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Video: Inside “Love Won Out”

In this multi-part series of videos Box Turtle Bulletin editor Jim Burroway discusses attending Love Won Out.

Daniel Gonzales

November 5th, 2007

Advice Given To Parents
Last weekend, Exodus and Focus On the Family held another Love Won Out conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. If that conference was like the others this past year, it was mostly attended by parents of gays and lesbians, and not so much by gays themselves who are interested in change.

And if that conference was anything like previous conferences, the information those parents heard was something of a mixed bag. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but it’s also important to recognize that it wasn’t all horribly wrong. Love Won Out speakers were able to offer some advice to parents which might actually be useful to them — at least in terms of trying to keep the lines of communications open with their children.
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All Gay People Have Been Sexually Violated
While Love Won Out offers some examples of useful information to parents, other examples can be quite damaging. Here, Jim Burroway discusses one parent’s reaction to hearing Melissa Fryrear say she had never met a lesbian or gay man who hadn’t been abused.
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See also:

The “Love Won Out” Series:
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”

Comments

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NG
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

Next time you go to one of those things, Jim, ask Melissa why is it there are no former homosexuals, specifically, a gay or lesbian who has become so on account of child molestation.

PiaSharn
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

I find that the discussion of “molestation leads to homosexuality” leaves me in a difficult position, because I am gay, and I was also molested as a child.

Now, I certainly don’t buy what was said at the LWO conference. I know that what happened to me had no bearing on my sexual orientation. But it did make it that much harder for me to come to terms with my sexuality later in life, and also to come out of the closet. (Molestation doesn’t make you gay. It doesn’t make you straight. It just messes you up.)

It also makes me feel very awkward when this discussion comes up, because in some way I feel like I’m letting my GLBT brothers and sisters down. I’m conforming to the stereotype of what a gay person is, and I’m providing the opposition with someone else that they can point to and say, “See, she was molested, and now she’s a lesbian. What we’re saying is true.”

Oh, I can (and do) point out that the two are not connected. But so few of them listen to me, that it almost seems better to keep my mouth shut, especially since I can’t say “I’m gay, and I wasn’t molested.” I find myself hiding in a different closet out of fear that my story will only hurt the very people I’m trying to help.

quo mark II
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

PiaSharn, you seem very sure when you say that being molested had no effect on your sexual orientation. The causes of sexual orientation are, surely, very complex and poorly understood. This being so, how can you rule out the possibility that molestation was a relevant factor?

Ben in Oakland
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

Quo mark: the answer to your question is that there are lots of people who were molested who are not gay, and lots of people who are gay who were not molested. I myself only have known two guys who were molested by their fathers, and so far as i know, none others. One of them–well, it was his idea, not dear old Dad’s, but Dad did notghing to stop it.

Problematically, moreover, your question assumes that everyone would be straight unless something happens that turns them. Why is it that child molestation doesn’t turn gay people straight?

But then, the real issue– and this I address to Daniel and Jim– is how is molested being defined here? Is child hood sex play– getting naked or playing doctor– being counted? Lots of people have those experiences– I started having them when I was 3. But then, they were my idea. I knew I was gay when I was 6. I just didn’t know the word for it.

Moreover, as in all of the psychobabble produced by the ex-gay people, they may well be putting the cart before the house. Freudians like Bieber and soccarides may have had it exactly backwards. It wasn’t the weak or absent father and the strong dominant mother that produced the gay son. The father was absent because he could see, however unconsciously, that his son was different– i.e., queer– or similar, i.e., queer– and so absented himself. And Mom– well ,she’s a mother, and will not abandon her child.

The other case of molestation-gay I know of personally was a man whose father periodically raped him to try to make a man out of his sissy-faggot son. How sick and twisted is that, courtesy of the people who think that being gay is some sort of a problem? My friend ended up in the thralls of an ex-gay program for years.

PiaSharn
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

quo mark II:

*sigh* See, this is exactly why I hate bringing up the subject. (And why I’m now wishing that I had never written anything.) Because the first thing that happens, without fail, is that someone has to ask me, “Are you sure it wasn’t the molestation?” I’ve known plenty of straight people who were also molested, but no one ever asks them if they think their heterosexuality was caused by what happened to them.

As to why I feel certain, it is because I have memories from before I was molested. I can remember how females fascinated me and attracted me in a way that males did not. I can remember how I wanted to marry my (female) preschool teacher when I grew up. I can remember the puppylove crushes I had on older female students. I never had any of these feelings for males.

Even in the years after I was molested, it was still the female form and women in general that continued to attract me. Being with other women feels natural to me on a very deep, instinctive level that is beyond the psychological effects inflicted on me by being molested.

There is a lot more to it, however, I can’t fully explain it, so suffice it to say that it is something I have struggled with for years and is not a conclusion that I came to lightly.

And, for the record, I was molested by both my grandfather and an older female cousin. One could claim, as many have done, that being molested by a man drove me away from men, but then why didn’t being molested by a girl drive me away from women also? Or, if being molested by a female fixated me on females, another claim that I have heard, why didn’t I end up similarily fixated on males?

Can I be 100% sure that it had no effect whatsoever on my sexual orientation? Of course not. But the molestation is merely something that happened to me. My orientation is part of me. The molestation has affected my sexuality in the sense that I still have a lot of trouble with intimacy and my self esteem. However, it has never affected who I have been attracted to. It may have made me more more ashamed of my attractions, it certainly made me question myself more times than I care to admit, but it never stopped those attractions from occuring. They were there before the molestation happened, during the time it went on, and have continued on long after it ended.

