[Click here for links to the news interview with Jamal Parrish, who discovered he wasn't the only victim of Long's predatory ways.]
And if you're a "prosperity minister," you marry a woman, have kids, talk your congregation into giving you tons of cash for mansions, private jets and stretch limos so that you can, eventually, seduce all the boys in your congregation, by lavishing them with gifts, the promise of riches and have sex with them.
I am starting to hear it on Twitter now. Ah, how terrible homosexuals are! Look at what they do to us!
No. The Ted Haggards and Eddie Longs are not representative of the gay community, dear Christians. They're on your side of the culture war. They want nothing to do with us. And neither do the leaders of Exodus and all the rest.
We tried. I spent years trying, and I actually forged some healthy and surprising friendships.
But this mess. This stuff. It ain't coming from the gays.
Bishop Eddie Long embodies the result of historical anti-gay/ex-gay religious doctrine and belief. You thought only Catholic priests had this problem?
Here's another result of it.* This past month:
Asher Brown (age 13) (Texas - Shot himself at home)
Seth Walsh (age 13) (California - Hanged himself in his backyard)
Justin Aaberg (age 15) (Minnesota -Hanged himself in his room)
Billy Lucas (age 15) (Indiana - Hanged himself in family's barn)
Tyler Clementi (age 18) (New Jersey - Jumps off George Washington Bridge)
Raymond Chase (age 19) (Rhode Island - Hanged himself in his dormitory)
It's not just about Bishop Eddie Long. It's about an invisible undercurrent of fear and paranoia that vibrates and pounds in the hearts of every single gay kid, every moment of the day, a panic that each eventually has to address.
But, I could have been that person. I was on that track. I was in those pulpits, singing the Gospel, preaching the Word. I almost married a girl -- my best friend, really, who I dated in college.
But I knew it was wrong. I didn't know about an Eddie Long or a Ted Haggard, back then, but I was a Baptist. And I was to become a singing preacher with a wife and kids. Praise the Lord!
Back then, I wasn't living two lives. It wasn't an option. 1971. East Texas. The woods, the church, the pianos, Marvel comics, Credence, Beatles, Neil Young, my Bible, asthma, quartets, college choir.
I don't think I had even heard of homosexuals except through Rolling Stone magazine. And in the sermons of hellfire and brimstone traveling evangelists, exactly the kinds of events my college choir, and then later Jesus band, would sing for.
I would sweat and burn, sitting in the pew hearing how homosexuals would burn in the lake of fiery sulfur. All that dialogue in The Last Session is the real stuff.
The Ex-Gay literature says they only want to "help" people with "unwanted same sex attraction." But that's not their practice. Instead, they spend time and money fighting again legislation, using their titles and status to gain entry to the halls of power in DC. They do not dialogue with us.
So, when a Bishop Eddie Long comes along, they don't see themselves.
I "surrendered to the ministry" not once, but twice! I preached my first sermon at the age of 12! But then, I think I decided, in my teens, that I was "really saved," so I got saved again and re-surrendered to the ministry.
But what else did I know? "Baptist" meant "Christian," and if you weren't a Baptist, you weren't Christian. In fact, we were the ONLY CHRISTIANS ON EARTH, except for a few Southern Baptists who managed to not be "liberal." But, Catholics? Lost.
And now I'm singing for an Episcopal Church, speaking of lost!
And, this next Sunday, as I sit in the little alcove to the side of the people, at the piano, -- one day before my 57th birthday -- I will think back to my days when I had a choice. My choice took me out of the church. I'll be thinking of the Steve That Would Have Been.
The trouble is, that Steve never existed.
And had I chosen the Ex-Gay path, I might have been a Bishop Eddie Long.
But I think it's more probable that I would have been Tyler Clementi, jumping off a bridge.
But it does get better. It really does.