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Posts for August, 2013

This Is What Ex-Gay Pride Looks Like

Jim Burroway

August 1st, 2013

They had promised the spectacle of “thousands of ex-gays” descendending on Washington, but in the end about ten people — ten! — showed up for what was billed as an “ex-gay pride” demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to demand “their rights,” or something. Chris Doyle’s group, Voice of the Voiceless, which organized the event, has a longstanding habit of co-opting the language of the civil rights movement, claiming that ex-gays are a persecuted minority in need of special protections under the law. The inherent contradiction of an “ex-gay” minority status — um, wouldn’t that just be straight? — is never explained or resolved. I guess they hoped you wouldn’t see the fundamental flaw in that logic.

But ignoring fundamental flaws in logic is precisely what Doyle was trained for, seeing as he is a protege of Richard Cohen of couch-cuddling and pillow-whacking fame (and, more sinisterly, providing a speaker for the notorious 2009 anti-gay conference in Kampala featuring Scott Lively).

In the video above, you see Chuck Peters, the research assistant for Voice of the Voiceless, condemning gay rights advocates for being “bigoted,” “heterophobic.” “Why can’t I choose who I love?”, he pleads, asking a question no one has ever bothered arguing. But his best domonstration of his heterosexuality came when he schooled the crowd — nope, too small. Group? Fellow taxi-sharers? —  in the signature ex-gay cheer: “Hip hip hurray for ex-gays!” So nineteenth century, guys.

Anyway, despite claiming that there are “tens of thousands of ex-gays,” fewer than tens showed up. According to Right Wing Watch:

Besides Doyle, ex-gay activists Greg Quinlan of Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays (PFOX), Richard Cohen of the International Healing Foundation and Douglas McIntyre of Homosexuals Anonymous also participated.

Equality is Persecution

Rob Tisinai

November 2nd, 2012

Homosexuals are seeking special rights, blah, blah, blah. We hear this all the time, and all the time it’s the same mistake:

Our opponents are so freaked out by equal treatment under the law that they are unable to read the law.

Today’s example comes from, Greg Quinlan,  president of PFOX (Parents and Friedns of Ex-Gays and Gays), with an editorial on a Christian website:

…homosexuals have now moved beyond equal rights to the “more equal than you” level. As a result, gay organizations are working to ban that practice they fear the most — heterosexual behavior.

Witness the ban on heterosexual therapy successfully pushed by homosexual groups in California.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this ban, but I’m absolutely clear on one thing: it should be discussed accurately. Quinlan fails. He states:

In short, parents can attempt to change a child’s gender, but they can’t change their child’s sexual orientation unless it is to a homosexual identity.

Wrong. According to the law, here’s what’s actually banned:

Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under 18 years of age.

This is no mere quibble with Quinlan’s language. The entire thrust of his article is the supposed elevation of  homosexuality at the expense of heterosexuality. Yet the law treats them exactly the same.

We see this over and over form our opponents:

  • They claim marriage equality will outlaw traditional marriage.
  • They claim hate crime laws punish anti-gay violence more harshly than anti-straight violence.
  • They claim anti-discrimination law only makes it illegal to discriminate against gays, not straights.

None of these things are true. None of these laws favor gays at the expense of straights. No one who takes a moment to read the language of the law could make such a mistake.

Or so you’d think.

I don’t know whether our opponents’ problem is deception, ignorance, or some psychological inability to read simple words while afflicted with bias. More and more, I suspect it’s an affliction. In any case, your response can always be the same: Show me the language.

If your phone can access Google, then hand it over and watch them flail. You might not convince them — probably won’t convince them — in fact, research indicates you’ll likely leave them more convinced of their error — but if you put them in a tough-enough spot, you might just dampen their enthusiasm for spreading untruth.

Press Release of the Day

Jim Burroway

November 1st, 2012

Less common than emails of the day, but sometimes just as crazy. This one is from PFOX’s Greg Quinlan:

The homosexual push for “equal marriage,” otherwise known as genderless marriage, can only lead to a ban on heterosexual rights. With a President in power who endorses gay causes and readily misuses executive orders, and emboldened by their numerous wins for gay rights at the legislative and judicial level, homosexuals have now moved beyond equal rights to the “more equal than you” level. As a result, gay organizations are working to ban that practice they fear the most — heterosexual behavior.

