Sunday, July 31, 2005

Donnie McClurkin on BET

BET is currently playing the biography of Donnie McClurkin, an ex-gay Pastor and gospel singer. The show is still playing right now. So far it has been a fairly heart-wrenching story of his childhood and molestation. Into his adult life, the biography has made passing references to his 20 year struggle with his sexuality, but his music has taken the forefront of the story. I'll keep watching and update this post if anything new comes along.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

All This Ex-Gay Media Coverage

With all of the recent media coverage of ex-gays (CNN, Good Morning America, The View, the NYT, etc.), I am surprised that I havent heard anything about it from Randy Thomas. The Exodus Media Blog has been on hiatus this month, so I haven't been able to hear there take on these events either. Exodus' main website is also silent on the issue from what I can tell, although I heard their most recent newsletter did mention a discussion on The View on Monday, August 1st.

I also think that the LIA folks are getting more attention than deserved, considering in the 3 years of the program, they have only had 24 teenage attendees. They've probably had more than 24 applications last week as a result of all of this attention.

I watched the CNN, Paula Zahn interview part II about LIA and ex-gays. Paula finished by interviewing the LIA employee/graduate that was also on GMA. I left wondering how LIA or Exodus could leave this kid out to dry like this. Paula really took him to town during to interview, getting him to fully admit that his attractions had not changed, probably would not change, and don't change for most everyone. He went on to actually agree that he was denying "his true self" and quipped that we all are were to some degree as a sort of failed explanation. Doesn't Exodus or LIA have professionals to handle the media like this? The kid was trying hard, but he was honestly overmatched by a professional journalist.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Love in Action and Zach's Blog Come To Good Morning America

I read over at Ex-Gay Watch that Good Morning America was going to do a short piece on Zach and Love in Action. The 5 minute piece came on just as I was about to leave for work, so I stayed to watch it (even though I had DVR'ed it).

I have to say, I was happy with the overall reporting. They did a good job of reporting about Zach's blog comments, the attention it has been getting, and the now heated controversy that has surrounded LIA and the ex-gay movement as a whole.

Diane Sawyer met with 2 former clients of LIA. Both entered as adults (so this was a bit different than Zach's experience). One of the clients was now openly gay, the other considered himself a success of the therapy, and now actually worked for the organization. Now, I find it odd that if the group claims a 65% success rate (as reported on GMA), that they could not find a success story that was not being paid by LIA. They were capable of finding an unhappy client, so why not just one more impartial person?

Anyway, both of the guys were young and well-spoken. But this 65% change rate sure did start to sound shady when the LIA staffer claimed that change did not mean a change in attractions, but a change in actions. He even admitted that his attractions had not changed, but that he now had guardrails up to help him not act on his attractions and to help him marry a woman. No one asked him specifically if he was previously or is now sexually or romantically attracted to women- a pretty big miss if you ask me.

The anti-LIA client also pointed out that LIA does not follow any clients after they leave the group. So, if 65% of clients agree that they will no longer participate in gay romantic life, they are considered a success, even if 2 weeks later they change their minds.

I was glad to hear the LIA guy say that changing attractions wasn't the goal (and almost admit that it didn't even happen). Now if the whole ex-gay movement will be so forth-coming about this type of information, it would be great. Obviously the staffer is happier now than he was, and he deserves to be. But, the gay people going in trying to change their attractions should know it probably won't happen. Oh yeah, and if LIA wasn't giving a completely negative view of what it is like to be gay, as stated by Zach's dad, I'd be almost ok with that group. Until then...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ex-Gays and CNN

Zach and his fiasco over at Love In Action has really started to stir things up. Sure, it has been all over the blogs for several weeks, but last week the NYT finally picked the story up and tonight CNN picks it up on Paula Zahn now. I found the story on AmericaBlog. I'll be DVRing the show's rerun tonight. Once I get a chance to watch it, I'll write more. AmericaBlog was none too happy with the segment.

Gay Marriage and Remarriage, What's the Difference?

I got into reading a discussion on the World Magazine blog the other day. This particular discussion was about the United Methodist Church allowing a UMC gay group to use its facilities. As you might expect, people were upset.

Here are some comments by the anti-gay side:

"On Labor Day weekend, the United Methodist Church’s main conference center will host “Hearts on Fire,” a homosexual rally. Reconciling Congregations, the homosexual group putting on the rally, seeks to overturn the church’s official stance on gays. “Since Lake Junaluska’s own internal rules require it to rent its facilities only to groups that share the ‘mission’ of the United Methodist Church, it seems highly inappropriate to rent those facilities for a rally for same-sex ‘marriage,’ homosexual clergy, and various exotic forms of sexual expression,” commented the Institute on Religion and Democracy's Mark Tooley."

"No doubt you are correct about the Wesley brothers. Now extrapolate those tears and imagine the LORD's reaction to the terrible apostasy of His Church...when even the Church embraces blatant sin, one begins to understand the horror of what is happening in our world."

