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The Ex-Gay “Post-Gay” Charade

Jim Burroway

June 16th, 2010

There have been a lot of talk about the so-called “post-gay” phenomenon. Andrew Sullivan has posted quite a few examples of it on his web site over the past few years. “Post-gay” describes a world in which gay, straight, bisexual, whatever have all achieved true equality and acceptance, to such an extent that maintaining a separate social structure remains moot. It’s John Lennon’s “Imagine” for sexual orientation, a world without fears, rejection, discrimination; no more sorrow and no more pain.

Post-gay is a world of complete assimilation, and this assimilation would happen not because people went back into the closet, but because the very concept of a closet no longer makes any sense. Nor would the idea of a gay club or a gay ghetto. It would come about when the culture war is over, with those who fought against LGBT equality having lost and those who fought for LGBT equality having been made irrelevant.

That’s what is meant by “post-gay.” It describes a world that is completely alien to those who oppose LGBT equality. In fact, it is their worst nightmare. Which is why it is beyond offensive to see Exodus International vice president and perennial culture warrior Randy Thomas to expropriate the term “post-gay” as a euphemism for “ex-gay”:

I contend (hat tip to Peter Ould) that people like us are on a Christian post-gay journey where the gay vs. ex-gay vs straight labels are no longer sufficient … or even appropriate … to describe who or what we are about.

What Thomas describes as a “Christian post-gay” journey is the complete negation of what post-gay is all about. If Thomas had bothered to really pay attention to the WBUR radio program on the subject that he linked to, he would see that.

To be truly post-gay, Thomas would have to believe not just that the labels no longer matter, but the meaning behind the labels no longer matter either. In other words, being gay is no longer an issue, but also that having a relationship with someone of the same sex is also no longer an issue. Obviously, that is a non-starter for him. Otherwise, he would no longer work for an organization that spends a million dollars a year convincing other people that being gay — or being in a same-sex relationship, if that is all he really cares about — is an issue. A big issue. An issue big enough to dedicate his life to making it an issue for everyone else everywhere he goes. From  London to Mexicali and all points in-between.

If Exodus were post-gay, then that means that Exodus will meet next week at their annual conference to spend four days and nights talking about something that is no longer relevant. They will cap it off with a Love Won Out conference, again to talk about something that is no longer relevant. Exodus President Alan Chambers will be speaking for six nights at a church in Rio de Janero in July, presumably to talk about something that is no longer relevant.

Exodus is working on a post-gay journey? Tell that to the people who have been impacted by Exodus’ message of “truth and love” to the LGBT community. Tell that to the people of Uganda.

In fact, Thomas isn’t interested in a truly post-gay world, but a “Christian post-gay world,” which he admits in an earlier post is simply a euphemism for “ex-gay”:

Ex-gay is an identity label based in what we are not and I have never seen how that is supposed to be positive.  The secular media likes it because it quickly pigeonholes a sound bite.  I have reluctantly used it in the past, Exodus has reluctantly used it from time to time but I only know maybe 4 people who actually like using that term.

He doesn’t like “ex-gay”? Fine. But abusing the English language to confuse people into thinking that what you’re describing is the complete opposite of what they think you’re describing is fraud, pure and simple.

Thomas’ “ex-gay equals post-gay” charade is as disingenuous as PFOX’s “ex-gay discrimination” tirade, and equally as offensive. In today’s climate, Thomas is no more post-gay than I am. I look forward to the day when Box Turtle Bulletin becomes irrelevant. So does Thomas, I suspect. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that that day looks very, very, different to him than it does to those who truly envision a post-gay world.

Comments

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David
June 16th, 2010 | LINK

Reading this got me to make the terrible mistake of going over to the Exodus blog and reading some of Randy’s posts. The man really does just ooze self-righteousness, and is one of the few people in the world I find I really can’t stand to even listen to. Maybe that’s my fault, and not his, but it’s my impression that I’m not the only person with this impression.

hyhybt
June 16th, 2010 | LINK

“But abusing the English language to confuse people into thinking that what you’re describing is the complete opposite of what they think you’re describing is fraud, pure and simple.”—They’ve been doing the same thing by calling opposing marriage “supporting” or “protecting” marriage; why should this be any different?

Timothy Kincaid
June 16th, 2010 | LINK

Randy thinks that post-gay means abolishing the “social construct” of sexual orientation. No one will “identify with homosexuality” and thus the conversation will return to forbidden behaviors and what punishments should be doled out for disobeying God’s rules (as defined by Randy).

He’s confused post-gay with pre-gay.

Emily K
June 16th, 2010 | LINK

Peter Ould is just as guilty. In fact I think Randy was “inspired” by *his* incorrect definition. But at least Peter was able to “succeed” in “changing” enough to get a wife.

Lynn David
June 16th, 2010 | LINK

Maybe I’m too old but I don’t see this society becoming ‘post-gay’ in the real sense of the phrase anytime soon either.

Timothy Kincaid… He’s confused post-gay with pre-gay.