Witness the ban on heterosexual therapy successfully pushed by homosexual groups in California. Even though no scientific evidence exists of a “gay gene,” parents in California are now prohibited from taking their children to see a therapist to resolve their child’s unwanted same-sex attractions.

Quinlan has long tried to claim that “ex-gays” are a persecuted minority. It now looks like he’s trying to portray straight people — over 90% of the population — as an endangered species. He calls California’s law prohibiting licensed therapists from offering Sexual Orientation Change Efforts to minors a “heterosexual ban.” Which somehow has something to do with same-sex marriage, even though California currently does not have same-sex marriage. Go figure.

NY Times and NPR on Exodus International’s Change in Direction

Jim Burroway

July 7th, 2012

The New York Times describes the ex-gay movement as being convulsed by Exodus International president Alan Chambers turning away from Reparative Therapy and other forms of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE). You can see some of those “convulsions” from NARTH’s David Pickup, who claims that “my homosexual feelings began to dissipate and attractions for women grew” as a result of Reparative Therapy. PFOX’s Greg Quinlan plays armchair psychologist and says, “I think Mr. Chambers is tired of his own personal struggles, so he’s making excuses for them by making sweeping generalizations about others.”

And from a theological standpoint, Robert Gagnon has come forward to denounce Chambers’s move. And you can always tell when Gagnon gets upset that others don’t recognize the sheer genius of his theological insights. (Right Timothy?) He countered Chambers’s move with a 35-page response (PDF: 729KB/35 pages!). I’ll let you read it. Chambers himself hasn’t responded, but in the broken-clock-is-still-right-twice-a-day category, I’ll suggest you look at how Exodus former VP Randy Thomas reacts. I’ve had plenty of disagreements with Thomas on a number of things, but I’ve always enjoyed his wit. He’s in fine form today.

Gagnon’s irritation with Exodus is not insignificant. It was only a year ago when Gagnon gave a Wednesday morning plenary talk at the Exodus conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, followed by two workshops. It was his first time spelling at Exodus, and I’m guessing it will probably be his last.

NPR’s All Things Considered also featured a story in Exodus International yesterday. You can find audio and a write-up here. In this interview, Chambers talks about another of the many reasons for his change in emphasis: “I believe we’ve been hypocritical. I believe that we have looked at the issue of same-sex attraction differently than we look at anything else.” He expanded on this theme during his opening night plenary talk at the Exodus Conference, and it became an interesting topic for an informal Q&A the next day, which I will talk more about next week.

My very short take-away from my own first-hand experience at the conference is this: There really are significant changes afoot at Exodus. And having looked around and engaged in some rather significant conversations in St. Paul, I have come to the conclusion that change is possible at Exodus. But it has been neither instantaneous nor complete. And if it does come about, it will only be after a very long struggle.

Ex-Gay Leader Says Wayne Besen Wants to Kill Him

Jim Burroway

November 24th, 2011

PFOX, which they say stands for Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays, is actually an increasingly unstable and irrelevant organization composed mostly of Greg Quinlan (an ex-gay whose ex-lesbian wife divorced him in 2007) and a motley crew of embittered parents of apparently happy gays who have no interest whatsoever in entertaining the futile fiction of changing their sexual orientation. The group, which was originally founded by Richard Cohen, has become increasingly detached from reality, even by some of the more extremist anti-gay standards. Quinlan’s latest shtick is going round claiming to be abused, mistreated, and discriminated against because he’s ex-gay. Those claims took an absurd turn when, in a bid to add another jewel to his queen of persecution crown, Quinlan appeared on a local Washington, D.C. television talk show, where he said this:

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(at 10:38) Truth Wins Out if you look further, including Wayne Besen. He’s asked for people, you know, somebody needs to run Greg over. He needs to be hit with a bus. Somebody should inject him with AIDS. Those are the things that Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out says about me. That’s pretty hateful rhetoric.

Accusations of felonious behavior demands proof, and Besen rightly demands that Quinlan produces it. Besen also adds that he is exploring his legal options.

