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July 19, 2005
Ex-Gay In Action

The NYTimes has Zach's story. (Thanks to Jonathan Dresner for the tip.)

MoJo's blog takes on the "reparative" therapy camp and shares my astonishment that ads of nearly nekkid wimmin can turn a boy gay.

They're referencing the Salon article, which most of you have probably already seen. This is Part 1 of a 4-part story.

(Do these people ever stop and think how difficult it would be for them to change their own sexual orientations? I don't understand why what they'd probably find impossible is, in their minds, possible for others?)

I know I post about this a lot and I find myself wondering if I should explain or excuse my interest in this story? I guess I could cover it under the, "First, they came for the..." rule, but there's more to it than that. I could mention that I have GLBT friends and that I'd rather they weren't persecuted by society. That's probably sufficient reason, but I have two other reasons.

Number one, I see GLBT rights as the civil rights issue of our day.

It's important. It's about equal rights and it's about privacy. It's about where we draw the line at allowing government to interfere in our personal lives. The minor progress toward acceptance made by our GLBT citizens is under assault as much or more than any other civil liberties gains we've made in the last thirty or forty years. We need to protect the progress we've made, but we also need to move ahead.

If we can't secure these for all of us, then how much do any of us really possess? As long as someone can be fired for the government for being homosexual, there's a danger they can be fired for being Muslim. Or Wiccan. Or Democrat. Or female. Or disabled. Or a minority. Or short.

It's about making a choice. It's between civilization and progress on the one hand and the bigotry of fundamentalist religions on the other hand.

I don't really care what The Little Church of Repression on your street corner says about anyone. Individuals are free to be narrow-minded bigots, that's the price of a democracy.

On the other hand, the law of this land has to protect the rights of all of us, equally.

We (the Left) didn't politicize religion, "They" did, and we need to reinstate the wall between Church and State. People just aren't rational when it comes to religion and I object, anyhow, to the question of civil rights being made a religious question.

The Republican Party leaders don't, for the most part, give a damn about homosexuality. Or abortion. Or the divorce rate. You can tell by the number of openly gay, repeatedly divorced, or adulterous members you can find among and around those same "leaders." They're using bigotry to manipulate the voting population, the exact same way they used to scaremonger about civil rights in the 60s. We need to block them.

The lies They told then, the hate They whipped up, the bigotry They inspired, are still bearing fruit today. It would be better for all of us if we managed to prevent them whipping up another generation with similar lies today, so that our children aren't fighting the fallout in thirty or forty years, don't you think?

It would be nice to think that in 30 years, we won't ever again have to to read about a man beating his 3 year-old son to death because he's afraid that his toddler is gay.

We have to fight for an honest picture of all sexuality. And to accept that sexuality (between consenting adults) is none of the government's business. Or the neighbors, for that matter.

We're fighting for a healthy bodies - healthy minds approach for everyone. It's time and past time that this sick society we live in started acting like sex was natural and bloodshed was inappropriate for children, don't you think?

Anyhow, I'm getting off-topic.

Number two, I have a lot of hot-buttons, but the hottest button is the one labeled, "child abuse."

The abuse started with Zach's parents who sat down with their teenaged son and told him he was sick, he was making them into failures, and that he needed to be "cured" of being who he was.

In my eyes, the day when Zach's mother demeaned her son to the point where the idea of killing her and then himself crossed his mind...on that day she was guilty of child abuse.

On the day when Zach's parents put some antique, badly translated piece of fiction before the life, health, and welfare of their child, they were both guilty of child abuse.

The LIA/R guy...I don't know about him. He's been fighting who he is for 20+years and the way he's chosen to sublimate his identity is by trying to convince as many people as possible to join him in abdicating their own identities. (They say misery loves company.)

He finds it necessary to repeatedly validate the choice he made...or that was forced upon him...which he can only do by remaining immersed in a place where he's reminded of it constantly. He has my sympathy, but I sure as hell wouldn't give him my child.

I'm outraged, though, that his LIA/R group is inflicting pain on a group of society's most vulnerable children. And I'm outraged that Zach's and the other childrens' parent's are so poorly informed, so closed-minded, and so careless of the gifts in their trust, that they are endangering their children's lives in a futile attempt to change their very natures, to warp them into being something other than what they are.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If this wasn't being done under the protective umbrella of "Christianity," it wouldn't be tolerated.

The national media's still-cautious coverage would give way to a frank discussion of whether or not sitting a troubled child down and demanding that (s)he share his/her sexual fantasies with a group of near-strangers is really appropriate "counseling." Classical music lovers would be up in arms over the identification of Bach as music likely to have a bad influence on children. Abercrombie and Fitch might well file charges for the potential damage to their brand image. Legitimate "counselors" all over the country would be lobbying to get these institutions either shut down or licensed and inspected. Psychiatrists and psychologists would be protesting against this debunked reprogramming cult. We'd be having a discussion of human nature and the extent to which it's advisable, or even permissible, to try and change people into homogenous little consumers.

But, no. It's calling itself "religion" so it's untouchable.


Zach is getting out next week. I don't know what his future holds, but I'm hoping for the best.


From domestic homophobia to Guantanamo, our society is sick with hate.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:56 AM


You ask whether those who think gays choose their sexual orientation think about how hard it would be for them to change. It's hardly an original theory, but I suspect that they do think about that, and that many of them find it easy to imagine someone choosing to be gay because they are themselves sexually confused or indeed closeted gays.

Of course, I also find the issue of choice to be a red herring, as I expect you do as well. Suppose it were chosen; there still wouldn't be any legitimate societal interest in controlling how people chose. Consider an analogy. When it comes to women, I'm not at all picky about race. Now, I don't think I could choose to only find one race attractive, but it would surely be within my power to choose to date only one race (say, my own, as some extreme conservatives probably still think I should). But surely the fact that I could choose to do that (and it wouldn't even be a huge hardship; there are plenty of white women around I find quite attractive) doesn't in any way give anyone the right to force me to do so; we consider it progress that laws of that kind have been repealed and social pressures in that area are easing.

Posted by: Protagoras at July 19, 2005 05:54 PM

You're quite right and I shouldn't have allowed myself to be sidetracked by the issue of "choice or not." It doesn't matter if it's a choice...it's still no one's business.

And I agree with you that many of our more outspoken homophobes are undoubtedly either closeted or confused. I hadn't thought of that as a reason why they'd assume others are 'choosing' to be gay. After all, they're 'choosing' not to be, right?

And that answers another question, maybe. They're so violently anti-gay because they're bitter that others didn't make...or didn't have to make the choice they made?

Posted by: Anne at July 19, 2005 06:32 PM