He's quick to say that being gay still isn't OK, but that the church needs to be more realistic and "serve people in need" rather than dictating to them, or punishing them.
"Just as the church made a horrible mistake several centuries ago, insisting that the Earth was flat when, in fact, the Earth was round, I think the church may make a major mistake in our generation saying that sexuality should be this and nothing else when, in fact, there's a lot more diversity," he said.
A documentary about Haggard, "The Trials of Ted Haggard," will air tonight on HBO.
The film follows Haggard in the year after the scandal, after a severance deal with the church required Haggard and his family to leave their Colorado home. They shuttled between borrowed houses and cheap hotel rooms in Arizona as the former pastor looked for work.
He canvassed neighborhoods, advertising his availability with handouts, but he didn't receive one call.
The documentary created a backlash when it provoked a new accuser, Grant Haas, to come forward, angry that the film appeared to be sympathetic. Haas had confided in Haggard, telling him about his own struggles with homosexuality, but Haas said Haggard violated his trust.
In an interview with KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, Colo., the 25-year-old former New Life church member said then-pastor Ted Haggard got into bed and masturbated in front of him in a hotel room during 2006, and that he also sent Haas thousands of explicit text messages.
As Haggard performed the sex act, Haas said, "I was shocked, I couldn't move. Like, I just, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move. I was like, is this really happening?"
When asked about the incident Haggard admitted that he had an "abusive" relationship with Haas and confirmed that Haas' allegations were true.
"We never had any sexual contact, but I violated that relationship and it was an inappropriate relationship," Haggard said. "It's very sad. It's embarrassing. That was very embarrassing. I mean, I am -- I am a failure."
Haas secretly recorded a phone conversation in which Haggard tried to talk him out of going public. On the tape Haggard tells Haas, "I'd talk to people and see if I could get you some money -- but I can't do it under the gun of a lawsuit."
Haas supplied KRDO with documents demonstrating that the New Life Church was to pay Haas $179,000. But he says he hasn't received money for counseling or medical treatment, promises that he says were broken by the church.
New Life Church admitted to settling with a man in 2007, but they have not acknowledged that Haas is part of that settlement.
Now Haggard says he had wanted Haas to "get treatment" but also to "be quiet, especially then."
Despite it all, Haggard's wife and their five children, including the eldest, Christy, have stuck by him. Many in the Church, however, did not. Haggard appeared hurt when describing the broken relationships that stemmed from his exile.
"I thought we were a family. Now, I violated the rules, no question about it. I am responsible," Haggard said. "I just never dreamed that the family would throw me out. And my biological family didn't."
Gayle Haggard says she knew her husband struggled with same-sex attractions but she had no idea how bad it was.
The day Gayle Haggard found out her husband was having sex with men she said she "felt like the rug got pulled out from under me."