While that libel was the most egregious lie Quinlan told in the interview, it wasn’t the only one. He also accused noted researcher Dean Hamer of lying about his research which found that the Xq28 marker on the X chromosome may play a role in male sexual orientation. (Hamer’s research was replicated by two other studies, but a third one failed to replicate, leading researchers to conclude that the gene may play a role but probably isn’t’ the cause of men becoming gay.) Hamer has also spoken out against Quinlan:

“As a scientist at the National institutes of Health, the largest and best known biomedical research institution in the world, my research has been extensively peer-reviewed, replicated, and published  in respected journals. It’s ironic to be labelled a “liar” by an ideologue who consistently distorts and misreports scientific findings. While I am sympathetic with Mr. Quinlan’s discomfort and struggle with his own sexuality, that is no excuse for misleading people about how science has informed our understanding of  sexual orientation as a natural and fundamental aspect of human development.”

PFOX files an amicus brief

Timothy Kincaid

September 23rd, 2010

Oh you knew it had to be coming. When Judge Walker found that orientation was an immutable attribute, you just knew that PFOX had to present their wackadoodle ex-gays as proof he was wrong. They pair up with Desert Stream Ministries in an amicus brief which extols “the transforming power of Jesus Christ to heal those struggling with unwanted sexual attractions or behavior” and offers “the realistic hope that individuals with same-sex attraction can choose a course of action that enables them to identify and live as whole-enough heterosexuals.”

The sole issue addressed in this brief is whether same-sex attraction is a fixed and immutable characteristic like race. This issue is critically important because, if a court were to erroneously decide that same-sex attraction is an immutable characteristic, as the district court has in this case, a tribunal in the future might be led to further conclude that homosexuals are a “suspect class” for purposes of the Equal Protection Clause. Such an erroneous conclusion would improperly subject laws like Proposition 8 to “strict scrutiny” rather than the existing legally appropriate “rational basis” review.

The specifically object to the following three of Judge Walker’s findings:

44. Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual. Sexual orientation is fundamental to a person‟s identity and is a distinguishing characteristic that defines gays and lesbians as a discrete group. Proponents‟ assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence.

45. Proponents‟ campaign for Proposition 8 assumed voters understood the existence of homosexuals as individuals distinct from heterosexuals.

46. Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.

They argue instead that “sexual orientation is a complex and amorphous phenomenon that defies consistent and uniform definition” and that it is a “mutable characteristic which can shift over time and does so for a significant number of people.” They assert that “both the evidence at trial and the evidence embodied in
this brief clearly show that many people freely choose and change their sexual orientation.”

Now, I dare say that it probably is easier at times to define a person’s sexual orientation than it is their race, especially in California. And if the number is so significant or the choosing so free, than why do they present the same handful of people over and over?

Ah, but PFOX has evidence. To prove that there are thousands of men and women who have successfully left “unwanted homosexuality” behind them and who now “live happy heterosexual lives”, they present four:


Richard Cohen: In that instant, the connection between my childhood abuser and I was cut, and I became free for the first time in my life. With that sense of freedom, I sobbed for about an hour in David’s arms. It was such a release and relief to know that I wasn’t responsible for what had happened and that God had forgiven me. In those moments of release, I found my freedom from same-sex desires. Cutting this neurological connection to the sexual desires freed me from thirty years of relentless pain and an endless pursuit of men.

Oh Lordy. Really. Richard Cohen?

This guy is, shall we say, uniquely peculiar. In fact, he may be the ex-gay ministries’ worst possible nightmare: a wackadoodle that is unafraid of going on television to show just what kind of loon he is.

Alan Medinger (now deceased): But things were desperate enough that after six or seven weeks of agonizing, on Tuesday, November 26, 1974, I went to an interdenominational meeting with Jim. He didn’t know my problem, nor did anyone there. At some point during the evening, I prayed quietly, “God, I give up. My life is a total mess. I can’t handle it any more. I don’t care what You do; you take over.” And He did.

Within a few days, I knew that some profound changes had taken place in me. First of all, I fell head over heals in love with Willa and I desired her physically. My homosexual fantasies that had almost never left me were gone. And most important of all, I knew that Jesus was real, that He loved me, and I was starting to love Him.

I’ll not speak ill of Medinger; he’s passed on and is unable to defend himself. However, I will note that he was not above quoting and relying on such unscrupulous characters as Paul Cameron and Scott Lively.

