Ever since revelations of his tryst with a male prostitute became public in 2006, Ted Haggard has been a visible focal point for the evangelical community’s encounter with homosexuality. In an interview with Kathryn Joyce at Religion Dispatches, Haggard’s wife Gayle describes how the incident and its fallout has affected her thinking about sexual identity and, as she repeatedly puts it, the spiritual “journey”:

This letter here is from a woman who identifies herself as being a gay rights activist. And she says things to me like [responding to an interview on Oprah], “Gayle, when you spoke about the choice to not act on compulsions, you were speaking the truth. Our compulsions do not define us. We are defined by how we live, what we believe and what we care about.”

And then she talks about her own life, and goes on to say, “Gayle, you are a hero to me, even though I’m not a Christian. I can see clearly that you both are moving towards the real and true nature of living with grace.” And she also says, “If you were not a gay man, even if you’ve acted on compulsions at times, then you do not need to let the addictive compulsions of being attracted to gay sex define you. After 17 years of marriage and studying, I have learned a great deal about sexuality,” and she goes on about the different experiences people have, “and that’s not the same as being gay. It never has been, it never will be.”

I did an interview with Rosie O’Donnell, and she said it’s a disservice to the gay community for people to keep labeling Ted as gay. Because clearly he is not.

And so it’s people who are trying to let Ted identify his story and who he is, as well as hope that they will be respected when they describe themselves and the identity they describe as theirs. What I think is that we need to respect every individual, and be compassionate of everyone’s story.

Read more at Religion Dispatches.