Friday, February 14, 2014

Okay to be Ex-Gay?

If you are looking for a snark-free zone, kindly turn around now, and save your delicate little feelings now, because Laurence ain't a PC kind of gay. It would appear that the anti-gay brigade is coming in hard for the kill, although Virginia just escaped the guillotine. But that's not my focus right now... instead, I want to take the time to focus on a group that we in the gay community malign, look at with utter disgust and pity, and loathe their existence (is it just me?). Who is this abhorrent group that I speak of? Why it is the many LGBT individuals who wave their neutral colored flag, proudly proclaiming that they are here, they are no longer queer, and that we should get used it. Oh, yeah... the ex-gays. Now, don't get me wrong: I believe that everyone should live their lives and to be happy doing so. There are just a few, teeny-weeny problems I have with the whole "ex-gay" thing.

1. Abandoning Facts for Faith. Let's just cut the crap: the ex-gay movement is religiously motivated, and all it takes is a simple Google or Bing search to uncover the dozens of ex-gay organizations peddling some form of theism within their ranks. How many times have I been on YouTube and heard some poor conflicted soul talking about how they were broken and Jesus fixed them. Except, any major medical, psychological, psychiatric, or sociological organization will tell you that there is nothing broken in gay and lesbian individuals. What one chooses to believe or not believe is something that they have to work out for themselves. But, when you willfully ignore scientific research (admittedly this research itself is not conclusive) for that of recycled religious rhetoric, you burden yourself with more problems than solutions.  And while I can admit that the mechanics behind ex-gay therapy and the ex-gay movement are murky, there is one thing that the science continues to conclude:

2. It doesn't work. Sorry, that's just the truth. The success rates for ex-gays varies depending on what organization you talk to, but even their mixed bag of results always yield a commonality: the success rates are low. Very low. Even those that proclaim that they have been freed from the emotional baggage and slavery of homosexuality also detail their constant struggle with their same sex attractions. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a horrible existence, and for what? To reap the benefits of some unproven afterlife in exchange for robbing yourself of love in the one life you know you have? I don't know about you, but if I'm going to close off a part of me that defines how I love and enter relationships, the validity of the actions would need to have merit... and the ex-gay movement has as much validity as the anti-vaccination movement: it gives credibility to frauds while harming millions of innocent people by feeding on their ignorance and gullibility.

3. They have serious projection issues. If you've heard enough of these testimonies, be it from Richard Cohen, Alan Chambers, or any other garden variety repressed homosexual, you find four common themes:

I. They grew up in religious, homophobic environments while knowing at early ages that they were gay.
II. Troubled childhood and teens years that resulted in promiscuity, drug use, violence, and/or inability to form healthy relationships.
 III. An intense self-hatred brought on by being told for so long that what they feel and who they are is wrong.

 IV. The embracing of the very religion that instilled the feelings of self-hatred in them and claiming that it freed them from their "desires".

You being gay is wrong? Gee... I wonder why you feel that way. We both know why, but let's focus on what you proceed to do with that. Why is it that because you had a crappy life, you proceed to tell me that being gay is wrong? Keep in mind, I grew up in the same homophobic society where gay men were denigrated and made to look overly feminine, flamboyant and inferior to "real men". However, before I even let myself buy into the ridiculous notion that my self-worth was defined by anonymous sex and self-hatred, the epiphanies came quickly. There are some regrets in my past, but those regrets aren't the result of my sexuality. They are the result of piss poor decision making skills on my part and a lack of self-awareness when it would have greatly benefited me.

To put it bluntly, if you snorted cocaine, smoked crack, injected heroin, engaged in risky sexual behavior and lashed out violently, it's not your homosexuality that's to blame for that. After all, the same behaviors affect our straight counterparts as well, and I've yet to hear of the someone using the excuse of "It is your dangerous heterosexual lifestyle".

5. The harm outweighs the benefits. So, remember when I said that the success rates for ex-gays is low? Well, here is the consequence of that: a higher depression rates. When these individuals cannot succeed in overcoming their same sex attractions, an overwhelming sense of failure can consume them. This makes sense, considering that even in other areas of our lives where we try our hardest to make it and continue to falter, it can lead us to believe that we will never achieve our goal. This, however, isn't like failing to stick the landing after a triple back flip. There should be a caveat with the word "benefits", as I have yet to see any tangible benefits, except that the ex-gay person feels that they are now in line with their religious teachings and can be accepted by their community.

Ex-gay individuals often accuse us in the gay community of persecuting them, ostracizing them for taking our "born this way" mantra and dismantling it with their sudden 180 degree turn of gay attractions and squashing them for good. And you know what? They actually have a valid point. Because for me, a gay man who has known he was attracted to the same sex for as long as he could remember, it took a long and hard road for me to finally accept who I was and openly admit that I was gay to other people. Then, for someone to come along and say "Ha! It is a choice because I chose to be straight instead and now look at me", it is like being punched in the face and told that what you feel inside is a lie and that you're just not trying hard enough.

But drop the pretentiousness, ex-gay people. If you want to find the source of your persecution, look no further than your mirrors, your congregations, and the very people who told you that something was wrong with you to begin with. I'll give you the side-eye left and right because I have a hard time believing that someone can just suppress their sexual orientation, just for some proverbial reward they won't even be able to partake in until after they are dead. Be proud and ex-gay all you want, but don't act shocked when you are mocked for taking something so intimate and innate and turning it into some kind of clap-on-clap-off joke of human sexuality. Don't act shocked when study after study continues to conclude that efforts to change one's orientation can lead to serious harm and psychological damage. And finally, don't act shocked when you have individuals like me -- who are both gay and no longer burdened with religious nonsense --  that are willing to call bullshit on your lies and theistic peddling of a holy placebo.

Congratulations, remaining ex-gay organizations. Continue your attempt at fooling the world that sexuality can be changed through prayer and meditation. But also take comfort in knowing that your actions are responsible for the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of LGBT people who tried their damnedest to change who they are and failed. Their blood is on your hands... so remember that when you're repressing your own desires, telling others how you changed, and they can too.

Okay, I'm done.

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