Kirk Talley’s Return

So it looks like Kirk Talley is officially back (click here for my previous entries on The Kirk Talley Situation). I’ve gathered from chatter here and there than he’s been doing some low(er) key dates for a while but the announcement on his website suggests he’s ready to come out of the self-imposed hiding he’d essentially gone into at the beginning of his ordeal. I’m curious to see how widely his comeback is embraced and, of course, to know the public terms on which he returns to the stage. Will he talk about “it”? Is he “ex-gay” now (a term perhaps in use by people like Phil Hoskins, to whom Talley seems to have surrendered himself for de-gayification shortly after the guy stalking Talley was arrested). I assume there will be little way for him not to talk about the exorcism, of sorts, that he described on his website earlier this year (the account of these events has been taken down). But it makes me cringe to think of all the treacly ways he may be tempted to allegorize his experience over the past year or so.

Update: From some of the accounts I’ve read on message boards and websites it appears Talley is talking on stage about renewal, forgiveness, and help from God. This means, I think, probably one of two things: either he thinks himself “healed” of homosexuality, or he believes himself to have received from God the strength to resist “temptations” to act on homosexual feelings - that is, he’s decided to be celibate and single. The latter seems a more likely scenario: no one I’ve read has reported hearing him explicitly say “I’m no longer gay,” and if Talley really has struggled for thirty years with his identity, then he probably knows better than anyone else that there’s no “cure” for this “disease.” Instead, there’s talk about “his testimony of God’s faithfulness” and the like (caveat: if in fact he is signaling a kind of monastic celibacy with this language, it’s difficult to know how to reconcile this with his account of having been de-gayed in an elaborate exorcism early this year - anybody with any ideas, let me know). In situations like this, when people who want to remain true to themselves must walk a very fine line between the reality of private experience, on one hand, and the demands of a pretty rigid religious culture on the other, the difference between “God has healed me of the sin of homosexuality” and “God has been faithful to me” is pretty significant. I still feel and fear for Talley, that having to choose between himself and the only world he’s known, professionally and personally, he’s chosen the familiar at the expense of real, sustainable happiness. My biggest fear is that Talley is setting himself up for a lifetime of alienation from his self and soul. But in any case: the reality of (Christian) life is so much more complex than many people on either side of the southern-gospel stage lights want to recognize; I admire Talley’s efforts to find a vocabulary that is both adequate for audiences and colleagues with whom he must work and true to his emerging sense of self.

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