More like the middle ages.

Uki
June 16th, 2010 | LINK

Oh…I would hate to be exist in a ‘post-gay’ world, both in John Lennon’s perspective, or Randy Thomas’ perspective.

Both are unrealistic and damaging.

Trying to bring utopia on earth (For both religious extremists and liberal extremists) requires tremendous amount of sacrifice. And with the diversity of thoughts in humankind, trying to make everyone thinks, do, and feel the same, will requires the ‘silencing’ of those who are different. And that is already against human rights.

Oh, and randy Thomas is delusional because the world is definitely not heading towards his ‘post gay’ theory -_-

justsearching
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Uki stated what I would have. Trying to shape the world into one without countries or private possessions, for example, would result in utter anarchy. I’m OK with the labels “gay” “straight” etc. actually meaning something.

Ryan
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

His inability to correctly use the term is more amusing than offensive. And I don’t think we’ll ever be in a post-gay society, in the John Lennon sense. (Or post race, for that matter). I like my identity. I’d like to think true equality doesn’t require me giving that up. Besides, imagine how hard it would be to pick up dudes with no gay bars. :)

cooner
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

I think Uki and justsearching are misinterpreting the concept of “post-gay” a bit. It’s not that words like gay or straight don’t mean anything anymore, it’s that they’re not labels that inhibit an individual’s membership in a society any more. Those individuals are still free to be as different and unique as they wish; the “post-” part of it is that the rest of the world won’t be bothered by it.

Of course in some ways it’s an ideal that can be worked towards even if its full promise may be decades away. Being a woman or being black aren’t the stigma they were a hundred years ago, tho there’s still progress to be made. But as we (hopefully) work towards a post-racial world, a black person is still “black” … it’s just not as much of a liability against him as it used to be.

In a post-gay world you’d still be able to be as gay as you like. You’d just be able to walk into any workplace or bar and talk about your same-sex spouse without people batting an eye.

Uki
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

well, cooner, the word ‘post-gay’ have been used in other blogs as well, not just this one, especially by liberal people. You should look up those blogs, and their definition of ‘post-gay’ is not like what you describe. It is basically an utopia for liberals.

I just didn’t realize until I read this article that the word ‘post-gay’ can also be used in a homophobic meaning.

Uki
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Although, I do understand about articles such as the New york Times, where ‘post-gay’ is exactly as you describe.

But seriously, ‘post-gay’ like in John Lennon’s version is quite creepy for me -_-

Hunter
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

“If Thomas had bothered to really pay attention to the WBUR radio program on the subject that he linked to, he would see that.”

I keep seeing comments like this one on our more well-behaved blogs, and I keep wondering why anyone bothers to say it. It’s not that Thomas doesn’t see it, it’s that he’s not concerned with what the term was meant to denote, except insofar as he is able to subvert that meaning.

The whole purpose of appropriating the term “post-gay” is to render it meaningless. That’s a favorite tactic of the right, and not only the anti-gay right, although the latter are very aware, I think, that their positions are repellent to the majority of Americans. That’s why they do it — it’s the equivalent of “codes” for racist sentiments.

I guess about all we can do is keep calling them on it and hope someone is listening.

peterson toscano
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Post-gay again? Really. Seems these former homosexuals do not understand their queer history. No surprise.

Over a year ago I wrote a post about this in response to Peter Ould’s misuse or misappropriation of the term (see http://petersontoscano.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/the-problem-with-post-gay/ )

In that post my partner, Glen Retief, who was part of the early queer liberation movement in South Africa, is similar to what you write above:
“Peter [Ould], are you aware that the term “post-gay” is already a well-known one in queer studies and in contemporary philosophies of sexuality? Also in certain kinds of experimental science fiction, like in works by Ursula le Guin.

In this context it means something very different to the way you seem to be using it. What it means is that sexual orientation is no longer seen as important to psychological self-definition, because the equality and legitimacy of same-sex and opposite-sex intimacies, physical and emotional, have become so taken for granted that sexual orientation is not even worth noticing anymore.”

He concludes:
“In the meantime, how about picking a term that more accurately describes your philosophical position, like “anti-gay”?”

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Well, as humpty dumpty said:

“Words mean exactly what I say they mean. nothing more, and nothing less.”

Priya Lynn
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

“He doesn’t like “ex-gay”? Fine. But abusing the English language to confuse people into thinking that what you’re describing is the complete opposite of what they think you’re describing is fraud, pure and simple.”

This has been standard operating procedure for Exodus for a long time.

Chris McCoy
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Uki said:

Oh…I would hate to be exist in a ‘post-gay’ world, both in John Lennon’s perspective, or Randy Thomas’ perspective.

Both are unrealistic and damaging.

Trying to bring utopia on earth (For both religious extremists and liberal extremists) requires tremendous amount of sacrifice. And with the diversity of thoughts in humankind, trying to make everyone thinks, do, and feel the same, will requires the ’silencing’ of those who are different. And that is already against human rights.

