Tuesday, August 29

In Him

OK, I admit it, I kinda started this one. I blame it on the guys over at Queer Today for drawing my attention to some recent ex-gay activity in Boston and to one ex-gay blogger in particular. I followed her blog to another blog (as often happens within the blogosphere) and before I knew it I was commenting on a protest staged by an ex-gay contingent at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association (APA) in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago.

The long and short of it is that the ex-gay movement desperately wants to achieve legitimacy for themselves and for “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy,” which refers to the process by which a person suffering from same-sex attraction is “cured.” Specifically, they have been trying to get the APA to acknowledge that gay people can change. “We disagree with the APA’s stand that people can’t change if they want to,” said Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a Los Angeles psychologist and president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

Although the APA’s online Help Section Q&A on Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality concludes that homosexuality “does not require treatment and is not changeable,” they have never issued a formal resolution on the changeability of homosexuals. Rather, their Resolution on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation points out that reparative therapy is often coerced and reinforces feelings of guilt and self-loathing.

The main reason, however, that the APA opposes reparative therapy is that as it is currently practiced, it rests upon the conviction that homosexuality is a mental disorder, something that the APA explicitly rejects. As long as the ex-gay movement insists that homosexuality is a form of mental illness in need of a cure, the APA is right to condemn homophobia and heterosexism masquerading as psychotherapy.

I tried to explain this to a young man who participated in the New Orleans protest. I told him that it made much more sense for the ex-gay movement to work within the confines of those bodies (i.e. evangelicals) that share its view that homosexuality is unnatural and disordered and that the APA is not such a body. This is the response that I received from him by email:

Dear Dean,

I don’t appreciate you acting as if I don’t know my own convictions and what it is I am asking the APA to do.

I deleted your last comment because I simply don’t have time to allow you to treat me and my beliefs in such a condescending manner. I would never go to your blog and do the same.

In Him,
“In Him,” meaning “in Christ,” is a very common closing for evangelicals, but it might not be the wisest choice for an ex-gay man. All you ex-gay men out there may want to rethink the whole “In Him” thing.

Just a suggestion, Randy.


Blogger tornwordo said...

I am laughing so hard right now. In him. Priceless.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the correct term for "reparative therapy" is "negative reinforcement", long ago discredited and condemned by the APA. And to think it's a Psychologist leading the tirade. The quote about "men are fools" really wants to be said, but the full gist of it is lost on me right now.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Scott E D said...


8:21 AM  
Blogger castor said...

:-) Poor Randy-Boy! :-)

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time for my two cents worth...Randy is headed for a major nervous breakdown but still, he is well-poised, polished, and is very articulate. He very much painted you like an attacker and an intolerant.

I agree, with you Dean, on all of your refutes and your positions here, but he played the cleancut image card. I wish the GLBT community could market themselves as well as the religious right. He would look at that humor and tell us all we're pigs (which may not be a bad thing at times, I admit :) ) but after reading the threads on Randy's blog he clearly had the ability to paint you as the attacker and the intolerant.

I'm sure you won't agree with me but there has to be a better way to curtail the religious right - because in many ways, they're gaining a great deal of political might - and that's scary. Remember, they are the ones that have brought fascism into vogue, and they are the biggest hypocrites that I've ever seen.

What can we do to stop it effectively?

2:25 PM  
Blogger Sandouri Dean Bey said...

i think there are many ways to curtail the religious right, as you put it. i think humor and parody are one way. there are others.

to be honest, i'm less interested in changing people like randy (which is why i'm inclined to poke fun at him even if it risks alienating him) because ex-gays are too far gone. they've built up such a protective wall around their fragile little universe that it will take a greater force than i to...er, penetrate it :)

i think curtail is the right word. it's not about winning them over. we can't. it's about limiting their influence. i think for that reason, humor is quite effective. it makes them look like the clowns that they are. it emphasizes the ridiculousness of their positions.

the point is, i think it's important and useful for the ex-gay movement (and fundamentalists in general) to be ridiculed in the mainstream. they are dangerous people. they reinforce damaging myths about the glbt experience. humor is a very effective way of doing this. that's why the movie saved was so brilliant. it's also why h.l. mencken was so celebrated. check him out if you're not familiar with him. he mercilessly lampooned the fundies of his day.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Dean, while you certainly have the right to poke fun at him, I can't support ridiculing anyone, even the Randy's of this world. Everyone has the right to their opinion.

