The Burden of Blame: How Love In Action Harms Parents

Jim Burroway

February 19th, 2008

I’ve written before about the cruel messages that parents often pick up from the ex-gay movement, messages which say that parents are to blame for their child’s homosexuality. Several people have questioned me about whether this is true or not. All I can do is report what I heard from talking to parents themselves. Former ex-gays have come forward to talk about their experiences, but so far few parents have spoken up.

Ex-gay surviver Peterson Toscano has posted a very poignant video in which he recounts his parents’ devastation after attending a “Family and Friends” weekend at the Love In Action residential ex-gay program in Memphis, Tennessee. It was a message which Peterson’s mom carried with her for the rest of her life. Watch it:

Peterson talked later with someone at Love In Action about his parents experience and received an unbelievably callous response:

But when I spoke with someone … about all that happened with my mom and the years of doubt and torment she suffered, he shot back, “Healthy people ask for what they need.” I said, “Wait, what!?” He continued, “If your mom was having problems, she should have gotten some help.” But my mom had already been burnt by “experts,” and I know she didn’t want to expose herself to more hurt. But even if she could of or should of talked to someone to help her understand the issues better, what a pitiful response from this Christian leader.

Love In Action bills themselves as Christians, professionals, and experts. But with actions like these, they defile all three labels. We’ll have more on Love In Action later.

Ben in Oakland

February 19th, 2008

Very sad to listen to this, and very angrifying.

Shame is certainly going to be a part of this. Shame is at the very bottom of the integrity scale–it means you have abandoned your love of yourself.

But you also have to consider this: this recitation of sexual adventures– do you think anyone was, oh, GETTING OFF on it? Very much like that convicted therapist and his “touch therapy” turning into sexual assault?

quo III

February 20th, 2008

It wasn’t quite clear to me whether Toscano was saying that causing one’s children to become gay is not a bad thing, or whether it isn’t true that parents cause their children to become gay. If the former is true, then presumably there would be no need to argue the latter.

Regan DuCasse

February 20th, 2008

Quo3, the point is that NO parent causes their children to be gay. That they ARE gay isn’t a bad thing, and it’s not true that a parent can have ANY effect on their child’s orientation by way of their style of nurturing, or not.
However, as Peterson says, the ex gay industry PLACES blame on parents where there should be none, and parents suffer tremendous guilt and recrimination because of it.

It’s incredible how the ex gay movement gets away with such thin theories and no evidence that their endeavor has ANY healthy results all around.
And if people looked at any given society, they could see that parental styles don’t have anything to do with homosexuality.
For example: there is a huge percentage of black children born out of wedlock to single MOTHERS. Often with ineffectual fathers or no male role model in the home. And yet, there is no disproportionate amoung of homosexuality in black mother headed homes.

Another example: even among third generation Asian families, there are still strongly patriarchal family trends. And yet, homosexuality occurs with the same regularity as among any other ethnic group. Same goes for Native Americans, Armenians and Arabs.
So in short, the archaic ex gay theory on what ’causes’ homosexuality is easily busted. Period.
There is no cause, however there is cause regarding incidence of depression, hopelessness and isolation. The calculation is higher against gay children, but the ex gay industry doesn’t repect THAT cause, which is the one that matters.

So they approach a human condition that requires no intervention or cure or change, with the wrong theory, application and no end of broken templates on which their exercises stem.
Makes me wanna holler!

quo III

February 20th, 2008

The point I was trying to make was that if being gay isn’t a bad thing, then parents who feel guilty because they think they caused their children to become gay should not be told that they aren’t responsible, but that it doesn’t matter because being gay isn’t bad.

BTW, do you have actual statistics about the rate of homosexuality in black mother headed homes? I’ve heard this argument often, but never seen anyone present hard evidence to back it up. Again, where’s the evidence regarding third generation Asian families, and the other groups you mention?


February 24th, 2008

Quo III,

You write as though one has to choose EITHER one OR other of the following propositions:

1. Parents are not responsible for their children being gay.

2. Being gay is not a bad thing.

Not only are the above two propositions perfectly consistent with each other; both may be true, and I believe that both are.

quo III

February 24th, 2008

William, we all have beliefs.


February 24th, 2008

Yes, quo III, indeed we do, but the point that I am making is that the two propositions that you have mentioned – (1) that parents are not responsible for their children being gay, and (2) that being gay is not a bad thing – can both be believed without any breach of logic, since neither is inconsistent with the other. You don’t have to choose between them.

Whether one DOES in fact believe both of them is another matter entirely. I do: others may not.

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