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APA Symposium’s Critical Flaw: What About The Ex-Gay Survivors?

This commentary is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the opinion of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

May 13th, 2008

Don’t you hate it when you know that people are talking about you and you’re not there? And don’t you hate it even more when they’re talking about something that’s directly relevant to your experience, and that the whole point of their conversation is to arrive at conclusions about how to deal with you in the future? And you’re not invited to be a part of the conversation?

I know I do. But the now-canceled American Psychiatric Association Symposium “Homosexuality and Therapy: The Religious Dimension” was about to do just that.

The symposium, as the title suggests, was intended to discuss the intersection of faith and therapy, with special consideration to issues surrounding homosexuality. One particular topic was likely to dominate the discussion: efforts to change sexual orientation through therapeutic means. After all, this panel’s formation came as a response to the APA’s decision to form a working group to review its stance on ex-gay therapy.

The panel was organized by Dr. David Scasta, past president of the APA’s Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists. Also participating would have been Dr. Warren Throckmorton, who defends sexual reorientation therapy for those who want it, while recognizing that some forms can be harmful. Together they were to have covered the “therapy” aspects of what might have been a interesting exchange (although it would have been grossly incomplete for reasons I’ll get into in a moment).

But the panel was doomed from the start with the participating of two starkly polarizing figures representing the “religious dimension” of the panel. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Rev. Albert Mohler was to be one participant. He has been a stridently vocal advocate for sexual reorientation therapy, so much so that he even approved of prenatal therapy if such a thing were to exist — which, of course, it doesn’t. What contribution he might have had to a symposium which was supposed to bring “scientists and clinicians” together is very unclear.

Providing “balance” for the other side would have been Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican community. He too is a very odd choice. Bishop Robinson may be famous for his groundbreaking position in the church, but there’s no indication that he has any background for speaking about sexual reorientation therapy. Against Dr. Throckmorton and Rev. Mohler (who often speaks in support of reorientation therapy), Rev. Robinson would have been very much out of his element. No wonder Focus On the Family was so excited to mischaracterize the event as a “debate” between Robinson and Mohler to validate their position on sexual reorientation therapy.

That would have left Dr. Scasta as the only one who would have had even a remote possibility of speaking knowledgeably about reorientation therapy as an LGBT-affirming advocate. But unlike Throckmorton, Scasta has not published anything himself concerning sexual reorientation therapy that I’m aware of. With his background as editor of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy, he may have been able to hold his own just fine, but I’ve not been able to find anything which speaks to his knowledge on this particular subject.

We were about to hear a lot of people talking about people who tried to change their sexual orientation, but it wasn’t clear that we were going to hear a lot of informed people talking about them. And worse, in setting up the symposium they left out the most important perspective: ex-gay survivors. This seems to happen all too often. Christine Bakke, ex-gay survivor and a Beyond Ex-Gay organizer, put the problem this way:

What got lost was the actual people who were doing [the ex-gay ministries]. It’s like a kid in a custody battle.

Well they’re definitely not kids anymore. Over the past year, we’ve seen hundreds of former ex-gays come forward in something that is beginning to resemble a movement. Before now, we all knew they existed — we certainly talked about them a lot — but we are just now starting to hear from them directly in pretty significant numbers — as well as from former ex-gay leaders and spokespersons. The days when they were seen but not heard are clearly over. Their experiences in ex-gay therapy are far too compelling to ignore, and their rapidly growing numbers in just a few short years suggests that many more will follow.

But so far, their existence was been largely overlooked or, worse, dismissed as a stunt. When survivors organized their very first conference in Irvine, California, more than two hundred people showed up. But Exodus International president Alan Chambers responded with snide comments while Focus On the Family spread bold-faced lies about the gathering. Even Dr. Throckmorton cast doubts on the ex-gay survivors motives during their historic, first-ever meeting.

