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.
The month of December has been busy, inspiring, shaking and even life changing. I have returned from my trip to the International Intensive Training in Nonviolent Communication. Before I stated that the books on NVC changed my life, now I will tell you for certain that spending 10 days with 60 people from around the world who believe in peace has changed my life even more. Spending time with Marshall Rosenberg was also life changing. He is just as inspiring in person as he is on my Ipod at a red light, driving the car.
I have traveled through at least 15 states in the past month. I started in Connecticut and flew to Chicago, Ill where I spent a few hours hanging out. Then it was off to New Mexico for the training. On the way back, I passed through Atlanta, GA and many others I just flew over. After my trip, I jumped in the car and headed to Rhode Island for the day to do some small claims court mediation then back to CT. From there, Rick and I hopped into the car and went to Richmond, VA driving through NY, NJ, Maryland, Delaware, where we spent some times with my folks. I was grateful to spend some time hanging with my dad and talking about philosophy and religion and the search for meaning in the world. My dad is one of the most intelligent people I have met and I am always amazed at his view of the world. I was also happy to spend some time with my mom and sad to learn her health isn’t what it use to be. Both my folks are getting older and that is a tough pill to swallow.
Rick and I then trucked our way through the Carolinas ending up in Greenville for the Holidays. This was a delightful time and I feel so appreciative I got to spend time with my nieces and my sister and her husband. In my younger days I use to live with them in a small apartment in New Jersey. I am always grateful when I get to spend time with them as I hold my relationships with them close to my heart.
Now, I am back in CT and getting ready to hit the road again to head to Rhode Island for a day, then off to PA for the New Years Holiday. I bet you can see from this just why I haven’t been posting much here at the site. I also have to admit, I haven’t felt the muses knocking at my door inviting me to write. I just haven’t felt the drive to correct Peter LaBarbera or Stacy Harp or any of the other anti-gay writers. I just don’t have the same energy for that as I use to carry. I have been thinking of taking this site down and at the same time, I have so much invested in time and energy to just erase it. I will be updating the rest of the site to now promote my consulting business. I guess it is up in the air where my blog will go from there. I am open to new strategies if you have them to offer….
I do want to write more about my trip to New Mexico to deepen my learning of Nonviolent Communication. I learned so much about how we currently communicate (and think) and just why it is contributing to violence on the planet. I learned new ways of looking at things that most of my gay rights activist friends might think are “nuts” (The right wing already thinks I am nuts) and yet I truly believe what I am learning could change the civil rights movement of gays from dead in the water to finally getting our needs met and still finding ways to respect those who don’t agree. I do believe it is possible. I have been writing that for years and now I am convinced.
Anyway, look for some upcoming stuff on my new fascination about giving up processed foods and switching to only organic stuff. No more chemicals in my food. Look for some more posts about conflict resolution and Nonviolent Communication stuff and when I have the drive, look for the usual Satyagraha view of anti-gay actions.
Until then……Happy New Year and I hope whatever you celebrate this time of year, that it is everything you want it to be.
So, I guess the journey begins for me. I am now in Hartford in a hotel next to the airport so I can catch my flight out in the morning to New Mexico. I am pretty excited to be doing this trip. I have long been a student of Gandhi, King and other great role models of nonviolence. In all my years, I have not had the chance to train under a larger figure of nonviolence, but this week, I will do just that. I will train with Marshall Rosenberg, creator of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). For those of you who may have missed it, I am traveling to New Mexico to do a 9-day, international intensive in NVC with its creator. (here is a pic of me in my hotel room! Is it obvious I am bored)
I am pretty excited to be able to spend 9 days training with people from all over the world who are interested in NVC. I believe there is much value for anyone who chooses to live the philosophy of NVC. It changes moral judgments into needs and feelings. It changes conflicts into opportunities. I could go on and on with the reasons to learn this, but I leave those things to you. For me, this is really cool.
I also see the value of GLBT folks leanring this process for the incredible potential it has to reshape our activism. NVC has a very strong and assertive stand on social change. It is a view I personally think is the key to what we are all looking for since it seeks to meet the needs of all involved not one side or the other. I admire and hope to model that ideal.
Anyway, I need to put myself to bed early so I don’t oversleep. Early plane to catch. It is my understanding I will have access to the web, so I plan to update you more as my training happens.
This is such a great idea, so I wanted to promote it here on the site:
Fred Phelps’ clan is coming to Boston! The “God Hates Fags” Westboro Baptist Church is coming to picket the Laramie Project at the Boston Center for the Arts. Fred Phelps and his group travel all across the United States spreading their message of hate. When the group comes to Boston, however, they will be helping to drive equality across America.
Driving Equality is hosting a Phelps-A-Thon to counter Fred Phelps’ hateful message. For every minute the “God Hates Fags” clan is protesting, we will be collecting donations for Driving Equality, a 85-day trek across America to all of the lower 48 states to advance LGBT equality.
Pledge Online here: http://www.emailmeform.com/fid.php?formid=185960
The Phelps clan will be protesting in front of the Boston Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre from 7:15 PM to 8:00 PM on December 12th. You can pledge any amount you chose, whether it be $0.25, $1, $2, or even $5 for every minute they protest. You can even pledge a flat rate for the entire time the group will be demonstrating.
The point of this Phelps-A-Thon is two fold. First, we are using Phelps’ own hateful message to raise funds for a good cause, one that will help counter the lies that are being spread about LGBT people. Second, we will be displaying a sign in front of the “God Hates Fags” clan tallying how much money they have helped raise for LGBT equality. This will certainly upset the group and it is possible that they will leave early to stop our fundraising.
On the “God Hates Fags” website, Phelps has this to say about the upcoming protest in Boston:
BCA Black Box Theatre - God Sent Matt 2 Hell! 527-551 Tremont Street. Matt is in Hell! Deal with it. Just read Romans 1, and see him and you in those words, and finally this: Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have in them that do them. AMEN!
We can turn these hateful words into positive change. Help Drive Equality Across America.
Pledge Online here: http://www.emailmeform.com/fid.php?formid=185960
Driving Equality: http://drivingequality.com/
Driving Equality is a trek across America to raise awareness of the various forms of discrimination faced by LGBT people in each state of the nation. Highlighting the differences in rights, laws, and amendments between the states will shed light on the current social standing of queer individuals today. I hope to create a dialogue about the disparities across the nation, and what can be done to end discrimination for all.
During the summer of 2009, I will be going on an 85-day, 15,000-mile road-trip, through all lower 48 states, to advance LGBT equality. Check out the About page to find out more about the project.
Explore the website! Find out more about me, take a look at my route, learn about the trip’s net-zero environmental impact, and consider donating or becoming a sponsor. When the trip starts, I will be updating the site on a daily basis with blog posts, photos, and videos.
If you are interested in learning more, or being a part of the project, send me an email at Chris@DrivingEquality.com.
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"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
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"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
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