I think you are mis-understanding how such a “Utopia” would actually come about.

A condition where people who are different are “silenced” isn’t a Utopia at all.

In a future where differences “disappear”, it is because they become irrelevant, not because people are forced into behaving identically.

Lennin’s Utopia exists where people’s religious differences are irrelevant, where people’s nationalities are irrelevant, where people’s sexuality is irrelevant.

It’s not that they don’t exist, or that they’re forced into a specific mono-chromatic, identical, Stepford-Wives-esque mold; it’s that they are no longer points of contention, no longer sources or ridicule or shame, no longer causes of conflicts or wars.

That is what, IMHO, should be meant by post-gay.

Jason D
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Uki, I think you’re applying too many science fiction dystopian scenarios about Utopia.

In a post-gay or uptopian world my sexuality, would be as much of a non-issue has my eye color or the fact that i’m left-handed.

The differences exist, but most people don’t care enough to notice or make an issue of them. I fail to see how that’s creepy. When somebody walks by with a pink mohawk and a face full of piercings, you’re telling me that it would be “creepy” if a crowded cafe full of people didn’t gawk, point, stare, and laugh?

Utopia, especially the Jon Lennon variety is simply a world in which people have matured. They disagree, but they don’t fight. People are diverse, but it doesn’t matter. War, Poverty, etc are over not because of sinister or backhanded shortcuts, but because people realized we could work together, get this stuff done, and be happy. That we can work to progress and improve our lives rather than shallowly pursue fame, fortune, and power. It’s basically the entire world growing up, finally. The entire species getting over itself and the petty stupidity that we all focus on far too much.

Priya Lynn
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

“When somebody walks by with a pink mohawk and a face full of piercings, you’re telling me that it would be “creepy” if a crowded cafe full of people didn’t gawk, point, stare, and laugh?”.

I’m okay with the pink mohawk, but a face full of piercings – that’s creepy, however I support people’s right to be creepy.

Jim Burroway
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

I think there’s a lot of anxiety over the possibility of living in a future “post-gay” world, and that anxiety, for me anyway, is over the potential loss of gay culture.

I live in a city that is, in limited terms, a model for what a post-gay world might look like. Tucson has gay people all over the place. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an LGBT person. And it’s not just a gay community here. For reasons that I don’t know, it also has a very active and vibrant transgender community. (The most famous transgender person to emerge from Tucson is Amanda Simpson, who was appointed by the Obama administration to serve in the Commerce Department.)

During Pride several years ago, I manned a booth where we had a map of Tucson posted and invited people to put stick pins to represent where they lived. At the end of the day, the entire map was covered with pins, but there was not geographic concentration anywhere. No identifiable “gayborhoods” at all. It was a perfectly even distribution.

And our gay bars? There are just four. They are poorly attended and rather, well, kinda pathetic. All the gay people go to the generic clubs where everyone mostly mixes freely — with a few exceptions of course. This is Tucson, not Nirvana.

And you know what? It’s boring.

That’s why when we travel, we always seek out the gayborhoods and immerse ourselves in that milieu. And whenever I read about the death of a gay bar in the Castro or WeHo or elsewhere, I feel sad just a little.

It reminds me of African-Americans of a certain age who grew up in segregated neighborhoods. They will all say that we are all better off because of desegregation. Nobody questions that. And yet the older generation often laments the loss of a very specific vibrant community that they had built up because of desegregation. I think we are about to encounter similar kinds of losses.

Jason D
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Jim, considering how much gay people influence the larger culture (music, fashion, movies, tv, pop culture) in many respects “gay culture” is everywhere and no likely to be lost, rather just melted into the rest of the culture. Straight, Irish, Asian, Italian, blind, religious, and other subpopulations have faced similar assimilation and still have maintained some semblance of group culture.

I have a feeling there will always be gay people who want to hang out with other gay people, so while there will be fewer bars, I think there will always be bars. In Chicago there are still neighborhoods occupied by mostly one ethnic group, it shifts as these groups move around, but I think it will be very much the same for gay people.

On that note. My partner and I live outside the city, we had no interest in the gayborhoods after I lived in a rathole apartment in the heart of boystown. Gay neighborhoods are pricing themselves out of existence, in my opinion.

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

I agree with Jim’s interpretation and concerns about losing gay culture. That does, and has occurred in a number of cities. But I think there will always be a place where gay folk will go to find each other.

But I think the post-gay paradigm goes a bit further than just segregation.

Ritch Savin-Williams, probably the leading voice describing the post-gay hypothesis, says that today’s youth are becoming hesitant to establishing sexual identity. Rather than being “gay” they don’t “set boundaries” and are open to all possibilities. They are post-gay in the sense that they are beyond all the angst about where one fits in the sexual landscape.

It is, I believe, this notion which Randy finds so alluring.

If you follow Exodus and the ex-gay movement (as we do), you’ll soon see that their biggest concern is not gay sex – indeed that is among the least of concerns, being only a momentary fall which is instantly forgivable – but rather identity.

