NOOOOOO!!!!!

Box Turtle Bulletin links to a YouTube video of Scott Lively (of The Pink Swastika fame) in Riga, schooling the Letts on how to combat The Homosexual Menace to the Family in their own country.  Plenty creepy throughout, but the end part is what had me in tears when I watched it this morning.  (Yeah, I noticed the link when it was first posted a couple days ago, but some things should be saved for a Monday morning, so they don’t ruin the good parts of life, and gay-hating venom is one of them):

Now I’m going to tell you how this movement works.  They always begin by teaching that homosexuals are born that way and cannot change.  This is very, very important to them.  Because if you believe that homosexuals can’t change, then you will have a lot of sympathy for their condition.  And everyone will see them as a victim whenever society tells them they must act normally.  And so, the number one most important thing, the absolute…the most important thing to do is teach the nation that homosexuality is not innate. 

This organization is called Exodus International, you can go to it directly or you can go to it through my site.  There are thousands and thousands of former homosexuals who belong to this group.  Every exgay is living proof that homosexuals can change.  And one of the most important things you can do is start an exgay movement here.  This [pointing to NARTH url] is a large network of doctors and therapists who treat homosexuals. These are professional men and women who care about helping homosexuals recover.  One of the most important things you can do in Latvia is begin teaching the fact that homosexuals can be cured.

I literally feel like throwing up every time I reread this. 

My story–my life–is NOT a weapon. 

15 Responses to NOOOOOO!!!!!

  1. Samantha says:

    Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that the only way “the masses” can become comfortable with homosexuality, is to believe it’s an illness, not an inherent personality trait–regardless of origin. How frustrating when those who try to create understanding and foster acceptance become fodder for hateful propaganda. It’s difficult to know how to respond to such a campaign, and very easy for the feelings of isolation for gays to increase when such agendas are publicized.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  2. NNR says:

    Phooey. He’s just another whackjob, a la Fred Phelps. Every movement has its loons, and he’s pretty run-of-the-mill. Honestly, DM, if becoming ex-gay is something that gets done in public (at recovery programs, in churches, with organizations that have names and tax IDs and membership lists), then when you join the program, you’re going to be fodder for discussion, either as part of the group (like this), or individually (like Haggard).

    I heard Lynne Cheney griping about the same thing (“It’s my baby, not a political pawn” or whatever), and it’s bullshit from her too. Like it or not, how we handle homosexuality legally, sprititually, morally is a HUGE issue right now. I know you feel caught in the middle of a culture war -and you are- but this is the reality of the times in which we live, and it needs to be talked about: by the Cheneys, by Mel White, by RuPaul, by our politacal candidates, and by extension, by dingdongs like Scott Lively, too.

    It’s your choice, DM. You can assimilate into Christian heterosexuality, drop your homo-blog, and raise nice, godly babies. Or you can keep writing, keep thinking, keep dissecting, and stay a part of an incredibly divisive, incredibly dynamic dialog about homosexuality the likes of which hasn’t happened in this country since desegregation. It may not be your life we’re talking about anymore, but it’s mine, and my wife’s and my child’s, and my access to basic rights such as healthcare and legal protections and parenting – issues that much of the country right now feels deeply ambivalent about, but that will be decided in the courts and congress, and people’s hearts every single day.

    If you don’t want to be a weapon, fine, don’t be. Be straight. Otherwise, stay in the conversation and butch up. I like having you here.

  3. Saul says:

    We all know that this thread in the ex-gay movement has driven many away from Christian churches. If Christian ministry to homosexuals were Side B (homosexuality may be innate – it doesn’t matter, it’s what you do that matters) to begin with, there wouldn’t be all these ex-ex-gays around terribly hurt by false hope and teaching.

    I think ‘the masses’ would be very comfortable with Side B teaching, which is fundamentally correct. Everyone knows that prayer can help you lead a more Christian life, but it doesn’t take away temptations. Everyone can relate to that.

