Nine men in Senegal, Africa were sentenced to jail for homosexual acts including an outspoken HIV/AIDS Activist. The men will get 8 years in prison after being arrested in a raid on December 19, 2008.
This news really has me asking the same questions I have been asking anti-gay advocates like Peter LaBarbera, Stacy Harp or Matt Barber for years with no answer? Is this the end game? Throwing us in jail for ‘unatural acts’ and conspiracy?
I have wondered for years what the end game of anti-gay activists is, what are they working towards? What does the world look like if American’s for Truth or Concerned Women for America got there wish about gay folks. I have yet to ever get any real and definitive answer and I am guessing that is because this is what they are working towards. I can bet that given the chance, many ultra-conservative and literalists of the bible would have gays and lesbians jailed for being gay or worse.
I for one feel completely saddened for these men as all the science is pointing toward genetic factors and that homosexuality is not changeable despite the unproven claims of religious groups. I can only hope the international community steps in on this clearly human rights issue, frees these men and brings them to countries where they will be SAFE!
I just finished reading this article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press on ex-gay issues. The article focuses on a man named Chris Delaney (pictured) from Joseph’s Coat Ministries. It also quotes Randy Thomas of Exodus International and someone named “Dr. Anderson” from the APA. Overall, the article seems to present both sides and yet I was still a little annoyed when I read it. I would value Randy Thomas’ and Chris Delaney’s tone being a little less “venomous” when they talk about gay people. I would also like both of them to acknowledge that homosexuality is, at this point in time, widely accepted as biological and most likely a born trait. While it is true a gay gene has not been identified, a gene for being left handed has also not been identified either and that too is accepted as a inherit. I am mostly annoyed because I value people understanding the whole of the science and I see their position on the science is oversimplified and misleading. They seem to take this black and white stand on the issue and true science embraces the beauty of grey. There are the things we know and the things we are working on knowing.
I also object to the usage of the term “therapy” for what Delaney is doing. When I read that he calls this therapy I feel frustrated as I see therapy as based in science and the study of human biology and behavior. What he is doing is based on religious beliefs. I value honesty and would request Chris Delaney be honest that what he is doing isn’t therapy. It is religious ministry. I fear that people are mislead when they see this as “therapy” when it cannot even be done without a mostly Christian doctrine. True therapy is client centered and vows to “do no harm.” I am hard pressed to see how Delaney can call this therapy when the risk of harm is more accepted by the scientific world than the outcomes of change he claims to have with his clients. I myself have a need for safety for others that is in no way met by this man’s use of misleading terms.
The comments on the article are more interesting than the article itself. In the article, Randy Thomas claims that it isn’t about “them vs. us” yet the comments alone leave me feeling doubtful. He says, ““The media and gay activists want to make it all about some sort of fight between us and them, and that’s just not true, yes, we do have moral disagreements, but we don’t exist to oppose the gay community.” Perhaps Randy isn’t seeing it and yet when I read the comments I see people wanting to be right or wrong, gay or christian, gay or straight, good or bad. I am not sure where those labels will get us because it certainly isn’t any closer to the truth and certainly no closer to understanding the origins of human sexuality. The comments are either for these ex-gay ministries or against. I see them as a great example of how this really is an “us vs. them.”
My real issue with Delaney and Thomas comes from the delivery of the message. Delaney’s message is heard by me as angry and bitter towards gay people. Maybe that isn’t his intentions yet it is what I hear from him. Randy Thomas is heard by me as defensive and resentful even if that isn’t what he was trying to be. If they had a different message, I didn’t hear it and what I did hear from them left me feeling sorry for them. Who knows what they are trying to say. I couldn’t hear it through the bitter and negative remarks about how gay people lie and gay agenda this and that. Delaney was even sure to bring the whole threat thing into it and yet I didn’t see how that help the story other than to paint gays as a menace. In my opinion, that is the goal of these folks each and every time I read what they say. Regardless what words they seem to chose, what I hear isn’t what they say. What America hears also isn’t always what they say. I would really like them to understand that little talked about fact. What someone says, isn’t always what the listener hears. Even this article you are reading could be taken in ways this writer didn’t intend. Words are powerful things and we best be careful how we use them.
Delaney attributes the beliefs about the origins of homosexuality to gay activists yet it is science itself that is leaning towards genetics or pre-birth exposure to hormones in the womb not gay activists. I observe that this is about “us vs. them” and that is always a dangerous way of thinking. It disconnects us rather than bringing us closer to life. Where we should be focused on understanding and empathy, we seem to focus on who is right or wrong and I just don’t believe life is that black and white.
It shouldn’t need to be said that I am against Prop 8 and Prop 102, but I will say it for the sake of reinforcing it. I am completely against Prop 8 in California and I am against Prop 102 in Arizona as these do not meet my needs for equality and fairness. I am a married gay man who hopes to stay married in the eyes of my government.
With that out of the way, I can’t help but feel some anguish and disappointment over the numbers, the facts or lack of them and the misuse of science. I realize both sides of this argument feel they are right and in my eyes one of them is right. What disgusts me is the ignorance of most of those on the “Yes on 8″ side of this argument when it comes to the science, the history and the real impact of the arguments. One of the pieces of this that is embarrassing to us as a Country, is that the average citizen in America doesn’t know the history of marriage. They have blindly taken the word of their pastors or right wing leaders. They have not pulled out the history books on Ancient Rome, long before the bible was even written or its fictional characters where even born, and learned marriage was a civil arrangement of property. Most marriages had little to do with love, but keeping property in the wealthy families.