"I don't think Whitney came across as an elitist. "The [goal] is to have fellowship with everybody and talk about how they feel in their relationship with God -- what that means to them personally, and what special purpose God has for us as gay persons," That quote makes no sense. People living in unrepentant sin don't have a relationship with God, or at least not a positive one. The special purpose God has is the same for everyone not something special for gay persons. The purpose is to obey His teachings and if we don't then our purpose is to be forever cut off from Him. You could also look at our purpose as being the Greatest Commandment "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind". This is the purpose for all His people."

Here is why the gay group said the UMC let the group use the facilities:

"The [goal] is to have fellowship with everybody and talk about how they feel in their relationship with God -- what that means to them personally, and what special purpose God has for us as gay persons," says James Rideout, a member of Foundry United Methodist Church in Northwest Washington."

As you can imagine, the arguing went back and forth and got very heated. Some people brought out the completely untrue Cameron statistics about gays having a life expectancy of 42 years. Others accused gays of recruiting children and molesting them.

I tried to stay on topic. And here is what I said (twice), with no answer given:

"I think I may be coming late into this discussion. But, for those that have said that being gay is explicitly condemned by the Bible, and therefore should not be accepted at all, and all unrepentant gay people are sinners not capable of a relationship with God, I wonder what the view of remarriage of divorcees is.

Sure, the bible does allow some divorce and remarriage, but the restrictions are very limited, and the Methodist church at large (and most Protestant denominations) do not follow the biblical restrictions. Sure, no one celebrates divorce, but they do allow the remarriages which are more often than not biblically sinful. Why are we allowed to break from clear biblical rule in the case of divorce, but we have no room for the much fewer admonishments about gay people."

If anyone would care to answer my question here on this blog, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm sorry that the World Magazine blog was reduced to arguing and name-calling instead of debating real points.

Monday, July 25, 2005 and Ex-Gays is currently doing a several part story on ex-gays. The most recent of the articles is here.

I found the article to be fairly well written and deservedly skeptical of the ex-gay movement. It seems that the author actually did take some time to speak with some of the bigger names in the movement to do some investigation of their claims of success, only to be turned away.

I've got to agree with the article's author on his skepticism. If there are hundreds of thousands of ex-gays in the world, surely someone in the ex-gay ministry or therapy could point him in the direction of just one or two ex-gays that have changed that are not being paid by an ex-gay group.

Randy Thomas was noticeably upset about the atricle series. I can understand that he was upset, especially if he feels mocked. For the record, I did not feel the mocking tone Randy speaks of. I realize this ministry is important to him. However, I think it is perfectly acceptable for a reporter to ask someone to back up his or her claims of success, change, etc. If someone told you that gays can change and do so all of the time, and then the first 6 people you met that had tried to change weren't able to, don't you think you would be at least a bit skeptical? And given that it appears that many of the ex-gay leaders the Salon folks spoke to basically stonewalled them from getting further proof, a skeptically-toned article is certainly valid.

My hope in all of this- that success is actually defined, measured, and accurately described in the ex-gay world. And then that gays are portrayed realistically--not demonized as some evil heathens (not all ex-gays participate in this, thankfully). People should at least know what they are getting into (or sending others into).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

"It's Not How We Believe"

I don't know if I have ever been this swamped at work before. I shouldn't be writing here, but I need a break.

So, the title of this post is from an episode of "Sports Kids Moms and Dads," some reality show on A&E (I think). On the show, they follow several kids highly involved in sports. One of the kids is a male figure skater. When the producers asked the kid and the mom if he was gay, that's what the mom said--"that's not how we believe." Umm, what does that even mean?

So, it got me thinking. Save a few people, I think most anti-gay conservatives are against gays because they just don't understand being gay. They don't know what it is like. They see it as this "evil" thing lurking out there that one either believes or doesn't believe. If you believe being gay is ok, you become gay, if you don't you don't. But too many families that "don't believe that way" have found themselves smack dab in the middle of a quandry. Do they accept their gay child or ask them to take on a task that they would never dream of asking themselves to take on?

So many anti-gay folks I have heard or talked to never seem to have actually taken the time to sit down and talk to a gay person. Now, I know I'll get a lot of opposition on this from anti-gay folks who swear up and down that they have gay friends and all that good stuff, but I frankly just don't buy it.

When you say you don't agree with being gay, to me it is a blanket statement with no real thought behind it. People need to realize that when they tell me I should not be gay, what they are really asking me is to not have any romantic involvement at all in my life--ever. The problem, though, is that they think they are just asking me to be straight like everyone else, as if it were some kind of easy choice.

When my dad told me he wouldn't accept the fact that I was gay, I asked him if he could imagine living life without my step-mom. I asked him to imagine meeting her and getting to know her, falling in love with her, all of that good stuff, but then he'd have to stop right there and not act on any of his emotions or attractions. He couldn't hold her hand or kiss her. He couldn't lay in bed and cuddle. Nothing. Even worse, he wouldn't ever be able to act on any of his emotions or attractions. And I mean ever.

When you take being gay down to a very personal level like that, I think it is a lot harder to say, "well, I don't agree with it." The problem is, there is a double standard. The straight conservative that tells me I shouldn't be gay is really telling me I am not allowed to fall in love with anyone or to date anyone, etc. He's not asking that of himself, and he never would dream of doing so.