Clearly this new movement has touched a nerve. Before now, the ex-gay movement and their defenders have had a free hand in defining the parameters of debate with very little effective opposition. Beginning in the 1990′s they embarked on a massive television and billboard campaign to convince the world that “ex-gays do exist” and “change is possible.” Exodus International took out full-page ads in national newspapers, and ex-gay ministry leader Michael Johnston appeared in television commercials. This, of course, was before his downfall in 2003 when it was learned that he had been hosting orgies, taking drugs and practicing unsafe sex without disclosing his HIV status.

Dr. Throckmorton himself has contributed to this publicity effort. In 2004, he produced the video “I Do Exist,” which he encouraged churches and schools to show as a counter to National Coming Out Day. In it, he described studies which he claimed documented cases “of people who had changed from completely homosexual to completely heterosexual.” The video featured several ex-gays including Noé Gutierrez, Sarah Lipp, Joanne Highley, and Cheryl and Greg Quinlan. All of these were presented as though they were ordinary, run-of-the-mill ex-gays who had an interesting story to tell.

But Sarah Lipp certainly isn’t an ordinary humble ex-gay picked at random. Her segments were filmed in Chattanooga, where she happens to be the women’s ministry coordinator for the Harvest USA ex-gay ministry, having founded several ex-gay support groups throughout the mid-South. Joanne Highley also leads an ex-gay ministry in New York. She’s an especially interesting character. She describes her lesbian past as having been “under demonic oppression.” She has also said that she heard a voice telling her that she would be “ministering to homosexuals and Jews.” That, of course, is not on the video, where she instead appears as a nice, kindly, and perhaps even a timid older lady.

Also not on the video is Greg Quinlan’s exuberance for manufacturing public confrontations while representing PFOX. He does that when he’s not acting on behalf of his own Dayton-based Pro Family Network. He and his wife Cheryl were very active in promoting Ohio’s anti-marriage constitutional amendment, which is just one example of how ex-gay leaders routinely leverage their own marriages for political causes against LGBT citizens.

In fact, of the five ex-gays appearing in that video, four of them had a personal vocational stake in promoting ex-gay ministries. Not surprisingly, this fits a well-known pattern. In Spitzer’s famous 2003 ex-gay study of people who claimed to have changed, he reported that “the majority of participants (78 percent) had publicly spoken in favor of efforts to change homosexual orientation, often at their church,” and that “nineteen percent of the participants were mental health professionals or directors of ex-gay ministries.” Exodus president Alan Chambers and vice-president Randy Thomas were just two of those participants.

The only person featured in “I Do Exist” who was not an anti-gay activist was Noé Gutierrez. He proclaimed himself to be “entirely heterosexual” in the video, but after the video’s release he announced that he regretted that his story became a part of “the divisive message of the ex-gay movement.” In a later update to his web site, he described how quickly Exodus International banned him from their annual conferences after he expressed doubts about ex-gay ministries, and some of the harms that he experienced as a fallout from his participation in ex-gay ministries — harms that are remarkably familiar to many ex-gay survivors I’ve talked to over the past year.

Nevertheless, “I Do Exist” is still available for sale on Dr. Throckmorton’s web site.

So yeah, we’ve all heard a lot from ex-gays. They’ve had free reign for nearly two decades to use their lives as examples to argue against advancing the civil rights of their fellow LGBT citizens. And until now, they’ve enjoyed something of a monopoly on the public square. Sure, there have always been activists who argued against sexual reorientation therapy, but many of them — as well-intentioned as they may have been — were often demonstrably uninformed about the movement, and that has diminished both their credibility and their effectiveness.

But now we have real live former ex-gays who, in concordance with their faith, tried to change their lives to fit the only mold their faiths allowed them — only to find themselves outside the false promise of “change” and, worse for some of them, feeling as though they were beyond reconciliation with God. These are people who really tried to bring their lives into congruence with their faiths, and yet this is where their ex-gay experiences left them. Ex-gays and their supporters have been speaking for decades now; it is way past time now for survivors to have a place at the table.