Cheap shots never got anyone anywhere - no matter how gratifying it is at the moment.

I never thought I would say this - but there is a benefit to taking to the high road and still standing your ground. I've learned that in the second half of my life.

And I do realize that I am in the minority within the GLBT community....but I truly believe we need to be tolerant of everyone - and repsect their rights.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Sandouri Dean Bey said...

mencken once referred to arkansas as the "apex of moronia." i guess like him, i'm less worried about offending people.

my cheap shot to randy was, in addition to being funny, meant to highlight the fact that many so-called ex-gays continue to feel attracted to people of the same sex even while they claim victory over their unnatural desires. it's hypocrisy, and it's dishonest. by pointing to the homoerotic element of "In Him," i was suggesting that randy may not be as cured as he claims to be. that's not to say he fantasizes about fucking his lord, but he might be subconsciously drawn to the homoerotic aspect of the phrase without even realizing it.

but the main reason is that it's funny for an ex-gay to use the phrase "In Him." talk about undermining your own credibility!

the other thing, greg, is we need to be careful about defining our terms. being tolerant of randy does not mean i can't poke fun at him. nor does respecting his right to think what he wants and define himself however he wants mean i have to respect him.

what "tolerate" and "respect his rights" mean are that i recognize his right to think and feel and say whatever he wants. nobody is talking about taking those rights away from him. but i can challenge him. i can ridicule him. i can unmask him for the hypocrite that he is. i can expose the dangerous and harmful aspects of his work. none of these things take away his rights. being tolerant does not mean i have to keep quiet. nor should speaking out (or blogging out) be equated with intolerance.

after all, should we "tolerate" their campaign to legislate morality? should we "tolerate" their attempt to relegate us to second-class status? let's make sure we understand what we mean when we talk about "tolerance" and "respecting people's rights."

i'll tell you the same thing i told randy in a recent email exchange. he and his crew can say whatever they want within the confines of their church. but the second they attempt to impose their narrow values on our laws and regulate my behavior, i will fight them with every weapon in my arsenal.

the culture wars may not be pretty, but we didn't start them. they did. they started them by trying to remake america according to their so-called christian worldview. they--not we--began the assault on equality, pluralism, and freedom. they have no right to impose their values on this nation nor will i tolerate their attempt to do so.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter who started it, and remember the latest public figure who used that quote.

I acomplish the same goals you strive for - every Evangelist that I know does not criticize me for my sexuality or for my interpretation of my sexuality in conjunction with my faith. It is a shame that there are some that are hypocritcal. I look for different ways of pointing that out than you do - that's all.

We are different people Dean and I will stand by my principals. In that though, we are very much alike. There is more than one way to equality and neither of them are wrong - just an opinion of the effectiveness.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Sandouri Dean Bey said...

yes, greg, you're exactly right: there is more than one way to equality.

there are different strategies for different people and different audiences. i would never make the case that my way is right for everyone. in return, i want people to recognize that their way may not be right for me :)

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put - as long as the recognition is reciprocal.

say hi to the spouse.

new Marika Politissa discovered.....

5:31 PM  
Blogger CrackerLilo said...

I've snickered at that signature more than once!

(Came via XGW.)

9:00 PM  
Blogger Will said...

Not only does he sign off with "In Him," but his name is Randy which may well refer to his personal condition in the repressed ex-gay condition.

And that's the key to the ex-gay movement in my opinion: you CAN change or, more acurately, BE changed in a process which is the equivalent of brain washing. The movement chalks up another "victory" for Jesus and a gay man is released back into society as a walking time bomb.

Have there been any serious efforts to get details on exactly how many "ex-gays" break down, and/or return to their natural homosexual orientation, possibly with added mental pain and suffering? We need some respected and unimpeachable organization to publish results of an impartial scientific study on the issue.

7:11 AM  
Blogger RIC said...

Without getting into details, that kind of signature would most definitely sound to my ears as sacrilege, if I still were a religiously committed christian.

10:39 AM  
Blogger belledame222 said...

O for the love of little plastic baubles. "I met Newt!" squee!

some people are beyond help, i'm afraid.

> All you ex-gay men out there may want to rethink the whole “In Him” thing.>


7:06 PM  
Blogger belledame222 said...

btw, i not long ago was getting into it with a radical feminist who -also- firmly believes that one can change if one wants to; it's just that in her case she thinks het women should dump the dick and make the switch, or at least be celibate. sort of refreshing it was, in a horrifying sort of a way.



7:13 PM  

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