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im10ashus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 03:57 PM
Original message
Gay, godly and guilty
By Laura Miller

If you were looking for evidence of how hard it is to change our fundamental sexual proclivities -- not minor aspects, like a taste for black lingerie, but the deep stuff, like whom we're attracted to -- you'd find plenty of it in Tanya Erzen's thoughtful new book, "Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement." Erzen spent 18 months hanging out with and interviewing the members and administrators of New Hope Ministry, which runs a residential program for evangelical Christian men who are "struggling with homosexuality" in the San Francisco Bay Area. She even volunteered in the ministry's office, revamping its Web site, all as fieldwork for her dissertation. (She's now assistant professor of comparative studies at Ohio State University.)

Erzen wasn't interested in collecting fodder for political battles, though, and that's what makes "Straight to Jesus" so enlightening. As an ethnographer, she made every effort to listen to and understand everyone at New Hope Ministry, whether or not she agreed with their beliefs (and it's fairly clear that most of the time she didn't). That's practically unheard of in most popular discussions of charged issues like homosexuality -- and rare in scholarly discussions, either. Nowadays, everyone's convinced that they already know everything the other side has to say and that actually having to listen to it would constitute an insupportable demand on their own patience. Everyone thinks their side of the argument never gets any exposure, yet rabid, ranting opinion of all varieties howls at us everywhere we turn.

What emerges from "Straight to Jesus" is a far more nuanced and moving picture of the "ex-gay" movement than most readers will expect. If you're like me, you probably view outfits like Love in Action and the other "reparative therapy" operations collected under the umbrella organization Exodus International as propaganda wings of the Christian right, populated by small coteries of delusional closet cases like the highly visible John Paulk. Paulk is an "ex-gay" man, married to the equally publicity-loving "ex-lesbian" Annie Paulk, but he's perhaps even better known for being photographed in a Washington, D.C., gay bar in 2001, while ostensibly living a life of irreproachable heterosexuality.

In fact, scandals involving the sex lives of ex-gay movement leaders are so common (even one of the straight leaders, Kent Philpott, got busted for fooling around with his adopted daughter), that it's hard for anyone outside the evangelical right to take them seriously. Add that to several prominent cases of parents forcing their gay teenage children into scary camps like Love in Action's Refuge, an "intensive discipleship program" -- and the fact that no reputable professional psychological organization endorses the idea that homosexuality is a mental "disorder" that can be "cured" -- and the image of a pack of dangerous cultists is cemented.

cont'd...

http://salon.com/books/review/2006/07/11/erzen /
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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 04:10 PM
Response to Original message
1. Stephen Colbert's take on the ex-gay movement...
It's dangerous, because it teaches that straight people can decide to become gay, "taste the forbidden fruit," and then go running back to Jesus to become straight again and be forgiven.
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im10ashus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 04:47 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I just love his perspective.
So true.
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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 06:01 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. Christians: Take a Gay-cation! Become gay for a week and then REPENT!
That's how the ex-gay movement will raise money in the future-- gay-cation tourism followed by repairative therapy.

It's sort of like buying indulgences.

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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. that is bad
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im10ashus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 07:46 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. I am watching his rerun of last night's episode.
Amy Sedaris is the guest. Should be fun.
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TomInTib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 04:12 PM
Response to Original message
2. L.I.A.R. - "Love in Action's Refuge"...too easy....n/t
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im10ashus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 05:21 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. LOL!
Yes, so transparent.
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 05:04 PM
Response to Original message
4. Interesting review.
It explains some things and also is true to what I observed at our evangelical college.
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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 06:00 PM
Response to Original message
6. I was a conservative fundamentalist Christian
in middle and high school. I can very much relate with the men interviewed. It is so terribly difficult to reconsile being gay with a literal, biblical version of Christianity. It has taken me over a decade of being secular to the point of athism to finally find a church I can call home. It really isn't fair to be asked to choose between God and having a positive self image. The people who push this therapy are just abutting being evil.
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drkedjr Donating Member (91 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Heteromentality
Listening to the fundies, one can only assume that "heterosexuality" is a very fragile state of mind ....
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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-11-06 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. It is bizarre that they think heterosexuals can change orientation
weird.
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