    Funny enough, one of the ‘problems’ with Side B is that it forces everyone, not only homosexuals, to examine their own lives more carefully. Homosexuality is no longer a ‘special problem’, but as much as part of the Fall as anything else.

    At the same time, I think even people like Mr. Lively need empathy. All of us have held incorrect convictions at one time or another, and I don’t think his are any worse than mine, if there’s such a thing.

  4. Imajackson says:

    Um, I don’t think I get what your’e saying. Did this guy (the link you posted to) use your name, or your blog in some way? I can’t tell what you are writing, and what is a quote from the way it comes up on my screen. I can tell you are upset, and I didn’t watch the video. I don’t think I need to frankly. You’re input is enough thinking material for me for a while. That’s what I liek about your blog: stark honesty through excellent thinking and writing. Thanks for keeping it up, I’ll be back again.

  5. Samantha:

    Yeah, what I don’t like is this (apparently popular) idea that the existence of those who have changed in some way can be used to nullify the sympathy, compassion, and respect that straights might otherwise extend to gay people. That’s what bugs me.
    These people want to promote an easy and simplistic picture of change so that folks will think that those gays who haven’t changed are just being lazy and difficult. We know better. :)

    NNR:

    I think you mean Mary Cheney. And if you ever compare me to her ever again, I will ban you. :) I don’t mind being told to “butch up,” especially when I probably deserve it. But that sort of low blow was completely uncalled for.

    I do understand that Scott Lively is something of a “dingdong.” But at the same time, he is only making explicit what is a huge and very real undercurrent in what it means to be exgay in America. Conservative groups do not fawn over exgays and our testimonies because they care so much about seeing the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of gay people. No, they like us because we are so very very useful for their purposes.

    I have watched our political usefulness ravage the ability of exgay leaders to speak clearly and helpfully, in a way that edifies and blesses. Nowadays, the truths that are politically inconvenient–e.g., that change even at its best is hardly the sort of readily available total transformation that could give anyone an excuse to not feel sympathetic toward gay people–are muffled and swept under the rug. The public face of the exgay movement has less and less to say by way of actually helping those who have to deal with this in their lives, and more and more to say by way of “influencing the culture.” The struggles of those who struggle are kept hush-hush, while the glories of change are paraded for all to see. From my point of view this seems to be largely tied to considerations of political convenience.

    In other words, not only are they using us against gays, they are using us against ourselves, against our brothers and sisters. Often, those who are either striving to follow an exgay path or are otherwise seeking to live chaste lives are clobbered over the head with the testimonies and examples of those who have changed. Aren’t I allowed to get a little emotional about that once in a while?

    I don’t plan on shutting up and dropping my “homo-blog.” And I hope to never assimilate. I’m just wrestling with this right now, trying to figure it out. What to feel, what to think, what to do. I’m sorry if it’s an unwanted detour from the sort of posts you prefer. :)

    Saul:

    Yeah, I agree with you that “SideB” is the way to go.

    In some ways, as you point out, I think it could be easy to accept. This struggle really is just like every other kind of struggle agaisnt sin. So theoretically, people should be able to accept that and relate well to SSA-folk. Except, of course for the fact that some people really do have issues with them.

    But the problem with getting sideB to fly in the US is that it doesn’t really play well in the culture war. No one is going to feel strengthened and reassured in their opposition to gay rights by the testimony of a person who struggles daily to submit their sexuality to God. I believe that Lively is saying out loud what most folks on the Right side of the culture war are thinking–that stories of transformed homosexuals who have achieved heterosexual family life reduce people’s sympathies for gay people and cause them to care less about the impact that certain policies would have on gay people. Why should NNR get any legal protections for her family whatsoever? She should just change and get a “real” family. Really, the most loving thing to do would be to make her life as difficult as possible, and thus dissuade her from continuing her dysfunctional deathstyle. Of course, that example doesn’t work so well because (I think) NNR is bi, but you get the general idea. Belief in easy change makes for easy opposition to gay rights.

