Thursday, January 12, 2006

Randy Thomas got quoted pretty heavily for an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently. He writes about it on his blog here.

I wanted to point to part of what he says. Here it is:

"We’re here for those who want our help,” says Thomas. It faces hostility from gay-rights groups that Thomas says reach the same conclusion as Phelps, that sexuality trumps all and people can’t change. He believes that’s untrue - “we are not walking sexualities,” he says - and that it’s turning culture into warfare.
“That polarization has caused so much pain and suffering,” he says."

I really just have to disagree, and I think this statement leads to polarization of its own.

I haven't seen any gay groups outwardly say that people are "walking sexualities." I'm sure that's not what he means, but I want to start there. To say gay groups have reached the same conclusions regarding sexuality as Fred Phelps takes things a bit too far.

I personally don't think telling people that it is ok to be gay is the same as telling them that they are nothing more than their sexuality. I haven't done full research on this, but I don't think any of the large gay groups say that people specifically can't change. Saying that there is no hard evidence supporting reparative therapy or changing from gay to straight is one thing. But, saying that absolutely no one can change is quite another, and I don't think gay groups say that, but it is what Randy implies.

I'll put it this way. I think it's ok to be gay. I don't think there is hard evidence that switching from gay to straight works (I realize some people, like Randy, say they have changed. I'm not doubting that, but anecdotal evidence like that is not actual proof in any science). If ex-gay groups wanted some evidence, they surely could track that sort of thing. Their whole organizations rest on the ideas that gays (all gays) can change, so why wouldn't they look for hard, solid evidence to back them up? Why not follow their members in longitudinal studies.

Can some people change? Maybe. Probably. But going around telling people that it is ok to be gay is certainly not saying that people are nothing more than their sexuality. It's saying that gay people are just the same as straight people, and they should be treated as such. Comparing that statement to the belief of Fred Phelps (any belief) is unfortunate. I hope Randy can see how a comparison like that is unfair, especially since I am sure he has been victim to similar comparisons--which are also unfair.


At 12/1/06 8:17 PM, Blogger grace said...

I'm not up on the validity or lack of scientific studies. I'm more the feeling/perceiving type. I've been reading and commenting a little over at XGW (i saw your nice comments about me there and have been meaning to say thanks!). Anyway, it just seems to me that both sides get really nasty so quickly in this. I really do get a strong sense from MOST of the writer's there (not ALL) that change is not possible...but according to Timothy Kinkaid that is not part of the platform of XGW. Most of the things I've read from Exodus or FoTF I've read there, on Randy's blog, or on your blog, so I don't have a clear sense of their platform being ALL gays can and/or should change. It makes sense to me that just saying "We're here to help if you want it and it's possible" would be enough. But that's just me.

What would you be comfortable with? I know the statistics they use bother a general message from groups like Exodus or FoTF, what would make you comfortable? I am asking in all sincerity and with utmost respect for you and your beliefs.


At 13/1/06 3:12 PM, Blogger Brady said...

Hey Grace,

Thanks for writing, and you're welcome about the nice words, I definitely meant them.

As for XGW, I agree that the tone there often does get overly heated and sometimes nasty. But, there are times where they do a good job of analyzing material. I feel that Mike Airhart does a pretty decent job of staying away from dirty name calling and tries to ask real, open questions (although I admit that he spends too much time on Randy and Alan Chambers for my tastes).

As for your question, I agree with this quote, "We're here to help if you want it and it's possible," but I'd add "for some people."

If I felt like that were the overall message of Exodus, FoTF, and other similar groups, I'd personally be content (Im sure not all would be, but I would be, honestly).

I really don't believe that is their message though. While I believe Randy individually does an ok job of keeping to that message, the organization as a whole really doesn't. If you go and read the Exodus Media Synopsis, for example, you will find that the huge majority of news stories there are negative portrayals of gay people. I have rarely to never seen a positive portrayal of a gay person. I realize that there job is not to put gay people up on a pedestal, but scouring the news to put only negative stuff about gays on a site all day is pretty disheartening.

I see that as a way to not just say, "we are here to help gay people if they want our help," but more as a way of implying to the general public that gays NEED their help. I simply feel like their very negative portrayal of gay people as an organization makes their message go beyond the one above.

One quick example- when Alan Chambers was quoted about Brokeback Mountain and said that he knew personally the despair and heartache that gay people feel, he was negatively stereotyping all gays to the public forum, not saying that his personal life was bad as a gay man, but that all gay lives are negative, and since our society is still predominately opposed to homosexuality (it really is, I promise), they take Alan's impllications about all gays to heart pretty easily, and Alan knows that, I think).

FoTF is a lot worse, in my opinion. They've used regurgitated statistics from completely discredited people like Paul Cameron to portray how terrible gay people are. I spent 2 or 3 blog sessions where I randomly went to FoTF web radio to see how often they talked about homosexuality, and they brought it up more often than any other subject--at least once a day, sometimes more (and trust me, this was not good stuff--how gays are infiltrating our schools, how they are spreading diseases to straight people, etc.). To me, that just doesnt seem like a group that is out there to help gay people if they need it--it's one that is telling the public that gay people are bad.

So, to answer your question (finally!), I think saying "we're here to help if you want it" and just stop there. Maybe adding, "We've been able to help some people change their attractions." Maybe have a disclaimer that they are there to help in any way--for some change is the answer, for others celibacy is. But, Exodus' current marketing pretty straightforwardly implies to the world that gays can change. No asterik, no caveat, and I think too many people don't care to look in more closely to see if all can change, so the message becomes dangerous.

Phew, sorry for all of that. Anyway, trying to answer honestly (and with a smile ;-) ).

At 14/1/06 4:25 PM, Blogger grace said...

Thanks for taking the time to respond Brady. You know I struggle with understand all of this. I'm beginning to see that it's just like most everything else...anytime you get big organizations (on either side) making blanket statements, problems, misunderstandings, and unfortunately sometimes downright lies often follow.

It's another reminder to me of why it's so awesome that God is a personal God to each of us. What absolute wisdom and utter genius it was of him to come here, to us, in the form of a man, crossing that great divide between us and Him so that we are linked personally and each become responsible in the end for our relationships and our salvation.

There's nothing that any man has ever created; no government, organization, or institution, that is not flawed and yet, none of those entities have one wit to do, in the end, with our eternities.

Hope you are having a good long weekend!



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