Exodus President opposes “It Gets Better” campaign

Jim Burroway and I both independently responded to Alan Chambers' criticism of the Google Chrome It Gets Better ad. While we share the same view, our commentaries come from slightly different perspectives and are both presented here.

Timothy Kincaid

May 5th, 2011

What kind of person would oppose a campaign to combat suicide among gay kids? At what point does one become to opposed to “the homosexual agenda” that they object to telling a kid that the despair they are feeling at that moment will pass, that the oppression they are experiencing will end, that it gets better?

Sadly, there are those with whom we share the planet who are so invested in Culture War and in “us v. them” mentality that they lose sight altogether of the humanity of those with whom they disagree.

This occurs on both sides.

When gay people cannot see religious people in any terms other than “haters” or “Nazis” or when conservatives see gay people only as hedonistic and “enemies of the family”, it justifies any mistreatment that they wish to dole out. Those who differ are no longer people to be persuaded but are instead dehumanized creatures which are deserving of misery, pain, and death. One need no longer keep the instinct to do evil at bay, but can unleash all of one’s inner demons of insecurity and anger and contempt and hatred and care nothing about the consequences. They deserve it.

But usually kids are off limits. Even when throwing intolerance and hate at the “intolerant haters” on the other side, few would go so far as to seek to harm children.

So it shocked me that Alan Chambers, the president of the ex-gay umbrella group Exodus International, would condemn the It Gets Better ad aired by Google Chrome on Tuesday’s episode of GLEE. This program’s goal is clear: discourage suicide, give a message of hope, tell kids to stay alive until it gets better.

But Chambers opposes this campaign, and especially Disney’s lending of Woody to give a message of support (Christian Post):

“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.”

But it isn’t just Woody’s image that has upset Alan. He disagrees with Woody’s message.

Alan Chambers doesn’t want gay kids to know that it gets better. He doesn’t want them to be aware that Anne Hathaway and President Obama and, yes, Woody all think that they are fine just as they are. He wants them to believe that if they accept themselves and love themselves as gay people then it doesn’t get better; it gets worse.

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.

Alan’s message to bullied teens is this: the bullies are right. You are broken and unless you follow the dictates of my beliefs then you will be miserable “living a gay life”. The only way for it to get better is to join Exodus and live a life of struggle and celibacy and eternal hoping for the miraculous.

I was hopeful when Exodus dropped the “Day of Truth”, their school based program for condemning gay students. Alan recognized that this program encouraged and endorsed bullying and – at that time – resolved not to contribute to the problem.

I’m saddened that his resolve seems to have disappeared.

enough already

May 5th, 2011

Timothy,
I think you have lit upon something which is of consequence.
There is a reason for the Christians who oppose our rights behaving lately as if they were beyond any appeal to decency, even towards children.

By now, just about everyone knows that there really is no medical, psychological,
social or legal reason to discriminate against gays and the transgender. Those who have accepted this and moved on were rational but misguided Christians.

Those who are now left are so irrational, that they stop at nothing – even harm to children – to achieve their goals.

It’s what always happens – there aren’t many racists left in America compared to the 1950’s. Those who are still here though – wow. Same with women-hating men. Not so many now as at the peak of anti-feminism when the Mormons defeated equal rights for women. Today’s misogynists however, literally want to end contraception, abortion and all rights of a woman to govern her own body.

Jaft

May 5th, 2011

enough – not necessarily. I know someone who goes to Mass with me every Sunday who wouldn’t likely go out seeking any protests against homosexuality any time soon, when debating whether gay parents should be allowed to baptize their child didn’t understand why you would keep someone from baptisism just because you disagree with their parents, and knows (and still spends time with) many friends from high school who came out gay.

He also would never vote in support of us being able to adopt or marry, doesn’t believe in the American Psychological Association because they gave into social pressure from only a segment of society, and would tell you that maybe the reason that so many kids are committing suicide is because being gay *is* a psychological disorder (or at least a disorder of some kind).

And, since he’s Catholic, he does believe that its something you’re born with and not by choice.

