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Posts for June, 2012

Dr. Drew Renders Ex-Gay Survivor Invisible

Jim Burroway

June 5th, 2012

In all of the debates over ex-gay therapy, there is one voice that is too often ignored, and that is the voice of the ex-gay survivor. A perfect example of what I’m talking about took place on HLN’s “Dr. Drew” last night. Once again, we have a not very well informed talking head — despite the “Dr.” in the name — providing a platform for someone who has a personal, financial, and political motivation to get her point of view across in offering the false hope that gay people can (and, implicitly, should) change their sexual orientation.

Pinsky’s guest last night was Janet Boynes, who runs an ex-gay ministry that is is closely associated with Marcus Bachman’s clinic. She appeared in her role as a “former lesbian” among the “thousands of former homosexuals” in the country. She also compared those who try to change their sexual orientation but fail (and evidence shows that this is very nearly everyone) to addicts who don’t want to change:

Boynes: There are thousands of people out there that are living the heterosexual live that are no longer homosexuals. And if you don’t want to change, as you well know Dr. Drew, you work with people that are on drugs, alcohol, pornography, and you know and you’ve said this before and I’ve heard you kn many of your shows, if you don’t want to change, you’re not going to change. If your heart is not right to change, you’re going to stay the same way.

Dr. Jallen Rix, an exgay survivor and author of Ex-Gay No Way: Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse, had originally been booked as a guest on the program, but was later demoted at the last minute to a “call-in” from California. Boynes clear voice and face was made available via video remote from Minneapolis, a technology that also exists in the San Francisco bay area, but once again we have the sharp disparity in visibility — literally — beween a polished, politically saavy ex-gay advocate and an invisible voice over a low-fi phone line. In one last symbolic insult (albeit perhaps an unintentional one) Pinsky fumbled Jallen’s name despite his program having originally booked Jallen before changing their minds and going with Boynes exclusively:

Rix: As an ex-gay survivor myself, and now as a sexologist, who has studied the damaging effects of reparative therapy and ex-gay ministries, I can tell you that I have been inside these ministries and they are hotbeds of religious abuse. I have really never seen anyone truly change their orientation and what I’ve experienced there has been great shame, great depression, and others feeling hopelessness, having suicidal tendencies, heightened fear, all these things not because they’re trying to work the process but because the process did not work for them.

And as a result, they felt like a failure. You know, you’re talking about pain. I think we need to look very carefully at the messages that reparative therapies and ex-gay ministries put out. Because essentially they are saying that homosexuality does not really belong in their society. If there was a real perfect society, everyone would be heterosexual. How close is that message to what the bully says, when he says, “Well, you know what? I don’t think you, as a homosexual, belong around, and I’m going to do something about it.” …

Rix got about a minute and a half before Pinsky cut in to say that he was running out of time. But Pinsky still had another minute to give Boynes the last word. And I can think of no better example of Boynes’s lack of self-awareness than the fact that she took up much of that time complaining that Dr. Drew and others never put ex-gay advocates on their programs so they could further promote their “change is possible” mantra — after having had an entire segment to herself on Dr. Drew’s program. Meanwhile, ex-gay survivors remain invisible.