Talking is good, but this forum would not have included the very people who most needed to be heard. Ex-gay survivors really do exist, to borrow a phrase. And until these survivors are invited to speak to those who would presume to speak about them, a critical part of the conversation will remain unheard. And that won’t do anyone any good.

Comments

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Regan DuCasse
May 13th, 2008 | LINK

Throckmorton and others are reresentative of absolutely NOTHING new. There is no variance in their theory about what makes a person
gay.
Add that to the fact that this theory and approach would be all wrong because it’s mostly deprivation based. What kind of test is there to know for sure? What qualifiers, except literally on someone’s word, and not observation. So to speak.

Since the basis in their theory isn’t true, then how could anyone approach the therapy correctly in the first place? Very often, gays and lesbians are products of LONG TIME inculcation, from childhood regarding how to deny or deprive their feelings, so therapy of this kind seems more like salting a wound, than healing it.
What part of any of seeking reparative therapy is volutary after such an experience from childhood?

I think it IS more important to discuss the fact that gay people speaking for themselves and those who have had more resistance from the beginning are the VERY people one could say have something new and improved to offer.
Ex gay therapy is an extension of ministry, and given it’s history, has so few incarnations, to look at it any other way but another archaic form of gay bashing, would be reckless.

These days, ex gay therapy is simply repackaged and retread. No new approaches, no end results and no real way of observing the outcomes to their fullest consequence.
Faith in it, can only go so far. And it has apparent limits. And is by no means without costs, financial, spiritual and social.
And it costs OTHER gay people who can’t or won’t sign on for such a thing.

Why revisit something so shaky and never really justified in the first place?
As Christine said, gay people ARE like a child in a custody battle. And the gay person isn’t at all considered and independent entity that deserves self determination. Gay folks are not a template to be remade in the heterosexual image.
And it looks to me like the ex gay industry hard sell on heterosexuality is especially hard since heterosexuality isn’t a virtue, nor a sign of special dispensation on life.

Pretty dumb to paint it that way, I think.
The bottom line is: ex gay therapy supporters have nothing new to say. And it’s time that gay folks and those who survived the ex gay industry had the floor.
Again, ex gays that try and pretend as if they are silenced are liars. There’s a difference between being silenced, or being told that you’ve had your chance and it’s time to leave the floor.

Ephilei
May 13th, 2008 | LINK

So first gays complain they’re not represented among everyone.
Then ex-gays complain they’re not represented in gay groups
Now ex-ex-gays complain they’re not represented in ex-gay groups.
Will ex-ex-ex-gays emerge and complain to Beyond Ex-Gay?

Yuki Choe
May 13th, 2008 | LINK

“So first gays complain they’re not represented among everyone.
Then ex-gays complain they’re not represented in gay groups
Now ex-ex-gays complain they’re not represented in ex-gay groups.
Will ex-ex-ex-gays emerge and complain to Beyond Ex-Gay?”

Nope, then ex-ex-ex-ex-gays would then rejoin Beyond Ex-Gay and form an extension called Beyond Ex-Ex-Ex-Gay. Lol.

John
May 13th, 2008 | LINK

“But unlike Throckmorton, Scasta has not published anything himself concerning sexual reorientation therapy that I’m aware of.”

What study has Throckmorton published regarding success rates of reorientation therapy?

I realize he came up with his SIT framework, but that isn’t the result of some exhaustive study. As far as I could tell, it was just a recommended approach.

He did produce “I do exist,” but that wasn’t a scientific study.

I think you are giving Throckmorton more scientific credit than he deserves. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t done any real research or scientific studies in the area of sexual reorientation.

Jim Burroway
May 13th, 2008 | LINK

What study has Throckmorton published regarding success rates of reorientation therapy?

Good question. I wasn’t implying that he published anything regarding success rates. I was merely trying to point out that he does have a track record of publishing on the subject, illustrating his ability to command detailed facts and figures on ex-gay therapy. While his output isn’t great compared to other researchers in other subjects, this track record does appears to be unmatched by the other members of this particular panel.