And none of this because he particularly hateful towards anyone; only because he legitimally believes all this on grounds that he would make a logical argument for. All of this is intellectually sound for him.

Racism isn’t gone in America not because hardly anyone looks at another person with darker skin and gets utterly angry anymore. Racism isn’t gone because assuming that a black child will be less intelligent doesn’t come from any place of anger or dislike and doesn’t come from any overarching viewpoint of black people. That’s all the person was used to seeing from black children so, just like someone assumes to talk down to children in general because using a large vocabulary generally won’t be understood by them, this person assumes, “Well, of course this 15-year-old won’t understand basic math.”

Or like assuming you can expect certain things of women simply because, fundamentally, women are different from men. And then not realizing how these mentalities breed, for example, this unthought-about, assumed double standard of what’s acceptable sexually for men and then for women.

Very much like the black community in America, there will come a time when we won’t need to worry about the individual who’s committed their entire time to making sure we don’t have rights (the individual trying to get out the vote on Prop. 8, for example) but the person who votes *for* Prop. 8, even though they’d never volunteer to help with the movement.

Boo

May 5th, 2011

Why on earth does this surprise you? Exodus’ entire business model depends on it not getting better for gay kids. Happy healthy gay kids become happy healthy gay adults, aka not Exodus customers. To applaud the It gets Better campaign would be inviting his own irrelevance.

Hunter

May 5th, 2011

Are you really surprised? Chambers has a lot invested in being ex-gay, and the fact that it’s paying his salary is probably the least of it. If it does get better, then he’s a failure. Not many people can deal with that.

Hunter

May 5th, 2011

A further thought: it’s all about him, isn’t it?

Richard Rush

May 5th, 2011

To follow on to what Boo said:

For groups such as Exodus, et al., a happy homo is a threat to be overcome, whereas an unhappy homo is a hot prospect. It’s no surprise they want to fertilize and cultivate unhappy homos, but pour weed killer on the happy ones.

Erin

May 5th, 2011

“When gay people cannot see religious people in any terms other than “haters” or “Nazis””. Really, Timothy? Must you play into the “Christophobe” nonsense peddled by the religious right? The vast majority of people in this country are religious. That means we gays wouldn’t have too many friends if we labeled every religious person as a Nazi or a hater. It should be obvious, we have a problem with the cowards who hide behind religion as an excuse for homophobia. Despite the fact I do not care for religion, and know full well the 3 most popular faiths of the world have doctrines against me, I know plenty of laid back, decent religious people who know enough to not take every word literally, and aren’t huge hypocrites when it comes to what their religion teaches them. Please stop buying into this crap that the gay side is just as guilty in providing hateful labels to entire groups of people. For the most part, we’re not.

Marcia

May 6th, 2011

Good article but I’m disappointed to see Timothy walking with eyes wide open right into the false equivalency tar pit.

While many gay people may be irrationally anti-religion (as are many straights), I don’t know of any organized effort on the part of gays to deny straight couples the right to marry, adopt children, or even be protected from being fired from their jobs on account of being heterosexual.

I haven’t heard any opposite-sex couples with children report gay neighbors that harass them, nor have I heard of straight people being beaten senseless or worse by gangs of heterophobic gay men; nor have I heard of any gay-friendly religio-political group helping engineer lethal laws against gays in foreign countries.

I haven’t heard any straight talk radio hosts cynically dismissing the suicide rate among straight teens with the comment, “well, when you don’t live according to the Ten Commandments, what do you expect?”

And can Timothy name any high-profile gay groups who claim to have ‘helped thousands come out of heterosexuality’? I doubt it.

Marcia

May 6th, 2011

***nor have I heard of any gay-friendly religio-political group helping engineer lethal laws against gays in foreign countries.***

Make that “straight people in foreign countries.” Sorry, y’all.

