Alan Chambers Prefers “It Gets Worse” Campaign

Jim Burroway

May 5th, 2011

Sometimes you have to wonder what they’re thinking.

On Tuesday, Google premiered their “It Gets Better” ad, with its message of encouragement for teens who endure endless taunting and bullying over their perceived sexuality. Spurred on by a wave of suicides last autumn, Dan Savage launched the “It Gets Better” campaign in which people all over the world have uploaded videos encouraging young people to just hang in there for just a short while longer. If they can somehow find the strength to do that, then things will almost certainly get better.

Google’s ad shows small snippets of celebrities who have contributed to the project. One of them was the character Woody from “Toy Story,” who says simply “You’ll be fine, partner.” His cameo made up all of two and a half seconds of a ninety second commercial. That was enough to send Exodus International President Alan Chambers into a tizzy:

“Children all over the world, including my two children are fans of ‘Toy Story’ and to see a character like that endorsing something that at this point children have no need to know about, it’s disappointing,” he told The Christian Post.

Chambers, who overcame homosexuality and is now a father of two, suspects that if the commercial airs while he and his children are watching a show and “if they happen to see that and ask questions and if they get the full understanding of what the commercial is actually about, we will have to have the conversation. It’s not something I plan to talk to my kids, 5 and 6, about.”

The conversation Chambers could be having with his children is how to handle themselves if they find themselves being taunted and bullying in school. That’s what the commercial was about. If Chambers really isn’t prepared to have that conversation, then he is really falling down as a father.

But of course, that’s not what Chambers is worried about. It’s the message that, even for gay teens who feel very much alone, it will, at some point, get better. Chambers protests, “”For organizations like Exodus International, which has thousands of men and women like me who have lived a gay life, it obviously didn’t get better living a gay life for them.” Perhaps he’d be happier with an “It Gets Worse” campaign instead. After all, that is at the core of their message:

David in Houston

May 5th, 2011

I’m guessing that the next generation of gay kids won’t be as self-loathing as Mr. Chambers.

Kelly

May 5th, 2011

I am so sick of people wailing and moaning that their kids are too young for this topic (even if the ad were really about being gay and not, as Jim rightly points out, about bullying). For the love of God, how hard is it to say “sometimes a boy likes a boy or a girl likes a girl.” You can even add “in our religion, we don’t believe that’s okay,” if you must, but is there anything in any of that remotely inappropriate for children or that they need to be sheltered from? I grow more and more angry at this aspect of the anti-gay argument by the second.

David Foreman

May 5th, 2011

Of course the drug addicted, promiscuous homosexual exists. So does the drug addicted, promiscuous heterosexual. Showing only those aspects to try to prove a point is ludicrous. It’s stupid. It’s close-minded. It’s a part of (I know this is strong) fundamentalist brain-washing.
And it’s exactly where I used to be.
It took a miracle of grace for me to realize the truth in what Jim Burroway is talking about.
I’ve seen videos of 8-year-old children shouting rants of racism. When you’re raised that way, it’s mighty hard to see another view point. The same is true of homophobia.
We need programs like “It Gets Better” so that, in the words of David in Houston, “the next generation of gay kids won’t be as self-loathing as Mr. Chambers.”

Jarred

May 5th, 2011

Yes, heaven forbid that Alan’s children learn that (1) some kids actually have feelings for people the same sex as them and (2) some other kids find consider that a valid reason to bully them. I mean, we can’t have kids learning about the reality they’re going to have to live in someday, right?

enough already

May 5th, 2011

Of course, in the end – that’s really what this is all about, isn’t it, Jarred – boys having feelings.

Unless, of course they are anger and bloodlust, then they are good.

The Christians who do these things are so uncertain of their masculinity it is beyond belief.

jOHN

May 5th, 2011

I guess he can’t really explain that it is about people bullying other people…since he is one of the bullies!

Richard Rush

May 5th, 2011

Like a huge part of the anti-gay strategy, Alan’s response is calculated to subtlety exploit the ignorant glimmer of fear in multitudes of parents that their kids could be influenced to become gay. I think most parents, who may not be particularly bigoted toward gay people, don’t want their own kids to be gay. But they are so ignorant, they fear a mere conversation could make a kid gay. And that fear and ignorance is continually exploited. I think our frequent losses in voter referendums are based largely on that strategy.

