Posts Tagged “conversion therapy”

LGBT flag map of ConnecticutI assume my readers know about the vile practice known as “conversion therapy” (aka “reparative therapy,” and some other innocuous-sounding circumlocutions). Its proponents say it’s a way to help gays become straight, and they’ve been pushing it on the country for a couple decades now (WebCite cached article).

In the 1970s, the psychiatric profession stopped treating homosexuality as a mental illness, but shortly afterward, Christianists took up the cause, and cooked up “ministries” intended to “deliver” gays from their “sin.” Among the most famous of those was Exodus International, which more or less shut down just a few years ago (cached).

By the early 90s the “convert the gays” movement was almost entirely fueled by evangelical Christianity, even though a few psychologists like Joseph Nicolosi tried to give their weird pray-the-gay-away “treatments” a clinical veneer, having signed on as consultants to their ministries (cached). The bottom line is that “conversion therapy” is not only ineffective, it’s harmful to many who participate (cached). It’s pseudoscientific, and frequently barbaric (in the case of the “aversion techniques” they use). It also provides a pretext for the mistreatment of gays.

While my home state of Connecticut is as deep-blue Democratic/Liberal as one can get — and was among the first states to permit gay marriage (in 2008) — it’s taken a while to address “conversion therapy” here. As CT Mirror reports, though, the state House of Representatives approved a law to ban it in the Nutmeg State (cached):

The House of Representatives voted 141 to 8 Tuesday to pass and send to the Senate a bill that would make Connecticut one of a half-dozen states barring conversion therapy, the discredited practice of trying to change the sexual orientation of young homosexuals.

“This practice and treatment is not science, it’s science fiction,” the bill’s chief House sponsor, Rep. Jeffrey Currey, D-East Hartford, told his colleagues.

The bill would enshrine in state law the conclusions of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other national associations of health professionals: Homosexuality is not a disease, and forcing conversion therapy on a minor can be harmful.

Only 8 legislators voted against it … all Republicans (no surprise there!). One of them offered this boneheaded excuse for her “nay” vote:

[Ann] Dauphinais [of Killingly] said passage put Connecticut on a slippery slope of further interfering with parental rights.

“I believe this is a violation of the rights of parents to make choices they see as in the best interest of children,” Dauphinais said.

I guess she’d approve of parents treating their kids’ maladies with bloodletting, then … right? That is, after all, the natural consequence of her stated wish that parents have absolute, unfettered freedom to do as they wish to their kids. No?

What a fucking moron!

If the bill passed 141-8 in the House, I expect it will get through the state Senate, too, although probably with a little tighter margin.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Beware of Recruitment into the Homosexual Lifestyle: Godless Sodomites Will Subvert Heterosexual Christian Society / Image © Austin Cline; Original Poster: National Archives, via About.ComFor a lot of religious folks, homosexuality is a really big deal … and really bad. They obsess about it constantly and seem to think there are gays lurking around every corner, ready to leap out and attack them … or something. I’m not sure why this is; even back in my own fundie days, homosexuality wasn’t something I concerned myself with, although I did hear occasionally about gays from my co-religionists. Militant Christians have their Bible verses to trot out that seem to say that homosexuality is ungodly and a dire sin … but that doesn’t seem to keep them from engaging in other behaviors that are also forbidden in their Bible.

As part of their war on gays, the Religious Right has promoted the idea that homosexuals can change their sexual preference and become “straight.” That their “reparative therapy” is usually cruel, and never works, has no effect on the people promoting it. They’re doing it for Jesus, you see, so that makes it right.

Well, that line of Christofascist thinking appears to have run into a wall. The best-known religious group backing “reparative therapy,” Exodus International, as CNN reports, has given up the ghost and is closing down (WebCite cached article):

After 37 years, Exodus International, an organization whose mission was to “help” gay Christians become straight, is shutting down. But not before issuing an apology [cached].…

“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus [cached]. “For quite some time, we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”

Chambers, who has a wife and children and previously identified as gay, has acknowledged that he has “ongoing same-sex attractions.”

Although this was a staggering decision on the part of a group which had withstood a great deal of criticism and had soldiered on in the wake of several scandals … such as when one of its founders and one of its ministers (both men) left the group to be with each other, and when the group’s chairman was fired after having been seen cruising gay bars.

Thus, one can see these aren’t people who are really all that worried about how the rest of the world views them. That makes their surrender all that more surprising. Even so, in the apology, Chambers exhibits some of the group’s trademark defiant attitude:

“I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them,” he said. “I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek.”

But I doubt Exodus’s closure will make Christofascists who despise gays, give up their childish little war. Exodus International was, more than anything else, a confederation of many “ex-gay” ministries. Those ministries aren’t likely to fold up and vanish just because the parent group shut down. Most, if not all, of them are sure to soldier on, doing what they do best, which is to demonize a group of people merely because … well … because they can.

For those Christians who remain convinced they’re required to keep stamping, fuming, whining and caterwauling about the “abomination” of homosexuality and gays’ “sinning” ways, I have these words supposedly spoken by your own Jesus:

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Mt 7:3-5)

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” (Lk 6:41-42)

But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (Jn 8:7)

Maybe it’s time for Christians to stop sticking their sanctimonious noses in other people’s lives. So what if there are gays in the world? What makes other people’s private lives, their business?

Photo credit: Austin Cline; Original Poster: National Archives.

