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.”
Brandon K. Thorp • Gawker
The "homosexual superculture" within the Miami Archdiocese:
"Here are just some of the un-Catholic behaviors that ‘Miami Vice’ accuses Favalora of engaging in: He partially owned a company that manufactured Yohimbe, an aphrodisiac beverage marketed to horny club-kids with the promise of ‘the hands-down best sex of your life.’ He allegedly took frequent trips to fabulous Key West with his gay associates. He was over-familiar toward his seminarians. (One ex-employee of the diocese recalls him telling a young seminarian at a gathering to ‘Come to papa and sit on my lap.’) Favalora's second- and third-in-command, Monsignor William Hennessey and Monsignor Michael Souckar, are both accused by Christefidelis of being active homosexuals—and if they are, that counts among the least of their difficulties with Catholic orthodoxy."
7. Hard Core
Natasha Vargas-Cooper • Atlantic
Revelations from the new world of Internet porn:
“When a 13-year-old girl can sit in math class, hide her Hello Kitty smart phone behind her textbook, and pull up such an extreme video in less time than it would take her to text a vote for her favorite American Idol contestant, we’ve certainly reached some kind of new societal landmark. It’s important, however, to distinguish between what has changed and what hasn’t."
Clancy Martin • Details
Why the guru behind "hot yoga" can't not sleep with his followers:
“It's hard to tell if these directives are intended for anyone in particular or if Choudhury is just working the crowd. He keeps up a patter of bawdy, sexually suggestive, often male-bashing banter throughout the session. Students—men, especially—have been known to complain, but for most, Bikram's commentary is part of the package. He's built his business, which has been estimated to earn him nearly $5 million a year, in large part by applying a veneer of eroticism to this ancient spiritual practice. For the women here, the ‘boss,’ as he calls himself (and everyone else), offers a path to sexual awakening. For the men, Bikram Yoga is a great workout, and maybe an opportunity to get close to a few kundalini-stimulated hard bodies once class lets out."
Caitlin Flanagan • Atlantic
On a Duke student's infamous Powerpoint presentation of her sexual history:
“The thesis, which was prompted into being when one of Owen’s partners asked her where he stood on her 'Fuck List,' includes a section for each of the 13 athletes, containing a slide of flattering photographs of the young man, and then an evaluation of each sexual encounter she had with him. She rates each of these experiences on several criteria, among them physical attractiveness, penis size, sexual talent, and—tellingly—aggressiveness. For all the attention Owen has received as a boundary-breaking, sexually empowered new woman, there has been almost no discussion of the fact that the kind of sex she most enjoyed was rough to the point of brutalizing. One encounter that occurred during an alcoholic blackout was still, as Karen Owen would say, 'baller,' because in the shower the next day she found bruises on her body; another was great because it was so 'violent'—and she means that 'in a good way.' He was ‘throwing me around like I weighed nothing.’ Her modus operandi for initiating these assignations seems to have been hanging out at bars frequented by Duke athletes, getting hammered, letting a 'subject' know she was open for business, and then grabbing a cab back to his apartment; she seems to have been willing to do absolutely anything to please the men, which often meant hanging out with their boorish roommates until it was her time to perform."
Dan P. Lee • New York
The story of the relationship between Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall II:
“Their wedding took place on June 27, 1994, in the White Dove Wedding Chapel. Sitting in his wheelchair, wearing a white tuxedo, 89-year-old J. Howard watched as his 26-year-old bride walked down an aisle of white rosebuds. He’d tried to stand, but his legs buckled. When it was time to kiss the bride, Anna Nicole leaned down to kiss him. Afterward, once white doves had been released into the sky, she delivered heartbreaking news: She needed to catch a plane out of town immediately for a photo shoot. Her new husband sat crying in his wheelchair. Blowing him kisses, she rushed away with her bodyguard, who would later claim the two had sex in a hotel room that night."