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Alan Chambers: Death or Change

Jim Burroway

May 27th, 2008

Yesterday we reported on two Exodus-affiliated leaders who claimed that there were only two choices facing struggling gay kids and adults: Change or die. Now we learn that Exodus President Alan Chambers has reinforced this false choice in an interview with radio talk show host Chris Farby on May 16th. Towards the end of the program, Alan Chambers was asked about teen suicide:

Chris Fabry: We had another email that talked about, especially teenagers, and how many teenagers are caught in this emotional trauma, and how many take their own lives because of the homosexual issue. You were a teenager caught in that too weren’t you

Alan Chambers: I was a teenager, you know the bulk of my struggle was during my teenage years, from about 11 to 21 or so, and I understand feeling like the only way out is you kill yourself. In fact one of the things that made me want to die — was when I heard, there is no way out of this, this is your only option, there is no other choice, in fact there is no choice – you are who you are and that won’t ever change. And I thought, that can’t be the truth, and if it is, I can’t live this way.

Instead of confronting the false choice between death or change, Alan Chambers reinforces it. With Exodus, it’s change or die.

But the real danger here is that too many people, believing that there really are only two choices, choose the latter. When I attended last year’s Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference in California, I talked with one person whose former partner was told that his only choice was to “change or go away.” He chose to “go away” by taking his own life.

Indeed, blood has stained the ex-gay movement from its beginning. Love In Action co-founder John Evans describes the suicide of his best friend, Jack McIntyre, while at the Marin General Hospital Psychiatric Ward. Evans recalled, “In Jack’s suicide note, he wrote that he believed that God would forgive him for killing himself, but not for having even one more ‘impure’ thought.”

That was more than thirty years ago. Meanwhile, the “change or die” mantra continues.

[Hat tip: Pam Spaulding’s House Blend.]

See also:
Exodus’ False Choice: Death or Change



May 28th, 2008 | LINK

While we’re keeping track, let’s not forget FOF’s “ex-gay” Melissa Fryrear’s same assertions from nearly 2 years ago:

BTB: The False Witness of Focus on the Family
June 20th, 2006

The first two links on that page no longer work, and I can’t seem to find them on WayBackMachine, but the “Canadian press” link did come up.

Besen’s Respect My also still documents it:

In June 2006, Focus on the Family grossly distorted a study by this Canadian researcher that showed teenage lesbians had a higher rate of suicide attempts. Unconscionably, Melissa Fryrear, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family, blamed gay activists for causing the deaths, saying that teaching self-acceptance caused the young women to be suicidal.

The term “dog whistle politics” has been going around of late. Wayne has it right, this isn’t just about a ‘false choice,’ as you put it Jim, they’re attempting to blame the deaths of these kids on us — outright — without actually saying so.

May 28th, 2008 | LINK

P.S. Wikipedia: Dog-whistle politics

As I mentioned in the comments @ PHB:

Not that Exodus/Focus isn’t renowned for it’s code-speak / dog whistle politicking, but this is one of, if not the most egregious offenses of it that I can conceive of.

May 28th, 2008 | LINK

Maybe I’m confusing ex-gay personalities, but wasn’t Chambers by his own confession very pro-gay? If he was pro-gay, why would commit suicide over his sexuality? Or maybe his supposed pro-gayness was an exaggeration to make his “testimony” more potent. “See, even gay activists can change!” Sounds like Chambers is, again, playing both sides when the situation suits his cause.

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