26 October 2006

Authors Of Confusion (Part One)

Open Forum: Your Favorite "Ex-Gay" Blogs
Tell us about "ex-Gay" blogs that dare to think outside the box of the political religious Right.

Open Forum: Name Your Favorite "Ex-Gay"
or Former "Ex-Gay" Music, Books and Movies
What should Ex-Gay Watch review or advertise in the future?

These topic headings appeared on the blog exgaywatch.com last week. Both were posted by blogmaster Mike Airhart. "Favorite 'ex-Gay' blogs?" "Favorite 'ex-Gay' music?" WTF? Are these the kinds of discussions you'd expect to find on a blogsite devoted to exposing the evils of the "ex-Gay" movement? They certainly aren't what I expected to find. Airhart's latest choice topics struck me as bizarre, not to mention inappropriate and potentially harmful. Of course, I had to say something about them! My initial complaint was atypically mild:

Sorry, the terms "ex-Gay" and "favorite" don't go together in my vocabulary. This issue is far too serious to be made light of.

Timothy Kincaid, another exgaywatch.com blogger, responded to my objection in a manner I found as bizarre as the topics I was objecting to:

We are not making light! We are quite serious. We believe that each individual has the right to pursue "ex-Gay" efforts if they wish . . . we are sympathetic with those who seek this goal . . . we respect those individuals that seek a life of celibacy consistent with their faith, or those who are hoping that internal attraction will change . . . blog sites that publish their thoughts, concerns, hopes, and progression are a welcome part of the XGW community . . . there are some very decent people who are either "ex-Gay" or who are voices in that community.

"The right to pursue 'ex-Gay' efforts?" "Sympathetic with those who seek this goal"? "Progression" toward "ex-Gay" status? I could hardly believe such ignorant and misleading statements would be made by a blogger who purports to be Gay-friendly. When I responded to them, I was back in full Stuffed Animal mode: Nostrils flaring, fangs bared and claws extended!  Snarl!  I let Mr. Kincaid have it with both shotgun barrels!

You won't like what I'm going to say, but I'm going to say it anyway. Without meaning to, you are distorting the truth! You are perpetuating confusion. You are adopting Fundamentalist rhetoric and lending it the aura of credibility. There is no such thing as an "ex-Gay" person!!! This is not a simple matter of semantics, and I don't care how you parse it. You are either homosexual or you aren't! You do not stop being homosexual when you, for whatever reason, decide to copulate with members of the opposite sex. You do not stop being homosexual when you practice celibacy. And, quiet as it's kept, suppressing or trying to change one's God-given sexual orientation is not a legitimate expression of anybody's faith! As a Christian, I find it offensive that you would suggest such a thing.

Don't reduce homosexuality to an ideological argument. That's playing into the religious Right's hands, too! When you talk about homosexuality, you're talking about something as inherent as one's skin or eye color. You're talking about something that's so inherent, men and women are driven to kill themselves for failure to change it. Think about that the next time you're tempted to chat casually about "favorite 'ex-Gay'" whatever. You're making light of another person's anguish, and if someone has decided to call themselves "ex-Gay," you'd best believe that anguish was involved in the decision!
 
Nobody who proclaims themselves "ex-Gay" is making a benign statement. They're making an explicitly anti-Gay statement! They are saying homosexual orientation is wrong, that it can be changed, and that it should be changed. On all three counts, a lie has been told, and those lies promote the persecution of innocent people. If these blog sites promoted themselves as "ex-Black" or "ex-Jewish", you'd immediately understand what I'm saying. Open your eyes, already! How can you make peace with another person's self-hatred? A live-and-let-live attitude with the damage bigotry leaves does nothing but perpetuate bigotry. No, we don't have to attack its misguided victims, but we don't have to take part in misguiding them, either!

Evidently, as soon as Mike Airhart and Timothy Kincaid read this post, they banned me from commenting on their blog. I didn't know that at the time. However, the more I thought about Timothy Kincaid's comments, the more troubled I felt about them. I asked my friend Dr. Jerry Maneker to take a look at the new exgaywatch.com topics, and weigh in on what I saw as fetishizing the concept of "ex-Gays". I wasn't sure what Jerry would say, but in retrospect, I should never have doubted what his position would be!

