Longform’s Best Writing About Sex in 2011
Ted Haggard’s second coming, the end of marriage and monogamy, and other great stories about sex.
This week, we’ll be sharing our favorite articles of the year on Slate. For our full list—including the top 10 stories about sports, politics, tech, and more—check out Longform’s Best of 2011. —The Editors
1. The Last Temptation of Ted
Kevin Roose • GQ
The second coming of Ted Haggard:
“It was the sort of easily mocked, over-the-top statement that Ted might make, but he himself never actually put it in those terms. Ted has been vague about his sexuality since moving back to Colorado Springs in 2008. He says that he still believes the Bible is clear that 'homosexuality is not God's best plan for people,' but his stance on the issue has softened to the point of near incomprehensibility. After the camping trip, when I asked him about the wording he once used to describe his same-sex urges—in 2006 he wrote in a letter to New Life's congregation that he was warring with a 'repulsive and dark' part of himself—he backtracked, saying he never meant it that way. 'There's nothing repulsive to me about that world, but it's not a temptation anymore.'
“When we get back from the mountains, I drive up to Denver to visit Mike Jones. Jones, a soft-spoken inverted triangle of a man, chuckles at the idea of Ted's temptation-free heterosexual existence. 'He can call it whatever he wants,' he says, 'but... please.' In Jones's 2007 tell-all, I Had to Say Something, he describes drug-fueled porn-watching sessions, fumbling attempts at oral sex, and an occasion on which Art from Kansas City paid him to have sex with another man while he watched. Jones was once proud of exposing a conservative hypocrite, but as he shows me around his modest one-bedroom apartment, he tells me that he's had trouble keeping a steady job since the scandal and that when potential boyfriends Google him, they mostly flee in horror.
“ 'I wouldn't do it again,' he says. 'It's ruined my life, too.' "
Kate Bolick • Atlantic
On the end of “traditional” marriage:
"But what transpired next lay well beyond the powers of everybody’s imagination: as women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind. We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up—and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.”
Amanda Hess • GOOD
A profile of a breakout male porn star:
“At 25, Deen is rounding eight years and a couple thousand titles, but he remains one of the youngest guys in the business. In a few years, his female peers will graduate to MILF roles, but Deen could spend the rest of his career performing alongside freshly minted 18-year-olds. And his teenage fans can’t wait to watch him do it."
Mark Oppenheimer • New York Times Magazine
Dan Savage and the shifting rules of faithfulness in marriage:
"The view that we need a little less fidelity in marriages is dangerous for a gay-marriage advocate to hold. It feeds into the stereotype of gay men as compulsively promiscuous, and it gives ammunition to all the forces, religious and otherwise, who say that gay families will never be real families and that we had better stop them before they ruin what is left of marriage. But Savage says a more flexible attitude within marriage may be just what the straight community needs. Treating monogamy, rather than honesty or joy or humor, as the main indicator of a successful marriage gives people unrealistic expectations of themselves and their partners. And that, Savage says, destroys more families than it saves."
Shalom Auslander • GQ
Exploring our guiltiest pleasures:
“I was raised in an Orthodox Jewish household in New York, where the Old Testament was believed to be the literal word of the Almighty God and where we obeyed, as closely as we could, all 613 commandments elucidated within its holy pages. To us, God was not simply a concept, but a very real, everyday presence in our lives and our community. Which is to say, I know pornography. Hard-core, graphic pornography. My father had it buried beneath his mattress. My brother had it hidden under his dresser. Pornography, like God Himself, was everywhere. Sex was dirty. Pornography was worse.”