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Christian Fascism in America: If Fascism Comes to America, It Will Come Wrapped in the Flag & Carrying the Cross Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National ArchivesSpeaking of Religious Rightists who want to have things both ways, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council weighed in on the wave of gay teen suicides recently. He didn’t offer any words of sympathy for suicidal gay teens, nor for the families left behind by these tragedies. Oh no. That would have been too kind, for a man whose career has been built on vilifying gays and condemning them in every way imaginable. Instead, his piece — thoughtfully hosted by the Washington Post On Faith blog, which apparently is so hard up for content that they have to ask religiofascists like Perkins for material — actually dares to make a case for why it’s understandable that gay teens might want to kill themselves. Here is just a sampling of his reprehensible drivel (WebCite cached article):

The media has recently been filled with reports of several recent suicides by teenagers who are reported to have been victims of “anti-gay” bullying [cached]. Some homosexual activist groups lay blame at the feet of conservative Christians who teach that homosexual conduct is wrong, as well as pro-family groups such as Family Research Council which oppose elements of the homosexual political agenda, such as same-sex “marriage.”

Oh the horrors! Gay groups whose members have been railed against by Religious Right groups such as the FRC, have dared to blame them for having railed against them! Whodathunkit? Perkins’s sanctimony is almost laughable. He continues with this (brief) caveat:

The Christians and pro-family leaders I know are unanimous in believing that no person, especially a child, should be subjected to verbal or physical harassment or violence–whether because of their sexuality, their religious beliefs, or for any other reason. Such bullying violates the Christian’s obligation to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and receives no support from the pro-family political movement.

Having said this, however, Perkins proceeds to lay out a case for exactly why gays should hate themselves for being gay, and why everyone else should condemn them for being gay:

There is an abundance of evidence that homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression. …

Some homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal — yet they have been told by the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment, that they are “born gay” and can never change. This — and not society’s disapproval — may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide. …

Since homosexual conduct is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence, it too qualifies as a behavior that is harmful to the people who engage in it and to society at large.

The rest of Perkins’s blood-chilling diatribe is littered with inferences that homosexuality is a “choice” and that gays can “change” to being heterosexual, if only “good Christians” will invite them to do so. This, however, is bullshit, because Christian gay-conversion does not work. If anything, it actually harms gays. Gays are not gay because they “chose” to be gay … that is, quite simply, what they are. Perkins and the rest of his army of militant Christians may not like it or wish to admit it, but it remains true.

What I can’t figure is why WaPo allowed this horrific apologia for hatred of gays to grace their Web site. I just don’t get it. I can’t imagine its editors actually believed there was any merit to this piece.

Photo credit: Austin Cline / About.Com.

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George Alan RekersA famous Religious Right preacher — and avowed anti-gay activist — was found to have gone on a trip to Europe with, of all people, a male prostitute. That’s right … we’ve got us another case of a self-hating gay. The Miami New Times reports on this revelation (WebCite cached article):

The pictures on the Rentboy.com profile show a shirtless young man with delicate features, guileless eyes, and sun-kissed, hairless skin. The profile touts his “smooth, sweet, tight ass” and “perfectly built 8 inch cock (uncut)” and explains he is “sensual,” “wild,” and “up for anything” — as long you ask first. And as long as you pay.

On April 13, the “rent boy” (whom we’ll call Lucien) arrived at Miami International Airport on Iberian Airlines Flight 6123, after a ten-day, fully subsidized trip to Europe. He was soon followed out of customs by an old man with an atavistic mustache and a desperate blond comb-over, pushing an overburdened baggage cart.

That man was George Alan Rekers, of North Miami — the callboy’s client and, as it happens, one of America’s most prominent anti-gay activists. Rekers, a Baptist minister who is a leading scholar for the Christian right, left the terminal with his gay escort, looking a bit discomfited when a picture of the two was snapped with a hot-pink digital camera.

Rekers is hardly a household name, but he is nevertheless prominent among the Religious Right, having been on the founding board of the Family Research Council. He’s also one of the leaders of NARTH, an anti-gay (specifically of the “gay conversion” variety) organization. Not exactly the sort of guy whom one would expect to be flying out of the country alongside a male prostitute.

Rekers claimed he’d hired the young man merely as a “travel assistant” and hadn’t been aware “Lucien” was a male prostitute:

Reached by New Times before a trip to Bermuda, Rekers said he learned Lucien was a prostitute only midway through their vacation. “I had surgery,” Rekers said, “and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.” (Medical problems didn’t stop him from pushing the tottering baggage cart through MIA.)

Of course, it isn’t really possible for him to have found this out only in mid-journey. Rekers admitted he’d contacted “Lucien” via a particular Web site whose nature would have left no doubt as to what sort of person he’d been trying to contact:

Yet Rekers wouldn’t deny he met his slender, blond escort at Rentboy.com — which features homepage images of men in bondage and grainy videos of crotch-rubbing twinks — and Lucien confirmed it.

So I’m not buying it. Not at all. And neither should you.

Folks, isn’t it about time we stopped giving these raging hypocrites so many excuses, and so much deference? Haven’t we had enough of the Ted Haggards (he’s a preacher who’d railed against gays at the same time that he was having a gay relationship), the David Vitters (as Congressman he’d preached “preserving the sanctity of marriage,” but at the same time was a frequent customer of the “DC Madam”), and perhaps more notoriously, the Jimmy Swaggarts and the Jim Bakkers? Sheesh.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

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