The average citizen in this Country also doesn’t know all of the science concerning homosexuality. Why would they? Most red state Americans are against teaching science in the classroom unless it fits with their view of world through the lens of their bibles. Sadly, most of the time, the science disagrees with religion and that has become dangerous for us as a Country. The average American still believes (because of anti-gay hate speech) that homosexuality is some chosen lifestyle, gays all live the same lifestyle, and that we can become “ex-gay.” This writer wonders how we will ever stop global warming, HIV/AIDS or Avian Flu when we don’t even teach kids facts through science, we teach them social opinions. We should be showing them the science as it is current and available in the age of information.
Prop 8 supporters will tell you the rhetoric that they are voting to “support traditional marriage”, but we all know that is bullshit. The facts cannot be ignored this time. They are not voting “for” anything, they are voting against gay people using fear and lies as their guide. All the while, raising millions of dollars that could so easily have saved thousands of people from poverty, starvation, foreclosure and disease. I am convinced that if you ask any average American who is losing their home, living in poverty whether or not they would like to protect marriage from the homo’s or find a way to keep their home, marriage would drop low on the list of priorities.
This for me, is about priorities and nonviolence. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it well when he said we need to “gather all the information and then educate all involved” of the facts. When we really look at the science of sexuality, the history of marriage and the facts the “yes on 8″ campaign is using to raise money we see that facts are the furtherest thing from the argument. In fact, the entire argument is void of facts all together. Ask any reputable biologist what they think about their facts about sexual orientation, then ask any professor of ancient history of marriage then put the two together and watch all of the arguments fall apart for the entire anti-marriage campaign.
What bothers me most is the money we are being forced to spend to save gay marriage while the evidence and facts are ignored in favor of theocracy. $100 million would save so many lives, buy lots of homes, feed lots of homeless. Instead, we are using $100 million dollars to have a worthless discussion over nonexistent facts all the while ignoring the real facts and real history. How frustrating it must be to be starving, losing your home or dying because you can’t afford medical care, to learn that Christians spent millions oppressing people in spite of the facts when they could have been treating the neighbors to life saving assistance. Truly our priorities are severely out of sync with reality.
Truth Wins Out has now another researcher on record explaining how their research has been used by the National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality to claim people can choose to change their sexual attractions when the research clearly says the opposite. This is the abuse of science that leads to harm.
Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out notes:
Lisa M. Diamond, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah. She has won a number of awards for her work. In 2000, Dr. Diamond published a study, “Sexual identity, attractions, and behavior among young sexual minority women over a 2 year period.” This study was distorted by NARTH. The anti-gay organization falsely claimed that Dr. Diamond’s work shows that sexual orientation is “amenable to change.”
To read about other researchers who work has been misused by anti-gay groups, please visit Respect My Research
The Rev. Dl. Foster writes today in his mission to lead people “to” Christ:
“Saints should understand that it is our job to oppose evil and wickedness in the church and in the world. We are to speak out and use the tools God has given us to restrain the works of the devil until our removal. We are not here to make friends, fit in or promote false unity and inclusion. Our sole allegiance is to our King and his Kingdom.”
but Christ says:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Go figure! It is these contradictions that started my questioning of the bible. Once one loses faith in the book, there is nothing left to validate a belief in Christianity.
Pastor Daryl Foster of the blog, Gay Christian Watch has posted an interesting article of the same title on his site asking those of us that accuse him of spewing hate to justify our accusation under his terms. Foster writes:
If you are going to qualify your accusations of hate, you’ll have to demonstrate that in real terms and with discoverable evidence. Otherwise, I will continue believing what I have previously believed: your accusations are without merit. I’ll continue to believe your accusations are little more than childish gripes because our writings don’t affirm homosexual conduct or your affinities for homosexual sin. That’s simply a pov that I reject as valid.
He then goes on to list eight questions to be answered in his terms that will answer whether or not he is speaking hate or truth. The questions are carefully crafted and completely biased to favor his side of the argument, the first of which is the notion that homosexuality is just a conduct and not an emotional state of being. Something there is loads of science to contradict and even plain logic would show that being homosexual is more than just conduct. Regardless of how one ended up being gay, the fact of the matter is that science agrees this is about a state of being, not one’s actions.
I do find it amusing he wants real terms and discoverable evidence to determine if he is hateful, but doesn’t need those things to prove the existence of the god he is using to justify his actions in the first place. That is a completely different article and I will restrain myself from going there.
My issue with Foster’s challenge, aside from its biased slant, is that I don’t believe the intention is genuine. From an emotional connection stand point, Foster’s questions are loaded. It is obvious to anyone reading the questions and the tone of the paragraphs precluding them, that Foster isn’t interested in learning the truth, empathizing or understanding his adversary’s point of view. So, the questions are just a debate, not a discussion. The goal of a discussion is to learn and get to the truth where the purpose of a debate is to win. Pastor Foster’s goal is to back the reader into a corner and say “I told you so”, but that isn’t how human connections and understanding happen. If he was truly after a better understanding of why pro-gay folks like myself truly believe he is spewing hate, he would have taken a more empathetic and disarming approach to seeking the answers. When your questions are designed to make you “right” then you are not looking for the real answers, you just want the answers that make it appear you are right, even if you are not.
Now let’s look at, and even perhaps answer a few of his eight questions:
1. What exactly has this site [Gay Christian Movement Watch (GCW)] done that can be qualified as hate or hateful against homosexuals, religious or political?
