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How to respond when a damaging person comes out

Timothy Kincaid

April 1st, 2012

I have struggled with how to discuss James Langteaux. I’ve started three times in three different directions and I think the only way to get through this is to tell his story, suggest what is perhaps the best response and invite you to weigh in

Langteaux was raised in a conservative pentecostal family, went to Oral Roberts University, and immediately upon graduation began working for The 700 Club. He is also gay, a fact that seems to have gone through a number of closet stages.

I was SO far in denial that I convinced myself that I wasn’t gay. I just had this inconvenient attraction to men – exclusively. But I sure the hell wasn’t gay!

Langteaux became a power player in Christian Television, wrote a couple of books and even earned himself some cachet by being an ex-gay example. And through his work at the 700 Club, a vehicle for pushing conservative Christian viewpoints, he hurt a number of people. Mainstream Christians, people of other faiths, atheists, liberals, and gays – always gays – were portrayed with little regard for honesty and the empire thrived to praise the glory of Robertson and those who think like him.

So what advise is there to offer someone like James Langteaux? Come out of the closet, tell your story, expose the hypocrisy, and live with integrity from this day forward.

And he has. He came out, wrote a book, and offers words of encouragement to young gay people from conservative families.

But the truth is, I am finding it difficult to like this man. There’s a pinch less remorse and a punch too much self congratulations to make me think that he understands what he has been a part of.

But I am no where near ready to join Dan Avery at Queerty and pen a hate piece. For one thing, I see no value in blanket hate. I’ll criticize a behavior but should it change I consider it counterproductive not to change my response.

Yes, it is tempting to heap abuse on his head and tell myself that he deserves it. But I’m reminded of a shared wisdom that many of our philosophers have told us but we find so hard to fathom; a truth that prophets and messiahs and theologians have expounded but which churches find hard to actualize:

What we do impacts ourselves far more than it does anyone else.

I could hate on Langteaux and if he ever heard of it, it would have little lasting impact. But I would have become that guy, the one who spews hate. I could refuse to forgive him but Langteaux doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who cares what anyone else thinks. And I would become bitter and angry and resentful of any of his future successes.

So to James Langteaux I say, “Congratulation. I know you will be much happier. I hope you have the opportunity some time to heal the harm you’ve done. I wish you well. Good bye.”

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Comments

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Gene in L.A.
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

Good advice. I haven’t read Dan Avery’s piece, though I might, just to see where he’s at about this. But I agree; hate is never a useful answer. As long as Langteaux is no longer hurting anyone, I’m fine with him. I hope he comes to realize his past transgressions and atones for them; it is, after all, what he purports to believe in.

steveinmi
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

The Ken Mehlman talk. Good choice.

Palmer
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

Dan Avery seems to written a piece that takes this man to task for continuing in the same smarmy business he’s always been in. No rampaging hatred (which is what I expected from Timothy’s statements), just a less than kind look at what seems to be another vehicle for this fraud to make a living. Timothy you were harsher on Carson Daly than on this man. Why is that?

Hue-Man
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

My problem with people like this and Mehlman and the denizens of the gay/glass closet is that it sends a message: you can make your millions, you can act against LGBT people, you can lie until you’re 80 years old with ZERO consequences (except self-inflicted damage). In all three cases, there is little or no atonement, no “I would do things differently if I had my life to live over again”. Instead, it’s “I’ve done my three “Hail Marys” penance and now we can forget all the vicious, hateful things I’ve been saying for the last 50 years”.

I don’t know what the solution is but my own personal view is that the slimy, sleazy hate-filled person has not changed in any meaningful way.

Soren456
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

Avery’s commentary is not a “hate piece.”

Ben In Oakland
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

I have the same reaction to this man as I had to this woman.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/kathryn-lehman-doma_n_1341775.html?ref=mostpopular,gay-marriage#comments

This whole article is a perfect example of the corrosive nature of the closet, how it perverts, degrades, debases and destroys everything it touches. Kathryn Lehman has yet to say ‘I was wrong.’ she has yet to admit that she was quite well aware of who she was, and what she chose to see instead of what was clearly in front of her. She said that people whom she knows have no problem with her personally being gay, but nowhere does she say she challenged them on why they cannot apply those simple truths to other people they don’t know, know nothing about, and who have done them no harm.

I am all for forgiveness. But with forgiveness must come atonement and the acceptance of responsibility. She’s still trying to avoid her responsibility, hoping that atonement will be sufficient for forgiveness.

