A Few Hickups In Exodus’ Message Machine
July 16th, 2008
Exodus International’s annual conference went under way in Asheville, North Carolina yesterday, and their messaging machine was rolling along. We’ve often noted before how Exodus carefully tailors their message for different audiences, and ths time is no exception. Exodus President Alan Chambers told the Ashevile Citizen-Times, “The truth is that homosexuality does not send people to hell. Gay people live in heaven. It’s not about fire and brimstone, it’s about an alternative option.”
Chambers’ most recent comment is a drastic turnaround from just ten months ago, when he labeled the push for equality under the law an “evil agenda” last fall. But we’ve seen twists and turns in Chamber’s message before. Exodus is very good at modifying its message depending on the audience. You may recall that Alan Chambers had a similar charm offensive in advance of last year’s Exodus conference in Irvine, where he downplayed “change,” a statement from which he appeared to have backtracked somewhat a few days later. And his charm offensive turned decidedly ugly with his snide remarks in response to heartfelt apologies from former Exodus leaders.
While Chambers has nice words for the newspapers, Exodus vice-president Randy Thomas, like many vice-presidents, takes the roll of attack dog:
Thomas countered, “Exodus is no stranger to opposition, but neither was Jesus. Exodus is not in the business of converting anyone. We just offer a hand to walk beside people who want freedom from the bondage of sexual addiction.”
Sexual addiction Randy? Is that what this is all about? I thought it was homosexuality.
Actually, this is another key component of the Exodus message machine: painting all gay people as sex addicts. I don’t know what choices Randy Thomas has made in his life, but it’s time he recognized that the rest of us bear no responsibility for his past choices.
Randy, this message is especially for you today.
Nicolosi: Gays Would Be “Jerking Off In Hamburgers All Over”
Another former patient of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi comes forward
May 3rd, 2008
Earlier this week, Daniel Gonzales provided his reaction to the recent Byrd, Nicolosi & Potts paper that appeared in Psychological Reports. Daniel’s comments were based on his own experience as a former patient of Dr. Nicolosi’s:
In my first session of therapy with Dr. Nicolosi he repeatedly pressed myself and my father, who was there with me, asking us if I had been molested as a child — which I hadn’t. In fact, much of that first session was focused on “digging around” for the supposed cause of my homosexuality.
Gabriel Arana, a Cornell University grad student and columnist for the Cornell Daily Sun, has come forward to write about his remarkably similar experience with Dr. Nicolosi in a recent column:
For three years I had weekly sessions with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). Dr. Nicolosi thought that homosexuality was a pathology, a sublimated desire to reconnect with one’s lost masculinity. The theory: under-attentive fathers and over-attentive mothers create gay children. The purpose of therapy was to put me in touch with my masculine identity and thereby change my sexual orientation.
Years after I stopped therapy, I requested the case notes, knowing they would be destroyed after seven years. They provided an annotated collection of long-forgotten events. Next to the description of an argument with a male friend, Dr. Nicolosi scribbled “needs to look at the real source.” This was code: whatever the problem, it would be traced back to my lost masculine sense of self; I was angry because my friend had not paid attention to me as my father had not. Much of therapy also involved uncovering the numerous ways in which my parents had cheated me (as a teenager, I was more than happy to blame things on them).
According to Arana, Dr. Nicolosi didn’t try to conceal his utter disgust with gay people:
Disgust with what was termed the “gay lifestyle” was implicit in therapy. I remember Dr. Nicolosi telling me, in response to the question of whether one could easily contract HIV from semen, that if this were the case then gays would be “jerking off in hamburgers all over” to infect people.
That is was passes for ethical professionalism at NARTH. As does this:
…I know Dr. Robert Spitzer’s study well. Dr. Nicolosi asked me to participate in it, but instructed me not to reveal that he had referred me; while he wanted his organization’s views represented, he did not want to bring into question the study’s integrity.
The Spitzer study is the famous ex-gay study that purported to show that people can change their sexual orientation. However, the study was stacked with people who had a vested interest in demonstrating change. According to Dr. Spitzer, “the majority of participants (78 percent) had publicly spoken in favor of efforts to change homosexual orientation, often at their church,” and “nineteen percent of the participants were mental health professionals or directors of ex-gay ministries.” Among that 19% was Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas, Exodus International’s president and vice-president.