Now on to two women about whom I know very little:

Kristin (Johnson) Tremba: God taught me that sexual sin was my attempt to meet legitimate emotional needs in sexually illegitimate ways. He showed me that there were some emotional needs that had not been met in my family relationships growing up, there were some wounds, and so I was attempting to meet these needs and cover these wounds in sexual relationships as an adult. He taught me that there were also things I was born with: a sin nature, a particular temperament, various weaknesses, and a negative body image and negative view of my femininity. He taught me that even though I did not choose all my circumstances and struggles, I could choose to overcome them. I could choose to let God change my life…

Brenna Kate Simonds: My journey to recovery has been long and arduous, but more than worth it. God has helped me in many ways along the path to recovery. Therapy played a key role in expediting my experience of God‟s healing in my life. My own therapy taught me how to help others experience their own journey of healing and restoration.

Well there ya have it. That prove that “same-sex attraction is not an immutable characteristic.” Nope, not at all.

All you need is Jesus. He’s a miracle worker.

PFOX Prez Greg Quinlan’s dating criteria

Timothy Kincaid

July 21st, 2010

The Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-gays (PFOX) is tiny, but interesting, anti-gay group. They are mostly disapproving parents of happily gay people who, along with an ex-gay or two, somewhat pathetically fight against the rights and freedoms of their gay children. I’m sure it must make for interesting table conversation at Thanksgiving.

Their current ex-gay is Greg Quinlan, a rather colorful fellow, who serves as their President. Quinlan’s shtick is going about claiming to be abused, mistreated, and discriminated against because he’s ex-gay. His latest amusing – but decidedly wackadoodle – effort was a disastrously unsuccessful attempt to get Pepsi to change it’s non-discrimination policy to specifically include ex-gays.

Well PFOX doesn’t do much and can’t be too time consuming. And Greg has had plenty of time on his hands since his ex-lesbian wife divorced him three years ago after a short marriage. So he thought he’d go do a little companion shopping at the National Organization for Marriage’s grand tour of empty city plazas, where Courage Campaign’s video camera caught up with him.

Quinlan shows up at the 4:39 point.

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My name is Gregory Quinlan, and I’m uh.. this is PFOX, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays. We advocate for the rights of former homosexuals.

If you can change from straight to gay, why can’t you change from gay to straight. That’s what I did nearly 19 years ago.

It’s a matter of choice. Now choices can be hard, choices can take a lot of effort. It did for me. But, it’s still a choice.

[videographer: Are you married?]

No.

[videographer: Why did you make that choice?]

Well, uh the choice?

[videographer: of not being married?]

Of not being… oh, it’s not that I’ve made that choice. It’s just that if you know of anybody, send them my way. I live right here in Roxbury Township, up in North Jersey. I’ll give you my name and number afterwords, if you know of anybody who’s available.

[videographer: What does that person look like?]

Female. And breathing.

Yeah… good luck with that, Greg.

Did God Smite Jesus Statue In Blatant Act of Ex-Gay Discrimination?

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2010

That might be one explanation for last night’s Act of God, who destroyed a statue of His Only Begotten Son at Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio. Church members were already trying to discern what it was that God was trying to tell them. Our own commenters have been helping out in that thread. BTB’s Timothy Kincaid and I wonder if maybe this might be a clue:

Then, in 1998 I founded Pro-Family Network, which is a Christian Family Advocacy organization…Also during this time I started, with the help of my pastor’s wife, a ministry at Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio. Living Free Ministries helps those who want to leave the homosexual lifestyle deal with the issues that brought them to gender identity confusion. We have helped scores of people to follow the Manufacturer’s guidelines for successful living. [Emphasis added]

“I” in the above quote is Greg Quinlan, speaking before an Ohio committee considering a marriage discrimination bill. Quinlan knows a little bit about discrimination rhetoric, even if he doesn’t understand what discrimination really looks like. He is now head of PFOX, where he regularly tries to claim that “ex-gays” — otherwise known as straight people, if you believe their propaganda — are being discriminated against by the LGBT community and society. That’s a claim that is too bizarre even for Exodus International vice president Randy Thomas. But it may not be too bizarre for God. Apparently.

Also, it looks like God has also smote Solid Rock Church’s web site.

