June 5, 2007

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. 


Reflections on Some Exodus Ads

May 29, 2006

“Question Homosexuality” was the theme of an Exodus ad campaign which started a couple of years ago. (ad 1 , ad 2 ) At first I found that exhortation (and similar statements like “I questioned homosexuality”) somewhat baffling. It didn’t seem to me that homosexuality is the sort of thing one questions. One might question homosexual people, or particular theories and views about homosexual attractions. But “question homosexuality?” That looks like a category mistake to me.

It seems that the heart of the message is supposed to resemble that famous bumpersticker slogan “Question Authority.” Homosexuality is the new Authority, the stodgy creature of political correctness, and young, vibrant, thoughtful exgays and their allies are challenging that authority and subversively questioning it. Independent free-thinking nonconformists like Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas could not be cowed by homosexual activist dogma, and through their intrepid questioning uncovered the truth: Change Is Possible.

Well, bully for them I suppose, but I know that I did not take up an exgay path because I was cool enough to rebel against and question the liberal mainstream and its presumptions. Rather, I took up an exgay path because I encountered Jesus Christ, submitted my life to His Lordship, and followed what I believe He was calling me to. Judging by their testimonies on the Exodus website, it seems that it was the same for Thomas and Chambers. But that's not the impression one gets from their stories as presented in their “I Questioned Homosexuality” ads, linked to at the beginning of this post. Not a single mention of God or Christ or faith graces the ad versions of their stories. It’s all self-motivated and self-empowered. They simply found homosexuality unsatisfying and abandoned it to pursue a more satisfying hetero life, which they achieved with hard work, perseverance, and a little help from Exodus. Just another variation on the American Dream.

They imply that it is the same for the tens of thousands of exgays “just like” them. Well, they had better not be counting me!

I am not exgay because homosexuality is so terribly bad, because I “questioned” it and found it wanting. No, I am exgay because Jesus Christ is so unbelievably, amazingly good! The pivotal choice which set me on an exgay path had nothing to do with the relative merits of heterosexuality vs. homosexuality; rather, it was “Will I follow Christ (as best as I can understand how) or not?”

The more recent “Unhappy? Gay?” billboard campaign was even more distressing to me. It suggests that the exgay life is a joyously gratifying experience of self-satisfaction: Being exgay will make you happy. Come on, don’t you want to be happy?!?

Whenever I hear that sort of rhetoric, my jaw just drops. I did not become exgay because I was unhappy or disillusioned with being gay. My decision to pursue an exgay path had nothing to do with self-fulfillment, and everything to do with self-denial. It was the scariest and most painful decision of my life at the time. It had nothing to do with looking for a better life for myself, and everything to do with dying to myself and all that I knew, that Christ might live in me. It was about walking by faith, and not by sight.

It’s a good thing, too, because if I had pursued an exgay path out of a search for worldly happiness and an easier life, I’m absolutely certain I would have given up at some point during the four years of incredibly difficult struggle (and the subsequent two years of somewhat reduced difficulty) that I went through before experiencing the slightest hint of attraction change. Here’s a little of what I experienced during those years:

  • Clinical depression (I had struggled with this earlier when I was gay-affirming, but it came back with a vengeance when I took up an exgay journey)
  • Self-injury
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • A dead-end relationship that I couldn’t resist despite my beliefs, that caused much pain for all parties involved
  • Sexual struggles of mindboggling intensity, leading to pornography problems and a masturbation addiction that I had never had before going exgay.
  • Enormous amounts of emotional turmoil inflicted by myself and others trying to dig up the “roots” of my homosexual attractions–dredging up painful memories, wallowing in them, and exaggerating them to make them even worse, also putting stress on my relationship with my parents
  • Profound soul-weariness, wondering each day how I was going to make it through another day.
  • Fear of a long life of singleness, of growing old alone.
  • Grieving the absence of romance and loving relationships in my life, as well as the loss of gay friendships
  • Desperate and constant arguing, begging, and pleading with God for release

I could go on, but I’ll stop there. Suffice it to say that for me, embarking on an exgay journey was not about lifestyle enhancement. Yes, God has blessed me richly with a fulfilling marriage to a wonderful man, and with great happiness, but these were not the goals for which I took up this path. If they had been the goals, I would have given up a long time ago.

So frankly I find it somewhat insulting when others present the exgay journey as a path to worldly personal fulfillment. For me it was a difficult, painful journey that I undertook out of a love for God and a desire to please and glorify Him.

It might be wonderfully convenient (for those who want to use exgays’ lives as a political argument) if the exgay path had nothing to do with God and faith and dying to self, if it were simply about opening one’s eyes to some universal unhappiness of gay life and making the switch to a more enjoyable straight life instead. But that wasn't the reality of my journey, and I don't think it was the reality of the journeys of most of the tens of thousands to whom Exodus refers in their ads.

On Alan Chambers, Ex-ex-gays, and the Golden Rule

February 22, 2006

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?

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