(Caveat: this appears to be changing to some extent)

When Exodus says that being a celibate gay is the same as being promiscuous, they are speaking about identity. It isn’t what you do, but your attitude and perspective that matters. Seeking to overcome your same-sex attractions is all that matters – it shows that your heart is seeking God and his will.

Exodus sees the acknowledgment of a gay identity as identifying with sin. Further, they believe that identifying as gay gives one a mindset, a collection of views, a way of life, and a theological opinion, all of which they find objectionable. So the very first thing Exodus does with a new recruit is to convince them that they are not their sexuality, they do not need to identify with their attraction.

Once you no longer identify as gay, then you’ve crossed a barrier which opens you up to the possibility of heterosexuality. You no longer reject the idea of mating with someone of the opposite sex.

A side benefit is that you also can simultaneously campaign for civil restrictions and social condemnation and religious rejection of “the homosexual lifestyle” while still “struggling” with your “homosexual temptations” and occasionally (or even frequently) having a fall and an all-night orgy at the bathhouse. And it isn’t even hypocrisy as long as you are trying not to fall.

So the idea of post-gay, the idea that kids will not “identify with homosexuality” sounds like very very good news to Exodus. If you are post-gay, you are open to godly sexuality. And because Randy “does not identify with homosexuality” he can be “post-gay”.

But what Exodus fails to see (and what Savin-Williams should recognize more publicly) is that regardless of identity, kids will find sex, romance, and love in the direction that their sexual orientation points them. Sure there may be more playing around the borders (just as there was in the 70s when this notion last raised its head under a different name), but “same-sex attracted kids who don’t identify as gay” will still find other “same-sex attracted kids who don’t identify as gay” for their life-mates regardless of what name you call them.

And ultimately, the point is moot. You can change the language, you can “not identify as gay”, but there will always be a term for “people who are primarily attracted to the same sex”. It is too important a distinction to leave nameless.

When your sister tells her friend that you are not going to date her, she’ll come up with something, even if it’s “because he dates boys and not girls.” And some single word will always be around to represent that idea.

Paul in Canada
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

post-gay… as in post-male, post-female? How ridiculous! Vive la differance – celebrate diversity!!!

I look forward to hearing the women in my office say……. “All the good men are gay AND married”.

Richard Rush
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Jim Burroway,

BINGO! Your comment today “nailed it” for me – particularly the first and last paragraphs.

We live near the center of a large east-coast city, and while there is still a gayborhood, the gradual dilution is evident. The venerable gay bookstore is still hanging on – by a thread it seems. And the gay bars have fewer patrons. A gay restaurant where we usually waited in line for seats back in the 1970’s/80’s now seems at least 2/3 empty most of the time. I feel some sadness about the changes.

But on the flip side, my partner and I were the first known gays on our block in 1981, whereas now there are seven known gay households. So life in our neighborhood has come a long way from the early days when we were always wary of the neighbors.

Uki
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Jim, I don’t think you should see the decline of a gay scene as something bad. You should see it as a success of a gay advocacy.

In Indonesia, I am always disappointed with a view of some elder foreign ‘sugar daddies’ of how younger gay people in their home country are getting dull, too strict about sex life, and no longer care about gay rights anymore. They would tell me a lot of stories about how it was great during the 70s, of how sex was so open to everyone, how people are attentive, and how gay people are always stick together.

I personally see it, as the success of the previous generations gay advocate and activists. Gay youth are no longer have much to worry about defending their rights, and started to worry about other things (Although there are still more rooms for improvements) like how to pay the bills, how to dress and impress someone, how to get good grades, etc. Basically, becomes boring, and for some people, they tend to become idiots (Like those people who are in gay rights march just to get a pic with Lady Gaga -_-).

btw, I also don’t believe in the idea of post-gay. I believe, that though sexual orientation may not be a subject to labels in the future, other problems will always exist. It may not be about the labels, but it will be about something else concerning our sexuality. Like, monogamous vs. open relationships, marriage vs. cohabitation, etc. Humans never ran out of problems, our advances means that we are always creating it.

I’m fine with the idea of John lennon’s post-gay. But I was imagining the process of getting there. With so many people in this world with different minds can you actually make one problem to completely go away from everybody’s thoughts? Have there ever been one single problem in humanity’s history where something completely disappears?

Dreaming of a post-gay world, and trying to achieve it, are two different things. I’m fine with people dreaming about it, I just hope people are not trying to achieve it forcibly.

I just wish people would just let it flow, and not trying to force everybody in a certain goal to achieve an unrealistic situation (At least for me). And what I mean with flow, not that we should just sit here and do nothing, but that we should fight for our rights because our rights are being denied right now, we should still be doing the best we could for today.

Be realistic here. The world never works exactly like we wanted. The world works in its own way.

The reason why I think a dream of what an ideal society is creepy, is because those who dream too much forgets that world have problems and dreaming isn’t going to fix it. And those who are trying to achieve it, would be frustrated because it will never work, and then they took drastic measures to achieve it.