By the way, this is not the first time we’ve seen allegations that Nicolosi advised his clients to lie to Spitzer. Daniel Gonzales described a very similar conversation with Nicolosi nearly three years ago:
Nicolosi told me it would be great if I could represent the positive/success side of ex-gays in this study. Joseph Nicolosi asked me to lie to Spitzer when I called in for my study interview by denying Nicolosi had referred me. Turned off by this attempted manipulation, I never went through with taking part in the Spitzer study.
Hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch
CitizenLink’s Needle In The Haystack
March 19th, 2008
The so-called “Professional journalists” at CitizenLink are at it again. They’re claiming vindication over a new pamphlet (PDF: 132KB/6 pages) by the American Psychological Association. That pamphlet repeats what we’ve been saying for quite some time: Nobody knows what “causes” homosexuality. According to the APA:
There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both place complex roles…
The mere mention of developmental roles is tiny sliver of a silver lining that has Exodus vice president Randy Thomas and Focus On the Family’s Glenn Stanton very excited:
“They are starting to have the integrity of reporting accurately about the condition of homosexuality,” said Randy Thomas, executive vice president of Exodus International. “We find this to be a very exciting move and hope that it indicates future movement toward recognizing that people can and do overcome homosexuality.”
Glenn Stanton, director of global family formation studies at Focus on the Family, said the brochure has an activist bent, but he sees a ray of hope.
“This doesn’t mean that we’ve completely succeeded in all the things that we’ve wanted to,” he said, “but it’s a move in the direction that we’ve wanted them to move in, and I think that’s very positive news.”
CitizenLink, Stanton and Thomas chose to focus on one lone paragraph and ignore the rest of the six-page document, including topics like the role of prejudice in LGBT’s lives and well-being, the importance of “coming out,” the nature of same-sex relationships, gay parenting — and, oh yes, this:
All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons.
Nope. Instead, CitizenLink advises readers to go to Love Won Out to learn more. What they might learn is, in fact, more stereotypes which contribute to that negative climate the APA is talking about.
Which Conference is that, Randy?
June 26th, 2007
This weekend in Irvine, CA there will be two seminars which address ex-gay ministries. One, Exodus International’s Freedom Conference which started today, will be those who struggle with same-sex attractions but have “walked away from the homosexual lifesyle”. The other will be the Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference where our own Jim Burroway will be a presenter.
The Christian Post reports the beliefs of the executive VP of Exodus, Randy Thomas, this way:
There are many people, however, at the conference who have “been there, done that” and can share what God has done in their life and in bringing about freedom, according to Thomas.
Ummmm… which conference is that, Randy?
Randy Thomas Projects His Experiences Onto All Of Us
June 25th, 2007
Exodus vice-president Randy Thomas responded to the Ex-Gay Survivor’s conference by claiming that the conference will “try to project their experience onto all of us” and, as reported by CitizenLink, “deny people hope.”
The Ex-Gay Survivor’s conference, taking place on the same weekend as the final days of the Exodus Freedom Conference in Irvine, will provide a forum in which the approximately 70% of those who fail to change (according to Exodus’ own admission) can share their stories. Peterson Toscano counters, “Our gathering next week is about people, not protest. It’s about pastoral care, not propaganda.”
And since it’s not about propaganda — or projection — Peterson notes that those stories will likely describe the good and the bad:
As we gather this week in Irvine with people from as far away as Australia, England and NYC, we will unpack our pasts, the motivations behind our actions to change and suppress our sexuality, the good we gained from our efforts, and the harm that affects some of us even today.
But if Thomas is concerned about “projection,” he should mind his own house. There, he will find homosexuality described as a disorder, the vast majority of gays will be described as victims of a poor childhood or sexual abuse, and a succession of prominent ex-gay leaders will describe homosexuality as a miserable existence of meaningless relationships, rampant narcissism, promiscuity and drug abuse. Gays and lesbians will be reduced to merely being “those are struggling with same sex attraction,” and the “gay-identified” will be denied the dignity of their own experiences by people who were not born Christian but who have since chosen the lifestyle of the “Christian-identified.”
By Exodus’ own admission, for every person who “comes out of homosexuality,” there are at least two more who don’t. (This assumes Exodus’s “success rate” can be verified. So far, it can’t.) But at that Exodus gathering, those who decide to gather elsewhere to share their experiences — many of whom fell outside of Exodus’s own promises and lost the very hope that Thomas accuses Beyond Ex-Gay of denying — will be dismissed as “protesters.”
