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Animosity Towards the “Ex-Gay” Movement, Not “Ex-Gays” June 23, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in "ex-gays", anti-gay activists, lgbt Issues.

Working in the LGBT movement, it is difficult not to hold animosity towards the "ex-gay" movement. Exodus International, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and other "conversion" groups ignore warnings from credible mental health organizations and insist that there is something inherently wrong with loving someone of the same-sex. They play mental games with isolated and scared gay and lesbian youth, forcing them to suppress their true selves to live up to an alleged ideal manufactured by anti-gay organizations.

Despite the obvious moral corruption of these "ex-gay" organizations, it is important to remember that the movement's leaders, not "ex-gays" themselves, are our opposition. When I was in the closet believing that being gay meant living up to the stereotypes perpetuated by homophobes, I too hoped change was possible. Most LGBT people have shared these feelings at some time during their lives and it is important to remember these times when placing the "ex-gay" movement into context.

Nobody is directly harming LGBT people by desiring "change". These people are struggling and cling on to the false hope that change is possible… we cannot fault these individuals for wanting easier lives. The people that are harming LGBT individuals are those running "ex-gay" organizations. This is not a contradiction. Groups like Exodus and Parents and Friends of Exgays and Gays give struggling gays and lesbians false hope by claiming homosexual attraction can be altered to produce heterosexual attraction. Meanwhile, they continue to spread the myth that it is natural for gays and lesbians to become heterosexuals… the same myth that fuels so much religious fundamentalist hostility and hatred towards LGBT people.

Gays and lesbians have every right to not act out on their sexual orientation because of religious beliefs or other conservative moral convictions, but they are not truly former gays. Many will admit that they are always gay, but that they suppress and ignore these natural attractions. This is an important distinction and one that helps eradicate the myths that change is possible. Just as priests or nuns suppress the natural urge for sexual contact, gays and lesbians can suppress those urges. But that doesn't mean you are not gay or lesbian.

Alan Chambers, Joseph Nicolosi and other leaders of the "ex-gay" movement are not evil people. Alan Chambers' testimony shows his self-hatred as a young gay man and an overwhelming addiction to anonymous sex. What Alan Chambers needs to realize is that his experience as a gay man is not my experience, or the vast majority of gay and lesbian experiences. His addiction to sex was his problem, not a gay problem. He clings on to the dangerous behaviors he engaged in while openly gay, but has yet to realize that many heterosexuals engage in those same dangerous behaviors. He uses his sexual orientation as a scapegoat for decisions he made while younger.

The whole "ex-gay" topic is actually rather depressing. It's sad to know some of our LGBT brothers and sisters feel there are no alternatives but to suppress their true identities to conform with society or fundamentalist religious beliefs. LGBT people and allies need to reach out to isolated youth and remind them that God is more tolerant than fundamentalists make her out to be and that society is heading in the right direction. In the meantime, we support each other.

You may also want to check out this story from an ex-ex-gay. And to keep an eye on the "ex-gay" movement, check out the blog Ex-Gay Watch.