Newspapers reported one year ago that Ted Haggard had been using methamphetamines and consorting with a male prostitute. His confession stunned Christians across the United States. It wasn't just the megapastor's fall that alarmed people, but the larger, behind-the-scenes world of male prostitution. It's a world with which we're not familiar.
Just months before Haggard's confession, I had left my comfortable job in the suburb of Barrington, Illinois, to get to know male prostitutes on the streets of downtown Chicago and to research the subject. Like most in the Christian community, I was shocked and disheartened by Haggard's mistakesbut I had an additional perspective.
While working with Chicago-based Emmaus Ministries and studying hustler culture, I uncovered many of the complexities of male prostitution. I am not an expert; I still have much to learn from the men with whom I've eaten hot dogs and walked the streets of Boystown. But I gleaned a few insights and experiences that have given me a far better understanding of the men who become victims in this subculture.
'Chickens' and 'Hawks'
While most people tend to traffic in the feminine image of homosexual men, the true landscape of male prostitution is much more complex. In the early 1980s, G. W. Levi Kamel from the University of California, San Diego, spent two and a half years exhaustively researching hustler interactions. Building on a theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism, Kamel identified several types of hustler-client relationships, based on age, sexual orientation, gender-related mannerisms, and sexual-role preferences. The three main categories he identified are:
1. The youthful, gay "chicken" hustler, and the "hawk" clients who cannot find boys ...