Putting An Extra "Ex" In "Ex-Gay"

« January 2012 »

Memo to Alan Chambers, Exodus International, and Love In Action: HURRY UP.

As a cynic, I'm loath to say, much less predict, that things are getting better. But as an evidence-based cynic, I'm obligated to note when something I hate beyond measure appears to be, if not dying, at least severely wounded. And there are few things in this world I hate more than the Christian "ex-gay" movement.

But over the last few months, I've seen some stories that seem to indicate that ex-gay ministries, and the whole notion of reparative therapy, might be going the way of the dodo. At the very least, it might be going "underground", forced by public approbation, social pressure, and the march of history to become to homosexuality what "crisis pregnancy centers" are to abortion.

Most importantly, right around Thanksgiving (appropriately enough), there was a report of a mid-November meeting, called by president Alan Chambers, the theme of which was "how to save Exodus". They've apparently been bleeding money as a result of bad real estate decisions and a drop in support and donations. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of assholes.

Apparently the plan is to try to morph into a "kindler, gentler" version of Christian gay torture in order for the public to be more comfortable with the act of giving Exodus money. What form might this "kinder, gentler" ex-gay therapy take? Well, just ask John Smid.

Smid is the former executive director of Love In Action, an affiliate of Exodus, or, as I would put it, another bundle of whackjobs who need to crawl back under their rock and slowly rot. Smid made headlines this year when he admitted that he's gay, he's STILL gay, being gay is about more than fucking other dudes, and that the kind of ex-gay therapy he supported in the past doesn't work and is horrible and wrong.

Of course, he also said he's going to stay married and faithful to his wife. So he's still going to be miserable and celibate, but he's going to be honest about the fact that he's miserable and celibate. And that's a perfectly valid karmic atonement for helping run Love In Motherfucking Action for as long as he did, as far as I'm concerned. But it does give a clue to where ex-gay therapy may be going next.

What if the next version of what Exodus preaches is that you can't change your sexuality, that you'll always be gay, but since being gay is wrong, we're going to teach you how to live a miserable, celibate existence, possibly with a woman whose motives for marrying you I couldn't even begin to comprehend?

Just the other day, Alan Chambers showed up at, of all places, the Gay Christian Network's annual conference. There, he said that despite his organization's motto, "Change Is Possible", he never told anyone he could turn them straight, and if any of his subsidiary groups did, he'd look into it and presumably set them... um... right. Which is a bald-faced fucking lie, but it carries with it some admissions that point to the Smidification of the Exodus message. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction... The vast majority of people that I know do still experience some level of same-sex attraction."

Note the careful parsing there. His therapy doesn't affect attraction. He takes gay people, tortures them, and in the end, they're still gay. They still have same-sex attractions. But note what he doesn't talk about. He doesn't talk about acting on those attractions. He doesn't talk about accepting those attractions, or living the same happy, full life of love and sex and companionship that straight people get to have. He's just admitting that he can't change someone's orientation.

So they're going to keep doing what they're doing - force troubled, gay Christians to live repressed, celibate or faux-straight lives, but they're going to be honest about not saying this new straight life is real. Maybe, if we're lucky, this new stance will fool absolutely fucking nobody, and Exodus will go out of business, its name spoken in hushed tones, an epic embarrassment from a less enlightened era. But since I'm a cynic, I'm not gonna hold my fucking breath.