Tuesday, February 27, 2007

APA Will Review Reparative Therapy

I just read over at Queerty that the American Psychological Association has announced that it plans to launch a five-person panel to examine the effects of reparative therapy on clients. Although they haven't picked the panel, Queerty claims they might be considering having at least one successful ex-gay among the group (although I've yet to substantiate that rumor).

I think this is a great step forward. Ex-gay groups have been touting the success of reparative therapy for years. They've also been downplaying the claims of negative consequences reparative therapy might have, but they haven't been doing their own research or follow-up studies. If reparative therapy is so successful and safe, wouldn't they want to have thesee methods researched and studied? And, if everything is on the up and up, wouldn't ex-gay groups love to have the APA actually support their therapy as a legitimate answer to same sex attraction? Think of the success they could have in a secular group like the APA endorsed them outright.

Unfortunately Dr. Warren Throckmorton disagrees with me, and is worried that the panel might be a negative influence for those seeking reparative therapy. In an article with the Christian Post, he says that people with same sex attraction should have the right to seek therapy that aligns with their beliefs. Ok, I'll give him that; he's right. But shouldn't they also have the right to know whether these types of therapies are successful or cause harm to clients? Full disclosure comes to mind as the operative word in this scenario. Either way, I'm excited to see where this goes and what Exodus has to say about it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Like Being Gay

I've got a lot on my mind right now, and I have two posts that I want to write soon, but I don't have time right this second. Hopefully I'll get around to them soon.

For now, though, I want to write about a realization I came to this weekend.

I wrote a post a while back (and it got printed later as a letter to the editor in The Advocate) about how I used to hate being gay. A while back, I would have given anything to not be gay. At some point, though, I stopped hating it and came to piece with it. But, even during that time, I always considered being gay was something I needed to live with and deal with. I didn't hate it, and I'd say I was content with it, but that's as far as I'd go.

But, somehow I came to a conclusion recently that I actually like being gay.

I'm sure this is going to sound absurd to some people (especially some of my non-gay readers), but it's true. Yes, my life is going well right now. I have a good job, a wonderful boyfriend (husband--I need to get used to that), great friends and hopefully a bright future. But, I've had all of that for a while, so my happy life isn't what led me to this realization. Even with all of this, there was always this thought in the back of my mind that if I was straight life would be easier, family would be prouder, future would be brighter.

This weekend, for some reason, I realized how myopic those thoughts were, and all of the sudden it came to me.

I don't just like my life, but I actually specifically like being gay and the qualities that it has brought me. I realized that for me, being gay has been more than just being attracted to guys. As I've slowly come out over the years, I've found myself to be more tolerant than I used to be, more easy going, more open-minded, and really more caring than I once was. I've grown to be more empathetic and more understanding of others, and most importantly, more confident and laid back. I'm not as worried about what people think of me, and as I've grown, I realize that even most virulently anti-gay folks are anti-gay out of fear, misunderstanding, or even heart-felt concern rather than hate. I'm able to see people more for who they are and where they are coming from than for what they are saying.

Yes, you could say that this is all part of growing up or growing older, but I really feel like some of these qualities have come about specifically because I'm gay. I have no qualms about hugging my best friends (male or female) and kissing them goodbye. I don't have a shield around me like I see with many straight guys. I'm basically happy now with who I am, and that means a whole lot.

So that's basically it. It's the very long way of saying that these days, if someone came to me with a magic pill and said I could take it and go back in time and be straight from day 1 (or even from today), I wouldn't take it.

I like being gay. It makes me unique, gives me perspective, and it just makes me who I am. This may not sound like such a revelation to some of you, but to me, it's huge.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tim Hardaway Hates Gay People

Former basketball star Tim Hardaway hates gays--he said so in a recent radio interview while discussing John Amaechi's coming out.

I guess I won't be hanging out with him anytime soon, since I happen to love gays. That, and I can only think that someone that would claim to hate an entire group of people must live a very sad life. No matter what you think about homosexuality, hating an entire group of people can never be a good thing. I wonder where such anger even comes from. I just wish he had someone in his life to show him how wrong he is.

I heard about this story this morning on a local radio talk show on my way to work. The moderate-but-right-leaning Republican host didn't do anything to stick up for gay folks, but he did a great job of calling out his callers for their bias. Basically, they nearly all supported Hardaway's comments, but when pressed, they all admitted they would not have been so pleased had he publicly said he hated some other groups like Christians, African Americans, handicapped people, divorcees, etc. In their minds, it's ok to hate people, as wrong as you are hating the right kind of people.

Who was it that said it was easy being gay again?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Prison Rape

Here's something a little off-topic that I saw over at Shakespeare's Sister.

J and I have been watching season one of the HBO series Oz recently, and although it's a fictionalized drama, we've both talked about how terrified of going to prison it makes us. Not that we haven't already been scared of such a thing, or that going to prison would remotely ever happen to us, but the stories of rape, murder, and beatings are bone chilling even for someone that would never expect to be in such a situation.