CA Assembly Dismantles “Cure the Gays” Mandate

Jim Burroway

April 27th, 2010

The California Assembly, in a rare unanimous showing, voted to eliminate a 1950 law declaring homosexuality a deviance and requiring the state to conduct research into ways to cure homosexuality. The only group that voiced opposition to the move was the increasingly radical and unbalanced ex-gay organization known as PFOX, which called California’s move to eliminate the mandate “offensive.”

The measure to repeal the mandate now goes to the state Senate.

Exodus VP: “Disney Makes Right Decision Concerning ‘Ex-Gay’ Policy”

Jim Burroway

March 15th, 2010

Last week, we briefly noted a quixotic attempt by the ex-gay organization PFOX to force a vote among Disney shareholders to recognize “ex-gay” as a sexual orientation. Shareholders instantly recognized it as a complete waste of time, with 98% voting a resounding “no!” Exodus International vice president Randy Thomas thinks Disney made the right call, and finds PFOX’s messaging “confusing”:

It appears they are doing a “find and replace” word processing function on their organizational messaging. They are copying gay activist talking points and replacing every instance of “gay” with “ex-gay.” Greg Quinlan, PFOX’s Director, states that ex-gays are forced into the Disney “closet.” Over the past few years PFOX keeps talking about the “ex-gay community” needing to be added to the laundry list of sexual/gender identities in need of protected class status in various venues.

PFOX had been a member ministry under the Exodus umbrella, but they reportedly parted ways last summer.

98% of Disney Shareholders Say No To “Recognizing Ex-Gays”

Jim Burroway

March 12th, 2010

Um, would that be because they already have that covered by recognizing straight people? PFOX, of course, lives in a bizarre alternate universe of their own.

PFOX and Exodus Part Ways

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2009

Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton has learned that Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) will no longer be affiliated with Exodus International. Exodus President Alan Chambers told Throckmorton that PFOX’s public policy activities do not fit in with the mission and direction of Exodus. David Roberts at Ex-Gay Watch is naturally puzzled by that:

…[I[t seems rather strange as well that Chambers focuses on only this one (public policy) especially since this is an activity with which Exodus is quite familiar.  Still, Exodus has been desperately trying to change their image in this area, and mentioning it here could simply be an opportunity to use the PFOX news for that purpose.

AFA Launces Boycott Against Pepsi; Call Pepsi And Tell Them “Thank You”

Jim Burroway

March 25th, 2009

The American Family Association has teamed up with PFOX to launch a boycott of all Pepsi products. They are upset over Pepsi’s support for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), which the AFA claims promotes “intolerance of the ex-gay community.” Which seems very strange to me. If there is such a thing as an “ex-gay community,” it has to be among the most invisible communities in the world. Sort of like the “leprechaun community” or the “pixie community.” Besides I thought the “ex-gay community” was supposed to be the “straight community.”

Anyway, the AFA’s latest action alert, which is ironically titled, “Pepsi refuses to be neutral in the culture war,” says:

By issuing national press releases against PFOX, by organizing protests at ex-gay conferences, by publishing anti-ex-gay literature, and by opposing ex-gays equal access to public venues, Pepsi-supported Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) contributes to the intolerance of the ex-gay community, stereotypes former homosexuals, and continually misrepresents PFOX’s mission.

PFLAG is a vocal and activist homosexual group that calls those who oppose homosexual marriage “the forces of prejudice and discrimination.” PFLAG not only cheered the California Supreme Court’s ruling on May 15 which legalized same-sex marriage, it was also vociferous in its opposition to Proposition 8, the ballot initiative which restored traditional marriage in California on Election Day.

By funding PFLAG, PepsiCo and its shareholders help promote fear and hostility against the ex-gay community and other heterosexuals. PepsiCo is the leading corporate sponsor of PFLAG.

The AFA wants its members to call Pepsi’s corporate office to complain, and they want their members to call their nearest Pepsi bottling company. From what we hear, Pepsi is being bombarded with nasty phone calls.

So let’s all call Pepsi (914-253-2000 or 1-800-433-2652) and tell them we appreciate their support and their refusal to bow to anti-gay extremists. The boycott also extends to other PepsiCo products, like Frito-Lay (800-352-4477), Quaker Oats (800-367-6287), Tropicana (800-237-7799) and Gatorade (800-884-2867).

