Should people be forced to give up their status as gays?

30 Jan

The things that stick in your mind are odd sometimes. Now maybe I’m slow on the uptake or I just missed the news because in general I find celebrity news shows repetitive and useless, but I saw John Travolta was being sued for his role in the church/cult of Scientology in regards to their claims they could turn gay people straight. That’s right folks, the man they told they could turn straight didn’t turn straight, he turned angry.

The issue of the belief some people have that you can turn gay people straight runs far deeper than just Scientology and their billion year financial deals, it permeates every organization that wants to make a buck. Take for instance perhaps the best known of these “gay deprogramming” organizations Exodus International.

Exodus intrigued me enough to take a close look at their information and see what they really had to say. What I found was disappointment. Their website is a complete and utter joke. If you need a good laugh check out their “101 FAQ” section and and keep tissue handy because you will laugh so hard the tears roll down your face. I give them credit though, they at least try to sound caring before plunging the knife in your back. They have truly great fiction writers on staff.

How does Exodus “cure” gay people? Well they actually don’t. They only try to persuade them to become celibate (unless of course it is heterosexual activity) and find God. Pray, pray, pray away the gay! Okay then does it work? They say yes. “On the statistical side, careful reviews of research studies on sexual orientation change suggest that real change is indeed possible. Studies suggesting change rates in the range of 30-50% are not unusual, although “success rates” vary considerably and the measurement of change is problematic.”

I find trouble believing an organization that has a twenty percent range of success in their own studies. I bet they don’t estimate their paychecks, or how much a person pays for their services. What is the definition of success? When the organization talks about success it is really talking about taking a conservative Christian belief system rather than genuine sexual conversion, yet they blow “gay cure” horn pretty loud when it comes to drumming up publicity and donations.

Okay so we established Exodus and Scientology are duds, so are there alternative organizations? Sure there are plenty. One group Love In Action (LIA) believes that homosexuality is caused by overbearing/missing parents, or molestation. Their solution to this is to pair two people of the same sex together under one roof and have them pray until their hidden flaws can be found and make straight friends to have an example of what they should be. Hmmm…two gay men under one roof trying to stop being gay together. Sorry but it doesn’t sound like a winner, and studies showed it wasn’t. Psychologists abandoned this approach over thirty years ago as ineffective when NARTH’s (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals) use of this tactic was discredited, yet “ex gay” groups keep it alive anyway against proof of failure and any sense of logic.

One person that gave these groups a whirl described what the program was like in the group LIA. He describes total immersion in the “healing” process. If you leave the group they say you are in the hands of Satan. Ohhh…scary! Those that stay are sadly caught in a cult. All television programs must be approved.The Bible is your only reading choice. You cannot go near the Golden Gate Bridge as it is a den of homosexual sin. Actually you cannot even go outside without a chaperon. The only time you are somewhat alone is when you are on a temp job LIA sets up for you, but of course you are being “loosely” monitored. Women get makeup lessons to look “less lesbian”, (Ever hear of lipstick lesbians guys?) men play baseball to appear more manly. As you can imagine most people that have gone through intimate they are still gay.

Does it ever work? It is hard to say. In the case of a group like Exodus “new clients are instructed to say they have changed on day one in the hope God will reward them for their faith. To question whether change has occurred is said to show a lack of faith, thus the victim is always blamed when the miracle does not happen.” According to the Exodus plan everyone is successful until they lose faith at which point it is their fault they failed, Not the fault of Exodus so no refund will be given but thanks for asking! In fact outside of “ex gays” working in the ministries it is hard to find a conversion of sexuality.

The days of “ex gay” camps run by Exodus and their ilk may be numbered. In September 2006 a young man aged 16 named “Zach” was sent to an LIA conversion Day camp in Memphis against his will by his parents. Zach began blogging about his experience at the camp causing an uproar. The camp was closed due to negative publicity and picketing outside it’s grounds. “Zach” is said to still be gay.

Just for fun what are the things some of these camps suggest you do to stop being gay? Shop when stores are about to close to lessen the odds you will see someone that attracts you. Do not wear Calvin Klein underwear. (I have no clue why this is supposed to help). Do not socialize with gay people. Do not have gay sex. Pray and surrender to the higher power. Men should have short hair, women long hair of their natural color only, by the way who is checking to see what is natural? Men should remove all facial hair, and women should shave their legs and armpits at least twice per week. Maintain hygiene by showering daily, using deodorant and brushing teeth twice daily. How does that make you straight? What if this hygiene regimen is a decrease from your “gay lifestyle?” You just can’t make this stuff up.

But back to the original question, should gay people be forced to stop being gay? Absolutely not. It is absurd to think we can change such an intimate part of identity. It just does not work. The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Counseling Association, The American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Workers, The American Psychiatric Association all reject the notion that homosexuality is a mental illness that can or should be cured and attempts to do so can be harmful.

The only reason this farce of an establishment exists is to make money, not help people. There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. People that try to pray the gay away from others should recall a simple refrain I learned as a child, “I will not play in God’s domain.” Plus what if God is gay and all these people are ticking her off with rhetoric against homosexuality and trying to change her blueprint of nature? I bet She would be pretty ticked off!

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