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

Quo Mark,

Quite often those gay men who report sexual molestation also report that they had same sex attractions LONG before the molestation occurred. This tends to support the notion that those children who are gender nonconforming or who are detectable as having same-sex attraction are targeted by molesters as easy prey. It does not support the notion that same-sex attraction was the result of the molestation.

I do believe that many of those who go through ex-gay ministries are also those who experienced molestation. As PiaSharn so elequently stated, molestation messes you up and I believe that those most attracted to ex-gay ministries are those who are least confident in their sexuality and its natural occurance.

Todd
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

Timothy,

I had been thinking about this due to an earlier post and wondered if there was a correlation between being gay and having been molested, it might be due to the fact that many children who later identify as gay are perceived as different and therefore more likely to be targeted by sexual predators due to those differences. It is an interesting idea. I wish that those who use these statistics would remember that correlation does not imply a cause and effect relationship. Like it has all ready been stated, not everyone who was molested ends up gay, and not all gay men and women were molested.

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

Todd,

As best I am aware, no study has yet shown that there is a correlation – or even an increased level of incidence – between sexual orientation and childhood molestation.

It would not surprise me if there was some increase for the reasons I stated above, but those who make this claim do so out of ignorance and limited perspective.

Patrick
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

Off the topic that is being discussed but relevant to LWO: Do people really believe the LWO organizers when they say they don’t have a political agenda in deciding which cities they visit? I notice that invariably their conferences are held in states that have some sort of gay-rights vote or court decision on the horizon. According to the Focus on the Family website Indiana will likely hold a marriage amendment vote next year. Not surprisingly, they just “happen” to have a LWO conference there telling people homosexuality is not inborn.

This is such a politics-driven organization.

Jim Burroway
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

PiaSharn,

I’m very sorry to learn about your experience. Specifically of your abuse, and secondarily of the bind it puts you in, where you feel you have to justify yourself. I’m glad that you have come forward to share your experience.

Your experiences are profoundly important — far more important when compared to “conforming to stereotype.” I cannot imagine anything more demeaning to you (other than the abuse itself) than when others use stereotypes to make you feel that you are letting LGBT’s down with your own very real experience. You can never let anyone down — not that way anyway. Please, never be afraid of that. We all conform to some stereotype or another. When there are so many stereotypes to choose from, it’s bound to happen to all of us.

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2007 | LINK

“Do people really believe the LWO organizers when they say they don’t have a political agenda in deciding which cities they visit?”

Frankly, Patrick, I wouldn’t believe the LWO organizers if they told me they had oatmeal for breakfast. Love Won Out has a consistent pattern of deliberate deception and continues to illustrate that politics is a far greater concern for them than are the concerns or lives of any actual living breathing ex-gay struggler.

quo mark II
November 8th, 2007 | LINK

Ben in Oakland, your argument is the equivalent of saying that because not everyone who is insulted gets mad, therefore being insulted never causes anyone to get mad. Different people can respond differently to the same things.

William
November 8th, 2007 | LINK

Yes, quo mark II. And by the same token, just because not everyone who is molested turns out heterosexual (although most do), we can’t deduce that being molested never causes anyone to be heterosexual. Different people can respond differently to the same things.

Ben in Oakland
November 8th, 2007 | LINK

No, quo mark, that is not what I was saying at all, as William pointed out. what i was saying was that which causes people to be hetero or homo is far too complex a set of circumstances to be reduced to “I was molested and that’s why I am gay.” It is the pre-existing bias against homosexuality which assumes from the outset that hetero is normal and natural while homo is bad and the result of trauma. As William very correctly points out, without that assumption in play, based on the evidence, one could only conclude that being molested causes people to be hetero

quo mark II
November 8th, 2007 | LINK

Well, Ben in Oakland, if that was what you were saying, it was a misleading way to say it. I’d hoped it was clear that I wasn’t suggesting that molestation automatically caused homosexuality.

William
November 9th, 2007 | LINK

We could spend from now until kingdom-come thinking up hypotheses that are not open to either verification or falsification and then asking how we can be certain that they’re not true. (Such hypotheses form the bedrock of pseudo-science and superstition.) Here’s one:

Perhaps the reason why I’m gay is that I wasn’t molested as a child. I’m not suggesting, of course, that not being molested automatically causes homosexuality – it very clearly doesn’t – but it could be the cause, or at least an important factor, in some instances. Perhaps a particularly nasty incident of molestation by an adult male might have inoculated me against any potential same-sex attraction and caused me to develop other-sex attraction. Who knows? After all, we have to bear in mind that the causes of sexual orientation are, surely, very complex and poorly understood, and that different people can respond differently to the same things. This being so, how can I rule out the possibility that the absence of molestation was a relevant factor in my case?

Naturally, I don’t believe the above for one moment, but there’s always the possibility that I could be wrong. I mean to say, you can never be quite sure, can you?

No matter what hypothesis you come up with, you can nearly always find someone to whom it seems to apply and then triumphantly say, “There you are. That proves it!” In the eighteenth century a book appeared entitled Plain Reasons for the Growth of Sodomy [i.e. homosexuality – the word hadn’t then been invented] in England. It claimed that homosexuality was caused by drinking tea and listening to Italian opera. As a friend said to me, “Well, it certainly did the trick in your case, didn’t it?”

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