Timothy Kincaid

May 5th, 2011

It’s not that hard to explain. As Patti Davis illustrates with this story about her father, Ronald Reagan,

I was about eight or nine years old when I learned that some people are gay — although the word ‘gay’ wasn’t used in those years. I don’t remember what defining word was used, if any; what I do remember is the clear, smooth, non-judgmental way in which I was told. The scene took place in the den of my family’s Pacific Palisades home. My father and I were watching an old Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie. At the moment when Hudson and Doris Day kissed, I said to my father, “That looks weird.” Curious, he asked me to identify exactly what was weird about a man and woman kissing, since I’d certainly seen such a thing before. All I knew was that something about this particular man and woman was, to me, strange. My father gently explained that Mr. Hudson didn’t really have a lot of experience kissing women; in fact, he would much prefer to be kissing a man. This was said in the same tone that would be used if he had been telling me about people with different colored eyes, and I accepted without question that this whole kissing thing wasn’t reserved just for men and women.

Unless, of course, you want to tell children that kissing is, indeed, reserved.

Jarred

May 5th, 2011

Richard: I agree with you. Of course, the thing is that Alan isn’t merely playing on the fear that their kids might turn gay. He’s playing on the fear that they might turn gay, and therefore will also become sexual addicts, drug addicts, and alcoholics and otherwise lead self-destructive lives.

And that’s what’s disgusting about Alan’s and the rest of the ex-gay/anti-gay industry’s continued attempts to equate gayness to self-destructive behavior and otherwise imply that they go hand-in-hand. Because they know that most parents would learn to accept it if little Jimmy built a life with Brian instead of Brenda. But hey, tell them that little Jimmy will end up in a hospital, dying by age twenty, and any parent who believes you is going to freak out.

Ezam

May 5th, 2011

The first question his kids should ask is whether daddy truly loves mommy.

Steve

May 5th, 2011

I have long worried that ex-gay leaders really haven’t wanted to prevent suicide by gay people, young and old, but with this statement Chambers makes it clear that the survival of young people is none of his concern.

Infuriating.

As a side note, he’s also happy to neglect his own kids’ well-being. At 5 and 6, the path to healthy, functional adulthood includes awareness that the world is a diverse place, and sharing their neighborhood or playground with people who are different is normal and un-scary.

I’m struggling to get my arms around the implications of this statement: It’s not something I plan to talk to my kids, 5 and 6, about. So, the kids don’t know what gay is, and may be shielded from knowing for years? By extension, the kids are somehow blocked from having anything but a sanitized description of Daddy’s career.

Golly… even being ex-gay is too icky and shameful to share with them, no matter how holy and Godly.

Shofixti

May 5th, 2011

He speaks as if exhibitionism isn’t also a major aspect of social heterosexuality. And he doesn’t guide the listener is understand what does and what does not count as exhibitionism. When I wear a singlet (um, undershirt?) to a gay club, sometimes I feel that I am being a little exhibitionist *chuckle*.

It is overreaching and a little desperate to offer only one reading of the ‘eroticism’ of the man’s body and of his masculinity. Any choices a person makes to look-good or dress-well or appear attractive is related to the soft eroticism of the body, even if you have no intention of being sexually available. Every male news anchor and reporter on television is wearing more make-up than I ever have. Dance itself is an erotic act that draws attention to the physical, sensual and gendered performances of the flesh.

Eroticism just isn’t a damning word unless you pair it with massive ignorance and bias. The only eroticism that is a threat to him is the one that contradicts the naturalness of heterosexuality.

Lindoro Almaviva

May 5th, 2011

The conversation Alan Chambers fears is having to tell his sons he was a gay man and still is a self hating closet case who prays every day that god will take his attraction for other men away while he lives a lie with a woman that he is with out of duty and not out of any attraction.

That is the conversation he fears, but rest assured Alan, they will figure it out and they will see you for the sad human being who you are. San enough to be convinced that God is some kind of bigot incapable of unconditional love.

The sad part is what will happen in your deathbed, when you realize that it was all bull and you wasted your life.

Richard Rush

May 5th, 2011

A gay boy feels he’s under a curse,
and Alan’s there to make sure It Gets Worse.
It’s all part of his quest,
and he knows he’s been blessed
when the boy rides away in a hearse.

Hunter

May 5th, 2011

One has to wonder at the unbelievably primitive idea of “morality” people like Chambers must have — perhaps coupled with a complete lack of any ability at self-examination — to come out with crap like this.

Lightning Baltimore

May 5th, 2011

Aside from the BS alredy pointed out, this part really jumps out at me:

For organizations like Exodus International, which has thousands of men and women like me who have lived a gay life

(emphasis mine)

Thousands? That’s it? When I hear/read that enumeration used, I tend to assume it means between one and ten thousand. Otherwise, I’d expect to hear/read “tens of thousands,” or “hundreds of thousands,” or, better yet, “millions.”

Exodus proudly trumpets on their site that they have been in existance for over 35 years, yet their leader states that only a few thousand people have been “helped.” Maxing out at ten thousand people helped to “overcome” homosexuality, that averages at 286 people per year. With “over 240 local ministries” just in the USA and Canada, that means each ministry has one or fewer “successful” conversions per year. Impressive, no?