I don’t know about you, but I think Randy Thomas doth project too much.
A Whole New Lack of Desire
May 31st, 2007
I’ve noticed an unusual phase cropping up in ex-gay language lately. It generally is phrased as I have no desire for a same-sex relationship or I have no desire to be involved in homosexuality.
At first it seems that the author is saying that they are heterosexual. But look closer. What is really being said here? Well, to understand that you have to have knowledge of how ex-gays use language and to look for what is not being said.
Ex-gay ministries, especially those who use language for anti-gay media purposes, like to take words and give them a new meaning –- often one that is precisely the opposite from what one might assume the word to mean.
Take for example the word “change.” A casual reader may thing that the slogan “change can happen” means that one can go from a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation. But in an ex-gay lexicon it means something quite different. To an ex-gay “change” is not a shift in sexual attraction or desire or romantic interest but instead is a change in identity. When an ex-gay says, “change can happen,” they mean that they can now call themselves something other than gay –- though nothing you or I might consider to be “change” has happened at all.
One of the ways that those who question the claims of ex-gay spokesmen have challenged their assertions is to talk in terms of less nebulous things than change. They speak about attractions and desire and explain that if one is attracted sexually, emotionally, and romantically to the same sex, then no intrinsic “change” has occurred.
Which brings me back to the new phrase. I suspect its primary purpose is to try and redefine the word “desire” so as to allow them to continue to make claims that sound like one thing to the public — but mean something quite else.
Take, for example the recent comment on the blogsite of Randy Thomas, Exodus International’s Vice President. This comment is useful because not only does he set up the phrase, but he compares it to a quite different notion.
And yes, I am much more sexually and romantically attracted to women today and have zero desire to be romantically or sexually involved with a man.
Here we have it –- zero desire to be involved. But the contrast is there showing what is missing –- a lack of sexual and romantic attraction to a man.
Randy isn’t saying “I’m not sexually and romantically attracted to men.” And frankly, I suspect that is because Randy is indeed sexually and romantically attracted to men and he’d prefer not to outright lie. He’d far rather use deceptive language.
Instead Randy changes the subject to be about whether he wants to act on that attraction, to have a relationship. But by putting those two separate concepts into the same sentence Randy can sound (without quite saying it) that his sexual attractions are only to women.
I do believe that Randy doesn’t want to be “involved” with a man. But I believe that was the case on the very first day he got involved with Exodus. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have tried so hard for the past 15 years to rid himself of his attractions. This is all just a smoke screen to make it sound like he’s no longer same-sex attracted.
So the next time you see I have no desire for a relationship or I have no desire for that lifestyle, you can call them on their deception. Just ask the simple question, “Do you still experience sexual attraction to persons of the same sex?”
Which, of course, now means they’ll have to come up for a new definition for “attraction.”
Randy Thomas Still Doesn’t Understand Hate Crimes
March 13th, 2007
Slow learners, that bunch. Exodus Vice President Randy Thomas is at it again, spreading his total misunderstanding about how hate crimes legislation works. Well, near total anyway. He now acknowledges that hate crimes laws cannot infringe on speech in America, but he’s still worried about some sort of slippery slope effect. But his first two paragraphs are whoppers in cluelessness:
We have been saying that hate crimes laws are inherently unfair in that they punish some crimes more severely against gay people than they would against any other person. If I were attacked, my attacker would get more of a punishment 15 years ago when I identified as gay than they would now that I don’t.
Plus, if a gay identified man or woman attacked me (some have threatened to do just that), they would get less of a sentence than if a truly homophobic person attacked them along the exact same lines.
Rest assured Randy. If anyone were to attack you because of your sexual orientation — regardless of your sexual orientation — then that is a hate crime. When the law reads “regardless of sexual orientation”, it means exactly that. And if you think I’m wrong on this, then please explain why the FBI bothered to count twenty-three anti-heterosexual hate crime incidents in 2005? (2005 is the most recent year for which statistics are available.) I think it’s also important to note that there were 935 anti-White incidents and 58 anti-Protestant incidents during the same year.
These laws aren’t about special protections available only to a select few. They about recognizing that particular types of crimes based on motivation have particular impacts on society. We already distingush between capital murder and manslaughter. Our laws also distingush between ordinary assualt and aggrivated assault. Same with robbery. The law already takes into account the fact that some crimes have a more far-reaching impact than others.