My answer would be “misinform” the public on the facts about homosexuality. One cannot address the issues of sexuality clearly by just reading the bible. There is at least 75 years of science regarding homosexuality that Foster ignores, misrepresents or just just disregards. While there is much about the science that is debated, there is also many answers generally agreed upon by the scientific community when we talk about homosexuality. Foster and his site, generally misinform the public about the details and facts of homosexuality.
Next, I would say, it isn’t the message but how the message is delivered. Foster tends to over-simplify the issue of sexuality as just something like a switch that one can turn off and on as long as one believes in god. This again, ignores the science, it also ignores the stories of folks like Peterson Toscano who spent decades of prayer and thousands of dollars trying to change his sexuality only to be brought to the brink of suicide. When you add this to Foster’s “I am right, you are wrong” approach to the issue, it is the misinformation and presentation that is really the hateful part of your message. I might suggest that the same messages could be delivered without the hate, but it requires a change of approach.
2. According to the Bible, how is hate defined?
This is again, another loaded question. Foster is out to say, if the bible says it isn’t hate then it is not hate. I have seen people use the bible to justify just about anything. Over the course the last 1000 years we have seen amazing injustices, justified by someone saying they could do it because the bible said they could. Here, one can only assume that Foster is going to claim any interpretation of the bible’s definition of hate is incorrect and then give some lame excuse as to why. Problem again, we have seen this method of justification used for 100 years. It doesn’t make injustice any more moral when you can find a way to use the bible to justify it.
If you truly want to answer the overall question at hand, all parties looking to determine hate vs. truth would need to agree on a definition of hate and then examine Foster’s site in light of the agreed upon definition, unless all parties agree that the bible’s definition is acceptable to the discussion.
3. What neutral criteria do you use to determine if a person is speaking in hate and not in love? Be specific.
Question number 3 is crafty. What neutral criteria exists? Is there a secret “hate-ometer I am unaware of? How about history. We have 1000 years of study in communication and messaging. We can look back at the different types of messages and propaganda and determine what affect they had on societies. We know what types of message invoke what types of responses from the public for the last 100 years or so. It is the same type of crafty messaging that makes people believe all sorts of crazy stuff, like they need a pet rock or that electromagnetic headbands can cure cancer. When we compare Foster’s messaging to what we know from history are tactics of propaganda that lead to violence, we can see a trend. Sadly, this has been pointed out to Foster many times. I must admit, his messaging has gotten better over the last several years, but has a long, long way to go before this writer would stop calling it hate. (I would suggest you start by changing your tone from condescending preacher who knows everything and has the perfect interpretation of the bible to one of a humble, compassionate servant who wished to understand and then apply scripture to others pain)
4. Explain how can a nonbiased [sic] person can determine that someone is hateful against homosexuals?
Perhaps it is my own personal mistrust of Foster but this too seems like a loaded question. “Nonbiased?” I have yet to meet someone “unbiased” on the issues of abortion, homosexuality or the death penalty. If Foster really wants to answer this question, I would think the question should ask, “What criteria can we agree on, regardless what side of this argument you are on, to determine if something is hateful against a certain group?” Once the criteria is defined and agreed upon by both parties having the “discussion,” a more careful and objective look could be taken at Foster’s own website and messages. For me, I don’t think Foster wants a “discussion” about hate vs. truth, I think he wants a debate. Debates are about winning and proving you are right regardless of truth. Discussion is when you truly want to understand your opponents interests and positions and perhaps make change in that thinking.
5. Is strong, vocal opposition to an idea, person or organization hateful?
This is a tricky question. There are three questions here, not one. To start, I think there have been great leaders in this area of strong, vocal opposition over the past few centuries. Gandhi was a strong, vocal opposition to the class system, British rule in India, poverty and living past your means. He advocated to people to live simply, so others could simply live. Martin Luther King, Jr. was another great example of being vocal and strong against war and violence, but as he stated in paper called, My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence, “we must fight the forces of evil not the people doing the evil.”
One can be a strong and vocal opposition to an idea like slavery, oppression, separate but equal living, but one CANNOT be opposed to a person or organization. We could be opposed to ideas held by a person or an organization, but not to a person or organization. To be opposed to a person or organization is to be more than hateful, it is to be violent and to advocate violence. One can be opposed to actions, ideas, philosophies, even religions but not people or the organizations made up of people. One can be opposed to the idea of guns. One can be opposed to the action of owning or carrying a gun. One should never be opposed to people who carry guns. One should never be opposed to an organization opposed to guns, they should be opposed to the “idea” against guns because the organization is made of people, not ideas. I may be opposed to the tactics of the NRA, I may be opposed to the message of the NRA, I may be opposed to the ideas of the NRA, but like any person or group of persons, I believe in their potential to change.
6. How do you interpret Ephesians 4:15?
I think, if we are truly looking for truth about what Foster is accomplishing with his site whether or not it is hate or truth, we will need objective and concrete tools and measurements that everyone at the table agrees are the guidelines of the discussion. We cannot build a square house if we all interpret an “inch” as something different. Centuries have taught us we all do not interpret the scripture in the same way. Especially when you are talking about one line of the bible taken out of context of the other sentences around it. So my answer to this question should be taken in context of the conversation just like this line of scripture should be read in context of a letter from a man named, Paul and how he made the statement and to whom. As a side not, I am not even sure how that scripture could be applied here, but that is a completely different conversation and I am not sure I care about the answer that much.