Well, the Human Rights Watch has recently launched an investigation (update: the report is 6 years old. The good news is they are currently holding hearings about this problem) into the problem of prison rape, which seems to be a complete epidemic nation wide. Take a look at this first hand account and tell me if any crime is worth this type of punishment:
When I first came to prison, I had no idea what to expect. Certainly none of this. I'm a tall white male, who unfortunately has a small amount of feminine characteristics. And very shy. These characteristics have got me raped so many times I have no more feelings physically. I have been raped by up to 5 black men and two white men at a time. I've had knifes at my head and throat. I had fought and been beat so hard that I didn't ever think I'd see straight again. One time when I refused to enter a cell, I was brutally attacked by staff and taken to segragation though I had only wanted to prevent the same and worse by not locking up with my cell mate. There is no supervision after lockdown. I was given a conduct report. I explained to the hearing officer what the issue was. He told me that off the record, He suggests I find a man I would/could willingly have sex with to prevent these things from happening. I've requested protective custody only to be denied. It is not available here. He also said there was no where to run to, and it would be best for me to accept things . . . . I probably have AIDS now. I have great difficulty raising food to my mouth from shaking after nightmares or thinking to hard on all this . . . . I've laid down without physical fight to be sodomized. To prevent so much damage in struggles, ripping and tearing. Though in not fighting, it caused my heart and spirit to be raped as well. Something I don't know if I'll ever forgive myself for.

I once read the story of a man that was wrongfully convicted of child molestation when he was 15 back in the molestation scare of the 1980's, and his story was much the same. A slight young man enters a prison and endures hundreds of violent rapes while the guards and the prison system do nothing. The fact that we allow this to happen in America, even to our prisoners, is unbelievable. It makes me think that if I was ever facing time in prison, I probably wouldn't stay around for a trial.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Welcome Out John Amaechi

Former NBA player, John Amaechi came out as gay earlier this week. He's the first NBA player to acknowledge publicly that he's gay, which finally puts the league in line with all of the other major sports by having at least one gay former player. This is a great step to showing the public that gay people are just like everyone else.

An even better sign, for me, is that Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who coached coached Amaechi in Orlando, was supportive of John when asked about the coming out, calling him "better than a good kid...a fantastic kid" and later saying, "he was great for the team."

Next up is having a player come out while still playing. All of the players so far have come out post retirement. I understand it's a big deal (hey, it took me 3 years to come out at work, and while all of our 400 employees know who I am, I'm definitely not a public figure), but it's the next big step that needs to be taken.

ShakesSis has a great take on this story, and links to several articles and reactions from other NBA players and coaches. Noted positive responses came from Grant Hill and Charles Barkley (funny how I used to hate him until he played for the Rockets, and I've somehow liked him ever since). Mediocre responses came from Lebron James and Shaquille O'Neal. Check out the link to see some of the bad stuff--I'm gonna keep this post positive.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Gay Magazine Goes Ex-Gay

I just read over at InterstateQ that Venus Magazine, a magazine that targeted the black gay and lesbian community has changed its focus from a pro-gay magazine to an ex-gay magazine. The reason for the change is that the magazine's publisher is no longer a lesbian and wants to spread the word of change and salvation to her readers.

The publisher, Charlene Cothran, says she doesn't plan to change her target audience because she wants her gay readers to experience what she has been able to find in Jesus Christ. While I think that's a commendable idea (if her honest goal is to help people rather than condemn them), I'm not sure how good of a business decision that is going to turn out to be. If you have to take all of your 13 years worth of archives off of your website, something tells me you and your readers aren't sharing the same experiences anymore.

You can see Charlene's "ex-gay coming out" and testimony on Venus' website. It's an interesting piece, but I can't help but notice the ex-gay-speak she uses throughout the article, which is unfortunate. I would think a self-proclaimed gay activist would be weary of reverting to using such methods (and at the very least would realize the inneffectiveness of them).

Even the article's title, "10 Ways to Get Out of the Gay Life" refers to some sort of "gay lifestyle," which is common among ex-and anti-gay folks. Quickly into the article, Charlene refers to a someone as an "ex-lover" rather than a partner or girlfriend (maybe this is just a generational thing, but to me it sounds dismissive). Point number 2 of the article refers again to a mysterious gay lifestyle (she'll do this again several times), notes a gay agenda (honestly, when do I get my copy? Maybe I can have her old one.) and reminds readers that they aren't born gay.

My favorite point, though, is number 7, which tells readers that there is a life outside of the clubs, the parks, the random hookups, and the material possessions. It's like I'm reading a NARTH or Exodus catalog here. The last thing I noticed was that while she says she found change and help through Jesus, she never mentions a change of attractions to heterosexual ones or a diminishing of her lesbian attractions. If she has indeed found happiness and God, I am certainly happy for her. I just wish she could find solace and a way to help others without falling into the old "not born that way lifestyle with an agenda" traps.