    I intend to keep my mouth mostly shut about gay rights on this blog. My gifts (such as they are) lie elsewhere, and I would prefer not to put up stumbling blocks that might prevent people from hearing what I have to say on other subjects. But I will say this: Anyone who opposes gay rights (either particular ones or in general) or who believes homosexual sex to be morally wrong (as I do), ought to face the facts about the difficulty, relative infrequency, and partialness of change. They ought to come to terms with the reality of what they are asking and expecting of same-sex attracted people. I’m not saying they shouldn’t ask or expect it, just that they should be aware of what they are doing.

    Okay, sorry I sort of went off on a tangent there, but that’s where thinking about a public embracng of sideB took me. :)

    I agree with you that we all have our own errors. Perhaps I have overreacted in my remarks about Lively. I just feel that this mentality is so very hurtful (see my response to NNR above.)

    Imajackson:

    Hi, welcome, and sorry for my unclearness. You know when you’re emotional about something how it can make your thoughts kind of fuzzy? That’s sort of where I am with this.

    You don’t need to see the video–I transcribed the part I’m talking about in the two large-ish middle paragraphs. No, he didn’t refer to little ol’ me or my little ol’ blog in any way. I’m sure he doesn’t know it exists.

    So what was upsetting me isn’t some special relationship between me and Mr. Lively that I’m starting to feel ambivalent about. But more of a general concern about how lives like mine are used by a mentality like Lively’s in a way that seems problematic to me.

    There is a tendency, which Mr. Lively exemplifies, to use stories of people like me to suggest that anyone can change, that any gay person who wanted to could live a happy heterosexual life if they really tried. What I hope that my stark honesty manages to get across is that this is probably not true. There are success stories, and I consider myself one of them, and happy to be so. :) But even for me it was an incredibly painful journey to get here, something I would not ask lightly of anyone else. And mostly, when we call people to leave homosexuality behind, we are most likely calling them (at least for a long season) to a difficult path of self-denial in their sexuality, which if carried out faithfully is probably at least as likely to end in celibacy as not. I don’t mean to denigrate celibacy in the slightest–but the conservative public needs to be aware that this is what they are likely asking/expecting of gay people–however ambivalent or uncomfortable that acknowledgment makes them feel. (Celibacy ain’t real popular among straight folks nowadays, as far as I can tell, and most of ‘em think it’s a really really hard thing.) I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take a stand for what is right, but we ought to do so with a sense of compassion that is based on an accurate grasp of reality.

    And this is what Lively’s message is opposed to, it seems to me. He wants to appeal to the examples of exgays, of “cured” homosexuals, specifically to undercut the sympathy people might feel for gays. And only easy and simple change can really kill sympathy for gay folk. And in fact this is what we hear a lot about nowadays. We hear testimonies of “complete heterosexuality,” devoid of any mention of current struggle. We hear happily married exgays with kids in tow talking about how wonderful their lives are now, how great it is that they got out of “the lifestyle” while they had a chance. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that attraction change happens, but I believe the reality of what occurs is far messier than what “works” politically.

    So yeah, this example doesn’t really have anything to do with me in particular. But it brings up some emotions for me about my life and how I present it in our current politically charged context.

    I hope that makes a little more sense, though it probably doesn’t. :) Anyhow, thanks for the encouragement and for stopping by.

  6. Saul says:

    DM,

    I agree with you that the politicization of homosexuality has been, from the Christian perspective, a terrible thing. Churches should have and should be dealing with this issue strictly within their own religious domain.

    This is another classic example of ‘take the log out of your own eye…’. Instead of fixing their own woefully ineffective pastoral act, churches jumped to politics! They forgot that had they spent a little more time teaching about the sanctity of life and providing alternatives to abortion, abortion may not have been made legal in the U.S., but far far more importantly, there wouldn’t nearly be the number of abortions there are today.

    But, let’s keep things in perspective–such is the history of Christianity and original sin. From Peter onwards, the Church tries to preach love thy neighbour, people go to war, love your wives, husbands beat them, expunge pride, pride multiplies.