I applaud her efforts to undo the damage. But she’s still trying to have it both ways. Her every comment is still, ‘But how was I to know?’

You still have a long way to go, lady. Good luck with it.”

Lord_Byron
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

Langteaux just like Lehman, in that article Ben posted, and Mahl want to be forgiven without taking any personal responsibility for the hurt and pain that they caused. They are of the attitude that because they came out of the closet we have to forgive them.

Also, not to start a fight with timothy because I know his views, but lehman really annoys me. “Am I supposed to embrace higher taxes because we’re gay? Am I supposed to embrace big labor and additional regulatory authority because I’m gay? Then why the groupthink and the presumption if one is gay they should be in one political party?” The modern gop is strongly anti-gay and anti-marriage equality is still a key platform in many states. I could go on a triad about how she wants big business to be able to pollute, but I won’t. Although to be fair it’s not gop vs democrats on this, but more liberals vs conservatives.

Keppler
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

All I hear in the Shepherd interview of Langteaux is self-satisfaction. No regret; no remorse; no uncertainty. I dunno, maybe that’s the voice of the true evangelical. It doesn’t engender trust or sympathy because it doesn’t ask for any. He seems like just another huckster flogging bibles – albeit the New Living Translation.

iDavid
April 1st, 2012 | LINK

I have to agree w Ben in Oakland, a simple “I certainly regret the hurt I may have caused people along the way” is necessary for a complete picture of a reformed abuser. A large piece is missing. Some people feel like they’d choke on “I’m sorry”. I think we have two of them right here. I do understand how people change with the product of the times, but setting up a beach chair (as in James’s case) after swimming the icy waters of discrimination doesn’t exactly help the people you pushed under along the way who are still sputtering in the water. Finally making it across the river is cool, but somehow it seems tossing a life preserver to the people still flailing before sipping cocktails is “the right thing to do”.

Tim
April 2nd, 2012 | LINK

If someone is a “blowhard, hypocrite, airhead, sanctimonious prick” then is it hateful to say so? I don’t think so. If someone uses the word ‘Jebus’, is that hate? One would think so, if the opinions expressed in these pages are correct.

It seems to me that there is no clear agreement about the meaning of the word ‘hate’ as its used here. We need to be more careful with the term or it will become just a way to rebuke those who disagree with our particular view.

Paul in Canada
April 2nd, 2012 | LINK

The most difficult thing for humans to do is forgive. But it is the most healing too. We should always forgive.

But – that doesn’t mean we forget. And the consequences of reprehensible behaviour are damaging and often times long-lasting.

I don’t get a sense that this man really understands the damage he’s caused. Time will tell. And who am I to judge?

I wish him well and hope he finds a path to living with real authenticity and integrity.

Timothy Kincaid
April 2nd, 2012 | LINK

If someone is a “blowhard, hypocrite, airhead, sanctimonious prick” then is it hateful to say so? I don’t think so.”

If saying so is conveying information, it might not be. If its Intended as a reprimand as part of a path to redemption, it might not be.

But as a tool of contempt used only for the purpose of expressing one’s loathing for another, then of course it is hateful.

If someone uses the word ‘Jebus’, is that hate? One would think so, if the opinions expressed in these pages are correct.

On this one I couldn’t think of a single possible usage that didn’t include a desire to show animus.

I agree that the word “hate” has meaning and should not be used indiscriminately. I reserve it for those times in which it seems to be the only clear driving factor.

I think perhaps there is a bit of disconnect on your part. And I’m going to make a couple guesses.

You think that hating is bad. And, unless I’m mistaken, you are likely among those who think being a hater is one of the wort things one can be and will use that title as a slur. (and I apologize if I got that wrong.)

But if im reading your comment correctly you still want to engage in the practice. But not have it called hate.

When Linda Harvey directs it our way it’s HATE and she’s a HATER. But if we do it, then it’s, well, something else.

But I have a question for you: if it isn’t bad when we do it, then doesn’t that mean that it’s not bad when they do it as well? Maybe hating is a perfectly fine thing to do?

Perhaps the next time you say, “he’s a hater”, you might add “which is a fine thing to be.”

And honestly it might be. I don’t care if someone hates gay people so long as they have a philosophical understanding of equality and support my rights. And I don’t mind if you hate them back … So long as you dont articulate that hate at BTB.

That’s what Queerty is for.

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