How To Invalidate Gays: Validate Ex-Gays

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[Click here to sign the Change.org petition demanding the World Bank stop supporting groups like PFOX.]

This week, Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly reported that the World Bank will be including PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays) in their Community Outreach Program; they’ll be listed right below PFLAG. Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out added that this was fraud on the part of PFOX, because they don’t have any local presence in DC—their headquarters being located in Reedville, VA, 127 miles away. TWO has since called upon the World Bank to remove PFOX from its outreach list, pointing out the group’s connections to Richard Cohen, his protégé Caleb Lee Brundidge who was part of the conference in Uganda that led to the death penalty bill being considered there, and Arthur Abba Goldberg, who scammed poor communities with complicated bond schemes.

I’ll leave you to the articles for details about how the World Bank’s charity outreach works, but let’s be clear, PFOX is no charity. And contrary to its name, it is no friend to gays.

PFOX is remarkable for its application of the Victim meme. See, the ex-gays that PFOX represents? They’re real victims. But they’re victims of the harmful, ineffective brainwashing of ex-gay therapy. But what PFOX says is that they’re victims of harassment from those of us in the LGBT community who ostracize and discriminate against them for being ex-gay. This, of course, is absurd, as we only have the utmost compassion for ex-gays; it is only the promoters of ex-gay therapy who deserve to be challenged and disavowed for spreading their lies.

Groups like PFOX continue to create visibility for the idea that sexual orientation can be changed, and that it’s just a different perspective; the issue is still up for debate. This is both factually untrue and incredibly harmful. Let’s take a look at some of their language to see what they’re real motives are.

Don’t be misled by the first sentence in the next paragraph:

Who are PFOX families?

PFOX families love their homosexual child unconditionally.  Unlike other organizations which insist that parental love is conditional on affirming homosexual behavior, there are no conditions on our love for our children.  We do not have to approve of everything our children do.  Blanket approval is not responsible parenting or love.  True love is loving in spite of our differences and treating each other with kindness and respect.

It’s not hard to read between the lines here. What PFOX wants from families is for them to show their love by shaming their children for their homosexuality.

And of course they do! And look! They have the APA (both of them) there to back them up!

Aren’t some people born gay?

We have all heard of individuals who entered homosexuality later in life after marrying and having children with an opposite sex spouse.  No scientific evidence has established a genetic cause for homosexuality or found a “gay gene.”  There is no DNA or medical test to determine if a person is homosexual.  Sexual orientation is a matter of self-affirmation and public declaration.  “Gay” is a self-chosen identity.  According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are no replicated scientific studies to support that people can be born “gay” or that homosexuality is innate.

According to the American Psychological Association, “[a]lthough much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.” [2008]

Pssst… the period is supposed to go outside the citation, at least according to APA’s own style manual.

So, is that really what the APA has to say? No, I think we should look to 2009 for a more accurate statement on the matter:

The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others’ sexual orientation;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Psychological Association concludes that the benefits reported by participants in sexual orientation change efforts can be gained through approaches that do not attempt to change sexual orientation;

Aww… looks like PFOX was misleading just a little bit there, huh?

Don’t be surprised. Their motives are unabashedly hurtful.

Lastly, let’s take a look at some of the “discriminatory actions against ex-gays” that show the importance of support from groups like PFOX. Note that most of these are efforts against ex-gay groups or individuals who support the ex-gay movement, NOT ex-gays themselves.

Unlike gay groups, ex-gay groups like PFOX are routinely denied equal access to participate in public school events, donate books to public school libraries, and present speakers on diversity day.

Well, let’s see. If PFOX’s materials promote harmful therapies that have been disavowed by all major medical authorities, should they really be welcomed? Are those good resources for students or communities to have access to? No.

Transgenders and cross-dressers are affirmed for changing their gender but former homosexuals are ridiculed for making the decision to change their sexual orientation.

This is misleading (and offensive). People who are trans do not change their gender. They simply have genders that are different from their sexes. This is a false comparison that completely misunderstands (unsurprisingly) the nature of trans identities.

Ex-gay conferences and seminars across the country are frequently picketed by anti-ex-gay protestors like PFLAG, a parents organization run by a gay activist, and Soulforce, a gay religious organization.

Been there, done that. Of course we picket those groups! It is no great secret that they actively work to hurt members of our community. But we aren’t protesting against ex-gay people; we are protesting against the recruitment of gays into a zombified movement of ex-gays based on harmful untruths.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama was criticized by gay activists for allowing ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to sing at a fundraiser.  They insisted that Obama drop the African-American singer from the program.  Gay singers did not receive this treatment.

