Tuesday, May 23, 2006

An Over-Simplified Primer in Ex-Gay Rhetoric

Here's my very over-simplified take on the problem that exists between the Ex-Gay movement and the folks at Ex-Gay Watch, who I'm assuming, represent a significant portion of the gay population in general.

Here are the things I can "get away with" in the camp over at Ex-Gay Watch.

1) stating my belief that homosexual acts are sinful and against God's plan for man
2) giving my own personal testimony about how Tdub has reduced his unwanted same sex attraction (through therapy and spiritual healing techniques) and increased (greatly) in his sexual attraction to me
3) speculating about the nature vs. nurture debate concerning sexual attractions/orientations and sharing personal stories or personal experiences
4) relating "change" of the sexual attraction sort to the Christian walk and other struggles with sin (namely, mine)
5) asking questions about the level of promiscuity in the gay community as compared to promiscuity in the hetero community
6) a bunch of other stuff but I'm tired of trying to think of all of them

Here are the things that WILL NOT under any circumstances fly with the camp over at Ex-Gay Watch. And, you may ask, why do I care what they think? Well....mostly....because I love those people. the gays. I respect them as individuals and as unique creations of God, and I just downright like them too. Because of that....I don't do these things:

1) being more appalled or SO appalled by homosexual acts (which I consider sin) than my own sinfulness or all types of other sins that I'm surrounded by on a daily basis and which do JUST AS MUCH to tear at the moral fiber of our culture as ANY other sin
2) making it sound like someone can actually be "cured" of same sex attractions as if it were a cold or something.....or, making it sound like there are "quick fixes" and there are hundreds of thousands of people who've followed some handy dandy steps and chosen to be free of unwanted same sex attractions. it ain't that simple. it's tough....and the hard truth of the matter is that some are more successful than others and it's difficult to understand why.
3) making relationally ignorant statements like "people are not born gay" which obviously does nothing more than INCITE gay folks. people are just born. i'm no more sure (and no one is) of when they receive gayness or straightness than those who argue about when an embryo becomes a fetus, becomes a soul, becomes a baby and on and on it goes. obviously....and my husband can attest....there are those who don't remember not being attracted to the opposite sex as soon as they were sexually attracted to anything at all....so....at what point that occurred...is really and truly still up for grabs. it is.
4) saying things like, "you just need to have more faith" or, "you aren't really a Christian if you're still gay" or, "you obviously have a bad relationship with your father and your mother must have been over-bearing" or, "gays are recruiting people to be gay"....maybe they would, if they could...but they CAN'T! if i'm an alcoholic, the person who took me to the bar for my first drink did not RECRUIT me...i was pre-disposed to that sin and it just IS. And it always will be. The fact that it's more acceptable than ever for young folks to go hang out in bars is not because of an "alcholic's agenda". It's just because of our society at large. (i know i may get in deep doo doo for comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.....i'm sorry....i hope you can love and forgive me)
5) talking about promiscuity in the gay community and never once mentioning that promiscuity is actually a HUMAN problem.....not confined to gays. Furthermore, seeming to blame all the evils of the world and our current culture on gay promiscuity. I've got problems with promiscuity here at my house....but not of the gay sort....son #1 is KILLIN' me! I guess...at least if he were struggling with gay sex I wouldn't have to worry about becoming a Grandma! (humor is one of God's greatest gifts and I'm finding every way I can in this situation to find it)
6) just being plain disrespectful of the gay community at large. yep, i think it's sin...but ya know....there are SO many sinful things about our culture.....i see no reason to go singling them out as the "axis of evil" for what ails us.

Ok.....I've had that little rant in me for a while and now it's out.

For those of you who read here and DO struggle because your attractions are unwanted....take heart. It sucks, I know. But there's always, always hope. Even when you screw up. (no pun intended! ha!)


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Mike Airhart said...

Ex-Gay Watch doesn't have formal or up-to-date guidelines for commenters, but we've been talking lately about drafting some.

But now I'm pleasantly surprised that you've written most of them for us! Would you mind if we borrow some? (With appropriate credit, of course. :-D )

Christine said...

