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Thank You, Mike Jones

Jim Burroway

January 27th, 2009

I don’t know about you, but when I watched the KRDO report on Grant Haas’s accusations against Ted Haggard, I was disturbed to see how they treated their brief mention of Mike Jones. He’s the one who first exposed Haggard’s gay sexual activities to the national media. But when the KRDO reporter mentioned “Mike Jones, a gay escort,” the picture suddenly appeared grainy and menacing while ominous music rumbled underneath.

Sex workers certainly have it tough. They’re looked down upon, despised, and mistrusted. My point here isn’t to defend this line of work, but to defend these people as human beings and sometimes as heroes. Mike Jones is just one hero. He did the right thing. Ted Haggard even agrees.

Mike Jones did several things to earn a living. He was a personal trainer, but that’s not how he met Ted Haggard. Mike was also a masseur and an escort. He did for money some of the things that many of us do for love, what others do for lust, and what virtually all of us do for free. Maybe that’s why many seem to suspect that Mike only exposed Ted Haggard in order to collect the twenties on the table. They treat the very idea preposterous that a sex worker could do something honorable.

Mike did write a book, but it didn’t sell well. He didn’t make a lot of money off of this. I don’t know whether he expected to or not. Writing a book and not making much off of it is pretty normal, even for heroes. The truth is that heroes are rarely rewarded for being heroic. At best, most can expect a few brief moments in the spotlight when they’re typically thanked for what they did. And then it ends.

But Mike will always be known as an escort or a “massage therapist” in scare quotes. A sex worker. His full name is not Mike Jones, but Mike Jones A Gay Escort.

I don’t know what he expected when he went public with his story, and I’m not saying we should have all gone out and bought his book as our way of thanking him. But we should thank him.

Ted Haggard actively promoted and defended a particular message which brings suffering and hardship to a lot of LGBT people — especially to young people — while indulging in a dark and twisted caricature of the very thing he denounced. Mike Jones brought him down. By focusing on Mike as an escort and not as a hero, we miss seeing a clearer picture of what he did. Much like that grainy, frightening picture we saw of Mike on KRDO.

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
January 27th, 2009 | LINK

Bravo, Jim.

Priya Lynn
January 27th, 2009 | LINK

Now I on the other hand see prostitution as an honourable profession, much more so than being clergy who’s work is based on conflicting people with false hope and the threat of eternal punishement for thought crimes. Sex workers provide a valuable service, they allow people who couldn’t otherwise get their sexual needs met to do so thus reducing the possiblility that such people will resort to rape or sexual assault.

homer
January 27th, 2009 | LINK

Mr. Jones has consistently spoken the truth throughout this whole mess. In contrast, Mr. Haggard and the men leading his church keep telling lies.

CPT_Doom
January 27th, 2009 | LINK

Mike Jones was on Mike Signorile’s show on Sirius radio yesterday, and noted that he chose the title of his book “I Had to Say Something,” very deliberately. He knew then, but did not feel comfortable stating, that there were other men alleging sexual-type contact with Haggard, and that many of these men who contacted him were unwilling to be public because they were in the closet and did not want to be revealed as gay. Jones knew he would be alone in exposing Haggard, but felt he had to because of both the hypocrisy and knowing that there were others who could not speak.

From the report last night and what else we know, it sounds like Haggard was a serial (molester? Sexual harasser?). The way Haas talked about Haggard “lighting up” when finding out Haas was stuggling with his sexuality just brings up the possibility of a bunch of confused young people in that church who were preyed on by a man who was living in denial. Had Jones not spoken out, Haggard would likely still be heading this church, and continuing to harass other men.

lou
January 27th, 2009 | LINK

I just can say THANK YOU Mike. Because of that exposure of Haggard I realiced that this ex-gay thing is a myth and that it only destroyes people and families. Now Im out, proud and happy as I am. Knowing that is best to be true to myself and others. Once again, THANK YOU!

Timothy Kincaid
January 27th, 2009 | LINK

Lou,

Mike has taken a lot of abuse over the years for his part in exposing Haggard. And he has received very limited support.

But I think that Mike would probably consider this comment of your to make it all worth while.

Richard Rush
January 27th, 2009 | LINK

As Ben said, “Bravo, Jim.” And a big bravo to Mike Jones for doing the right thing. He is way overdue for a big thank you from all of us. My partner and I personally thanked him soon after the original revelations about Haggard. And we bought his book.

As I recall, none of the national gay-rights organizations wanted anything to do with him after the original story broke. After all, he was “just” a prostitute. Sometimes I think we are becoming so desperate for acceptance by straights that we are willing to abandon those on the fringes. I was thinking of this last year when many were eager to throw the transgendered under the bus in order to get ENDA passed. The T’s are certainly the most vulnerable of the LGBTs and need protection more than the rest of us. I think the people who stormed out of the Stonewall in 1969 would be disgusted with us.

And Priya Lynn also got it right. I think prostitutes are much more honorable than the legions of hucksters for God who earn money by convincing people they will suffer eternal damnation if they don’t believe enough, pray enough, hate gays enough, or don’t tithe enough.

David C.
January 27th, 2009 | LINK

Sometimes I think we are becoming so desperate for acceptance by straights that we are willing to abandon those on the fringes. — Richard Rush

You will get no argument out of me about that observation, Richard. Gay society has been doing everything it can to promote its acceptance by mainstream-America. The Evangelical Christian Right is unlikely to ever accept us because we are unrepentant and expect to maintain our right to be homosexual. The rest of America is starting to peek around the corner at us, just hoping that they don’t see anything too nasty going on. Gay leaders are trying to get middle-America just far enough past their ignorance of us to be in the same room and not feel threatened.

The Sam Adams controversy currently occupying so much measure in this very forum is another example of just how hard Gay America wants to protect its image, especially when the slur being defended against is questionable contact with a minor.

It’s pretty clear that what keeps the Anti-Gay industry in business is hate mongering, fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). Coupled with a large measure of foisted guilt, and playing on the superstitions of “the flock” of mostly uncritical thinkers that will follow its leaders, it continues to function as a parasite on society. The fact that one of “their own” such leaders has become embroiled in a scandal involving a gay man who was a sex worker must be keeping them up at night trying to figure out a way to blame gay people for what to them is a public relations nightmare. Don’t be surprised if they manage to spin this to the detriment of the gay-movement’s image, at least well enough to convince their followers.

And Priya Lynn also got it right.

Yeah, I think so too. Sex workers, well, that’s always been a little edgy for the mainstream, certainly due to a desire to not be seen as “sleazy” or so “desperate” as to need to pay for the service a sex worker provides. That’s mostly due to an image problem prostitutes have. Just like any minority, they have been tarred with a very wide brush.
~~

I too say bravo to Jim, and thanks to Mike Jones, for exposing the breathtaking hypocrisy of Haggard, his church, and its leaders.

Ajax
January 28th, 2009 | LINK

Thanks, Jim, very good points, well written.

I agree, Mike Jones was very brave. I don’t think very many people in his position would have the courage to do what he did — I don’t think I would. It is a shame our community has not shown him more support. I’ve stopped giving to HRC 2 years ago because they ignored Jones’s pleas for assistance dealing with the media; instead I sent the money to Jones (this was some time ago, there was a fund set up for donations to him, maybe someone knows if that is still active, and how to make further donations?)

Randall Jewell
January 29th, 2010 | LINK

Was Mike Jones ever charged with prostitution? I don’t think anyone ought to make him out a hero; he’s as much a hypocrite as Ted Haggard. He’s not that hot either. I’d ask for my money back.

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