7. By whose definition and interpretation of love is the Christian church to adhere to?
Depends on what you are talking about here. If this question is in context to whether or not GCW is spewing hate or speaking truth, again I think my mediation skills come out to play. If the goal here is to determine concretely that GCW is spewing hate or speaking truth then we also need concrete definitions that everyone at the table agrees on before moving to the next step. I have learned as a mediator that things cannot be left to interpretation. The way to come to definite, concrete agreements is to be clear. So for the sake of this context, it is not relevant how Christian’s define love when determining the answer to the questions of hate vs. truth. What matters is that everyone agrees on a definition of love and a definition of hate and then see if GCW fits one or the other. Of course, I don’t believe the world is that black and white. I would think that, as Gandhi said nicely, each of holds a piece of the truth and a piece of the untruth. When we all sit at the table and strip away what we agree is untruth, all that is left for all of us, is the truth. With that said, I would say Foster has a piece of the truth and a piece of the untruth, just like all of us.
8. Are you willing to admit that it might be your personal involvement with homosexuality or your personal views that have shaped your criticisms and not any actual acts of hate?
Any question that starts with “are you willing to admit…” is the same as saying “see I told you I am right.” I could just as easily have made the same statement right back at Foster in reverse, but that isn’t the real issue at hand. Of course our personal views and involvement shape our views about anything, but you have to admit there are many heterosexuals who share my views without the involvement and they still think you are spewing hate. I would have to say, to be as honest as possible that my most likely a little of both is in play here for both myself and Foster. First define what you mean by involvement. Are we talking people who are gay but not having sex or dating? Are we talking about involvement in ministry to those who are same sex attracted? By that definition you could answer the same question.
Of course both mine and Foster’s involvement in and around homosexuality shape our criticism of what is and isn’t hate that is what puts us on opposite sides of the table. The question goes both ways, but Foster is only looking for the question to be answered in one way. That is why it is a loaded question designed to provoke the answer Foster wants, not the one that is the truth. If Foster truly wants the truth, one would need to sit at the table with an unbiased mediator and come to some terms and agreements about what is and isn’t hate, what are the definitions of truth, love and such and then look at the messaging of both sides and see who is spewing hate and who is talking truth in love. Either way, these questions are not going to provoke honest discussion or honest answers because they are designed to provoke only the answers Foster wants and not what needs to be addressed. My suggestion to Pastor Foster is that you would need an independent source for the criteria of a hate. Only a third party could develop those questions independent of the parties involved.
UPDATE: I will most likely update and alter this article as the day goes on. Check back for updates. My first is that I wonder if Foster is feeling tired of being accused of hate message because he would like to be seen as doing the right thing? I wonder what is going on for him and what is coming up for him that cause him to choose to write this article.
UPDATE: Foster didn’t get the answer he had hoped for, so he has taken down and then reposted the same article. I have updated my link.
The following is a comment left for DL Foster on his website in response to his latest post which calls Christians to take up arms and fight “the homosexuals.” It is a frightening article and the language should concern all of us.
“Make no mistake the American political homosexual movement is involved with this having exported their hatred of critics of their sinful abomination to countries where governments are seduced by their money. Are you ready to have your church monitored by undercover homosexual activists? Are you prepared to have homosexuals target your business to test your acceptance of their sin? What will you do when they file an expensive lawsuit against you? In case you havent heard, the war is on.
…This is not a fight to be won with carnal weapons. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Get yours out and get it ready.”
My reply is below:
Why the metaphors of war? Wars are commonly associated with violence. When you ask the everyday person to tell you what war brings to mind the pictured returned will not be spiritual.
I feel terrible concern for the safety of gays and lesbians when I read articles like the one I have read here today. The intention is clearly to rally the troops, but sadly the outcome of this type of language is anything but positive. The underlying message read is that war (violence) is justified as long as it is in god’s name. That may not be the message you wanted to put out, but it is a part of your message.
The use of words like “weapons” and “warfare” added to statements that put fear into people like the one above stating gays and lesbians are going to do things to christians like the Nazi’s did to the Jews are statements that invoke fear into the hearts of men. Fear is the driving force behind violence. Man resorts to violence when he fears for his safety, the safety of his kind or the safety of his very soul. To put such fear into others is to scare them into violence against GLBT folks.
I would request that you begin to take steps to move away from this metaphor of warfare and start using language that is less a call to arms and more a call to look for solutions where religious folks and gays and lesbians can both have their civil liberties respected and honored. I would appreciate that you use language the engages people in solutions to the problems we face not entice them into battles to win against other people. I would ask you move into directions where we seek to have power WITH people not over them. I would request you begin to frame your arguments into winning OVER your opponets not winning AGAINST your opponets. I would request that you present solutions where both sides views and needs can be met without rally cries that could end in violence.
UPDATES: Some of the replies to this scare me. One women wrote that Hitler was a homosexual (not factually true), another wrote about the rapture and flames. Another commenter writes:
“Joe must begin to understand that it is the use of GOD’s weapons that enable us to win others to Christ. His weapons combined with our love for the individual is the start.
Whew! It’s sending shivers through my body watching the Bible’s prophetic revelations come true before our very eyes!”
So lets revist this comment with some editing for the sake of learning.
the commenter wrote:
“Joe must begin to understand that it is the use of GOD’s weapons that enable us to win others to
Christ“Allah”. His weapons combined with our love for the individual is the start.
Whew! It’s sending shivers through my body watching the
Bible’sKoran’s prophetic revelations come true before our very eyes!
