The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

“Leaving Homosexuality”? Good. Now Leave Us Alone, Too.

I suppose it was inevitable that something like this would happen. After all, with a well known “reparative therapy” camp closing down, news that a majority of American’s believe gays can’t change orientations, even “ex-gay” leaders doubting orientation change, increasing support for marriage equality among young voters, support for gay adoption growing, religious leaders kicking off New York’s Pride parade, a number of Christians and conservatives softening on the “gay cure” idea, more Americans opposing “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell,” some pretty high profile former homophobes are changing their minds,and even more Republicans supporting gay rights, somebody clearly has some ground to make up. Especially with “ex-gay” survivors like Peter Toscano and Christine Bakke telling their stories publicly, and ex-“ex-gays” holding a conference of their own.

So, when I caught wind of Michael Glatze’s column in World Net Daily, I wasn’t surprise. I only wondered what took ’em so long. But given the above, and framing that still bears the faint scent of mothballs, I don’t think Glatze’s story of a former gay magazine publisher (what is it with publishers of struggling and/or failed gay magazine going “ex-gay lately anyway?) will have quite the impact that the “ex-gay” movement intends.

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My mom died when I was 19. My father had died when I was 13. At an early age, I was already confused about who I was and how I felt about others.

My confusion about “desire” and the fact that I noticed I was “attracted” to guys made me put myself into the “gay” category at age 14. At age 20, I came out as gay to everybody else around me.

At age 22, I became an editor of the first magazine aimed at a young, gay male audience. It bordered on pornography in its photographic content, but I figured I could use it as a platform to bigger and better things.

Sure enough, Young Gay America came around. It was meant to fill the void that the other magazine I’d worked for had created – namely, anything not-so-pornographic, aimed at the population of young, gay Americans. Young Gay America took off.

Gay people responded happily to Young Gay America. It received awards, recognition, respectability and great honors, including the National Role Model Award from major gay organization Equality Forum – which was given to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrtien a year later – and a whole host of appearances in the media, from PBS to the Seattle Times, from MSNBC to the cover story in Time magazine.

I produced, with the help of PBS-affiliates and Equality Forum, the first major documentary film to tackle gay teen suicide, “Jim In Bold,” which toured the world and received numerous “best in festival” awards.

Young Gay America created a photo exhibit, full of photographs and stories of gay youth all across the North American continent, which toured Europe, Canada and parts of the United States.

Young Gay America launched YGA Magazine in 2004, to pretend to provide a “virtuous counterpart” to the other newsstand media aimed at gay youth. I say “pretend” because the truth was, YGA was as damaging as anything else out there, just not overtly pornographic, so it was more “respected.”

It took me almost 16 years to discover that homosexuality itself is not exactly “virtuous.” It was difficult for me to clarify my feelings on the issue, given that my life was so caught up in it.

Homosexuality, delivered to young minds, is by its very nature pornographic. It destroys impressionable minds and confuses their developing sexuality; I did not realize this, however, until I was 30 years old.

And it goes on. Before I start in on it, I’m going to give Glaske something that “ex-gays” don’t give to the rest of us. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that his truth is his truth, and that it is one he has a right to, and it may be a happier, more livable truth for him than his past life. The problem is that I and other happy, healthy gays & lesbians cannot expect the same from the “ex-gay” movement.

Every story, every “testimony” I hear from an “ex-gay” advocate seems to be doing the same thing that mental health professionals did prior to Evelyn Hooker’s 1957 study. Hooker administered psychological tests to heterosexuals and homosexuals, then asked psychiatrist to guess which of her subjects were homosexual.

Hooker turned the results of the tests over to a panel of three prominent experts, asking them to diagnose which of the sixty men had a psychiatric disorder, as revealed by the test. She further asked these experts to determine which of the men in each pair was homosexual, not having indicated beforehand that any might be, or the ulterior motive behind this research. The experts concluded that the gay males were no worse, and sometimes better adjusted than the rest, and proved unable to identify correctly the gay male in each pair.

On its face, this research suggested that the assumption that homosexuals were necessarily psychiatrically disordered is erroneous; what is more, it suggested that such diagnoses of disorder may be based not on objective fact, but, instead, may be grounded in popular stereotype.

Back then psychologists assumed all homosexuals were psychologically maladjusted, because they only homosexuals the studied were those who were institutionalized or seeking psychiatric help. But as Hooker’s friend Christopher Isherwood pointed out to her, “…people like us, homosexuals who function very well” don’t go necessarily seek psychiatric help.

Today, the logic seems simple. If the only gay people you meet, talk to, or study are in hospitals and doctors offices, then you could conclude that all gay people are sick and/or disturbed. Some of us are, but those of us who aren’t tend not to spend much time getting “cured.” Likewise, those of us who are unhappy our troubled over our sexuality may end up seeing out “ex-gay” programs, but the rest of us don’t.

