a 22-year-old man filed charges against him, claiming that Murphy had performed non-consensual oral sex on him. It happened inside a home in Jeffersonville, Indiana after a private Republican party gathering.
According to Steve Levco, Indiana Special Prosecutor, "He wanted people to know that it wasn't consensual and that he didn't agree to this and that he was aware that the defendant has done this before and he thought it was important that he be held accountable to it."
Murphy's accuser claims that he and other victims stayed over at the Jeffersonville home following the political gatherings. He then says he woke up early in the morning to Murphy performing an oral sex act on him.
This isn't the first time that someone has accused Murphy of sexual assault. In 1998, a similar charged was made against Murphy by a 21-year-old man who claimed that Murphy tried to perform oral sex on him. Charges never ended up being filed in the case.
"I think it was important that he be found guilty," Levco said. "He had done this before and never really had been accountable for it."
According to court records, Murphy met with his latest accuser shortly after the incident occurred, and the man tape recorded the conversation.
During the conversation, Murphy said, "Dude, I wasn't in my right mind. I wasn't thinking."Murphy then reportedly asked the man not to file a complaint.
Despite all of this, the Utica resident still has the support of his town.
Henry Dorman Jr., President of the Town Board, said, "We're really heartbroken over the situation and just wish Glenn Jr. the best, you know, as he comes out of this."
Up until the latest allegations, Murphy was a prominent member of the Republican party. He was the head of the Clark County Republican Party and had just become President of the Young Republican National Federation.
He would frequently be found posing for pictures at local, statewide and national Republican functions.
Bishop Eddie Long was the controversial leader of one of America's largest contemporary churches, the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
At it's peak, his church had around 25,000 members, but Long's influence went beyond the confines of his religious institution.
He spoke before congress, visited President Clinton in the White House and even hosted Coretta Scott King's funeral service.
During a time when traditional churches had trouble attracting young men, Long's modernized approach to religion gave him an edge in making church seem more relatable to a younger, male audience.
He would play basketball and lift weights with fellow male ministers, and called himself the "spiritual daddy" to out-of-control teenagers.
He was a religious pastor who led a march against same-sex marriage and denounced homosexuality in general. He was also the subject of a lawsuit launched by four young men who claimed that he had pressured them into having sexual relations with him.
According to Spencer LeGrande, one of Long's victims, the pastor used to hold a paternal position in the lives of many of the young men whom he sexually coerced.
"When I started crawling, that was the day [my father] left," LeGrande said. He said that Long helped fill that void, telling LeGrande, "I got you...I will be your dad."
Lack of a strong male influence was common among LeGrande's accusers. Jamal Paris, another alleged victim of Long, told the Atlanta Journal that his father was abusive and rarely around.
He said he met the bishop when he was 14 and had just recently moved to Atlanta, and eventually went on to refer to him as "daddy."
Both men said that they were 17 when Long began giving them unwanted sexual advances.
At that point he had already taken them on multiple trips across continents, including to Kenya, Honduras and the Bahamas. He had introduced them to world-famous celebrities and gifted them expensive items such as new cars or they own apartments.
After the abuse had allegedly taken place, and when Long's accusers were legal adults, four of them launched a lawsuit that virtually destroyed his ministry.
The young men accused him of pressuring them into sexual relationships while they were members of his congregation and, in 2010, Long and his church reached an out-of-court settlement with them. The terms of the settlement were never made public.
Long, who had a long history of being a vocal opponent of the LGBT community, publicly denied the allegations.
It's hard working in customer service, especially with irate customers. You need to be able to empathize and understand where your customers are coming from, show sympathy, and be willing to help them with their problem. However, if they come at you ranting and raving about an issue which clearly has nothing to do with you, well, then you're free to rant about them on the internet.