If that doesn’t scare you, it should. We must be careful when allowing anyone to be so commited to “god” or religion that they are willing to start wars. I don’t care if it is Christ, Allah or John Frum, if you cannot solidly prove the existence of your god, then you damn well better not be ruining lives for him.
While I long for the day when I don’t have to write about Peter LaBarbera or Americans for Truth, sadly I choose to write about them because of my need for safety for myself and others like me. I realized today, while reading one of Peter’s latest posts how disinterested in the truth Americans for Truth is. Today, Peter is writing about Stephen Bennett a man who claims to have gone from gay to straight and is now married with kids. To start with this is not some huge deal as Peter would have you believe. Gay men and lesbian women have spent lifetimes married to opposite sex partners, that didn’t make it honest or right. Some stayed married forever and others decided they couldn’t do it any longer and came out as gay. Others, like me, have no attraction whatsoever to the opposite sex and just couldn’t have pulled off the married fake thing even though I wanted to, and I tried to. Deborah has finally forgiven me, I think.
Peter’s post talks about only one man who claims to have gone straight and then claims:
“So if we already know that men and women can leave homosexuality behind, why isn’t this phenomenon studied in the academy? What are “queer” activists afraid will be discovered”
I was angry when I read this, but also curious. What is the image Peter really has of us. He speaks of “queer activists” like we are some KGB organization in cold war Russia. He speaks of us as if we are not human beings, but those evil spy characters from a novel. Everyone fears the KGB and would have used force to stop them. That is what you do with the enemy. You stop them at any cost using all means available. That is how we have been conditioned to think by society. It would be hard for Peter to deny that.
His question also ignores some information of which we know for fact Peter LaBarbara has been made aware. Lots of people spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to “leave” homosexuality and the so called “change” he speaks of just never happen. People like Peterson Toscano, Christine Bakke or all the others whose lives where almost destroyed by trying to change their sexuality. Just because one man named Stephen Bennett, who has refused to prove he was ever gay in the first place, claims he is now straight and no longer has same sex attractions is no proof that all gays and lesbians could or should try to change their sexuality at the risk of harm. The evidence against “ex-gay therapies” and their dangers is well documented to be not worth the risk. They are ALL based on religious conviction, not scientific FACTS!
It is Peter’s tone, his choice of presentation about gays and lesbians painting us as the enemy that make his efforts hate speech. It is the enemy images he has and wants others to have of gays that scare me. Today, Good As You pointed me to a video of a girl who violently beat another girl and posted it on YouTube because the girl was a gay rights advocate. The local news reported:
The suspects told police the girl was a gay-rights advocate and that she was trying to impose her views on them. They didn’t like it, and they told police they didn’t see anything wrong with what they did.
The fight was clearly premeditated. In surveillance video, police told 24 Hour News 8 the suspects are seen pulling back their hair and getting ready. It’s also clear they say other people knew about the attack because of the number of people who were congregated around watching the fight.
What Peter LaBarbera has yet to understand is that he did contribute to this climate of violence. Peter has not heard us when we explain to him that when you paint gays and lesbians as the enemy who must be stopped, people will feel justified in using violence to stop us. Peter may not be promoting violence directly, but he is promoting the justification for it. I am not sure what it would take for him to see this, but I for one know that as long as I read things written in the tone Peter writes them, I am going to be afraid that people will use violence and justify it with the arguments Peter gave them. I would challenge Mr. LaBarbera anyday to show me just what it is he is working towards. What is his end game and where are people like me in that picture? I believe the reason he won’t answer it is because the answer proves what he is doing is hurting more people than it is helping.
Crystal Dixon, the anti-gay side’s newest hero, is a human resource associate vice-president who made a handful of comments including:
“As a Black woman … I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are civil rights victims. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. Daily thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle.”
I am so exhausted as a 38 year old gay man of hearing this tired old, just stupid argument that gays chose to be gay. It is easy to believe gays choose to be gay if you completely ignore everything we have ever learned about sexuality. It is easy if you just ignore we are human. It is easy to over-simplify it to a simple choice we made if, you completely ignore the facts, but that must be the case. It is easy if you ignore the terrorized faces of every kid crying as he tells his family he is gay. If you completely ignore the facts about the pain, suffering and shame that must be overcome to come out, than you can call it a choice. The Crystal Dixon’s of the world must just ignore all the facts.
I wonder if it is worth talking about facts anymore when people like Ms. Dixon, Ms. Harp, and Mr. LaBarbera don’t care about facts anyway. I don’t think it matters what the facts are they would dispute them anyway. LaBarbera and harp seems to be interested in being famous and powerful. I believe they care more about winning the argument than owning their damages.
I think we should just tell them what they wanna hear and be done with it. So hear it is. I chose to be gay. I woke up one day when I was about 5 or 6 years old and said, to hell with it all and me. I am gonna be gay. I am gonna be athletically useless just like the stereotype say I should be. I am gonna learn show tunes and learn tap. I am going to let the other kids beat the crap out of me and call me a faggot. Not sure why I made that choice, but yup, I did.
Along with making the choice to be gay, I would also like to admit that being gay is all about sex. There really isn’t anything more to this. It is just sex. In fact, my entire life has been about sex. Sex…sex…sex. I would write more about this but I have said it all. It is about sex. (how long will it be before this is taken out of context)
If this is what these anti-gay folks want to hear, we should just spoon feed it to them like grits on toast. Whatever it takes to show them how utterly dehumanizing and hurtful their claims are or force them to show their hands. What the fuck is your end game people? What does the world look like if you got what it is your are working toward? Are the gay people in camps waiting for the gas chambers? WHAT IS YOUR DEAL?
