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2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference Called to Counter NARTH Annual Conference

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2009

The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) will hold its annual conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, in November, where they will push their claim among themselves and in the media that people can and ought to “change” their sexual orientation. In pushing their message, they have already pointed to examples from the 1950s through the 1980s when gays and lesbians underwent torturous electric shock aversion therapy. Is this what NARTH would have for our future?

We believe there is a better way. That’s why we are pleased to announce:

On Friday, November 20, Beyond Ex-Gay will hold a pre-conference institute for ex-gay survivors and allies. The conference itself will begin Friday evening and continue through Sunday morning. A full day of speakers and workshops are being planned, with topics touching on:

  • Understanding the Harm Caused By Heterosexism
  • Best Practices for Undoing Heterosexism
  • The Dangers of Reparative Therapy, Ex-Gay Ministries, and Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation
  • History & Practices of Reparative Therapy and Ex-Gay Ministries
  • Therapeutic Models for Helping LGBT People in Health and Mental Health Care
  • The Connection Between Religion, Heterosexism, and Reparative Therapy
  • Intersections Between Heterosexism, Racism, Sexism, Capitalism, etc.
  • The Healthy Reconciliation of Sexuality and Spirituality
  • Reflections on the Ex-Gay Experience
  • Impacting the Media: Strategies for Sharing Your Story with Confidence
  • Building Healthy Relationships After an Ex-Gay Experience
  • Ethical Dilemmas Associated with Reparative Therapy & Ex-Gay Ministries
  • Social Science Research on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity
  • LGBT Families and Parenting
  • Nonviolent Activism and Advocacy Strategies
  • Becoming a Powerful Ally

If you are interested in conducting a workshop, you can find an application with instructions at the Soulforce web site. Deadline for applications for workshops is August 29. Information on registration will be available in a couple of weeks. I hope to see you there.



L. Junius Brutus
August 1st, 2009 | LINK

I’m glad that NARTH is being countered, but we really need to get away from terms like “heterosexism”. There is no one in the world who takes someone who uses words like that seriously.

August 1st, 2009 | LINK

I’m also a bit puzzled by the reference to the supposed “intersection” of heterosexism and capitalism.

This isn’t the place to debate the relative merits of capitalism, socialism, communism etc., but I don’t see that that’s relevant in any case. During the first half of the twentieth century the persecution of gay men (and perhaps to a lesser extent of lesbians) knew no such political boundaries. Indeed, in many of the Soviet bloc countries gay men were treated even more shamefully than in the UK or the USA, and this maltreatment continued long after Britain and America had started on the slow journey to enlightenment. It doesn’t seem to have finished yet in Russia even after the fall of communism, and the negative attitude towards gays in countries like Lithuania is undoubtedly a hangover from the days of communism.

This conference is excellent news, but I do hope that it’s not going to be hi-jacked by people who have an anti-capitalist agenda, irrespective of whether that agenda is in itself legitimate. It’s really no more to the point than the affiliation some years ago in the UK of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality to the Campaign for Real Ale.

Jim Burroway
August 1st, 2009 | LINK

I’m not a big fan of the word “heterosexism” myself, mainly because it it often used as a perjorative, and I absolutely refuse to use the word in that sense.

However, as a concept, it is an important piece in understanding the mechanics of homophobia. I think Soulforce gave a definition that I am 90% comfortable with:

Heterosexism is the presumption that everyone is heterosexual and that opposite sex attractions and relationships are preferable and superior to those of the same sex. Heterosexism has been encoded into nearly every major social, religious, cultural, and economic institution in our society and it leads directly to discrimination and the harmful efforts by some health care providers and religious groups to change or repress the sexual orientation of those under their care.

Another term used is “heterosexual privelidge”, another term that is often a very loaded term. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t validity behind the concepts that the terms are intended to describe, but the terms themselves are often loaded with some pretty angry connotations that I find uncomfortable.

Knowing the participants, I don’t believe it will have an anti-capitalist agenda. I took that topic to mean the place that heterosexual assumptions play in commerce and in business.

Timothy Kincaid
August 2nd, 2009 | LINK

I too am curious about the intersection of heterosexism and capitalism.

If I look around me, it can appear that capitalism is a strong influence in support of the gay community. The business world is FAR more inclusive and supportive than most state governments and definitely more than the Feds.

So I very much hope that it is as Jim describes – a look at how commerce and business can assume that the customer, vendor, employee, and competitor are all heterosexual and how a smart business can benefit from appealing to the “non-typical” customer.

But sadly, I suspect that the approach to capitalism may be from liberalistism – the assumption that everyone in the room adopts all of the assumptions of the most liberal of possible attitudes. Liberistism presumes that we all are unquestioningly anti-business and pro-socialism.

Sadly, liberalistism has been encoded into nearly every major social, religious, cultural, and economic institution in our community.

August 2nd, 2009 | LINK

The first part of the definition of “heterosexism” (“the presumption that everyone is heterosexual”) is absurd; nobody is “heterosexist” in that sense, or certainly NARTH is not.

The idea that opposite sex attractions and relationships are preferable to their same sex equivalents is perfectly true, and not an “ism” that society should expunge.

August 2nd, 2009 | LINK

So what the heck is the “it’s just a bad lifestyle choice” crowd pushing if not the presumption that everyone is heterosexual by default and should stay heterosexual then?

The idea that heterosexual relationships are preferable is perfectly false. Millions are in unhappy, forced heterosexual relationships that would be better off with none at all or finding someone of their own gender who is compatible.

Richard W. Fitch
August 2nd, 2009 | LINK

The idea that opposite sex attractions and relationships are preferable to their same sex equivalents is perfectly true, and not an “ism” that society should expunge.

That, Quo, is exactly what ‘hetrosexism’ is about, and it is not ‘perfectly true’.

Priya Lynn
August 2nd, 2009 | LINK

Quo said “The idea that opposite sex attractions and relationships are preferable to their same sex equivalents is perfectly true”.

Speak for yourself Quo. That may be the case for straight people but for gay people same sex relationships are infinitely preferable to opposite sex relationships. That you’d make such an absurd statement is testament to the fact that you come here just to antagonize gay people. Keep your hostilities to yourself.

August 3rd, 2009 | LINK

Actually, Quo, I think that you’re wrong when you say that “nobody is ‘heterosexist’ in that sense, or certainly NARTH is not.” Nicolosi has said, if I’m not mistaken, “There are no homosexuals, only heterosexuals with homosexual problems” – a bloody stupid thing to say if ever there was one. He might as well have said that there are no left-handed people, only right-handed people with left-handed problems.

As for your statement, “The idea that opposite sex attractions and relationships are preferable to their same sex equivalents is perfectly true”, yes, it is true for the vast majority of people, whose orientation is naturally heterosexual, but quite untrue for the minority whose orientation is naturally homosexual.

August 3rd, 2009 | LINK

I would suggest as a definition of heterosexism “the belief that, even if everyone isn’t heterosexual, everyone ought to be.”

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