I like you, Grace. :)

Christine said...

And I forgot to mention, I'd like to see the same basic courtesy extended to everyone...if we all took some time to understand those on the "other" sides of...whatever...we'd all be so much better off.

grace said...

Mike: Of course not! (as in, I don't mind :)

Christine: I like you as well! And you are right, this is not just a matter of gay vs. ex-gay....much of it is just common courtesy.


kurt_t said...

Grace, great observations!

You mind if I add one?

7)Referring to gay-identified people as "sexually broken." If ex-gays want to consider themselves "broken," that's their business, but I find it appallingly offensive when people try to hang that label on me or other gay people. I have a job. I have a house. I have a family. I pay my taxes. I recycle. I'm a perfectly functional adult. I'm not broken. I don't need to be fixed.

Christine said...

Kurt, yes, totally agree with that. When I was ex-gay I did indeed describe myself as relationally and/or sexually broken. I no longer identify as that and it has been one of the most life-giving parts of my healing. I shudder to think of how I used to tell others that gays were sexually broken people, based on my own experiences. Aiiiiya.

grace said...

Kurt and Christine:

Hmmm. I understand what you are saying here...although, you know that brokenness is a word I've used pretty frequently here on my blog. However, I rarely (if ever) mention sexual brokenness without referring to my own brokenness. For someone like me, it's just another way of talking about sin. In which case, it seems there may be appropriate ways to use the term without being offensive to you guys. And yet, I can totally see how someone could be highly offensive with that terminology. Actually, most of this is not really about the actually words being used since I use many of the same words as the people who are unkind to you.....it's more about the spirit and respectfulness in which the words are used. Does that make sense? Let me know what you think.


kurt_t said...

Well, Grace, I don't see you projecting that idea of "brokeness" on gay-identified people. I think that's why a lot of gay people feel comfortable engaging you. I feel like what you do is you turn that idea of "brokeness" around and challenge people to see it in a different light.

Well, I guess another way of saying that is you put that concept of "sexual brokeness" into the bigger picture, the bigger Christian picture, in which everybody is broken and in need of salvation, and nobody has the right to say "You're more broken than me." or "I'm a complete human being and your not because you're broken."

Does that make sense?

grace said...

Kurt: Yes, it makes complete sense to me! :)

Regan said...

Hi Grace,
I JUST now found your site and I'm glad.
I started at xgw precisely because I felt I had a lot to learn.
The only problem is, the folks at ex gay watch have been more friendly and forthcoming about their own ex gay exercises in changing or in abandoning becoming ex gay.
I'm still waiting for actual ex gays to help me out.
I've met only a few spouses of gay men who, unfortunately were very unhappy themselves and the experience left them very angry with gay people.
I also currently know a gay man who is married to an unsuspecting wife.
But the situation has cost him in physical and emotional endurance.
He is one of my best friends, and he's literally like a brother to me.
But early on, before he married he was terrified of coming out, the consequences of that revelation on his family and his relationship with them.
He also saw what vindictive results occurred against other gay men who were his friends who married women.
They not only lost their families, but their jobs as well.
There is quite a lot of blackmail at the root of ex gay motives or at least the ability to exploit it.

Anyway, I find your education similar to my own. Of course the issue is MUCH more intimate and compelling for you, and I certainly respect that.
But especially to REALLY love your husband and son...through whatever tribulations you all are having.
Because only love will help you through it all in the end.
And I DO believe in love. I believe in it more than anything in the world.

And the release of anger or bitterness or fear...opens us up to knowledge and that peace we need most of all.
I think though, that a lot of ex gay institutions promote anger and bitterness and fear-of homosexuality, and that can't be good, and it usually isn't.

So girlfriend, here we are on the journey together.
Now that we've become traveling companions....how 'bout them Rangers?

Be well!
Love, Regan

grace said...