    All we are asked to do is live as Jesus, trust in Him, and help others, including the Church, to do the same!

  7. You said it, DM.

    I’m not sure how far homosexuality might be genetic and how far not (and I’m content not knowing), but I’m darn sure that anyone who tries to grab at any weapon to reduce “sympathy” for homosexuals, and try to convince straight people that change is easy, is not on my side, and is no one I’d feel easy turning to, for example, for help in staying faithful to my marriage.

  8. NNR says:

    Tone is so hard to convey on the internets, DM, because I wasn’t actually feeling grumpy about your post – more that I thought you were taking it all way seriously. I wrote my comment with a smile (because your passion about these things is very endearing!), but that’s hard to type. No offence meant, anyway.

    Anyway, I did mean Mary Cheney (Lynne Cheney having a baby is a scary proposition), but do you really think it’s a low blow to be compared to Mary Cheney, or was that tongue-in-cheek? I can’t say I’m a fan of hers, but???

    One of the most delightful things about your blog, DM, is that you resolutely stay out of the political, and focus on winning hearts and minds (to quote a friend of mine) with your painstaking honesty and impeccable logic. Neither of these are things I associate with your average… Never mind. That’s fine, and probably wise, but it seems improbably naive to be so upset about a rant by a nutjob, when you know full well how politcal this issue is, and must be: come what may, over the next 10 or so years, we, as a country and a culture, will have to decide what to do about those pesky gays. Smart people will voice their opinions, wackos will voice theirs: It’s America! It’s politics! Let the games begin!

    Oh, and incidentally, I certainly don’t identify as bi, as I’m in a permanent (“til death do us part, come what may”-type) spousal relationship with another woman. But if she died in a fiery wreck (or whatever), I have no idea what sex my next spouse would be. If you’ve been in in a fiteen-year relationship since you were 19, it’s fun to allow your mind to wander to all the different possibilites. I’d probably make a terric exgay posterchild, because I’m not sure it would bother me at all what gender I was married to. Maybe I’ll have a sudden conversion experiences and join the fray?!

  9. Imajackson says:

    DM,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and thorough response to my question. I read all your responses in the comment section and now I think I understand your point. Yeah, reducing any amount of compassion, understading or mercy for the sake of ease…bad theology. It makes me think about alcoholics who are told stories about instant healings from addiction. It just doesn’t work that way for the majority of people. Hooray for those who have that expereince, but the reality of changing a behavior is a long, ardous process. Not that gays are akin to alcoholics, the example is meant to apply to the desire and actual work to bring about authentic change.

    Thank you again for your writing. I find it helpful as I seek to understand gays and lesbians who I currently cannot identify with very well. I have a peculair feeling I need to get “up to date” with my thoughts and theology about the issue of gays and lesbians in the church. Not that I am from the 50’s, I just sense that I will be in some situation that requires my thinking about these issues ahead of time. I don’t know if that makes sense. Perhaps it doesn’t need to anyone else. Hope to see you post soon, Imajackson.

  10. LL says:

    DM,
    when I first read your post there were no comments yet. I was thinking about leaving a comment and letting you know that I totally agree with you and how much I feel for you, but then I thought that you are probably going to get zillion such comments as soon as folks in your timezone get to read it, so you don’t really need some gal you don’t even know to tell you nice things in her quite-good-for-a-non-native-speaker English.
    But apparently the comments aren’t really all that cheerful, so maybe you could use some simple encouragement.
    I don’t care what other people think. I think you are perfectly right. I feel for you. I myself almost cried reading your transcription of this guy’s talk. I know you will get over this – he doesn’t deserve that much of your attention. But for now, I just would like to hug and comfort you.
    I love you, DM.
    LL

  11. Karen K says:

    DM– I think you hit the nail on the head when you state that the ex-gay movement seems to have become more about influencing the culture than helping those who are living out the struggle (that is a generalization, of course, but I have certainly felt the tide shift that direction in the last several years). Leadership in the ex-gay movement are reluctant to admit that change doesn’t always happen because they know that would be a blow in the larger debate. In the same way, the gay community will not admit that some people change–for the same reason–it would set them back in their political efforts.