Call me an idiot for not wanting an ideal society. But I prefer realistic stuff that I can work upon. :(

David
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

So many posts, so little time! LOL
I want to add my two cents. Despite all the talk about “post-gay”, the terms homosexual and heterosexual, as well as gay and straight, are not only descriptive but also meaningful and are not going to go away. Psychologists say there are four components to sexuality: biological sex, gender identity, social gender role, and sexual orientation. Sexual orientation consists of a spectrum which can arbitrarily be divided into homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual. Philosophical and semantic discussions aside, these are realities that are not going to go away in the dynamics of human relationships.

David
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

I guess I agree with Timothy Kincaid in a lot of respects.
:-)

Priya Lynn
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

I think Jason summed it up best. Just as its not an issue to be Irish, Asian, or Italian and such people continue to form groups and have a culture, when its no longer an issue to be gay gays will continue to form groups and have a culture.

Priya Lynn
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, when a person says they’re gay, they’re just acknowledging a feature of themselves, that they’re same sex attracted in the same way a person would say they’re left handed and just be acknowledging an aspect of themselves. To say one is gay is not to say one is summed up by their sexuality, so why is it any problem at all for Exodus if their devotees say “I’m gay.”?

Uki
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

And I’m guilty of making the posts too long and irrelevant *sigh* T_T

I’m terrible in making points. It always sounds stupid :(

Jason D
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Uki,
If history has shown us anything an “ideal” society achieved by force is not ideal, and negates itself. You seem to be saying that we shouldn’t strive for Utopia because it necessitates the murder, oppression, and destruction of other people and viewpoints.

It’s not Utopia if it’s achieved that way. The process to get there, actually get there, is as simple as I described it. It involves humanity maturing, and that absolutely cannot happen easily, quickly, or by force.

Have there ever been one single problem in humanity’s history where something completely disappears?

Well, I personally enjoy not being enslaved, that’s a plus. It’s also really nice not having to fight off predators for my very survival on an hourly basis. They say we’re likely to see the end of heart disease in our lifetime.

Uki
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D, There are still a lot of people in this world in slavery. And there are still a lot of people living in rural where they could still die from predators. But from the place where you live, I guess it’s understandable that you think no humans are not being enslaved :-|

Besides, aren’t the media and commercials are already ‘enslave’ us enough? or business competition are not ‘predatory’ enough?

It’s just the same problem basically, only changing forms. And that’s what I think about gay issues.

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

To say one is gay is not to say one is summed up by their sexuality, so why is it any problem at all for Exodus if their devotees say “I’m gay.”?

Priya Lynn,

To Exodus, “identifying with homosexuality” consists of more than an acknowledgment of the direction of one’s attractions. To Exodus, being gay is not only descriptive but determining.

In other words, Exodus believes that if you say “I’m gay” that this is an act of acceptance of your orientation and will determine and direct your behavior, your politics, your theology, and your worldview.

There is some validity in this idea. We all know that coming out greatly impacts our perspectives on a whole host of matters.

Priya Lynn
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Uhh…I don’t buy that. I’ve heard a number of people say “I’m gay and I don’t want to be”.

Ben in Oakland
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

“But what Exodus fails to see (and what Savin-Williams should recognize more publicly) is that regardless of identity, kids will find sex, romance, and love in the direction that their sexual orientation points them. Sure there may be more playing around the borders (just as there was in the 70s when this notion last raised its head under a different name), but “same-sex attracted kids who don’t identify as gay” will still find other “same-sex attracted kids who don’t identify as gay” for their life-mates regardless of what name you call them”

in a nutshell.

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn, believe whatever you want.

Priya Lynn
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t need your permission to do that.

Christine
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Great post, Jim (and comment/article Peterson).

Randy Thomas has been trying to redefine “post-gay” from how it has been defined by queer theorists/activists to support his anti-gay agenda for a few years now.

Randy Thomas is not post-gay. He is anti-gay.

John in the Bay Area
June 17th, 2010 | LINK

Randy Thomas wrote:”Ex-gay is an identity label based in what we are not and I have never seen how that is supposed to be positive.”

But their identity and the complete focus of their work is based on what they oppose, not what they are for. So, on some level a negative or anti identity is more than appropriate.

My objection with the ex-gay term is that is intentionally misleading. It deliberately tries to give the impression that these people are no longer gay, yet a rose is still a rose by any other name. Since ex-gay has been in use for so long, fewer and fewer people are fooled by this misleading term. As more people know what it really means, Randy wants to come up with a new misleading term.

Ultimately, honesty to self and others would be the best policy.

Timothy Kincaid
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

John itBA,

I am not troubled by the term “ex-gay”. I think it is actually a pretty good description.

“Gay” encompasses more than just sexual orientation. It also connotes a certain level of acceptance of oneself and a rejection of the designation of “sinner” and the associated shame.

So, yeah, while Randy in undoubtedly still a homosexual, he’s not gay.