And while you’re at it, call your local Pepsi bottler and distributor.

Richard Cohen Is Back In The PFOX and Exodus Orbit

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2009

Richard Cohen is back and he’s on tour, with the full blessing of Exodus International member organization PFOX.

Two years ago, the ex-gay movement was widely embarrassed by Richard Cohen when in July 2006 he revealed his “holding” or “touch” techniques before a nationwide audience. It’s a controversial techniques that Cohen promotes through his International Healing Foundation. Cohen had also been president of the PFOX, but he was forced out after that CNN episode aired.

That embarrassment was compounded when in March 2007 he appeared on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. That prompted PFOX and NARTH to scrub their web sites of all mention of him, and Exodus International publicly distanced themselves from his techniques:

Exodus International does not endorse the work of Richard Cohen or the methods utilized in his practice. Some of the techniques Mr. Cohen employs could be detrimental to an individual’s understanding of healthy relational boundaries and disruptive to the psychological and emotional development of men and women seeking clinical counsel and aid.

That was wise, if belated. Five years earlier, Cohen had already been expelled from the American Counseling Association (ACA) for multiple ethical violations.

Well, that exile didn’t last long. Even though PFOX scrubbed their web site to pretend they had never heard of Cohen, we learned that just a few months later PFOX was referring “clients” to Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. Then last year came word of a possible rapprochement between Exodus and Cohen. That was quite a turnaround considering that Exodus International president Alan Chambers had resigned just a year ealier from PFOX’s board of directors because they hadn’t distanced themselves enough from Cohen

And now PFOX, which through all of this has remained a member in good standing in Exodus’s referral network, is promoting Cohen’s “National Tour!” — complete with exclamation marks. Actually, there are no tour dates set just yet. They’re still begging for people to invite him. But the timing’s no coincidence. Cohen will have a new book out, “Loving Gays the Right Way: The Other Side of Tolerance.”

Let’s see, what would the other side of tolerance be?

To remind you of Cohen’s “healing” techniques, here’s a clip of Cohen on CNN.

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Christine Bakke: Dreams Of A Daughter

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2009

Ex-gay survivor Christine Bakke recently discovered a post that her mother wrote for PFOX, an ex-gay organization. While Christine has left the ex-gay life behind, her mother, quite obviously, is still clinging to the hope that Christine will someday cast aside her integrity to live in the pretend world of the ex-gay movement.

Understandably, Christine’s relationship with her mother is strained, although she points out that her living as a lesbian isn’t the only issue. While Christine doesn’t want to play out the details of their estrangement over public blogs and web sites, she nevertheless recognizes that “my parents didn’t have a choice in me going public with my story. So they’re well within their right to write about me.”

I’ve often wondered how I would respond if my own mother had spoken out publicly against me. I hope that I, too, would recognize that she has the right to do so. But it’s hard to imagine what sort of interpretations I’d put on her motivations. Rejection? Certainly. And fear, probably. But I do think I’d see a misguided love underneath all that. I don’t know whether it would make it easier to understand (she does love me, after all, no matter how misguided) or harder (sensing a love with conditions will never be easy to deal with). But mostly, I think my reaction would be anger — at those who are encouraging her on the path of estrangement, people who have neither her nor my best interests at heart

But I don’t know what my reaction would be. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with that situation. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t try to go through the organized ex-gay route. There wasn’t anyone there to hold out false hope to my mother that I could change.

Every family is different. And in Christine’s case, while she has left the ex-gay movement and has become an outspoken critic of it, her mother is still fully ensconced in one of the more rejecting and confrontational expressions of that anti-gay movement. She is still being encouraged to look for magic signs and snow angel wonders to show that someday Christine will forget all she knows and go back to a life of denial and misery.

I’ve known Christine for more than two years now, and I have always found her gentle heart to be filled with thoughtful consideration for other people. So I couldn’t help but be moved by how she responded to her mother’s post.

Although saying that they love me unconditionally, in the Glamour article my mom said, “When you rock your baby in your arms, you never think one day my daughter will be homosexual and want to have sex with another woman, never have children. No one holds their baby and says maybe they’ll grow up to be a rapist, or this or that. You have dreams for your children.”

