May 31st, 2007
I’ve noticed an unusual phase cropping up in ex-gay language lately. It generally is phrased as I have no desire for a same-sex relationship or I have no desire to be involved in homosexuality.
At first it seems that the author is saying that they are heterosexual. But look closer. What is really being said here? Well, to understand that you have to have knowledge of how ex-gays use language and to look for what is not being said.
Ex-gay ministries, especially those who use language for anti-gay media purposes, like to take words and give them a new meaning –- often one that is precisely the opposite from what one might assume the word to mean.
Take for example the word “change.” A casual reader may thing that the slogan “change can happen” means that one can go from a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation. But in an ex-gay lexicon it means something quite different. To an ex-gay “change” is not a shift in sexual attraction or desire or romantic interest but instead is a change in identity. When an ex-gay says, “change can happen,” they mean that they can now call themselves something other than gay –- though nothing you or I might consider to be “change” has happened at all.
One of the ways that those who question the claims of ex-gay spokesmen have challenged their assertions is to talk in terms of less nebulous things than change. They speak about attractions and desire and explain that if one is attracted sexually, emotionally, and romantically to the same sex, then no intrinsic “change” has occurred.
Which brings me back to the new phrase. I suspect its primary purpose is to try and redefine the word “desire” so as to allow them to continue to make claims that sound like one thing to the public — but mean something quite else.
Take, for example the recent comment on the blogsite of Randy Thomas, Exodus International’s Vice President. This comment is useful because not only does he set up the phrase, but he compares it to a quite different notion.
And yes, I am much more sexually and romantically attracted to women today and have zero desire to be romantically or sexually involved with a man.
Here we have it –- zero desire to be involved. But the contrast is there showing what is missing –- a lack of sexual and romantic attraction to a man.
Randy isn’t saying “I’m not sexually and romantically attracted to men.” And frankly, I suspect that is because Randy is indeed sexually and romantically attracted to men and he’d prefer not to outright lie. He’d far rather use deceptive language.
Instead Randy changes the subject to be about whether he wants to act on that attraction, to have a relationship. But by putting those two separate concepts into the same sentence Randy can sound (without quite saying it) that his sexual attractions are only to women.
I do believe that Randy doesn’t want to be “involved” with a man. But I believe that was the case on the very first day he got involved with Exodus. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have tried so hard for the past 15 years to rid himself of his attractions. This is all just a smoke screen to make it sound like he’s no longer same-sex attracted.
So the next time you see I have no desire for a relationship or I have no desire for that lifestyle, you can call them on their deception. Just ask the simple question, “Do you still experience sexual attraction to persons of the same sex?”
Which, of course, now means they’ll have to come up for a new definition for “attraction.”
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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