Uhhhhh . . . No.

Regan DuCasse

May 6th, 2011

I’m still smiling over the large brood the Hams have adopted in AZ. Those children ranged in age from 2 to nearly 16. They don’t look the least bit harmed by knowing that their dads are gay. Nor their neighbor’s kids.
These men saved the lives of their children and kept otherwise separated sibling sets together.
Heroic on their part.

I’m still smiling over the little six year old when informed that the guys he was talking to were a married couple his response was, ‘oh, like, you LOVE each other! Wanna go play some ping pong?”

Only a nasty mind like Chambers would see something sinister, inappropriate or dirty in a little child knowing that there are healthy, happy, committed gay folks out there. Who not incidentally, have children they are rescuing from life without a family.
Something Chambers didn’t achieve himself.

Well…tough!

Paul J. Stein

May 6th, 2011

It is truly sad when someone is frightened by persons different from themselves showing love and compassion for one another. Jesus would be very pissed off.

Priya Lynn

May 6th, 2011

Regan said “I’m still smiling over the little six year old when informed that the guys he was talking to were a married couple his response was, ‘oh, like, you LOVE each other! Wanna go play some ping pong?””.

Yes, that was one of my favourites too. It showed that children will accept gayness in a matter of fact manner and the idea that knowing this will “sexualize” them is bunk.

Dan Brooks

May 6th, 2011

OK, Alan Chambers had two children, maybe even by actually having sex with his wife. Well, I can have sex and even successfully climax with a female (and I have), but that doesn’t mean I am really into those feelings. And having kids is a “good reason” to stay together, as even most heteros know (or like to believe). But I would bet in the long run that Alan Chambers is not happy, and he struggles with same-sex feelings a lof of the time. The things one does for their religion. I always thought one’s faith was a positive influence on one’s wellbeing and happiness; I know mine is. Exodus Intl. is a big farce!

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2011

Regan

These men saved the lives of their children and kept otherwise separated sibling sets together.
Heroic on their part.

amen

But to be fair, both of Alan Chamber’s kids are adopted.

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2011

Dan,

Let’s let Alan’s life be his life to live as he likes. He says that he is happy and – as I’d prefer that he believe us when we talk about our lives – I’ll believe him.

And it’s irrelevant to us whether or not he really is happy. What matters is whether WE are happy. And we are.

It DOES get better.

Richard Rush

May 6th, 2011

Dan Brooks said,

OK, Alan Chambers had two children, maybe even by actually having sex with his wife. Well, I can have sex and even successfully climax with a female (and I have), but that doesn’t mean I am really into those feelings.

Exactly. I have a friend who produced six biological children during 24+ years of marriage, and then walked away to finally live his gay truth. And trust me, every indication is that he is 100% gay. Then we have groups like Exodus doing everything possible to create more of these sad stories. Obviously, these groups are not directly advocating men walking away from marriages involving children, but the fact remains they promote all the conditions whereby homo side-sex and/or walking away are likely outcomes.

And by the way, my friend is still a father to his children, and supports them.

Ben in Atlanta

May 6th, 2011

It’s possible to be openly faithy and openly gay at the same time. We roll holy and have fun doing it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiH9UfZSMsE

Donny D.

May 9th, 2011

Richard Rush wrote,

I have a friend who produced six biological children during 24+ years of marriage, and then walked away to finally live his gay truth. And trust me, every indication is that he is 100% gay.

I don’t think so. :)

(I’m assuming by “100% gay” you mean exclusively homosexual.)

Shofixti

May 9th, 2011

It might be better for people to be free to choose the words that work for them – without having to fit another’s prescription of what does and does not constitute gay.

Richard Rush

May 9th, 2011

Donny,

Obviously I have no way to absolutely positively confirm that my friend is 100% gay (homosexual), but, for all practical purposes, I’m going to stand by my assessment.

However, I HAVE confirmed that I am 100% gay. So the big question is: If I had allowed myself to succumb to social/religious/family pressures 45 years ago, could I have managed some basic level of functioning with a woman? Possibly. But we will never know because I had/have absolutely no desire to test that theory. I did have a few fleeting series of “dates” with girls in high school and college, but I was knowingly doing what was expected of me by others, not what I wanted for myself.

Just because a guy can function with a woman under duress, doesn’t mean he’s not 100% gay, for all practical purposes. I think the inverse scenario would be similar, but is certainly very uncommon because there is zero social/religious/family pressure to perform homosexually. And then there is the prison-sex phenomenon which adds dimension to the issue.

Blake

October 12th, 2011

So… Chambers has stepped back from his initial criticism: http://exodusinternational.org/2011/10/it-gets-better-letter-from-alan-chambers-for-october-2011/#.TpWaWXJ2Ojj

I saw this on Warren Throckmorton’s blog.

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