Rowan

May 6th, 2011

Erin acknowledging the fact that a large number of those who openly campaign against Gays and Lesbians do so from a religious standpoint isn’t playing into the religious right’s Christophobe foolishness, it’s merely a statement of truth. The most virulent homophobic organizations and individuals preach their hate while standing on their religious teachings as their excuse to justify it and include those who do not speak up against those claims as being supporters of their cause. Just because Jane is religious and tolerant in a one on one situation doesn’t really count for much when she doesn’t speak out because those with similar religious beliefs that ARE vilifying LGBT declare that they DO speak for Jane. Remaining silent is merely enabling those to continue to inflict their hatred on LGBT youth, while “we” are being accused of painting “all religious people” with the same brush, those on the opposing side are doing so as well, with Pride in their actions.

Richard Rush

May 6th, 2011

One critical question I have is, does Alan Chambers, as a faux-no-homo pro, blow no mo’ homos, though? Does anyone really know? Have we been snowed? After all, I know some gay guys who tell me that if it were not for hook-ups with married men, they would never get sex.

Alan’s evil resistance to anti-bullying efforts is essential for maintaining a steady stream of unhappy homos into Exodus. Some of them will graduate as certified faux-no-homos who will then go on to deceive unsuspecting women into marrying them. As any heads-in-the-sand pro-family group would say, anything is better than homos following their natural instincts.

But the good news is that Exodus continues to produce more married men to hook up with my gay friends who would otherwise not get any sex.

ken

May 6th, 2011

“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”

If Alan is so concerned about his children being “exposed” to gays, why does he let them watch GLEE?

Priya Lynn

May 6th, 2011

Jaft said “I know someone who goes to Mass with me every Sunday who wouldn’t likely go out seeking any protests against homosexuality any time soon…He also would never vote in support of us being able to adopt or marry, doesn’t believe in the American Psychological Association because they gave into social pressure from only a segment of society, and would tell you that maybe the reason that so many kids are committing suicide is because being gay *is* a psychological disorder (or at least a disorder of some kind)….And none of this because he particularly hateful towards anyone; only because he legitimally believes all this on grounds that he would make a logical argument for.”.

Ahhh – No. Logic shows that his beliefs are wrong so no, he can’t make a logical argument for his position and given that, his beliefs are not legitimate.

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2011

Richard,

To answer your question, I believe that Alan is being truthful when he says that his sexual activity is solely within the confines of his marriage and only with his wife. Obviously, there is no “proof” that there is no outside activity (you can’t prove a negative) but I think he’s telling the truth.

Exodus and anti-gay activists survive by claiming that our testimony is a lie. When we say we are happy, they declare, “But there is no real happiness or peace in the homosexual lifestyle!”

That is infuriating – not only because it is false and because it is used as a tool against our lives and our freedom – but also because it calls us liars and fools. It says that we are so stupid that we cannot even tell whether or not we are happy and so dishonest that we can’t tell the truth.

Let’s not repeat the insult. If Alan Chambers is happy in his marriage – then what does it make us when we insist that he is not?

Are we so very dense that we cannot even imagine that he could be happy? Are we so dogmatic that we require everyone to feel exactly as we do? Are we so driven by politics that we don’t care about the truth and only want to be said what advances our goals?

I hope that I am not and nor are you or our other readers.

Let’s let his truth be his truth. Let’s let Alan live his life as he sees best without mocking it or calling it fake.

But let’s be vigilant to protect ourselves and fight the battle that matters: not Alan’s life, but ours.

Priya Lynn

May 6th, 2011

Timothy said “Are we so very dense that we cannot even imagine that he could be happy?”.

No, but when Alan says he struggles every day to deny what comes naturally to him it does raise some questions about how happy his marriage is. If a gay person said they were happy and then also made a similar statement that called his happiness into question the anti-gays would also be justified in questioning whether or not he was telling the truth about his happiness. However, most gay people who say they are happy aren’t also making statments that call that claim into doubt.

Erin

May 6th, 2011

Rowan, there are religious people who speak up for gays. The point is was making is what Marcia said. I’m very disappointed with the false equivalency. I for one have nothing to apologize to Alan Chambers and other bigots who hide behind religion about. They can bitch I’m anti-religion all they want. I’m opposed specifically to their anti-gay bigotry.

Dr Gallagher

August 6th, 2011

From a psychological viewpoint, I refer you to the following:
http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_changing.html

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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