I agree with Stuffed Animal's analysis! The very title "ex-Gay" denotes to people that being Gay is not a condition, but is a choice that one can reject if one is committed to Jesus . . . the assumption behind the existence of "ex-Gays," as witnessed by much of their animus and rhetoric, is that if a person remains Gay, he or she is willfully doing so, and hence, doesn't deserve the same considerations and civil and sacramental rights as non-Gay people. I know that your motives in your approach to this topic are noble and well-intentioned. However, as I see the reality of it, the very discussion of "ex-Gay" blogs "thinking outside the box of the political religious Right" tacitly gives credence to the stereotype that being Gay is a choice . . . as most knowledgeable people recognize, such change is not only impossible, but downright undesirable! And it's the promise of the possibility and desirability of such change by "ex-Gay" blogs, ignorant and mendacious politicians, and assorted clergy that has caused untold suicides, bashings, and murders of LGBT people!

Jerry certainly has a way of getting directly to the point, doesn't he? Apparently, he does it a little too directly for some people. Upon reading his comments, Airhart and Kincaid banned him just as they did me! A third exgaywatch.com blogmaster, David Roberts, leapt into the fray with comments that were just as troubling as the ones from Timothy Kinkaid:

So what would you have us do? Always place the term in quotes like others do with the word "Gay", or just ignore the fact that people with these beliefs and motives exist at all? What would be your alternative? Mike basically asked for links to blogs of people who are unhappy being homosexual but do not necessarily buy into the religious Right's exploitation of them.

That's a lie! That's not what Mike Airhart asked for. He asked for recommendations from people of their "favorite" blogs, books, movies, etcetera, authored by "ex-Gay" folk who "think outside of box." (Incidentally, I've edited his quotes and those of other exgaywatch.com bloggers' to include just the kind of quotation marks he objects to! I categorically refuse to validate the term "ex-Gay" here at Christ, The Gay Martyr.) Roberts continued defending Airhart's dubious choice of topics with a very unusual statement:

Does it really threaten your own psyche that much to consider the possibility that someone, somewhere, could actually change? I don't suggest we recommend it, as it does appear to be the most incredible of exceptions, and the road for most appears littered with damage, but neither am I going to steadfastly ignore reality.

At this point, I had to make sure my powers of reading comprehension hadn't failed me. People changing their sexual orientation is "reality"? He thinks I'm "threatened" by this "reality"? Trying to change one's sexual orientation "appears" to be damaging? I must admit, these wacky assertions, as well as the context in which they were being made, left me momentarily speechless! Of course, even if I'd had a quick response ready, it wouldn't have been posted. A regular patron of exgaywatch.com named Randi Schimnosky logged in to answer one of David Roberts' diversionary questions:

David said: "So what would you have us do? Always place the term in quotes like others do with the word 'Gay'?" Yes, that's what I'd have you do! It allows use of the term "ex-Gay" to define this group of generally anti-Gay people while suggesting that it is not to be a meaning taken literally.

As you'll see a little later, this comment got Randi Schimnosky awarded the honor of being the third person banned from exgaywatch.com in one day. (I wonder if dude broke a record?) Granted, Jerry Maneker and I tend to come on strong, but what was so confrontational about what Randi said? Are the blogmasters' egos that fragile? Or is there a more complex motive behind their eagerness to clamp down on dissent? While I was pondering that possibility, Timothy Kincaid threw in another two cents worth of lunacy:

Personally, I am able to respect and listen to those who find the term "ex-Gay" to be offensive and who cannot tolerate the decisions of those who choose to pursue "ex-Gay" efforts. But I'm not willing to let their discomfort exclude or dismiss those persons who believe that attempts at reorientation are worth trying. This site will continue to be welcoming of both.

If this fallacy-ridden quote makes you wonder if you've stumbled into a Mad Hatter's tea party, then you know how I felt when I first saw it. Stay tuned: The insanity gets progressively worse!

"Authors Of Confusion" continues with Part Two.