I was reading the newspaper today and found an article that greatly amused me - apparently yet another powerful Christian minister in the US has been found to be a closet homosexual despite being an outspoken advocate against homosexuality in general and same sex marriage in particular. This particular specimen is accused of taking young men who needed advice and guidance on trips, giving them gifts and convincing or intimidating them into having sex with him. No criminal charges are pending since the young men in question were above the legal age of consent but some lawsuits are now working their way through the system. These sorts of things pop up regularly these days and because of the 'shocking' nature of the reversal they usually make headline news. The question I find myself asking is "Is there some kind of real link between evangelical Christians and closet homosexuality, or is the media coverage of such things distorting our perspective to make us see that pattern?"
The trick of course is that actually answering that question is really hard. Even if we tried to define how many high profile, male, anti gay, evangelical Christian leaders there are in the US it would be a tough thing to figure out, never mind to try to sort out the incredible media bias towards reporting this sort of thing. Actually doing statistics seems like an incredible challenge, but how else can we determine whether or not these things are really linked? Surely just from what the media reports we can conclude that being a high profile Christian who preaches a strong anti gay message is not sufficient to confirm that a person is straight, but is it enough to conclude that gay people in that sort of environment actually gravitate towards denouncing their true feelings for whatever reason? I doubt science is going to avail us here, not so much because it could not help but because doing so would be really complicated and going about that business would be likely to stir up one hell of a hornet's nest.
I have some opinions that are not so much backed by research as by intuition. I figure that growing up with the confusion and guilt that a gay person is likely to feel in a society that does not tolerate their true nature is going to lead to some very extreme responses. People who are comfortable in their choices and whose beliefs neatly correspond with the status quo rarely get up on soapboxes and pontificate; they are more likely to just do their own thing. It is that very confusion, uncertainty and fear that leads to drastic action, in this case to deny those very feelings, to suggest that since the feelings are bad and the person is good that the person must not have those feelings. It isn't a good defence but it is an understandable one, and one that seems like it would lead people to lambast homosexuality from the pulpit and seek out homosexual encounters in secret. It is sad that the solution people find to their own difficulties is to heap misery on others but that pattern is by no means unique to homosexual bashing or religion but rather is ubiquitous throughout humanity.