Hate crime legislation simply says that crimes in which victims are singled out by race, sexual orientation, religion or national origin deserve special protection because there is a special history of people being singled out solely for those reasons. And the great thing about it, the proposed legislation recognizes that the tables can always be turned. Which means these protections are extended to your race, sexual orientation, religion or national origin, whatever they may be. Because everyone — yes, even you Randy — deserves to be protected whenever anyone lashes out against them based on their own self-righteous, misguided beliefs.
A History Lesson for Exodus Vice President Randy Thomas
February 26th, 2007
Last week, we learned that financial guru Suze Orman would announce that she is a lesbian in a New York Times Magazine article that appeared this past Sunday:
Are you married? I’m in a relationship with life. My life is just out there. I’m on the road every day. I love my life.
Meaning what? Do you live with anyone? K.T. is my life partner. K.T. stands for Kathy Travis. We’re going on seven years. I have never been with a man in my whole life. I’m still a 55-year-old virgin.
Would you like to get married to K.T.? Yes. Absolutely. Both of us have millions of dollars in our name. It’s killing me that upon my death, K.T. is going to lose 50 percent of everything I have to estate taxes. Or vice versa.
It looks like talk about all this wealth rubbed Randy Thomas the wrong way. Thomas, who has recently been promoted to Vice President of Exodus International, provided a rather illogical reason for discounting the quest for equal rights for gays and lesbians as having anything to do with civil rights. His complaint? Apparently some among us are too rich and the rest of us haven’t suffered enough. This somehow disqualifies us from pressing for our civil rights:
From another angle, this also does not help some in the gay activist community with their attempts to make this battle, over redefining marriage, a “civil rights” issue. Suze and her partner worrying over their “millions” doesn’t have the same ring or impact as watching young black people being knocked down by fully opened fire hoses and mauled by tax payer funded police dogs. I don’t think Suze or Tammy would ever make that comparison but some in the activist community do equate the marriage battle with the civil rights battle of the African American community and that is tragic.
What great timing! As it happens, we are in our last days of Black History Month. So I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce Randy to one of the great heroes of African-American history.
Madam C.J. Walker rose from being an uneducated washing woman in St. Louis to becoming one of the richest women in American. Through her own determination, she put herself and her daughter through school. And when she started to have problems with her hair falling out, she invented a line of hair care products which were designed and sold specially for African-American women. She soon become not just one of the wealthiest Black women in American, she was one of the wealthiest women in America period. She founded her business in 1906, and by 1913 her company employed twenty thousand sales agents in the United States, Central America and the Caribbean. Her sales agents, who were mostly of African descent themselves, earned $25 a week — a far cry from the $2 a week that washing women normally earned at that time. When Madam Walker died in 1915 at her New York mansion, she left behind an estate worth some seven million dollars in today’s money.
At a time when it was extremely difficult for women or blacks to succeed in the business world, Madam C.J. Walker broke both barriers and served as an inspiration for many generations of Black women throughout North America.
No, as Randy suggests, to try to compare Suze Orman to Black civil rights protests of the nineteen sixties would certainly miss the point. Suze’s success and wealth does nothing to negate her rights to equality in America any more than does Madam Walker’s. And neither woman’s success undermines the justness of equality for the rest of us.
If fire hoses and mauling police dogs are the measures by which you judge a civil rights movement, then I can truly thank God that in America at least, we fail those tests. You’ll have to look elsewhere for it. (Russia, Poland, Iran, Nigeria and Nazi Germany come to mind.) All we have is Stonewall. And while Stonewall represents a turning point for the gay rights movement, it’s not Selma.
But the legitimacy of one’s civil rights isn’t found in brutality or the lack of it, nor is it diminished by success or fortune. It is found simply in the recognition of what is right and just. Madam Walker succeeded despite the lack of voting rights legislation, hate crimes and anti-discrimination protections, the Civil Rights act, or Loving vs. Virginia. She also succeeded despite the fact that women were often not permitted to enter into financial agreements without the signature of a husband. She didn’t need any of those protections in order to be successful. But by no measure does that detract from the simple justness of the cause for equality for all African-Americans — and everyone else, for that matter.
Suze Orman didn’t have nearly the obstacles to overcome that Madam Walker did. Suze lives in a far better America than Madam Walker’s America, and Madam Walker had a lot to do with that. But equality is equality; it’s just that simple. And success, no matter how successful, is no substitute for it. That’s what makes it a civil rights issue.