I wasn’t able to find anything published by Dr. Scasta even remotely touching on ex-gay therapy. He may be well versed on the subject, but there isn’t anything in his published bibliography to suggest it. What’s more, I haven’t heard or read anything else from him on the subject. In other words, he is completely unknown in this particular field.

Here are four articles published by Dr. Throckmorton:

Throckmorton, W. “Efforts to modify sexual orientation: A review of outcome literature and ethical issues.” Journal of Mental Health Counseling 20, no. 4 (Oct 1998): 283-304.

Yarhouse, M.A., Throckmorton, W. “Ethical issues in attempts to ban reorientation therapies.” Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 39, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 66-75.

Throckmorton, W. “Initial empirical and clinical findings concerning the change process for ex-gays.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 33, no. 3 (Jun 2002): 242-248.

Throckmorton, W., Welton, G. “Counseling practices as they relate to ratings of helpfulness by consumers of sexual reorientation therapy.” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 24, no. 4 (Winter 2005): 332-342

David Scasta
May 13th, 2008 | LINK

Dear Mr. Burroway,

I have read your observations regarding the symposium which I organized. Let me first complement your organization for its stated goal because it could easily be used as a mantra for the symposium. I have taken the liberty of repeating such verbatim because I think it is so well put:

“In the heat of the debate, several things have been lost. We’ve lost the ability to look at the situation calmly, rationally and with civility. We’ve lost the ability to oppose other viewpoints without demonizing those who hold them. We’ve lost the ability to know who is telling the truth and who is practicing deception or spreading falsehoods. We’ve lost the ability to treat each other with respect and dignity. We’ve lost a lot. Box Turtle Bulletin exists to help address this problem. I hope to shed some light, with honesty and integrity, and without rancor. I hope to earn your trust in what we report, and your respect in how we report it.”

I have been distressed that the media hype has so grossly mischaracterized the symposium. The symposium was portrayed unfortunately as a “debate.” All of the panel members on the symposium agreed that it was not to be a debate and that our goal was to be able to present our views in a collegial way that opened discussion instead of angry debate — exactly what the Box Turtle stands for.

All on the panel have also shown a willingness to make some concessions in their belief system when they are presented with new information and perspectives. Dr. Throckmorton, for instance, has distanced himself from his film, “I Do Exist.” A few copies are still available for historical purposes but he has clearly changed some of his views about the appropriateness or likelihood of change. By the same token, I have called into question some of the “scientific facts” in the film that I helped to fund and create: “Abomination: Homosexuality and the Ex-Gay Movement.” It is not that I do not support the message of the film (that gay people of faith who go through reparative therapies become free when they shake off the chains of dogma and discover an accepting God). It is just that one of the studies seems to imply more “science” than is justified — a point that was effectively pointed out by Dr. Throckmorton. Dr. Mohler has taken extensive heat among his Southern Baptist constituency for suggesting that homosexuality might not be a choice. His concept that a cure for homosexuality should be sought, in the same way that a cure is being sought for Huntington’s chorea, is a concept which deserves fuller discussion. Perhaps as a physician I can give him a different perspective. Whether or not my arguments are persuasive, I can tell you that I have no doubt that Albert Mohler will give me a full and fair hearing and will respond with both insight and incisive thinking. And, he will put me to my proofs. I also believe that, if he is persuaded otherwise, he is the type of person who has the strength and moral fortitude to stand up for what he believes, even when it contradicts what he is “suppose” to believe.

The goal of the symposium was not to settle questions about reparative or change therapies. I do not know where you got the information that the panel was a “response to the APA’s decision to form a working group to review its stance on ex-gay therapy.” This statement is false — completely false. The Assembly of the APA (the legislative body of which I am a member) has asked that ALL position statements be reviewed and updated every five years. We are going through that process now. I sit on the Committee on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues of the APA which is reviewing all of the statements related gay and lesbian issues. I can assure you with absolute certainty that the APA does not have a working group to reassess its view on ex-gay therapy and there is absolutely no desire in my committee to change the current stance. My symposium would have addressed how religion colors therapy with gays and lesbians as a separate dimension from therapy; it would not have posited any substantive change in APA position papers on the subject. I have the advantage of knowing the positions that the panel speakers would have taken. It is unfortunate that I was compelled to withdraw the symposium because I believe that rational people would realize that the ultimate outcome of the symposium would have been less change therapy, not more, if it had been allowed to proceed.