And, that's why I think lots of ex-gay organizations exist. Most people don't find it too appealing to tell someone that they have to live a life of solitude and complete non-romantic functioning of any kind. It's a lot easier to tell a person to just stop being gay. So, the ex-gay circles have an answer--for my dad and lots of others. They don't have to be single all of their lives (and by single I mean not even attempting to date anyone, not just the celibacy required of an abstaining straight couple. For ex-gays and desperate families, there is hope, be straight! And if their answer held water, it might be a good one. But, from what I have seen, it doesn't. If it did, surely one organization would at least try to prove it did.

For now, my dad and I have a deal (well not really, but we should). When he agrees to leave my step-mom and enter a world void of any and all romanticism, I'll do the same. I don't think it's going to happen.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lost Post

I just lost a rather long post I had been working on. I got a nice big blue screen for no reason, and the "lost post" feature from blogger can't help me. How frustrating. Maybe I'll try again later.

Obviously, I am back from volleyball in Dallas. We made it into the playoffs, but lost quickly from there. Oh well. It was fun even still.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Father Speaks Out About Love In Action Situation

I learned from a comment over at Ex-Gay Watch that the father of Zack (the boy at the center of this whole Love In Action Ordeal that I mentioned here) has given an interview to, the website of Pat Robertson's conservative Christian organization.

At the very least, we have verifiable proof that this Zack person does exist and that he was sent to LIA against his will. There go the right wing non-believers.

Let me go on a brief tangent here by showing you a link where Bob Davies, an Exodus leader, "dispelled" a few myths about ex-gays, one of these myths being that Exodus didn't force anyone (specifically teens) into their programs. The exact quote is this:
"One ministry leader told me last week that a gay reporter sounded genuinely surprised when he was told that this director would NOT counsel a gay teen unless the teen wanted it. In other words, if he was brought in by his Christian parents, the director would refuse to proceed with any type of counseling unless the teen wanted it."

Seeing as how LIA is an Exodus member ministry, I think these guys should get their stories straight. I've got several other issues about that myth list, but I'll save that for another time.

Back to Zack's dad. A money quote from him is this, "We felt very good about Zach coming here because… to let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him some options that society doesn't give him today,” Stark said. “Knowing that your son... statistics say that by the age of 30 he could either have AIDS or be dead.”

Now, that is some pretty heavy-handed stuff. By the age of 30 he could either have AIDS or be dead? Well, I guess he could be run over by a truck too, but I don't think that's what he meant. The quote also shows that, as much as it tries publicly to distance itself from the anti-gay rhetoric out there, at least some Exodus ministries do feed off very bad science, stereotypes, and the fear that those things cause.

All in all, I'm diappointed. Not really in Zack's parents, but in Exodus as a whole. These are the guys that are fueling the stereotypes, the fears, and the misinformation. Why go there. Zack's dad himself said that he didn't send Zack to LIA to learn that being gay was a sin. They sent him there to learn about how terrible being gay was, and that information simply isn't based in fact and reality. Does anyone see how this type of misinformation could lead a gay person away from Christianity, rather than closer to it?

I've said this before, so maybe this should be the theme of my blog. If being gay is a sin, let it be a sin. But, don't go around telling lies, half-truths, and perpetuating streotypes that make being gay (and gay people) this terrible monster that it isn't (and they aren't).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Busy Busy

I've been really busy over here in the real world, so my posts have been infrequent recently. My apologies on that. Many of the sites I read and comment on have been slowing down recently as well, and that may be adding to the reasons why I don't have much to say right now.

Don't worry, I'm sure some type of news story will spur me to write again soon.

For now, thanks to Ex-Gay Watch for adding me to their blog roll. That is a big compliment in my opinion. They and Josh will be on my links list soon.

I also have an offer to consider. It is very exciting, and I'll hopefully have come to a decision on that by the end of the weekend.

One last thing before I go- my brother, a college friend, and I will be playing in Spike Fest this weekend, so wish us all luck. Hopefully we will play well and win something!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Out of Town

I was out of town for the big July 4th weekend, so that explains the lack of blogging. That and I have been really busy with work since I returned.

The business has left me with little to say now too, but I wanted to get a post in.

Something I have been thinking about recently- I am concerned about Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation. I was really hoping she would hold out for another few years, but I understand her decision.

Question for Rush Limbaugh- given the number of previously conservative Supreme Court Justices that have moderated or even gone liberal, how is Bush going to ensure that his new justice is conservative enough for you? I mean, some of the seemingly most conservative judges appointed by some of the most conservative Presidents have turned out to not be conservative enough. Maybe that says something about the real conservative nature of conservatism. Maybe they are just as activist as the liberals they hate.

The Exodus Blog recently linked to a study by Paul Cameron. Come on, have you no shame? This man has been proven to be dishonest and fraudulent. Why would Exodus want to associate with someone like that?

Ex-Gay Watch has a funny post about the growing numbers of ex-gays in the world. I had noticed the trend too. I'm not sure he hasn't used all three of these numbers throughout those years though.

Lastly, hi to Josh, who somehow found my blog. I'll add you to my blog list soon too.