Just let me know what I can do. I'm sorry but I need a little clarification. Is it that you are trying to help your friend make some decisions regarding his marriage/sexuality? I know that's tough....but....there is hope for them if they work together. The first step, just being honest about your struggle, is horribly difficult and, obviously, keeps many people from ever doing anything at all...or eventually tears the marriage completely apart.

I asked Tdub how the Rangers were or if they were even still playing...LOL. He laughed at me and said they are having a great season. haha!

I look forward to hearing from you more!


Regan said...

Hi Grace, thank you so much.
Well, he's not going to disclose his true orientation to anyone.
He's been married five years and long before he got married, I begged him not to marry.
I'd arranged for him to live and work in an adjacent bigger city so that he could adjust and be counseled as how to proceed.
There was a wonderful minister at an MCC church all set to help him out with everything.
My friend was way to fearful and turned it all down and went ahead with his wedding.
He's just a big bubba from the deep south, sweet as can be. Just to loving and caring to hurt anyone.
Even prior to marrying he felt his disclosure would hurt his family.
He's very unselfish so it didn't surprise me he felt that way.
I promised him that no matter what he'd decided, I would stick by him and help him through EVERYTHING whatever happened, like a big sister should.

I love him very much. It's tough keeping the secret, I like his wife very much too.
But this is where we are and he does have me to talk to and it helps take the pressure off.

Talk about the power of love...
He grew up in a tiny town in Alabama, he's got piercing blue eyes to die for and he's burly and funny and I love his accent.
And here I am, a straight black big city woman, born and raised in Los Angeles, a member of the Hollywood performing community.
He wondered what in the heck I would want with a guy like him from such a different world.
It took some doing assuring him that his life was important to me and I thought the world of him.
Well, this big city sophisticate and the small town good ol boy, had a serious meeting of the hearts and that's all there is to it.
He has no sisters, just one older brother.
So I'm it...and love every second of it.
It's my turn to go visit him soon. The hurricanes blew off part of his roof while he was visiting me last year.
He's hoping there won't be a quake while I'm seeing him.

But if a time comes, you want to help his wife, if disclosure occurs, YOU will be the first I contact, Grace.
You are so wise and loving, I know you'd make good counsel.
That's where me and my teddy bear of an adopted brother are, in answer to your question.
I got another one for ya...
Do you think Ann Richards would have made a better President than that Bush brat?

May I say too, that I think you are very pretty.
Love, Regan

grace said...

Thanks Regan!

Actually, many years ago, I voted for Ann Richards for govenor when she was running against Clayton Williams. Not sure if I think she'd have been a better president but I can't say she'd be any worse either! ;)

I will pray for your friend. Having been in the situation his wife is in I can tell you this...the betrayal of keeping secrets and having others in greater confidence than me....was an even worse betrayal than the actual secret itself. You know? But...we can pray about that! And yes, I will always be here as a resource for any of you when/if you need me!

Edwin said...

I'm sorry to point this out...but you are the only adult in my entire life that actually uses the word "lol" in anything! hahahahaha although..since I'm 18 I am an adult now arent I...geez im getting old.

I would just like to mention one thing. If the past few years have taught me anything its that being gay is such a minor problem in our lives/society. With issues such as poverty, homelessness etc its a wonder that (particualary Christian) people spend so much time and effort in this field of reparative therapy. If God wants us to change he will change us, in the meantime we would be better off addressing more serious issues in this world (although i admit its easier said than done eh....)

Best wishes.

Edwin said...

Oh yeah, my prayers fo your friend too Regan!


grace said...

Hey! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Tdub and I hang out with teenagers ALOT...maybe that's where the lol comes from...we also have My Space if you want to know how REALLY "latent" we can be! haha! We do believe wholeheartedly that "youth" and "maturity" can be entirely seperated. :)

You validate one of the very points I was making with this post. I believe Christians should serve others and be about the sorts of business Jesus taught us to be about. I've written it many times here....but we (myself included) often have such a difficult time trusting God to take care of His stuff and just staying busy with what we are REALLY supposed to be about. Loving and serving others. I can do that AND be truthful about my beliefs...the main one being...Jesus is Lord.

Thanks again for stopping by!