The issue is not over. There are still legions of lesbian and gay people of faith who say to mental health professionals, “I understand that mental health professionals believe I should accept myself as I am; but, if I do that, I am damned.” It is my goal to find a path out of that conundrum. To do so, we have to begin talking respectfully and rationally with people of faith – including some former enemies. It is time to stop preaching to the choir; but rather to enter into the lions’ den – and tame lions. If your are truly committed to Box Turtle’s goals of talking reasonably to our opponents without demonizing them, we are uncannily on the same page and I ask you for your help and guidance with this project.

David Scasta, M.D., DFAPA

Scasta, D. (2007). “John E. Freyer, M.D., and the Dr. H Anonymous Episode.” Ch. 1, in Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: An Oral History. (J. Marino and J. Drescher, Eds.). Haworth Press; New York

Scasta, D. (1998). “Historical perspectives on homosexuality.” Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatry. 2(4):3-17.

Scasta, D. (1998) “Issues in helping people come out.” Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatry. 2(4):87-98.

Scasta, D. (1998) “Moving from coming out to intimacy.” Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatry. 2(4):99-111.

Ben in Oakland
May 14th, 2008 | LINK

“The issue is not over. There are still legions of lesbian and gay people of faith who say to mental health professionals, “I understand that mental health professionals believe I should accept myself as I am; but, if I do that, I am damned.” It is my goal to find a path out of that conundrum.”

Dr. Scasta: I appreciate your willingness to dialogue, and the spirit of your posting. But I think this statement is incorrect because you don’t understand the nature of the problem.

There is another pathway, and it is a clear and obvious one. It’s called “Find Yourself Another Religion.”, one that doesn’t take the finest part of you and turn it into something dirty, sick, shameful, and, well, DAMNABLE.

Studies have shown (tongue firmly in the cheek of obviousness) conclusively that people can change their religion far more easily and with far less damage to their self-esteem and mental health than they can change their basic nature. Why, some people have been known to give up religion completely with no worse side effects than that they suddenly find that their lives and their pocketbooks are more fulfilling AND filled.

No more money to ‘ministries’ that promise a choice between heaven and hell, but seem able to deliver only the latter. No more money to quack ‘therapists’ who also make the same claims, and with the same results.

And here is in fact the basic problem with religion. In no other field of human inquiry and experience is so much demanded in the way of belief on so little basis of history, inquiry, experience, and logic. Scriptural certainty exists only because people believe it does, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary that “certainty” is open to the self-interested interpretation of men. In fact, the strength of faith exists in inverse logarithmic proportion to the amount of evidence there is to sustain it.

The lives and spirits of gay people, and their ability to choose what is best for their lives, are molded and stunted, hijacked by “faith” long before they even can understand the basis of that faith OR that they are gay and what that means in their lives.

As a doctor of the soul, you understand the nature and the force that early childhood experiences exert on your patients. Your job is to bring them to a place of CHOICE in their lives where they are NOT merely subject to those early experiences, but can choose how they will react. You do not reinforce the effects of those early experiences so that they are incapable of choosing. Why should this particular issue be any different than any other disease of the soul? You do not tell people: ‘keep choosing this particular mode of behavior even if it is dysfunctional and destructive in your life.’

Let us take a hypothetical issue and say that you have a deep seated fear of abandonment and betrayal from your early childhood. It has affected your relationship with your friends, family, and loved ones as far back as you can remember. I tell you that I have been having an affair with your wife (or husband) for years, and produce a typed unsigned letter, allegedly from her (or him) detailing our joy and sexual intimacies. You have always thought your relationship was a good one, fulfilling for both of you. Yet, here is this highly ambiguous ‘proof’ coupled with a statement from me that I speak the TRUTH.

