Saturday, November 05, 2005

'The ex-gay menace'

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From The Carolinian The University of North Carolina at Greensboro The ex-gay menance By: Garon Anders, 'Left Turn Only' Opinion Page Column Issue date: 11/1/05 Section: Opinions A recent study at UCLA showed that 57% of students believed that gays and lesbians should have the right to get married - a statistic that is frightening to archconservatives. The same study showed that only 36% of adults felt that gays and lesbians should be allowed to legally marry. Across campuses nationwide, it has become increasingly uncool to be anti-gay. Young people are now exposed to shows like "Will and Grace," "Desperate Housewives," "Queer as Folk," and "The L Word." Shows of this nature portray gay men and women as healthy, contributing members of society. Years ago, this was not the case. Flash back to the 80's and 90's and one remembers that almost all "gay" films dealt with the AIDS epidemic. Gay characters were used exclusively for comic relief. Things are changing and this has many evangelical neocons shaking in their boots. If pop culture has adopted a positive view of homosexuality and young heterosexuals are growing increasingly tolerant of their homosexual counterparts, one has to wonder how the Christian right intends to slow or stop this trend. The hottest new fad is ex-gay ministries. These services often advise homosexuals that their "condition" can be changed through prayer and meditation. Certainly, being gay is a challenge. Family, friends, church, and the state will often ostracize and even condemn homosexuals and their behavior. It is not hard to see why someone who is young and gay would see the appeal of having the opportunity to become straight. I began talking to guy who, online, identifies himself as "bisexual." In conversations with him, he has explicitly said that he is gay. His friends, family, and church believe he is straight. After I learned that he was uber-religious and he confessed to being exclusively gay, I asked him how he rationalized his sexuality with his faith. He responded by saying that he prayed for forgiveness each time he "sinned" but knew all along that he was destined to commit the same sin again. Then, he told me he was looking to visit a residential ex-gay camp known as Beacon Ministries. I knew about these places but had always dismissed them as inefficacious and appealing to the dull-witted. But this guy has three degrees. I asked him why he would want to go to a camp to become straight, and he said, "All I ever wanted was to be used by God. The church has made me feel so disqualified." The only thing I could think was, "You might feel qualified to serve God after your visit to the ex-gay camp but your elation will be short lived." Of course, I did not say that. I just sort of vapidly stared at him. Those who struggle with their sexuality deeply sadden me. Their self-loathing and inability to accept themselves causes me great pain. In the movie, Angels in America, the gay character, Joe Pitt, is asked by his wife for what he prays each night. He responds by saying, "I pray that God will smash me to little bits and start all over again." How sad. Ex-gay ministries are a desperate attempt on the part of the Christian right to cause further pain in the lives of homosexuals. It is not enough that these people have sat through hellfire and brimstone messages about their afterlife destiny. Nor is it enough that they have lived through the fear of the AIDS epidemic and further, it is not enough that they have endured disparaging comments about homosexuals from our highest leaders. Now they must endure the Jerry Falwells of the world embracing ex-gay ministries like Exodus International and Beacon Ministries. Impressionable young people have been put on the frontlines of this new battle of the culture wars. is a website that promotes the notion that all young people should hear both sides of the "gay" story; that is, they should hear about love and diversity but know that ex-gay ministries offer an alternative to accepting one's homosexuality as an inevitability. The Christian right knows that they are going to lose this battle if they do not begin indoctrinating at a young age and they know the necessary inroad is through our public schools. Gay-Straight alliances in high schools are being challenged by Bible study groups that promote ex-gay alternatives. Ex-gay ministries will continue to grow in popularity and they will continue to cause pain and depression. My only hope is that America will see them for the fraudulent cults that they are. Got something to say to Garon? You can reach him at Original Source: click here ===== How comforting to see that The Carolinian's only (to my knowledge) openly gay columnist is starting to write on LGBT issues... WOW! I was starting to wonder if he would ever deal with it or just keep it "hidden in the closet".