    I recently received a newsletter from an ex-gay ministry in which a guest columnist blantantly said that we must fight against the idea of homosexuality being innate because if its innate that would make it harder to consider it sin. This is going to come back and bite the ex-gay movement in the butt. It wouldn’t surprise me if more evidence comes out that homosexuality has a biological component. If they base their hopes and arguments on homosexuality not being, in any way, innate, their ship is going to sink.

  12. Lynn:

    You’re awesome, as always. :)

    NNR:

    About Mary Cheney, yeah it was mostly tongue-in-cheek. But I do think that her desire to remain apolitical is primarily self-serving, while my desire to keep my story and experience apolitical is about my concern for other people. I do think that’s a relevant difference, not to pat myself on the back too hard. :)

    Yeah, tone is hard. I was cranky and sensitive, obviously. It happens sometimes.

    This issue in general–the politicization of exgays–has been a longstanding source of worry for me. Like, since my conversion. I normally don’t get super worked up about it, but it’s always there in the background, and sometimes it erupts. I admire your nonchalance about politics and public opinion, but I think we’re just a little different in that regard. “Let the games begin” is a WAY more laid back attitude toward the current debates of homosexuality and gay rights than anything else I have ever heard. :)

  13. NNR says:

    I can afford to be nonchalant because this is a remarkably liberal country. Maybe not compared to the Netherlands, but compaded to Saudi, or Poland, or Indonesia? Even the most spittle-spewing right-wing Christianist in this country isn’t trying to have me stoned to death, or have my child taken from me, or have me forcibly expelled from my job, or forcing me to live deeply in the closet and deny my marriage.

    I’m quite the optimist – can you tell?

    I feel passionately that civil marriage should be allowed for Americans who do not believe that it is a divine covenant decreed by a Christian god for a man and and a woman ’til death-do-us-part. In this group I include Hindus, Muslims, gays, atheists, and divorcees (who are, by a strict biblical interpretation, committing adultery in their second marriages). But kou know what? My wife and I will be just fine even if the government doesn’t ratify our commitment. And we’ll still pay our taxes and contribute to the GDP and love our daughter and fold our laundry regardless.

    So when I say, Let the games begin!, it’s because I have the luxury of living in America where nary a one of these cultural and governmental scuffles over basic gay rights is a luxury for me. And you? You have even less to loose. Nothing is this debate is going to take away your (state sanctioned, full legally protected, civil as well as religious) marriage; I wish I could say the same about mine.

    My flippancy doesn’t mean I don’t care about these things; I care passionately about the importance of maintaining a government that governs fairly and rationally, as opposed to governing in obedience to a single religion’s spiritual laws – be it Shari’ah or the Ten Commandments. If I wish to forgo a burkah or worship a false idol, it should be my prerogative. If I wish to murder or steal, well, society has a genuine, non-religious interest in preventing me from doing so. Under which of these examples does gay marriage fall? What an excellent question! Let’s debate it in the city halls and the senate and the Supreme Court, until we make our decisions, one by one, bit by bit, about the value and legitamacy of me and my family, and others like me who have not made the decisions that you have about their homosexuality.

    Meanwhile, I have laundry to fold.

  14. NNR says:

    Oops, edit to say that “I live in America where every one of these cultural and governmental scuffles is something of a luxury to me”.

  15. Steve Boese says:

    Hey DM…

    Thanks for the clarity of “My life is not a weapon.”

    I share that sense with you, but related to being the survivor of a loved one’s suicide. I am a strong advocate for good mental health care, and for making life in our communities and culture safer for some of the most vulnerable folks, like my beloved Dale. It is too easy to use the lives of those we’ve lost to suicide as weapons, as if there is a unitary cause of a complex challenge.

    Thanks… I’m sorry to see you won’t be at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference… Take care…

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