Would you immediately divorce your wife, or perhaps shoot her, or maybe even shoot yourself in despair?

A healthy person would demand some proof, not yet another highly ambiguous and unprovable scripture– I mean, writing– and/or statement from me that this is the TRUTH. A healthy person might see his therapist to discuss the issue and not immediately fly off the handle in response to those childhood issues of betrayal and abandonment, either by shooting her or shooting himself.

A good therapist would advise such a patient to find proof, discuss it with the wife, and hopefully find a solution that works out best in terms of improved mental, emotional, and spiritual health for all parties concerned. In other words, CHOICE.

A bad therapist would encourage a patient to give into his childhood issues of betrayal and abandonment, to give into destructive beliefs and behaviors that don’t make his life better. In other words, NO CHOICE.

A devil disguised as a therapist would tell the patient that the proof is fairly convincing, and that I should just go kill myself now to avoid the pain. A healthy and life-affirming response to that advice would be to call that person a devil and NOT a therapist.

Let me underline that I have no problem with faith or religion as long as it proves beneficial to both the practitioner and the society. It is not my path, but then I examined it thoroughly from all aspects and came to an adult, healthy CHOICE about it and the place it has in my life. I have EVERY problem with faith that is destructive to human health and happiness.

Zeke
May 14th, 2008 | LINK

“I also believe that, if he [Dr. Mohler] is persuaded otherwise, he is the type of person who has the strength and moral fortitude to stand up for what he believes, even when it contradicts what he is “suppose” to believe.”

With all due respect, you are clearly not familiar with Southern Baptists; especially not ones at the level of power and influence that Dr. Mohler holds. Hell would freeze over before he would take a position that homosexuality is anything less than an abomination from which all people should seek “reparative therapy”. His statement that homosexuality “might” not be a “choice” is not a good example of going against the SBC grain because he quickly followed it up with qualifiers that keep him in good graces.

Dr. Scasta, I agree with your good intentions and would fully support your symposium were it not for the fact that I think you grossly under estimate the deviousness of those ex-gay supporters that you had on your panel. They have shown time and time again that they will take such educational outreaches as opportunities to misrepresent to the public what the intention and the outcome was. They regularly peddle faux Cameronite “studies” and even more regularly misquote, misuses and misinterpret legitimate studies to mislead their followers into believing their anti-gay/pro-ex-gay propaganda. Unfortunately your symposium would have been no different.

I hope that you will continue in your efforts but I hope that you will do it with your eyes VERY wide open. You’re absolutely right, we’ll never change things until we’re willing to step out of the choir loft and go into the lions’ den. I think you are more than qualified to be our “Daniel” and I have no doubt that if you do more outreach to the gay community to explain what you have explained here you will have our support. Perhaps where you went wrong was in not doing enough of this education and outreach to people like Mr. Burroway well before the symposium. Then you could have gotten more imput and advice that may have changed the outcome AND made it a better, more effective and more enlightening symposium.

Zeke
May 14th, 2008 | LINK

As a person who is a person of faith, or actually two faiths (Buddhist/Christian) I have to say Hear, Hear to Ben.

I would also like to say that there is a VERY big difference between counseling a person who comes to a therapist asking for help in reconciling their faith with their sexuality and helping them to come to a place where they make the decision to alter their sexual behavior (as long as they are honest that it will only be behavior and not orientation that can possibly be altered to one degree or another and that it will be a lifelong struggle with a enormously high rate of failure) or their religious beliefs/affiliations/understandings in order to find peace and harmony and setting up an entire industry dedicated to convincing gay people that they are immoral, hell bound, unhappy, unhealthy and in need of repair.

The former has some psychotherapeutic merit whereas the latter is NOTHING but shameful, harmful and destructive religiously and politically motivated snake oil peddling.

Ben in Oakland
May 14th, 2008 | LINK

Thank you, Zeke.