Paint me a picture. I would just like to know what the world looks like if these right wing, fundamentalist Christians actually got what they were working toward.
There seems to be some level of irony that an event designed and created to bring attention to bullying is being protested by bullies. Just this year alone, we have faced the tragic murder of Lawrence King who was murdered for asking another boy to be his valentine. King was often the target of bullies and suffered greatly through the tauting and teasing.
Study show us that bullying has long term effects including a link to depression. Kids who are bullied are more likely to drop out of school, get into trouble with the law and turn to alcohol and drugs. Often kids who are bullied are perceived to be gay by other children. This compounded with the negative enemy imaged of gays and lesbians by anti-gay organizations, causes children to take sometime violent measures to be sure no one “thinks” they are gay.
Today’s protest, the Day of Silence, is meant to make a statement about the bullying and the violence that can be associated with it. One would think the opposition to gay rights would be equally as opposed to bullying and violence and thus supportive of this event. One would think that Christian and other religious groups whose interest in in “saving” or ministering to gays and lesbians would be supportive of this event, but such is not he case.
The Rev. Ken Hutcherson is protesting the protest today at a school in Washington State. Now, I try to refrain from calling people names and labeling someone a bully would be name calling. I admit that fully, but I also admit that many anti-gay organizations and individuals just fit the definition of a bully. While there is no official definition of a bully, which has made it difficult for lawmakers to address the issue, the dictionary defines a bully as:
The Hyperdictionary: http://www.hyperdictionary.com/search.aspx?define=bullying
1. [n] the act of intimidating a weaker person to make them do something
2. [adj] noisily domineering; tending to browbeat others
Synonyms: blustery, domineering, intimidation
See Also: aggression, frightening, terrorisation, terrorization
The first defintion, a noun, clearly describes the actions of many anti-gay individuals and organizations when you consider that many religious organizations are trying to scare gay people into going back into the closet or to try and change their sexuality. The second defintion, an adjective speaks for itself, in connection to anti-gay religious organizations as they can be some browbeating on their part to send us into the shadows.
With all that said, it is no wonder they would protest a protest that protests them!
Part one of my thoughts on the day of silence are really just an exact repost of what I wrote last year. Not much has changed for gay youth. The problems, the bullying and the violence have gotten worse rather than better and sadly, we lost a few beautiful young lives in the process. Below is a repost of what I wrote on Last year’s Day of Silence. I will be writing my thoughts for this year and posting them soon.
Today marks the 11th year of the “Day of Silence“, a day that marks the silence that is forced on those who are being harassed about their real or perceived sexuality. Studies indicate that 1/3 of all students report being harassed over sexual orientation issues. The problem is very real and the silence kids experience is a form of structural violence that does its share of psychological damage.
Currently, a group called “Not our Kids” is asking parents to keep their kids home to protest the protest which is the Day of Silence. The coalition is led by none other than ex-gay, Stephen Bennett and it has been pushed hard by groups like Americans for Truth led by Peter LaBarbera. The actions of this group, pulling kids from school, only highlights the problem and brings more attention to the cause. While this coalition thinks they are making some statement by pulling kids from school, they are actually helping to support the meaning behind the Day of Silence since it is these very groups who create the climate that fuels the hate that causes the silence gay youth are forced to tolerate. The people who support the Day of Silence should send the people who don’t a thank you card since the brouhaha they have created helps bring the problem into the light.
As usual, groups like Americans for Truth, Stephen Bennett Ministries, Faith2Action and others ignore the real problems and offer no alternative solutions to the problems. They claim that homosexuality shouldn’t be discussed in the school, along with an array of issues they have deemed moral issues. I would ask, what gives these folks the power to decide what is a sexuality, science, educational or moral issue?
Homosexuality is not just a moral issue, it has a human face, especially when we are talking about youth. Anti-gay activists are so quick to call any outspoken advocate for gay rights “militant”, “Radical” or “Extreme” when we demand fair treatment or equal rights. The true facts show that these groups are far more militant in action and go to far greater lengths to spread misinformation and untruth than any other political group I have experienced. They claim up and down to be religious groups, but religion plays a small role and politics seems to rule the day.
Gandhi held the belief that each side of a conflict holds a piece of the truth and a piece of the untruth. He believed that nonviolent conflict resolution could be found if each group sat down and pulled together the truths each held and dispelled the untruths. I have personally seen more gays and lesbians willing to do this than I have ever seen from anti-gay groups. I have seen more gay activists willing to compromise for peaceful resolution on the issue than I have ever seen from groups like Americans for Truth or Faith2Action. I see these groups fight, complain and make demands to silence and dehumanize gays but rarely do we see any of them offer solutions to the problems gays and lesbians face and as it has been stated a thousand times in history, if you are not part of the solution, than you must be part of the problem.
The reason most commonly cited for being harassed frequently in schools is a student’s appearance, as four in ten (39%) teens report that students are frequently harassed for the way they look or their body size. Right behind was sexual orientation as one-third (33%) of teens report that students are frequently harassed because they are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay or bisexual.
LGBT students are three times as likely as non-LGBT students to say that they do not feel safe at school (22% vs. 7%).
90% of LGBT students (vs. 62% of non-LGBT teens) have been harassed or assaulted during the past year.
