Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Time's 'Battle Over Gay Teens' author, John McCloud, answers readers questions

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John McCloud, the author of the Time Magazine article, "The Battle Over Gay Teens", is answering readers questions regarding his article and on the subject of homosexuality. McCloud's October 10, 2005 article (which was published the day before National Coming Out Day) immediately caused even more controversy on the subjects of LGBT teenagers, the ex-gay movement and what the Right claims is "recruitment" by "homoseuxal activists". Some of the questions and answers are below. You can read all of them by clicking here. Some excerpts from readers' questions & McCloud's answers: I'm an 18-year old straight college freshman from Hastings, Minnesota, and although Minnesota has a liberal culture, it seems as though my fellow teenage Minnesotans are less accepting of homosexuality than what was portrayed in the article. My high school has a GSA, but they posted anti-straight brochures, and were frowned down upon by the majority of my classmates, myself included. Is the Upper Midwest more culturally conservative? Also, my generation seems to be more tolerant about homosexuality, but we are not in favor of gay marriage. Civil Unions, yes, but not gay marriage, and we are more pro-life and religious than Generation X and the Baby Boomers were, because Kerry narrowly won the youth vote. Why do you think that we're both more tolerant and more conservative? Mike BlissenbachSaint Paul, Minnesota "Anti-straight brochures"! That's terrible....I would be curious to see what that would look like. Typically I don't think GSAs distribute anti-straight literature since they are, at least in name, alliances for both gays and straights. Most of your fellow college freshmen around the country—57%, according to UCLA's 2004 survey of a quarter-million first-years—do favor same-sex marriage. However, you are right that young people are moving right on many issues, including social issues. I wrote a piece last year that attempts to explain some of these questions and examines young conservatives. You can read it here. Why are almost all the letters you answered, letters of support for your story? Why so few letters of criticism have been answered? I am totally saddened by the way media is siding with gays and not hearing what the opposition has to say. The way media is glorifying gay lifestyle and blocking the opposing view for the sake of being politically correct, I am afraid that one day we will lose all that we have of healthy debate and follow the "cool" thing blindly. I know you will not take this letter but still I would like to stress again that coming out as a teen is immature and the media is not helping the society by glorifying gay lifestyle. BhumikaWest Lafayette, Indiana Thanks for writing. I have tried to answer all the letters that ask me questions—even those that ask me personal questions like, Are you really happy? I'm not sure if you've read the entire story, but it is surely not a story that ignores what social conservatives have to say about gay kids. I spent quite a bit of time reporting at this year's Exodus conference for Christians with unwanted same-sex attractions, and a great deal of that reporting is in the piece. The piece quotes Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, Regina Griggs of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, Scott Davis of Exodus Youth, and several of the young Christians I met at the Exodus event. The piece also explores the question of whether it's a good idea for teenagers to come out. Please outline for us the convincing scientific research basis supporting the perennial claim that 10% of Americans are homosexual or lesbian. Cite sources, dates and researchers. Additionally, describe any research that establishes that "reparative therapies" are bogus, contrary to the claims of numerous researchers like Socarides, Mobley, et al. Jeff LongFayetteville, NC I do not claim in my story that 10% of Americans are homosexual. I also do not claim in my story that "reparative therapies" are bogus. Thanks for writing. John, can you explain how the gay debate seems to be between "conservatives" and "gay activists"? You repeatedly describe the "Christian right" on one side, but no label on the other. Given the great identification of gays with liberal Democrats (at least on an institutional level), is it really an unfair stereotype that gay is, to some degree, "left?" And on the scholarship issue: aren't their any studies done by Exodus, PFOX, or groups like the Family Research Council you could use, and not just those from scholars with an agenda on the other side of the issue? Tim GrahamBristow, Virginia I use terms like "social conservatives," "Christian right," "Christians battling same-sex attractions." I also use terms like "the gay movement," "the liberal group" PFLAG, and I quote someone talking about how being gay is "leftist, radical." I also point out, at the very beginning of the story, that the Democratic National Committee is an "established charity" for the gay elite. I agree with you that, to some degree, being gay often means being leftist. I think moderates like Andrew Sullivan, Jonathan Rauch (and myself) are some notable exceptions. I don't believe the university scholars I quote have "an agenda on the other side of the issue." As the story points out, the main academic I quote, Ritch Savin-Williams, has been cited admiringly by those who believe homosexuality can be changed. Exodus and PFOX are not research organizations. I do mention a web page from Focus on the Family that has warned that boys as young as 5 may show signs of "gender confusion." Thanks for writing.