The Artificial “Evils” of Gay-Straight Alliances
August 10th, 2007
In his rush to decry the evils of Gay-Straight Alliances, Exodus’s Mike Ensley sarcastically asked the following:
Yes, because believing in Biblical principles and any alternative to embracing homosexuality is much more like child molestation than recommending erotica, pornographic movies and books that promote prostitution to minors, or giving them graphic instruction on dangerous sexual activities.
In a comment here at Box Turtle Bulletin, Mike clarified:
I was challenging the one who made the claim that “pro-family” leaders were child molesters with the fact that GLSEN (along with another teen-oriented gay site I linked to) does point minors to inappropriate materials.
But does GLSEN point minors to inappropriate materials? And what then are these inappropriate materials? And are they as Mike describes them?
Erotica – for this claim, Mike links to the Amazon listing for Rainbow Boys, a gay themed book for young adults by Alex Sanchez. I have read Rainbow Boys and there is no credible way whatsoever that this book can be described as erotica. There is nothing graphic in the book and while the language and themes are written so as to be familiar to today’s youth, this book is less objectionable than Catcher in the Rye or, for that matter, Atlas Shrugged, both required reading in my high school.
Pornographic Movies – here Mike links to a site called gayteens.org and the site’s link to an Amazon search engine. While each link may result in different movie options, the choices presented when I linked were:
- The L Word, First Season – this is a television show
- Imagine You and Me – rated R
- Will and Grace, Season Six – a network television show
- Queer as Folk – a Showtime television show
- Eating Out 2 – an unrated movie that is not pornography
- Better than Chocolate – an unrated movie that is not pornography
- Dante’s Cove – a television show
- Loving Annabelle – an unrated movie that is not pornography
- Tan Lines – an unrated movie that is not pornography
I agree that some of these choices are not appropriate for young teens. Some include sexual themes that are at least as graphic as some of their heterosexual counterparts. For example, Queer as Folk and the L Word are on par with The Sopranos as far a nudity and Eating Out 2 is similar to any other teen sex farce.
One movie is rated R and several, being arthouse movies, are unrated. But none of the presented options are “pornographic movies”.
Books that Promote Prostitution – this is an Amazon link to Revolutionary Voices, a compilation of stories by gay teens.
I am unfamiliar with this anthology and do not know whether Exodus’ claim that it describes prostitution as an “empowering experience” is true. Somehow, I doubt this book champions prostitution.
Ensley’s only link to GLSEN (“to minors”) references their recommended book list for grades 7 to 12. There were quite a few books listed, but I had heard of or read many of them. I looked through the list and did not see any that I was aware of that would be inappropriate for kids in their late teens.
I am familiar with the cultural offerings available to gays and lesbians. I browse bookstores and go to film festivals. Because of this, I immediately recognized Ensley’s “inappropriate materials” to be objectionable not for their adult content but solely because they are gay supportive.
I wondered whether Ensley was perhaps unaware of the nature of those things he listed and was sincerely repeating warnings that he had heard to his anti-gay audience so they could share his concern. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and dismiss the idea that he was cynically whipping up an artificial outrage so as to deliberately and deceptively create the impression that GSA’s were corrupting children.
Then I read his last link, “giving them graphic instruction on dangerous sexual activities.”
And any doubt that I had disappeared. Ensley linked to a “report” by MassNews, an anti-gay activist group that is best known for lying through their teeth. And the report? It was a rehash of the ever-trumpeted “fistgate”. This references an educational forum in Massachusetts in 2000 in which a panel moderator answered the questions of 16 year olds including a question one had about a sexual practice known as “fisting”.
What is interesting about this “scandal” is that there is no one in the gay community suggesting that this is an appropriate subject for a youth forum. Yet Ensley presents this as though it were common, supported, and somehow connected to GLSEN.
Is this an accident? Does Ensley not know this? Is there even a possible chance, however remote, that Ensley thinks that the material he referenced is pornographic or that GSAs support teaching about fisting?
To me it seems unlikely.
So the question remains: Did Mike Ensley deliberately set out to present an argument which advanced the notion that GSA’s present inappropriate material so as to expose children to adult sexuality? Did he choose to do so by making egregiously false claims about books and other materials and suggesting that GLSEN supports teaching children about unusual sex practices?
Only Mike Ensley knows the answers to those questions. And only Mike Ensley knows whether he has sold his integrity so as to advance his political cause and has placed his culture war as a higher priority than his honesty.