The Solution from Anti-gay groups:
Other posts on the Day of Silence:
Daniel Gonzales over at Box Turtle Bulletin has produced another informative video about the Ex-gay Myths. He writes:
The religious right legal group Alliance Defense Fund started an anti-gay “Day of Truth” in response to the pro-gay “Day of Silence.” The “Day of Truth” is little more than an excuse to push ex-gay misinformation on queer youth in public schools which prompted me to make a video examining and mocking ideas promoted by the “Day of Truth.”
I stumbled onto this video via G.A.Y and then on to the guys website. I will give you the full unbelievable details of this man’s so called “life coaching” after the clip.
The Workout is a Life Coaching service for men with unwanted same sex attractions. The tag line says that “It takes work to grow OUT of homosexuality.” The blog was started with one post in October 2006, but this video was just added to youtube, 2 days ago. On the first page of the site he claims in no certain terms to “change people from homosexuality to heterosexuality” and right there I am suspicious. Even the most vocal groups like Exodus International stay away from such claims. The most recent research, which little has really been done, shows that only small percentages of people see small percentages of change in their sexuality from Reparative therapies.
Did I mention he is charging $65.00 an hour for this life coaching service?
I am a bit shocked that any credible clinician is trying to connect sexual orientation to gender identity. Science has already broken the link between these two things. Our gender identity and sexual orientation are not linked. Why this man is trying life coach someone into masculinity thinking it will bring about a change in sexual orientation is baffling. Since I have already explained this myth of gender affirmation in clinical therapy, I am not going to go through all of it. (The long and short is that boys, who were accidentally castrated as children, were raised as girls wearing dresses, still grew up to be heterosexual men.)
There is also plenty of information on gender affirmation and intersex persons who were born with both male and female genitalia . Science has shown that the sexual orientation of an intersexed person may not coincide with the dominate gender of that individual. While someone may have the stronger appearance of female traits, their sexual orientation may have been toward females. The vice versa may also be true.
At first, I laughed when I saw this infomercial of a clip. I wondered if this guy was serious or if this was some prank. A trip over to Dave Pickup’s website (yes, his name appears to be Pickup) and I am still suspicious. Either this man is seriously dangerous to anyone who would hire him or this is in fact, just a prank. He claims that with “life coaching” he can better help people reach masculinity. It is almost as if he is saying he is man enough to make you straight. I am shocked by such claims. For starters, he claims to hold a masters degree in psychology and is working towards his PhD. That is not necessarily an indication of the validity of this new business.
Some of the claims and quotes from the website are scary and way behind the times as far as research and sexuality go.
Pickup writes on his site:
“If gay identity is natural within humanity, then we have an obligation to get rid of what would be a bigoted mindset and work to incorporate gay men and women into the fabric of our lives.”
The fact is that most scientists agree that sexual orientation is at least in some way biological, if not genetic. Most scientists believe it is a combination of biological factors and environmental factors. That would make it “natural” wouldn’t it?
A recent study of the DNA of 1000 gay brothers is already showing promise that homosexuality is in fact biological based.
Dr. Alan Sanders of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute, the lead researcher of the new study, said he suspects there isn’t one so-called “gay gene.”
It is more likely there are several genes that interact with nongenetic factors, including psychological and social influences, to determine sexual orientation, said Sanders, a psychiatrist.
“Confusing the confused” would be my way to describe Dave Pickup’s website. He starts off with this pro-gay writing entitled “What the Christian world isn’t telling you” about how gay people should be treated with dignity and honor if homosexuality is inborn and natural. That article leads into another page on the site that addresses “What the Gay World Isn’t telling you” then goes into a therapy sales pitch saying that, “If gay male identity is not inborn, not natural, but is a compensation for the unmet inborn needs of manhood, then these men and the people who support gay ideals are headed down a dangerous path.” The bizarre part is this idea that each person gets to decide for themselves if they were born gay or not. Talk about abandoning science and reason for faith, that takes the cake.
He writes: So what is the truth then? Who decides? YOU DO…
The idea that a person gets to decide for themselves if they were born gay or not is misleading. Of course a person who doesn’t want to be gay is going to tell you that their homosexuality is not inborn. They want it to change and to believe it is inborn means it can’t change. The question of born or not born gay should be answered by Scientists with data and facts, not persons suffering from guilt, low self-esteem and sexual confusion. A “life coach” who would leave such life changing decisions up to someone in such compromising positions is not looking out for the best interest of his clients but instead looking to line his pockets with cash.
The most frightening thing I saw on this man’s website is his “survey” which for the sake of my readers and this article, I am going to take here on my site: (my answers are in blue)
This survey is just a sample of how anti-science, uninformed and scary this man’s thinking is. He is preying on people with a strong desire to “not be gay” and low self-esteem. I fear for anyone who would be coached by this man.
Ask Peterson Toscano about changing sexual orientation. Peterson spent tens of thousands of dollars with some of the top reparative therapist and still never changed even a little of his sexuality. How about Christine Bakke who also spent years trying to change her sexuality with no changes. Check in with Truth Wins Out or Beyond Ex-Gay to learn more about the dangers and harms of ex-gay therapy.
Previous posts on similar issues:
UPDATE: I realize it is way out of my character but this video has just got me laughing harder than I have laughed in weeks. This just can’t be serious. The first words of the video with the infomercial music, this has to be a joke. Its called “the workout”, and then talks about same sex attracted men who “go deep” and then is followed by the line, “I love helping other men be men.” This has to be a parody or something….