Haha, this is great. First of all, none of these people support Barack Obama. Second of all, this is a clear attempt to paint gay activists as racists. Third of all, Candidate Obama had committed to being a fierce advocate for LGBT issues, so discouraging him from essentially endorsing the ex-gay movement was a pretty important thing to do.

Harvard University conducted two separate investigations against employee Larry Houston because he discussed his former homosexuality on campus.

Houston was a cook in a Harvard dining hall, and the investigations only took place after many students complained he was inappropriately proselytizing. It’s clear from this Crimson article that Houston was coached with talking points by PFOX to make himself look like a victim.

Equality Virginia demanded that Washington DC Metro remove PFOX’s subway billboards advocating tolerance for ex-gays.

Why would a pro-gay group complain about the visibility of an anti-gay message? Huh.

An ex-gay volunteer staffing PFOX’s exhibit booth at the Arlington County, Virginia Fair was physically assaulted because he refused to recant his ex-gay testimony.  Wayne Besen, a former spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, falsely reported that the assault had never occurred.

Another misleading claim, intended as an attack on Wayne Besen. But Wayne wasn’t the one who claimed there was no incident! In fact, the Arlington County Board researched the claim, found no evidence, and reported the incident as a “pre-fabrication or a mistake.”

After speaking at an ex-gay conference, Michelle McKinney-Hammond lost her programming on a broadcast station because gay activist Wayne Besen had complained to the station.

Another direct attack on Wayne; another lie. In fact, aside from sites who have copied language from PFOX directly, I cannot find any evidence to this. Even if it were true, there would probably be a rightful claim, given that Hammond’s has a reputation as a relationship expert meant that a television gig gave her a very wide platform to share the harmful beliefs she was reinforcing at the ex-gay conference.

After writing a letter her local newspaper as a concerned citizen, Crystal Dixon was terminated from her job as an Associate Vice President of Human Resources for Toledo University.  An African-American, Dixon challenged the civil rights comparison of race with homosexual behavior.  Dixon’s letter also revealed that some gay people have overcome unwanted homosexual feelings, as evidenced by the growing popularity of PFOX and other ex-gay organizations.

It’s actually the University of Toledo. And there’s that racism implication again. Guess what? If you work in human resources, it’s your job to handle complaints of discrimination, including those related to sexual orientation. Not unlike the recent case of Andrew Shirvell (the assistant DA in Michigan), if you make public comments against homosexuality when it’s your job to protect gay and lesbian people, it kind of compromises your ability to do your job effectively.

And that’s the whole list. PFOX is just out to sugarcoat the harmful reality of ex-gay therapy and then benefit from claiming victim status.

They are not a charity. They do not help people. They do not deserve any support from the World Bank.

Canada’s 22 Minutes gives us a humorous portrayal that actually reminds us of the true harm done by ex-gay therapy:

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There are 5 Comments to "How To Invalidate Gays: Validate Ex-Gays"

  • Buffy says:

    They keep whining about how persecuted they are. Which group actively pursues and attempts to convert the other? I don’t see gay people stalking “ex-gays” and telling them they need to change. On the other hand the “ex-gays” (or people claiming to be “ex-gays”) are constantly coming on to LGBT blogs and forums, and preaching their bullshit about how they were so traumatized by their tour through the Homosexual Lifestyle, how they changed through the power of Jaysus, and how we should all join them. Then when we tell them to leave us alone (and that their “therapy” is harmful bullshit) they whine about how persecuted they are.

  • Wayne Besen says:

    Excellent analysis.

    PFOX says: “After speaking at an ex-gay conference, Michelle McKinney-Hammond lost her programming on a broadcast station because gay activist Wayne Besen had complained to the station.”

    Well, good for me, I guess. But, I had no idea I got this bigot canned. In fact, I have no idea who she is. Maybe I forgot the incident, or maybe POX is just making things up again.

  • Rod says:

    Thanks for this Zack. The truth is that the World Bank Community Connections Board and the World Bank’s management are actually not aware of how wrong their decision was and they sincerely see the LGBT community reaction as disproportionate. This explains why they have not simply apologized and removed PFOX from the list. In their own words: “it does mirror society and [there are] many differing viewpoints to accommodate which makes for a delicate balancing act.”

    They truly see gay organizations and ex-gay organizations as being both valid viewpoints that deserve the same support. They don’t have the same instinctive reaction to do additional research than when they encounter pro-life NGOs or associations that promote female genital mutilation – which are also different viewpoints.

    This silent/indifferent homophobia by educated professionals is to me much more pernicious and hurtful that the old-fashioned “I hate you because you are different” . This is why I hope we will continue to pressure the Bank until it removes PFOX from its endorsed charities and apologize for its lack of judgment.

  • Brian Gerald says:

    Signed the petition, thanks so much for bringing this to our attention!

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