It’s not a perfect term and some folks could misunderstand it, but I think it fits fine so long as it is clear what we are talking about.

Priya Lynn
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

No Timothy, gay simply means same sex attracted to the vast majority of the general public. Calling oneself “ex-gay” is to claim to be no longer same sex attracted and that is a lie. To religious fanatics gay might imply something other than sexual orientation but they don’t represent the vast majority of people – Randy Thomas is most certainly gay.

Religionists are attempting to bastardize the term gay in the same way they’ve bastardized the term love. Just as its absurd to suggest a christian really loves a serial killer as in getting pleasure form being around one, looking forward to spending time with them and so on its absurd to claim that so called “ex-gays” really aren’t gay.

Timothy Kincaid
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

Shocker! You disagree with what I said. Wow. (I wonder what would happen if I announced that the sky is blue)

Well, yet again, you are entitled to your opinion.

Priya Lynn
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, my concern is that when you join in with the christian fundamentalists by using the words “gay” and “ex-gay” as dog whistles you are enabling and participating in the deception that says gays can (and therefore should) change same sex attractions into opposite sex attractions.

Timothy Kincaid
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

Again, you are entitled to your opinion.

Priya Lynn
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

Sometimes when people are deeply immersed in fundamentalist religion they can’t see the forest for the trees.

Timothy Kincaid
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

And still, yet still, you are entitled to your opinion.

Jason D
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

“No Timothy, gay simply means same sex attracted to the vast majority of the general public.”

I would tend to disagree with this and agree with Timothy for two reasons.

We’ve seen sites like WND have a auto-correct feature in play that removes “gay” and replaces it with “homosexual”. I recall an humoursly interesting headline about basketball player “Tyson Homosexual”

I’ve also noticed that anti-gay folks tend to prefer “Homosexual” or “same sex attracted”. As in “I suffer from same sex attraction, I have committed homosexual acts.”

I would suggest that Timothy is right, at least in my experience, that “gay” does imply a level of acceptance of oneself.

But we’re all just theorizing based on our experiences, aren’t we? Unless, Priya, you have some data that supports your “vast majority” claim?

Timothy (TRiG)
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

The words gay and homosexual do have very different meanings.

TRiG.

Priya Lynn
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

Jason, I suggest you consult the various online dictionaries, you’ll see that virtually every one of them equates gay with homosexual and those with being same sex attracted. In fact your WND example supports my position – clearly by using an auto-correct that replaces gay with homosexual they are equating the two terms.

Trig, the same advice to you, the dictionary describes what words mean to the vast majority of people, not an article on Salon. Its well known that homosexual has a negative connotation and gay may not but in essence both mean same sex attracted:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gay

gay   /geɪ/ Show Spelled [gey] Show IPA adjective, -er, -est, noun, adverb
–adjective
1. having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.
2. bright or showy: gay colors; gay ornaments.
3. given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season.
4. licentious; dissipated; wanton: The baron is a gay old rogue with an eye for the ladies.
5. homosexual.
6. of, indicating, or supporting homosexual interests or issues: a gay organization.
–noun
7. a homosexual person, esp. a male.

To say gay doesn’t refer to a same sex sexual orientation is akin to a christian claiming they love a serial killer means they experience the same emotions around the killer that they do when around their mother or spouse.

Timothy (TRiG)
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

A word’s meaning is more than its definition. Quid and pound have the same definition, but different labels: different degrees of formality. Similarly, gay and homosexual have the same definition, but the meaning of the words is complex and multilayered.

TRiG.

William
June 19th, 2010 | LINK

I agree with Timothy (TRiG). The words “homosexual” and “gay” do have different meanings; or, to put it more precisely, the word “gay” has a connotation which “homosexual” doesn’t have. If you are homosexual, that simply means that the people to whom you are erotically attracted are people of your own sex. To be “gay” means that your attitude to being homosexual is a positive one. To quote George Weinberg in “Society and the Healthy Homosexual” (1972):

“A homosexual person is gay when he regards himself as happily gifted with whatever capacity he has to see people as romantically beautiful. It is to be free of shame, guilt, regret over the fact that one is homosexual…. To be gay is to view one’s sexuality as the healthy heterosexual views his.”

So far as I can understand it, “post-gay”, in the sense in which Randy Thomas et al. use (or misuse) the term, means that you no longer describe yourself as “gay” – if you ever did – since your attitude to homosexuality is a negative one, but that you are still homosexual – or, as they often prefer to put it, “same sex attracted”* – and that you have resolved to spend the rest of your life pretending to yourself and others that you’re not and attempting to live as though you’re not.

*“Same sex attracted” is another of these terms that they like to play useless games with. It is, in fact, simply the meaning of “homosexual”, but they seem to think that, by using a definition of the word instead of the word itself, they can somehow alter reality.

William
June 19th, 2010 | LINK

Just to illustrate my previous point. That famous Quo, who comments on here from time to time, is clearly homosexual. Given his unhealthy and self-oppressive view of his sexuality, however, I would never describe him as gay.

