From the Salon article on CPAC:
A 1:30 p.m. session on “Marriage in the States,” which was supposed to include Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, featured instead a self-described former homosexual named Alan Chambers. He said sodomy was like fast food: “It will kill you.” He was an expert because he had lived through the torment of gay lust, enduring “a never ending cycle of cravings and nourishment … an endless treadmill of faceless encounters, broken hearts and unmet dreams.” His research on the gay lifestyle had also taught him that gay people do not really want gay marriage (it was the liberal media) and that “lifelong homosexual relationships are not possible.” Then he declared, in the struggling voice of a recovering alcoholic, “Today I stand before you as a heterosexual man … who now lives an unparalleled life of happiness and satisfaction.” He said there were hundreds of thousands like him.
(More extensive quotes can be found here at CNSnews.)
I don’t doubt that Chambers’ personal experience with homosexuality was as desperate a thing as he describes. I don’t doubt that he never knew a lifelong homosexual relationship. But I’m not sure what his justification is for claiming that the same is true for all gay people.
Chambers later sent a clarification to XGW. Apparently he didn’t say that “lifelong homosexual relationships are not possible;” rather, he said that “lifelong, loving, committed homosexual relationships are not possible.” This suggests that Chambers accepts the existence of lifelong gay relationships, but denies that they are loving or committed. (This raises the question of exactly what is keeping those loveless uncommitted gay couples together anyway, but I’ll set that aside for now.)
Here’s the ironic bit, and the heart of what I want to get to in this post:
I am sure as an ex-gay person that Chambers is very familiar with the experience of others refusing to accept his testimony about his own life. I’ve experienced it myself, and I find it rather frustrating. It irritates me when exexgays assume I’m lying or I’ve been brainwashed, just because my experience is different from theirs. (Not all exexgays do this–some are accepting, and some are warily skeptical but respectful. God bless ‘em.) But where does someone who doesn’t know me, who hasn’t lived my life, get off telling me that my life is a lie, without any evidence to back that claim up? I’ve never met an exex who actually has evidence that change never happens, although I’ve found often them very quick to insist that that’s the case.
But then why is Chambers doing the same thing?
Plenty of gay people profess to enjoy lifelong, loving, committed relationships with same-sex partners. Do we have evidence that they’re lying? I don’t mean statistics which might show something about what the majority of gay men do. Chambers didn’t make a claim about “many” or “most” gay men. He didn’t say that lifelong gay relationships were infrequent or extremely rare. He said they were impossible, that there are now, have ever been, and forever will be, zero of them in existence. He is calling every single gay man without exception who claims a lifelong, loving, committed relationship a liar. Do we have evidence to back this up? I’m not aware of it. Well, if we don’t, then where do we get off, insisting that they are lying about their own lives?
I was struck by these words from Mike Ensley’s blog:
I struggle with how to respond to the ever-increasing claims of gays about their “loving, monogamous” relationships. You can’t call someone a liar unless you know they’re lying, and that’s just that. They’ve even successfully exhorted me to question my own experience in these matters. Which is a good thing for me to do….
…I did not engage exclusively with the internet-prowling closet-cases, but I was good friends with a lot of “married” men who were involved in the community. They proclaimed their “loving, monogamous” partnerships loudly at parades, city hall meetings, protests and in the media. They were conservative-looking, respected and affluent. And they lied through their teeth.
So many of these same couples took me home with them for sex. There were couples I didn’t sleep with, but I knew they weren’t monogamous. They took other young men home from the parties, clubs and chat rooms. I don’t say this to be judgmental. I have no grounds on which to judge these men because I willingly participated in what they did. I say this because it is my experience. The point of it is not that in five years of living homosexually I never had a monogamous, long-term relationship, but that in 5 years I never met a single person who did.
I believe Mike when he tells his story, when he shares his experience. But I also know exexgays who say that they never met anyone in their sojourn through ex-gay ministries who had actually changed. Some professed to have changed, they say, but they were lying through their teeth. (Some exexgays say they once falsely claimed to have changed themselves.)
When I get into discussions with gay and exexgay people, a good number claim to be in lifelong, loving, committed, monogamous relationships. Maybe they are lying, just like the guys who took Mike home.
But probably some of those gay/exexgay people are asking themselves the same question about me. Sure, I claim to have changed. But maybe I’m lying, perhaps just like they did when they were in ex-gay groups, or perhaps just like they saw others doing.
I’d like for them to believe me. I’d like for them to believe me even though they’ll never know for sure, even though they’ll never be in my bedroom with me and my husband to see what really goes on. Just like I’ll never be in theirs to see what really goes on.
So I just don’t understand how some ex-gays can claim that all gays are lying, but get very indignant when some gays and exexgays accuse all of us of lying. (This goes both ways–it also seems to me that exexgays who discount every exgay testimony as fraudulent have no grounds for thinking that exgays should believe and respect their personal testimony about their gay lives and relationships.)
Golden Rule, anyone?