Well you know what? Children have dreams for their parents, too. You don’t lay in your parent’s arms and think that you’ll have to defend yourself from them thinking you are lost and damned eternally. You don’t cuddle up and think that one day you’ll find out that they believe that who you are is synonymous with being a rapist. I certainly didn’t have those dreams for my parents. What I did dream instead was that I might be able to express my concerns and be heard. I dreamed that I would be always cherished and deemed worthy of their love and respect, no matter my beliefs. I dreamed that I would be supported in living a life that was truly authentic and truly mine, without the haunting thoughts about what a disappointment I am to them. Those dreams have had to die.

Christine is willing to meet her parents where they are. “I’ve often told people that I don’t mind if they think I’m going to hell, just treat me with respect, love and dignity and we can have a relationship regardless,” she wrote. Obviously, that’s not enough. For many ex-gay survivors, the only route to reconciliation is total capitulation. If only her parents — and the ironically dubbed “pro-family” anti-gay forces which are sustaining a key component of this estrangement — could meet her where she is. If they did, they would find an amazing daughter that any parent would be proud of.

Why must that be so hard?

PFOX Billboard Removed

Jim Burroway

December 26th, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, complaints began to pour in over a billboard for PFOX, which was put up as a “public service” by Clear Channel Outdoors along the I-19 corridor in Tucson. Fortunately, Wingspan, Tucson’s LGBT community center, was able to get the billboard removed, but without an explanation of why it was put up in the first place. Here’s the KVOA-TV report:


[Hat tip: Jason Cianciotto at Wingspan]

Regina Griggs: Ex-gays “Most Bullied and Maligned In America”

Jim Burroway

October 14th, 2008

Regina Griggs, past LaBarbara Award winner, has out out another press release under her PFOX banner, announcing that they are suing the Washington D.C. Office of Human Rights for “failing to protect former homosexuals under its sexual orientation anti-discrimination law.” And get this:

The ex-gay community is the most bullied and maligned group in America, yet they are not protected by sexual orientation non-discrimination laws,” said Regina Griggs, PFOX executive director.

“Former homosexuals and their friends have been fired from their jobs, repeatedly ridiculed, assaulted, and intimidated. This harassment is most often perpetrated by the same groups who demand protection under sexual orientation laws but work to deny ex-gays the same respect.”

Really? The ex-gay community is the most bullied and maligned group in America?

Really, Regina? Are you serious?

Chutzpah isn’t a strong enough word to describe this outrage. I am truly at a loss for words. I’ll let you take over in the comments.

Please provide examples of LGBT people and/or ex-gays being bullied, murdered, or fired from their jobs. I’m all ears.

[Hat tip: Stefano]

PFOX’s Griggs Goes Off the Deep End

Timothy Kincaid

July 30th, 2008

PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays) claims to be a support group of parents and others that support and work for the interests of their ex-gay children and friends. However, a closer look at their activism reveals that they are comprised mostly of a handful of ex-gays, a few parents that wish their children were not gay, and some others who just want to “fight the homosexual agenda”.

And while there may be a place for an organization that fights for civil inclusion for those who identify as ex-gay, this group does not fulfill that function.

Ex-gays face discrimination and hostility in society – most of it based on perceptions and stereotypes. It is not unknown for ex-gay men to appear less masculine or ex-gay women to appear more so than social norms may expect. And while they may have religious objections to homosexuality, many of the employment, housing, and other protections that gay people seek would also benefit those ex-gays who may appear to be gender atypical. So any organization seeking to better the lives of ex-gays could find common cause with the LGBT community on a number of issues.

But PFOX has no interest in common cause. Or even in the civil protections of ex-gays.

PFOX pays but nominal attention to ex-gays and instead expends its efforts in seeking to restrict services and information for gay people, primarily youth. And they have a long history of showing little regard for truth, decency, or integrity in their efforts.

They have distorted the work of reputable scientists, made wild accusations against various schools and youth programs, manufactured “attacks” by gay activists, hurled vile insults against those who disagree with them, and, most recently mangled research to exploit suicide statistics for political positioning.

But now Regina Griggs, and PFOX, have bested themselves. They now have made a claim so phenomenally ridiculous, so homophobic (in the traditional sense of the word), that even anti-gays should be driven to mocking them.