The other interesting question to me is why people keep choosing a religion that is destructive to their health and happiness when there are other clear choices that do not. Why do people not choose the path that would make their lives better, but instead, choose the path that continually brings pain.

My husband’s brother, a sweet man, stays with his wife despite the fact that both are miserable in their marriage. We have advised him repeatedly to get some counseling, either with her or without her. But don’t leave the situation unchanged, even if the change will result in reduced financial circumstances (at worst) or a renewed marriage (at best). It is not about religious beliefs about divorce.

Yet he won’t, and continues to suffer. I can only conclude two things. One is that he is afraid of the change. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

My question then is, why choose a devil at all? This might also apply to gay people of a fundamentalist bent in dealing with their sexuality.

The other is, I think, a self esteem issue, and this I believe certainly applies to gay people in this situation. We are taught from an early age in obscure but pervasive ways that their is NOTHING worse than being queer– boys especially believe this because they equate being queer with being effeminate, and there is nothing worse than not being a full man, which one is not by definition if one is effeminate. There is nothing worse than being a woman. (And a hat tip to centuries of so-called thought by desert religions).

Being gay is SO bad that it makes some gay people crazy enough to believe that they have something to gain by betraying their basic natures, by betraying THEMSELVES. Another word for this is shame. Losing the war against oneself– or as the Throckster calls it, ex-gay therapy– doesn’t work, because it just confirms their opinions of themselves. (Transactional analysis does the best job of explaining this basic and apparent contradiction).

The truth is, gay people in this position WANT to be punished for being inherently and intrinsically morally evil (thanks to Benny the Ratz for that bit of ‘moral’ analysis), and they can’t think of anything else besides fundamentalist religion that is bad enough to give them what they deserve. So they keep choosing it.

People do this sort of thing all of that time. It is what we call self-destructive behavior, and it is a common enough phenomenon well known to those in the psychiatric field. If that self destructive behavior, grounded as it is in culturally constructed poor self esteem, is not what is being addressed, then no therapy is going to work. Ex-gay ‘therapy’ is intended to do just one thing– confirm and support that poor opinion of themselves. Hence the words sexually broken, sinful, lost masculinity, blah blah blah blah. Even the word therapy itself loses its meaning in this context.

Zeke
May 14th, 2008 | LINK

Ben, I certainly understand your confusion as to how gay people could follow a religion that is anti-gay.

Just realize that no one holds THE key to ANY religion, no matter how much they may claim to.

For example, some say that Christianity is anti-gay but the fact of the matter is anti-gay Christianity is anti-gay. My Christian denomination, and my congregation are very pro-gay. I am a member of the United Church of Christ. I’m also a “member” of a Buddhist temple. As a Buddhist Christian I like to say that the UCC is the Buddhist branch of the Christian faith. Many people in my congregation agree.

Buddhism has NO proscription against homosexuality and neither does the UCC. I’ve found a spiritual home at my church and at my temple where I find guidance in how to be the best me HERE AND NOW and the best neighbor HERE AND NOW that I can be. There is no hocus pocus, “miracles” or anti-science aspect of my personal faith. I don’t believe in Heaven and Hell and I don’t do good to gain a place in Heaven or avoid doing bad out of a fear of Hell. I do good because its the right thing for me and all other sentient beings and I avoid doing/speaking bad because it hurts me and the world. Do I require Christian/Buddhist guidance to know this? No but I find it’s easier to follow a path that’s already been beautifully and thoroughly charted by people much more aware than I.

Another interesting thing about the Christian and Buddhist paths that I follow is our abhorrance of proselytizing. My faith is my own. I only share it with people when they ask and I always make it clear that it is just what works for me. Everyone needs to find what works for them on their own.

Ben in Oakland
May 14th, 2008 | LINK

I’m not confused about it. I’m fairly clear. What I lack is the empathy (as opposed to the intellectual understanding) for the choice. I could never really understand from an empathic point of view about making choices that make my life worse.

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