Monday, October 10, 2005

What Does "Change" Mean Anyway?

For me, when people talk about "change" in terms of sexuality it refers to changing one's orientation. Stephen Bennett advertises that "Complete change is completely possible" and Exodus' tagline is "Change is possible, discover how," I've always thought that they mean that if I no longer want to be gay, I don't have to be.

I guess that's where the semantics come in. I realized I was gay way before I came out and even years before I even kissed another guy. So, to me "change" logically means that my attractions to other guys would change, and I would now be attracted to girls. It's a logical conclusion and one that Exodus and other groups work pretty hard to present to the public and other gays. At the very least, let's be honest that they aren't out at ex-gay conferences and anti-gay political rallies telling the world that they still are attracted to the same sex, they're just celibate now.

But, the Exodus ministry Love In Action that got into some hot water recently with the Zach debacle has recently outlined it's idea of change on it's website. From a commenter on Ex-Gay Watch, here it is:

Love In Action does not seek to change people's "orientation"; rather, LIA exists to help people align their behavior with their faith. We seek to give options to the people who come to us for help -- options about how they live their lives. There is homosexual and heterosexual behavior, but neither word describes people; therefore there can be no change from an identity that never existed to begin with.

I'm glad that LIA has outlined what it means by change, and I encourage other ex-gay ministries and employees to do the same. But, I'm not sure it's going to happen.

Call me a pessimist, but I just don't see the idea that change means that I'll just be a celibate guys still attracted to other guys as all that great. I think most people would agree. On that note, call me arrogant, but I don't really think I need weekly counseling or an in-house facility to teach me to stop having sex. Support is one thing, but treatment is surely something different. I think the ex-gay camp knows all of this. If they come out and tell the world that their "treatments" are really just meant to show gay people how to stop having sex with the same sex instead of turning people straight, their "product" would be a lot less palatable and less popular, and the right wing would not be able to continue to tell the world that gays choose to remain gay.

It's all a political game, unfortunately. For once maybe honesty could win over political points in all of this.


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