The Daily Agenda for Saturday, April 21
April 21st, 2012
Celebration of Life Rally: Salt Lake City, UT. The Celebration of Life Rally is to show community support for LGBT people and their allies. The rally is sponsored by Soulforce Equality Ride (which is in Salt Lake City for the next few days), Equality Utah, Utah Pride Center, Ogden’s OUTreach Resource Center, PFLAG, City of Hope Church, Sacred Light of Christ Church, and Affirmation (An affirming group for LGBT Mormons). It goes from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at City Creek Park at N. State and E. 2nd Sts, and features free food, fun, and entertainment.
Circling the Wagons Conference for LGBT Mormons: Washington, D.C. According to their web site:
The goal of the Mormon Stories “Circling the Wagons” conference is to create a space where LGBTQ or SSA individuals and their families and allies can gather to acknowledge, explore and honor shared experiences. No issues strike more deeply than who we love and how we understand and honor God. These issues carry an especially profound weight in Mormon communities and have been the source of a great deal of misunderstanding, judgment and hurt. Consequently, gay Mormons are deeply divided over how to address same-sex attraction and negotiate the choices they face.
In convening this conference, we are inviting LGBTQ Mormons and their families and allies to step beyond historic divisions to establish a shared space where all who have ever self-identified as Mormon and have experienced same-sex attraction can speak truthfully and respectfully. Mormon Stories and the Open Stories Foundation are hosting this conference as an expression of our longstanding commitment to LGBTQ issues and in the spirit of our “Shared Values”
Guest speakers will include author Carol Lynn Pearson; Mitch Mayne, an out gay man who is also executive secretary of his LDS ward; and Sister Jeannine Gramick, a Catholic nun and the co-founder of a ministry in support of LGBT people. The conference takes place today at the Community of Christ, 3526 Massachusetts Avenue NW, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., with dinner provided.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Wall Street Journal Covers Ex-Gay Movement: 1993. The article opens with a description of an ex-gay meeting at the Foursquare Pentecostal Church in Hayward, California, near San Francisco, where a 31-year-old former missionary talked about his dispair over trying to change:
He confesses: “It’s not working, and I don’t know why.” The others, regulars at this Friday-night support group, are sympathetic; they know the temptations of the flesh and the damnation they figure awaits those who succumb. “It’s a matter of will,” says one. “You have to make the choice.” Maybe, suggests another, it is demonic possession.
The erstwhile missionary’s eyes grow watery. He has begged God to free him, has surrounded himself with Christians and spent a month in an in-patient treatment program. But nothing has worked, and thinking about it just makes it worse — especially at these meetings. “I’m having sex, I’m having fun, and I don’t feel bad about it,” he confesses. “Not getting AIDS is all I care about.”
Having sex, having fun and not feeling bad about it are not options here. One of those interviewed was John Evans, who had helped to found Love In Action (which would later move to Memphis), and who had already left the ex-gay movement when his best friend, Jack McIntyre, killed himself over not being able to “change.” McIntyre had spent four years in Love In Action before winding up in the psychiatric ward at Marin General Hospital:
There, in 1977 at age 46, he recorded his thoughts in a letter: “No matter how much I prayed and tried to avoid the temptation, I continually failed. . . . I love life, but my love for the Lord is so much greater, the choice is simple. . . . To continually go before God and ask for forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.”
In room 104, he gave himself Communion, swallowed a lethal nightcap of Valium and Dalmane — tranquilizers and sleeping pills — and lay down on a couch to a quiet death.
By 1993, EXodus International claimed 65 affiliated ministries, but Evans said, “They’re destroying people’s lives. If you don’t do their thing, you’re not of God, you’ll go to hell. They’re living in a fantasy world.” Among those in that fantasy world was John Paulk, who was also interviewed for the Journal:
Mr. Paulk had been a prostitute, a female impersonator named Candi and an alcoholic who tried to kill himself before he decided to become straight and marry an ex-lesbian he met in church last year. “I had no sexual interest in women at all,” he says. “But when you begin a relationship with a woman that you believe God has led you to, then you develop attraction to that person. To say that we’ve arrived at this place of total heterosexuality — that we’re totally healed — is misleading.”
In 1993, Paulk was a cautious “success story” for the nascent ex-gay movement. He would later become much more confident in his “success” while at Focus On the Family. There, he would help found Love Won Out, the traveling ex-gay roadshow and informercial put on in conjunction with Exodus International. (Exodus is now the sole producer of Love Won Out.) He and his ex-lesbian wife, Anne, became the face of the ex-gay movement in a massive publicity campaign in 1998 that culminated in their photo appearing on the cover of Newsweek. In 2000, Wayne Besen photographed Paulk as he was leaving a gay bar in Washington, D.C.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?