Speak Compassion

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Anatomy of Hate Speech: The Stephen Black Edition

by @ 5:55 pm. Filed under Americans For Truth, Ex-gays, hate speech

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.[12] 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.[13]

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have looked at the father son relationship in gay men have also found little influence but all of these studies are so outdated, none of them have much merit.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.

The web resource for men called MenWeb and (also Male Survivor) writes this:

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)

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