PFOX Can Blame Itself for NEA Silence
By Wayne Besen
The audacity was breathtaking. The same week ex-gay poster boy Michael Johnston was revealed as a fraud, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays filed a frivolous complaint with the District of Columbia’s Office of Human Rights against the National Education Association. PFOX is accusing the NEA of discrimination because they will not allow the right wing group set up an “information” booth at the NEA’s annual convention.
“They most definitely are discriminating,” said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX. “They will not allow another voice. They literally have silenced ex-gay schoolteachers and members of their own unions, as well as our organization.”
PFOX should know a little bit about silence. The group has publicly said nothing about Johnston’s demise, nor do they ever mention the parade of ex-gay leaders that have fallen in scandal and shame.
PFOX is also mum on the fact that their name is a misnomer and their mission is mean-spirited. It is not a group of friends and parents supporting ex-gays as its name implies. It is a group that consists mainly of hurting fundamentalists family members who condemn their gay children as sinners. PFOX offers these parents religious rationalizations for rejecting their children’s sexual orientation, and in effect, tears families apart. Also, this organization has never been lead by the parent of an ex-gay individual. Mrs. Riggs’ son, is an openly gay man.
PFOX’s is silent about the wacky and weird life of its president Richard Cohen. President Cohen once belonged to an inner healing cult, The Wesleyan Christian Community Church, that got booted out of the United Methodist Church for practicing nude therapy. In my book, Anything But Straight, Cohen said of his time with the cult, “It was like Paradise.”
While PFOX talks quite a bit about healing homosexuality, it is again silent when it comes to the bizarre techniques it endorses. For example, one method Cohen uses for making gay people straight is smashing a pillow with a tennis racket while yelling the name of a same-sex parent. He also is a fan of intrauterine memory recovery, which is inducing a flashback in a patient so he or she can remember what occurred in the mothers womb.
PFOX also conceals the fact the group’s webmaster is a shadowy figure who goes by the menacing title Burning Black Triangle. “BBT” runs a shockingly hateful website with graphics of hellfire and doom for gays.
While PFOX often talks about science and psychology, it rarely reminds its members that the work they espouse is rejected by every respected medical and mental health organization in America. The American Psychological Association says efforts to convert gay people into heterosexuals can cause “anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior.”
No, the NEA didn’t silence the right wing group as Mrs. Riggs suggests. The only silence comes from PFOX, a radical, dishonest fringe group that omits key facts and hides embarrassing failures. The NEA made a smart decision by limiting their convention hall space to groups interested in education, not indoctrination and politically motivated hate propaganda.
Wayne Besen is the author of Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth (Harrington Park Press). The book comes out Oct. 1. Besen is also a former spokesperson of the Human Rights Campaign.