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Oct 24 2012

‘Ex-gays’ Adopt Language of Persecution

I’ve noticed lately that the “ex-gay” movement has started adopting the language of civil rights advocates, claiming to be a minority grout that is persecuted and discriminated against. Most of the major anti-gay organizations and the right wing media have gladly adopted this dishonest bit of framing, as the Worldnutdaily does in this article complaining about the fact that the CDC does not recommend their nonsense:

A team of legal experts at the United States Justice Foundation is calling on the U.S. government to quit discriminating based on sexual orientation.

They have sent a letter to Kevin Fenton of the National Center for HIV/AIDS in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was written on behalf of PFOX, Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays, which pointedly noted that the groups and resources cited by the federal government fall short of a scientific standard.

The letter explains that the CDC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health Youth Sources website links to homosexual activist organizations and homosexual resources. It also includes links to sites that “warn others against the use of therapy for diminishing unwanted same-sex attractions.”

For example, it links to the GSANetwork, which is described as “empowering youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools” as well as “campaigns to …. empower youth activists to create changes that will transform schools.”…

“The website also contains links to anti-heterosexual publications and organizations, such as PFLAG, which openly denigrates former homosexuals, and the infamous anti-ex-gay publication ‘Just the Facts,’ which advocates against Christian ex-gay ministries and lists only those religious organizations that affirm homosexual behavior,” the letter says.

“Why is the federal government spreading intolerance against the ex-gay community and Christians who support the religious testimony of former homosexuals?” the letter asks. “The promotion of these negative anti-heterosexual comments spreads hate towards the ex-gay community. Is the federal government singling out a certain class of people to denigrate?”

A very clever bit of framing, but completely dishonest. First of all, let us be blunt: there is no such thing as someone who is “ex-gay.” Even Alan Chambers of Exodus International, the largest and most influential “ex-gay” group in the world, has said as much (and got hammered for it by his fundie allies). Though he now considers himself to no longer be gay, he openly acknowledges that he continues to be sexually attracted to men but he chooses not to act on it. But homosexuality is an orientation, not an act; one can be gay and have straight sex (lots of gay people have done so, often to hide their orientation) and one can be straight and have gay sex (as many porn stars, male and female, do).

Secondly, this claim that because the CDC doesn’t list ex-gay ministries as resources on their website is not some insidious form of discrimination, it is a perfectly reasonable decision. There simply is no evidence that anyone can change their sexual orientation and much evidence that trying to do so can be psychologically devastating. It would be incredibly irresponsible for the government to promote such quackery.

This is just a little subset of the much larger attempt by the Christian right in America to misuse the language of civil rights and to claim persecution where none exists.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Modusoperandi

    …and the infamous anti-ex-gay publication ‘Just the Facts,’…

    The ‘personals’ section is bizarre. It has section headers like “Totally not gay man seeks totally not gay man for anonymous and totally not gay hook up”.

    “This is just a little subset of the much larger attempt by the Christian right in America to misuse the language of civil rights and to claim persecution where none exists.”

    To be fair, the Christian Right is the most persecuted minority in the country.

  2. 2
    Modusoperandi

    Oh, wait. Ignore that first bit. I missed the “anti”.

  3. 3
    richardelguru

    “minority grout”
    Forced between the majority tiles of the bathroom of life?

  4. 4
    John Pieret

    Gee, I bet the CDC doesn’t list homeopathic websites as resources for treating cancer either.

    The word they are really searcing for is “discriminating.”

  5. 5
    Forbidden Snowflake

    To be fair, the Christian Right is the most persecuted minority in the country.

    I thought that was the 1%.

  6. 6
    rork

    I think there’s allot of things to possess besides strict straight and gay orientation, and not sure what research suggests for some people who are neither, but who wonder if they can be happy with just heterosex. I’m not saying Ed is wrong. Just that there are also some people who could be happy either way, perhaps with slightly better chances one way or the other, or even rather significantly better chances one way than the other. Against the relative social ease of being in a straight relationship on the one hand, I’d offer this as the counter: a rebel loves a cause, especially one about justice, where you know you are right. Not that I advocate overthinking it.

  7. 7
    busterggi

    Christians love that martyr-y smell like some folks love that new car smell.

  8. 8
    DaveL

    The website also contains links to anti-heterosexual publications and organizations, such as PFLAG

    PFLAG is an “anti-heterosexual” organization? The Parents of lesbians and gays are anti-heterosexual?

    Why is the federal government spreading intolerance against the ex-gay community and Christians who support the religious testimony of former homosexuals?”

    The CDC discounts the religious testimony of “former” homosexuals for exactly the same reason it discounts the religious testimony of faith healers vis-a-vis cancer treatment.

  9. 9
    Gregory in Seattle

    So basically they are screeching, “I’m a member of the majority now! Really! And I’m being persecuted because of it!”

  10. 10
    Area Man

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. The main trick behind right-wing propaganda of all stripes is to invert the over- and under-privileged in society, such that those who are disadvantaged are castigated as aggressors while those who benefit from social position are regarded as the true victims. You see this with everything: White Christian males are the ones who are most discriminated against, the rich are overburdened while the poor have it too easy, innocent oil companies are being bullied by environmentalists, and yes, the gays are persecuting the homophobes.

    This is just another twist on that shameless and insulting trope. And you will see it again, wherever the need to rationalize plutocratic or bigoted impulses arises.

  11. 11
    Modusoperandi

    Area Man “This is just another twist on that shameless and insulting trope. And you will see it again, wherever the need to rationalize plutocratic or bigoted impulses arises.”
    Oh, please! They have to be the oppresses ones, cursed in their quest to save America from unpopular minorities. Otherwise they’d just be assholes.

  12. 12
    wscott

    “minority grout” = Best typo ever. (Or at least this week.)

    @ rork 6: I don’t think Ed was saying sexual orientation is a binary gay/straight switch; he’s saying that wherever you happen to fall on the spectrum, there is no evidence that this position can be changed by praying away the gay.

  13. 13
    John Hinkle

    Why is the federal government spreading intolerance against the ex-gay community and Christians who support the religious testimony of former homosexuals?” the letter asks.

    Well, you know, could it be that people are just intolerant of liars? Liars who are so rotten they can drive people to suicide?

    Nah. Gotta be the persecution angle.

  14. 14
    rork

    @12 wscott: Didn’t mean to be criticizing anything. Just wanted to send some extra warm words the way of the people who find themselves looking both ways. The truth can be hard to find, any puns unintended. It took allot of data for me to figure out where fantasy and reality separated or not. Maybe that was just my DRD4 alleles talking though.

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