Saturday, April 18, 2009

Protest the Ex-Gay Deception!

Join the Impact MA is shining a spotlight on the fraudulent ex-gay movement in two events in late April. First, people are rallying outside Park Street Station in Boston at noon on Tuesday, April 28th to protest the “leadership training” Exodus International is conducting at Park Street Church. Second, noted author Wayne Besen, Executive Director, of Truth Wins Out will speak at a forum on the ex-gay movement at MIT at 7 PM the evening of the 28th.

Exodus is the world’s largest ex-gay ministry. It falsely promises “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ” to Google searchers. From its perspective, Exodus ministers to individuals who are “tortured” by homosexuality (as former pastor Rev. Ted Haggard put it.) It trains religious leaders, clergy and laypeople to reach out to troubled homosexuals to encourage them to change to being heterosexuals. LGBT advocates counter that the only thing that needs to change is the homophobia the ex-gay movement feeds on.

Of course all Exodus can offer lesbians and gays is an ersatz heterosexuality based on mortifying one’s God-given nature. Exodus does not want people to know that it is impossible to replace a same-sex sexual orientation with opposite-sex attraction. Reputable medical and scientific authorities reject so-called “reparative therapy.” Having been exiled from the scientific community, the ex-gays continue with a faith-based program to assimilate gays and lesbians, Borg-style. They do not want attention given to the warnings from the American Psychiatric Association: “The potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.” The prejudice Exodus represents lets them deny the harm they do.

As they reach out to gay people who are down on themselves, Exodus wears a mask of compassion. But they are shedding crocodile tears for suffering their own compatriots have set out to exacerbate. Exodus International is supported by the religious right in America, and fits into a multi-pronged offensive to suppress LGBT visibility and equality. On various fronts, the religious right runs interference in the pursuit of happiness by LGBT people who are simply trying to live and let live. In a most egregious example, right-wing activists oppose anti-bullying best practices which address the link to homophobia, which contributed to the recent suicide of an 11-year old boy in Springfield, MA. Anti-gay zealots would rather leave bullying unchecked, on the tenth anniversary of the Columbine Massacre, than allow LGBT-inclusive school safety strategies. Some right-wing extremists see bullying as a useful mechanism for discouraging homosexuality and gender non-conformity among adolescents.

If the Anita Bryant’s and John Briggs’ of the world had their way, LGBT people could be fired from their jobs, evicted from their apartments, and sent to prison. Before Stonewall—40 years ago—gays and lesbians could be involuntarily committed to mental institutions and forced to undergo cruel “conversion therapy,” including the torture technique of aversive conditioning. There was no pretense of compassion like today.

Consider further the insistence that LGBT people be denied the protections against hate crimes that other groups enjoy, lest our safety from bigoted violence somehow interfere with anti-gay hate speech. Conservative “Christian” groups have boycotted companies that provide equal benefits to their LGBT employees. How many fundamentalists assume that because God holds gays and lesbians in contempt, they should too?

Although they know they can’t, the ex-gay vultures would like to take society back 40 years. They would prefer that Stonewall had never happened, and that no LGBT community had ever emerged and organized. While a handshake may have eclipsed the basher’s fist as the preferred way to make contact with a struggling gay person, the ex-gay groups perpetuate the stigma attached to homosexuality which rationalizes the homophobia the basher gives the most powerful expression to.

As long as Exodus International is in fellowship with organizations which seek to stack the social contract against LGBT happiness, they cannot pose as friends of any LGBT person, troubled or otherwise. When they say they only “help” those who want to “leave” homosexuality, they leave unspoken the efforts of their co-religionists to make the lives of LGBT so miserable that some at the margins are driven to seek a way out (even though there is no scientifically valid means to change sexual orientation.) Homophobia is the life-blood of the ex-gay movement, and their work depends on LGBT people having the social status that leads bullies to taunt their targets as “gay,” to mean simply the worst thing one child can call another. We are affected by the hate they perpetuate and we protest the campaign against equality they aid and abet.

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