As reported by the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, Griggs opposes Gay-Straight Alliances and other safe spaces for gay teens:

Research shows that individuals often go through periods of gender and sexual confusion as they grow from children to teenagers to adults. Griggs wonders why, then, would schools opt to send children along a dangerous path. “Why are we allowing people to tell them, ‘Try it — you might like it?’ Over 70 percent of young kids 13- to 24-years-old, men having sex with men, are now HIV-positive,” Griggs notes.

Seventy Percent?

That claim is phenomenally stupid, even by anti-gay standards.

As Ed Brayton at ScienceBlogs.com notes:

According to the 2000 census figures, there are roughly 50 million people between the age of 13 and 24. Slightly more than half would be female, so let’s say conservatively that there are 22 million men between those ages. If 2% of them are MSM, that’s 440,000. The percentage of HIV positive MSM between 13 and 24 is more like 3.1%, a far cry from 70%. Okay, it’s probably a bit higher than that because there will be some men in that age group who were diagnosed before 2001, but at the absolute outside we’re talking 5%, not 70%.

I might calculate using different variables, but Brayton is right. HIV infection in gay youth, or even in sexually active gay youth, is FAR from 70%.

Griggs is either a wanton liar or a raging loon. Perhaps both.

UPDATE

I calculate around 0.7% of all gay youth aged 13 to 24 are now HIV-positive.

PFOX Misrepresents LGBT Suicide Research

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2008

It’s very difficult to imagine a more disgusting, callous and cynical act than exploiting the very real problem of LGBT youth suicides for political gain. But that is exactly what PFOX has done. And they did it by deliberately misrepresenting some of the important research studying the very real problem.

PFOX recently responded to a Washington Post article on Gay-Straight Alliances in schools last week:

The Washington Post recently ran a sympathetic article about a 15-year-old boy named Saro who described his homosexual feelings and how Gay Straight Alliance student clubs help such gay teens to deal with discrimination and bullying in high school and middle school.

“What the article failed to describe,” said PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs, “is the danger of young sexually confused teens self-identifying as gays at an early age. Research has shown that the risk of suicide decreases by 20% each year that a person delays homosexual or bisexual self-labeling. Early self-identification is dangerous to kids.”

What Griggs failed to describe was exactly what the article she referenced actually said. That article was “Risk Factors for Attempted Suicide in Gay and Bisexual Youth” by Dr. Gary Remafedi and colleagues (Pediatrics 87 (June 1991): 869-875). This study only looked at a non-representative sample of 137 boys, which means that it is not the kind of study one can draw such specific conclusions. Among the many caveats of this study was that “The circumstances, prevalence, and severity of suicide attempts in this cohort may not reflect the general population of homosexually oriented boys.”

Wayne Besen contacted Dr. Remafedi, who supplied this response:

My work has been cited by PFOX in response to a Washington Post article on gay-straight alliances (GSA),” wrote Dr. Remafedi. “PFOX misuses one of my studies on suicide attempts in gay youth to argue that people should not identify their sexual orientation at young ages. Our findings do not support the contention that young people choose their identity or the timing of events in identity formation. Nor is there any evidence that the availability of GSAs influences those developmental processes.

LaBarbera Award: PFOX’s Gabriel Espinosa

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2007

The LaBarbera AwardIt’s been a long time since I gave one of these out. I almost thought I’d have to retire it. What was I thinking?

Another PFOX member is the latest proud recipient of the LaBarbera Award. This time, it goes to Gabriel Espinosa, who is PFOX President Reginna Grigg’s right hand woman and PFOX webmaster.

The Montgomery County (Maryland) Council is considering a new gender identity nondiscrimination bill, which has generated a lot of heated debate. JimK at TeachTheFacts.org has published a couple of letters from the far-right fringe in opposition to the proposed measure. The sticking point is over men’s and women’s restrooms — who should be allowed to go into which one. Gabriel joined in with her cahrming little note, reportedly done up in about a 40-point font. Please exuse the French:

Bill 23-07

Allowing men who think they’re women into women’s bathrooms and locker rooms?

ARE YOU PEOPLE OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MINDS?

Hopefully, it will be one of your daughters who gets raped first!

Sincerely Yours,
Gabriel Espinosa
President
Furryllama Media Productions

Congratulations to PFOX’s Gabriel Espinosa, today’s LaBarbera Award winner!

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