Priya Lynn
June 19th, 2010 | LINK

These nuances to the words gay and homosexual are insignificant to the meaning of both words – same sex attracted. Such distinctions are lost on the vast majority of the public. When you buy into the religious fundamentalist twisting of the words and agree that same sex attracted people who reject their orientation are not gay and are “ex-gay” you are enabling and promoting the deception that gays can and should change same sex attractions into opposite sex attractions. Anyone who says a same sex attracted person like Randy Thomas is not gay is someone who is part of the problem, not part of the solution. As someone said on another thread, you’ve started to identify with your oppressors and are a detriment to the cause of equal rights.

Timothy Kincaid
June 20th, 2010 | LINK

And as is often the case, Priya Lynn, you are entitled to your own opinion.

Priya Lynn
June 20th, 2010 | LINK

Yes, you’ve said that several times Timothy, we got it some time ago. When people can’t rebut an argument they often resort to that statment in an unsupported attempt to imply the argument isn’t factual.

Timothy Kincaid
June 20th, 2010 | LINK

And that is, no doubt, your opinion. To which you are entitled.

Richard Rush
June 20th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said:

“And as is often the case, Priya Lynn, you are entitled to your own opinion.”

Are you suggesting that sometimes Priya is NOT entitled to his or her own opinion?

Timothy Kincaid
June 20th, 2010 | LINK

Oh, no. Priya Lynn is always entitled to her own opinion.

Priya Lynn
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

No, Timothy, you said it correctly the previous time “And as is often the case, Priya Lynn, you are entitled to your own opinion.”

And you of course are entitled to use the terms gay and “ex-gay” in a way that promotes the deception that gays can and have become heterosexual.

Jason D
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Priya, your own, Bolded quote betrays you:
Look at the bold her

“6. of, indicating, or supporting
homosexual interests or issues: a gay organization.
–noun
7. a homosexual person, esp. a male.”

Which is to say that one meaning of gay is support for homosexual interests or issues; a gay organization. ERGO a PFLAG chapter would be considered “gay” even if zero PFLAG members are same-sex attracted.

My request was for “data” that supports your “vast majority” claim. Your provided zero. My conclusion, absent that data is therefor applicable. That we are all speaking from personal experience exclusively.

Priya Lynn
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Jason, gay can be used as an adjective in the context of #6, but that refers to a thing, not a person. When referred to as a noun it means same sex attracted, not “supportive”. You wouldn’t refer to a heterosexual who’s supportive of the gay community as gay, you wouldn’t call Regan Ducasse or Richard Dawkins gay.

The dictionary meanings are based on what the vast majority of people perceive the meaning of a word to be. Yes “homosexual” has negative connotations and “gay” sometimes does not but if you go around saying “Randy Thomas used to be gay but now he’s no longer gay, he’s exgay.” you’ll be leading the vast majority of people to believe he’s converted from gay to heterosexual.

Its sad that some members of our community have bought into the brainwashing and word tricks of groups like Exodus and are now spreading ideas that are counterproductive to the work they normally do in favour of gay equality.

William
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

I adhere to what I said above about the terms “homosexual” and “gay”.

I agree with Priya, however, that the term “ex-gay” is misleading, and, I suspect, usually deliberately misleading, since it is clearly meant to give the impression that the people so designated are no longer sexually attracted to people of their own sex – which, of course, is seldom or never the case.

Ralph Blair, in his pamphlet “Homosexualities: Faith, Facts & Fairy Tales” (1991) makes some interesting observations on “ex-gay” leaders’ slippery use of the term. For instance, Joe Dallas, replying on a radio programme to the charge that the term was deceptive, said that using “ex-gay” was just a quick way of saying, without having to spell it out each time, “Christians who have homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies”, adding, “It just rolls off the tongue better.” Joe Hallett said that “ex-gays” are people who “choose not to act out homosexually and yet feel its pull.” Apparently the long discredited Colin Cook maintained that Christians can say that they heterosexual without lying, even when their desires are still homosexual, because they can claim Jesus’s heterosexuality as their own.

Timothy (TRiG)
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Priya, I think this is the first time I’ve disagreed with you here. I agree with William: the term ex-gay is misleading, but there is still a substantive difference between the words homosexual and gay. As I said once before, I chose to be gay. Finding myself homosexual, I had to chose between being gay or being self-loathing. I went for the healthier option.

TRiG.

Priya Lynn
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Substantive difference? No I disagree, there is a difference but its not substantive. Homosexual has negative connotations and gay sometimes does not but the overwhelming meaning of both words is same sex attracted.

I hope that you’ll reconsider playing into the anti-gay agenda by making statements such as “Randy Thomas used to be gay, but he is no longer gay, he is ex-gay”. This leads people to believe gays can, have, and should change into heterosexuals.

Timothy Kincaid
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

Kindly point out for us exactly who it was here that said “Randy Thomas used to be gay, but he is no longer gay, he is ex-gay”.

