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“The Trials of Ted Haggard”: Family therapy

Tedhaggard3 When TCA is most worthwhile, it brings people from recent history on stage to talk about very personal events that made national headlines and shaped the cultural landscape.

Such was the case at HBO’s first session when Ted Haggard explained how his journey – from beloved pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado to besieged clergyman forced to leave the pulpit after being involved in a homosexual affair with Mike Jones and caught buying drugs – has changed his perspective.

On the panel to promote the doc “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” which premieres Jan. 29, were Haggard and his wife, Gayle, and children, Christy and Marcus.

 

“We were unable to answer questions for two years and now that we have the freedom to answer questions. That’s all we want to do,” said Haggard.

 

Added Gayle: “We have a powerful story, both a human story and family story. We’re grateful for the opportunity to tell it. We think it’s a great one.”

 

When pressed as to whether Haggard now considers himself a heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, he refused to give himself a label, and instead offered: “I think sexuality is confusing and complex. This process opened the door to discuss my own sexuality thoroughly and intimately with Gayle, the children and my therapist. That therapy has been incredibly helpful.

 

“I’m in a place where I’m thoroughly completely satisfied with the relationship I have with my wife. I’m in a positive constructive process, but the delightful thing is I can be completely open about the process.”

 

Gayle said she was completely supportive of Ted following his ordeal, even more so than before the controversy began.

 

“I learned the depth of his problem and struggle going on inside of him. I think everyman is a hypocrite, and some women as well. None of us seem to be able to be the best we hope to be. I love this man as a whole person and this was one area that he had a personal struggle. Our marriage is stronger now because the ability to communicate about these things. I’m prouder of my husband now after making these hard choices.”

 

Everyone on stage was fully aware that many members of Haggard’s church felt deceived by his actions and transgressions. Christy offered her thoughts and said she understood the feelings of those who felt betrayed.

 

“People were hurt by us and a lot of people deserve a sincere apology from our family,” she explained. “But people have the right to make their own decisions and how they see themselves without fear of how other people perceive them.”

 

Looking back at the incident and how it changed his life, Haggard said: “I made the wrong decision and wished I could’ve dealt with it privately. Now, I wish I would’ve been open, more transparent. I wished I resigned my position way earlier that I did and wish I was open with my children way more open than I was. I was afraid, but I’m grateful for the accusations.”

 

Doc is directed by Alexandra Pelosi, who is currently in production with HBO on a story about  John McCain’s presidential campaign, made a name for herself in 2002 with “Journeys With George,” when she covered the first George W. Bush campaign. She’s the daughter of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

 

— Stuart Levine

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