At the “Rally for Sally” a “former” gay man named Stephen Black gave a speech about how homosexuality almost destroyed his life. He talks of the distant father syndrome which has long been a claim of the ex-gay/anti-gay folks for the roots of homosexuality. Claiming that homosexuality is caused because male children don’t have a strong enough masculine role model. This argument seems almost plausible until you look closer at the research and from their it all falls apart.
Dr. D. Michael Quinn in his book, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996), pp. 4-6 (notes renumbered) wrote:
Another fallacy involves attaching great significance to the finding of many studies that homosexual men are “more likely” to describe their fathers as “distant, hostile, or rejecting” than heterosexual sons are. Such a pattern is unsurprising in a culture that has negative judgments about homosexuality. In other words, since both heterosexual and homosexual American males report unsatisfactory relationships with their fathers, the higher incidence of strain between homosexual sons and their fathers is more likely a result of the sons’ “homosexual tendencies” rather than the cause.
Other studies that have looked at the father son relationship in gay men have also found little influence but all of these studies are so outdated, none of them have much merit. All mainstream medical and mental health organizations have abandon these as myths. Only certain anti-gay groups like NARTH use these myths as a tactic to scare people into their programs.
Not to discount or minimize it, but Stephen Black’s story is the usual depressing, tragic story we always hear from ex-gays. Not every gay man or lesbian women had these tragic stories of drugs, bad parents and such. I, myself, have a great relationship with my dad. I wrote about that at the link below! My dad was always a part of my life and I still to this day admire and hope to be just like my dad.
Mr. Black also goes on with the myth that gays and lesbians have all been sexually abused. He even gives some numbers but no source for those numbers. He says in the speech:
Events of this type are significant and very common among those who struggle with homosexuality. About 65 percent of the men and more than 75% of the women we serve were sexually abused as children, though most do not really process the abuse until adulthood. The overwhelming majority of those we serve experienced what I call “sexual distortions” in their early childhood, assaulting their innocence. These distortions include voyeurism, exhibitionism, exposure to sexually explicit material from sources like the television, the Internet, porn-magazines, sexual talk from adults and peers.
No way for us to fact check them, but he claims that 65% of men and 75% of the women his ministry serves. That sounds impressive but how many people does his ministry serve? If it is 25 people then 75% is only 18 people. Considering their are an estimated population in America of 301,139,947, and lets say 3% of the population is gay that would mean 9034198 people are homosexual. Suddenly his 75% seems statistically insignificant if not downright meaningless. His use of these numbers is deceiving as what he wants you to believe about gays is not a reality.
The reality is that sexual abuse may confuse a persons sexual identity but it doesn’t cause it. Such myths like the one Stephen Black is spreading, do more harm than good. It is a myth that keeps abused children from speaking out about their abuse for fear people will think they are gay. With the current anti-gay climate, this myth is especially scary. Accurate information is the strongest tool we have in preventing sexual abuse in children. Myths will never help the situation. Ex-gays spreading these abuse myths cause great harm to children because they cloud needed facts.
Myth #5 - Boys abused by males are or will become homosexual.
While there are different theories about how the sexual orientation develops, experts in the human sexuality field do not believe that premature sexual experiences play a significant role in late adolescent or adult sexual orientation. It is unlikely that someone can make another person a homosexual or heterosexual. Sexual orientation is a complex issue and there is no single answer or theory that explains why someone identifies himself as homosexual, heterosexual or bi-sexual. Whether perpetrated by older males or females, boys’ or girls’ premature sexual experiences are damaging in many ways, including confusion about one’s sexual identity and orientation.
Many boys who have been abused by males erroneously believe that something about them sexually attracts males, and that this may mean they are homosexual or effeminate. Again, not true. Pedophiles who are attracted to boys will admit that the lack of body hair and adult sexual features turns them on. The pedophile’s inability to develop and maintain a healthy adult sexual relationship is the problem - not the physical features of a sexually immature boy.
Stand up philosopher and performance artist Peterson Toscano even claims that being abused made him ex-gay, not gay.
The testimonies of ex-gays almost always involve the same dark, depressing stories that Stephen Black is giving. It is part of the one sided picture they present. In an email interview I did with Truth Wins Out Director, Wayne Besen about ex-gay testimonies, Besen states:
“If one reviews the self-reported testimonies of ex-gays, it appears a disproportionate number suffer from addiction, instability or emotional problems. Unfortunately, these individuals often blame their homosexuality for the issues they struggle with, when in reality it has little to do with their sexual orientation. In a state of vulnerability, these people are more susceptible to the seductive ex-gay message, that offers false hope and promises that are seldom delivered.”
Ex-gay ministries and anti-Gay groups like Americans for Truth are good as twisting the science, the facts and what ever else they can to create a picture of gays and lesbians that is complete false. The same old tired myths of over bearing mothers, distant fathers, sexual abuse, etc…. You can find a list of the common ex-gay claims at Truth Wins Out and Beyond Ex-Gay.
See previous articles:
Breaking Myths: The Uninvolved Father Makes Children Gay (with great pic of me and my dad)
Turning a Horrible Tragedy into Just as Horrible Hate Speech (with links to data on sexual abuse)
Tonight’s two-hour show will have a segment on DNA, Biology and Sexuality. Check your Local listings to see the time in your area. I myself would love to see this sitting in a a room with Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, Randy Thomas and Steve Bennett. I will instead write about this later after I see the show.
It is expected the show will focus on the science we have so far about sexuality. They are also doing a piece on ex-gays, religion and sexuality. This should be interesting. A printed piece can be found here.
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"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
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