Jones Gets Mixed Reception
Man Whose Revelations Felled Pastor a Folk Hero to Some, Villain to Others
By Fernando Quintero
Rocky Mountain News
November 6, 2006
The waiter gushed when he recognized Mike Jones, the former gay escort who brought down one of Colorado Springs' most powerful evangelical pastors just days before the election.
"You know, you're a hero," he said, patting Jones' muscular shoulder. "I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Jones, who said he confessed to having sex with the Rev. Ted Haggard last week to influence voters to support a referendum that would grant equal rights to same-sex couples and oppose an amendment that would declare marriage as only between a man and woman, was basking in the adoration that came in between condemnation.
"I'm getting so much support at a time that I'm really needing it," Jones said Sunday. "It feels nice to get words of encouragement."
Since admitting he had sex with Haggard, Jones has become a hero to some. And the devil to others.
"I was called a whore today" by a caller to a radio show, said Jones, who had just finished one of several interviews with local and national media. "That's OK. I've also been called a hero by a lot of people. One guy even said I should run for Congress."
Meanwhile, the disgraced pastor, Ted Haggard, admitted sexual indiscretions and issued an emotional apology that called for leniency on Jones.
"Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his actions will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger," Haggard wrote. "He didn't violate you; I did."
"I'm not prepared to say 'thank you,' " Jones said in response. "I am prepared to say 'I understand.' But I'm just not sure how genuine his statements are."
Jones said he "lost it," however, when he learned Saturday that Haggard had been dismissed from the church he had built after a church panel determined he was guilty "of sexually immoral conduct."
Jones was in New York over the weekend to appear on news programs about the incident.
"I was riding in the limo back from the show. I lost it. I felt very sad for his family. I thought how embarrassed he must feel," Jones said.
"When I heard his wife say she was going to stand by her man, it just made me think, would she stand by her gay man?"
Jones said he believes Haggard has "extremely strong homosexual tendencies" and wondered whether his marriage could survive his urges.
Jones said he always knew he was gay.
A fourth-generation Coloradan, Jones said his great-grandmother was the head madam at a brothel in Central City.
"I guess I'm just keeping it in the family," he quipped.
His father was a law enforcement officer. His mother ran youth bowling tournaments. His parents raised him Methodist, although they only occasionally attended church.
"I believe in God. I've always had faith," Jones said.
In junior high school, Jones had his first gay encounter.
He grew up in Edgewater, attended Thomas Jefferson High School, and considered himself shy.
"I was not attractive in high school. I wore wire-rim glasses and had bad acne. I was not a happy kid. There was a lot of physical abuse. I was bullied. That caused me to get into weight-lifting."
"It was the old Charles Atlas getting sand kicked in the face sort of thing," he recalled.
Jones excelled in weightlifting and went on to compete in and win several tournaments.
But after graduation, Jones said he was at a loss as to what to next.
He attended Metropolitan State College of Denver for a short time.
"I was not a great student. I got A's in physical education," Jones said.
He said he had learning disabilities that he believes were caused by several head traumas he suffered as a youth.
He still gets migraine headaches nearly every day.
He dropped out of college and found work doing data entry. He then worked various jobs using his typing skills, until he found a job managing a bar.
It was a bar in Capitol Hill that attracted a largely gay clientele. He recalled the attention he received from the customers at the bar.
"People said I was really attractive. It was the first time I really felt attractive. People wanted to pay me for sex. I remember I didn't feel degraded by that. I never felt conflicted by that. I was eating it up," he said.
From the late '80s to the mid-'90s, Jones said he was in a relationship of eight years with a divorced man who had five children.
"It got frustrating after a while. His family demanded a lot of attention from him and I really wasn't part of that. So after a while, when he did family outings, I would escort."
Jones had a run-in with the law that he blamed on a man with whom he said he had a brief relationship.
He also declared bankruptcy because he said the man charged up his credit cards. He also had attorney bills and made frequent trips to California to visit his sick mother.
When he met Haggard in 2003, Jones said his first impression was that he was "a nice guy."
"He was pleasant to be around. He didn't talk much. I didn't ask a lot of questions. I think that's why people liked coming to me. I don't ask a lot of questions. I'm discreet. I've had politicians. Athletes. Several priests."
He still maintains that he had sex with Haggard monthly for three years and said he did not have any contact with hotels for referrals.
Haggard admitted getting a massage from Jones, but said he was referred to him though a hotel.
Jones also said he also saw Haggard snort methamphetamine.
He said he's not worried that Denver police are investigating his claims and the admissions by Haggard.
"I think I'll be OK," Jones said. "And (Haggard) will bounce back. He'll write a book and make millions."
quinterof@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-5250
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