You’ve made this accusation twice now using these exact words so surely someone must have used this phrase rather than you just pulling it out of your butt.

Priya Lynn
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

It was a paraphrase of what you said Timothy – “So, yeah, while Randy in undoubtedly still a homosexual, he’s not gay.”.

When you go around saying Randy Thomas is not gay you’re promoting the anti-gay agenda to decieve people into believing that gays can and have become heterosexual.

Priya Lynn
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Further to that, Timothy you said “I am not troubled by the term “ex-gay”. I think it is actually a pretty good description.”.

When you use that to describe self-loathing gay people you are promoting the deception that gay people can and have turned straight.

My statement was a paraphrase of these two comments by you.

Richard Rush
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Just a comment about dictionary definitions (although I suppose I’m stating the obvious): Insofar as language is constantly evolving, a dictionary is a lagging indicator of a word’s full definition at a given point in time. The word “gay” obviously began its use in reference to homosexuals before any dictionary included it. Of course, once a dictionary definition is updated, its latest evolved definition gains more legitimacy.

———

Here is one indication of how people react to the words gay vs. homosexual: There was a recent CBS News/New York Times poll about DADT: 70% said gays and lesbians should be permitted to serve in the military, but only 59% said homosexuals should be permitted!

———

The first time I recall hearing the term “post-gay” was from Exodus, I believe. Until I read this posting here at BTB I just assumed the term “ex-gay” had accumulated some baggage they wanted to shed, and that “post-gay” was the new and improved version – like a fresh coat of paint.

Priya Lynn
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Richard, that poll doesn’t mean that people don’t associate both words with same sex attracted people. What is likely the case is that due to the efforts by anti-gays “homosexual” is associated with same sex attracted people who have AIDS, drug problems, mental illness, and conjures up images of promiscuity, anal sex and feces eating. The word gay conjures up images of same sex attracted people who get married, love each other, people like Ellen, or Elton John.

I have no doubt if you’d have done two polls like this in the 1960’s and asked about whether black people or the N-word people should be allowed the same social access as whites you would have seen a similar disparity but you’d have been hard pressed to say the two different terms refered to two different groups of people.

William
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

“Finding myself homosexual, I had to choose between being gay or being self-loathing. I went for the healthier option.” – Timothy (TRiG)

Just so. You undoubtedly made the right decision, and that is precisely the decision that “ex-gay” ministries do everything that they can to prevent people from making, which is why I condemn them.

Timothy Kincaid
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

Your paraphrase did not accurately reflect my statement, it’s language, it’s intent, or it’s meaning. It was, rather, a “paraphrase” selected for its strawman qualities.

As to whether you think that I’m “promoting deception”, well, you are entitled to your opinion. I think that readers are adequately equipped to measure your argument against my consistent writing over a number of years.

Some may choose to believe you and agree that I have “bought into the brainwashing and word tricks of groups like Exodus” and am “now spreading lies.”

But I doubt it.

Timothy Kincaid
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Richard,

The first time I recall hearing the term “post-gay” was from Exodus, I believe. Until I read this posting here at BTB I just assumed the term “ex-gay” had accumulated some baggage they wanted to shed, and that “post-gay” was the new and improved version – like a fresh coat of paint.

I’m sure that plays a large part. Who wants to be associated with a movement who gave us Richard Cohen, John Paulk, Michael Johnston, and Uganda?

Priya Lynn
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, there’s no strawman about it. You said you have no problem with the term “ex-gay”, that you think its a pretty good description. You’ve also described a same sex attracted person as “not gay”. When you’re in converstations with self-loathing gays like Randy Thomas and he says “I’m not gay” or I’m “exgay” you’re not going to jump in there and and issue the contradictory comment “But you are homosexual” every time. You’re not going to add that caveat every time you refer to a self-loathing gay as “not gay” or “ex-gay”. That means, no ifs, ands, buts, or maybes, that you’re going to be promoting the deception that gays can and have become heterosexuals and you’ll be making efforts counter-productive to the usual work you do to advance gay equality. You can delude yourself all you want and claim you’re not doing that but you most certainly are.

That’s tragic and I hope you’ll reconsider the damage you’re doing to our cause by blindly using the anti-gay tactics of referring to same sex attracted people as “not gay” and “ex-gay”.

Richard Rush
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Priya wrote,

Richard, that poll doesn’t mean that people don’t associate both words with same sex attracted people. What is likely the case is that due to the efforts by anti-gays “homosexual” is associated with same sex attracted people who have AIDS, drug problems, mental illness, and conjures up images of promiscuity, anal sex and feces eating. The word gay conjures up images of same sex attracted people who get married, love each other, people like Ellen, or Elton John.

While I think you may have gone a little over-the-top there, you are certainly correct. John Aravosis has written about the use of “homosexual.” The difference in some people’s response to the two words would be amusing if it weren’t so depressing.

Timothy Kincaid
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn, that’s your opinion and you are entitled to it.

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