Today’s ex-gays are basically taking their unhappiness, assuming it must be due to being gay. Thus we must be as unhappy as they were/are. We have to be, otherwise there must really be something wrong with them. So they project their unhappiness on the rest of us poor deluded souls.

Because we’re not really gay. Nobody is. We’re just deluded heterosexuals, thus twisted and in need of repair.

But not to worry. If you’re heterosexual, then you don’t need to worry about what you might be, because you’ve always been heterosexual.

Not so for homosexuals, though. ‘Cause homosexuals are really just maladjusted heterosexuals who’ve always been heterosexual and just don’t know it yet. Or at least that’s the assumption in the epistle from NARTH’s president. Teenagers who identify as gay or bisexual should be encouraged to wait until adulthood to “make choices about their sexuality.” Never mind that sexuality and sexual orientation are somewhat different, though related, things.)

…The assumption is that heterosexuals know they’re heterosexuals, and have never been anything else, while homosexuals have not always been homosexual and just don’t know that they’re really heterosexual. (And if they experience too much acceptance and empathy too early, and are treated with too much dignity and respect, they might never have incentive to become heterosexual rediscover their heterosexuality.) In other words, if you’re gay it’s just because you don’t know you’re really heterosexual. (That doesn’t quite jibe with the reality that many “ex-gay” organizations are abandoning the idea of changing sexual orientation.)

That would be enough, but the “ex-gay” movement seems to think the rest of us are in need of change whether we like or not. Else, wouldn’t they just leave us alone? I’ve read various leaders in the “ex-gay” movement say that they just want to offer an alternative to gay people who are experiencing a conflict between their sexuality and their religious beliefs.

But [therapist Michael] Bussee put aside his protest agenda recently to endorse new guidelines to sexual identity therapy, co-written by two professors at conservative Christian colleges.

He and other gay activists — along with major mental-health associations — still reject therapy aimed at “liberating” or “curing” gays. But Bussee is willing to acknowledge potential in therapy that does not promise change but instead offers patients help in managing their desires and modifying their behavior to match their religious values — even if that means a life of celibacy.

“It’s about helping clients accept that they have these same-sex attractions and then allowing them the space, free from bias, to choose how they want to act,” said Lee Beckstead, a gay psychologist in Salt Lake City who uses this approach.

The guidelines for this type of therapy — written by Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College and Mark Yarhouse of Regent University — have been endorsed by representatives on both the left and right. The list includes the provost of a conservative evangelical college and the psychiatrist whose gay-rights advocacy in the 1970s got homosexuality removed from the official medical list of mental disorders.

Were it left at that, I might say “more power to ’em” and leave, but they and their political benefactors don’t leave us alone.

The problem is that too often they fall back on the argument that “we’re just trying to offer an alternative to people who are unhappy with their homosexuality and want to change.” But if that’s the case, why don’t they do that and leave rest of us alone? If that were their only motive then it seems like they’d be able to just do that and let that be enough.

But almost every one of these groups has ties to organizations that are advocating and seeking to legislate discrimination against LGBT people. In many cases, they are entirely funded by anti-gay organizations with an entire legislative agenda built around restricted our rights, and stripping our families of any possible protections.

So I can’t say “more power to you” and move on. Because they don’t move on. They insist that what’s possible for them must be possible for the rest of us, and thus it follows that those of us don’t choose their course shouldn’t be protected from discrimination. Because if you don’t want to be discriminated against, you can just stop being gay….

The thing is, as I sit here in my comfortable suburban home, where my family is welcomed by our neighbors, where I’m tripping over my son’s toys on my way to the fridge, where my son will later jump into my arms and my husband will greet me with a kiss when they get home … I’m having a hard time buying that I’m really as lonely and unhappy and miserable as may “ex-gays” says they were. Maybe if I shared their beliefs I would be. But I don’t and I’m not. I just wish they and their friends would stop trying to make the rest of us miserable.

The thing I really want to say to them in my less charitable moments is this. Maybe you were unhappy, depressed, alone. But maybe it never was because you were gay. Maybe you were “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Maybe you had unresolved emotional and psychological issues. But what if it’s just because you’re an asshole?

Is there a conversion program for that yet?

3 Comments

  1. Another excellent article. You write well and speak truth.

    Since a major reason people have trouble accepting that they are gay is because of religious teaching, perhaps in the interest of fairness the ex-gay groups should also offer ex-Christian classes. /tic

  2. For a reassuring dose of truth– as well as a great counterpoint to the above blog– try reading The Screwtape Letters.

  3. Just a thought: if you have to make truth a possessive, than it’s not a truth but an opinion. You should call it that. I read your entire article, btw, and I don’t see you giving views, not “truths,” other than your own the benefit of the doubt at all.

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