Prof. Warren Throckmorton and TownHall.com editor Ryan Zempel want antiliberalists to know that exgays exist.
According to Zempel, Throckmorton’s exgay video I Do Exist demonstrates “that change is possible for those with same-sex attractions.” Change is always possible, Zempel implies; he acknowledges no exceptions.
To their credit, Zempel and Throckmorton acknowledge — albeit briefly — that “no specific psychosocial (or life circumstances) or family dynamics cause for homosexuality has been identified.”
Declaring that the cause of homosexuality is therefore “something of a scientific mystery,” Throckmorton contends that “homosexual attractions are caused by different factors for different people.”
Yarhouse gets more specific, crediting a “weighted interaction” between genetics, prenatal hormonal mechanisms, parent-child relationships, childhood sexual abuse, and disinhibition about sexual relationships.
Sounds sensible enough to me, except for one small detail: The causes of various forms of heterosexual attraction — healthy or unhealthy — seem not to be given equal consideration.
He also details five stages that mark the emergence of a gay identity and argues that experiences of same-sex attraction do not mean a person is gay.
Yarhouse’s caricature of “gay identity” is not new; Yarhouse has for years sought to separate sexual orientation from gayness.
Dr. Robert Spitzer in performed a 2001 study of the degree of “change” among 200 long-time exgay activists. In the video, according to Zempel, Spitzer allows himself to be quoted saying that “people” can change from gay to straight. Something is overlooked, however: Spitzer’s own past statements that only some people change, while many other people either cannot or should not change.
It is possible that Spitzer has abandoned the belief, rooted in his studies and those of others, that only some people can change, and that he now subscribes to the belief — rooted in no scientific finding — that anyone can change if they wish:
While the video continues with further anecdotes and assertions regarding the possibility of change for homosexuals, it notably makes no suggestion that homosexuals should change. Instead, it simply argues that they can if they wish to.
In this, one might falsely assume they have a message that is inoffensive to the gay community. Spitzer, however, describes the severe criticism his study faced and attributes such reactions to gay activists who feel that their political goals are threatened by any suggestion that homosexuals can change.
Spitzer seems reluctant to accurately and comprehensively discuss the range of clinical and activist criticisms of shortcomings in his 2001 study. His caricature of critics raises some concern over the integrity of the reinterpretation of his own 2001 study data.
(Dr. Spitzer has not responded to XGW requests to discuss the misuse of his study by gay and antigay activists.)
TownHall.com editor Zempel goes on to say, “Generally ignored by the media, ex-gays are often shouted down by gay activists when they try to raise their voices.”
Zempel may be right about some gay activists, but he fails to acknowledge that exgays are also shouting down gay equality activists. And Zempel also fails to acknowledge that exgays constitute such a small number of people that they are difficult for the media to find outside of religious-right lobbying groups.
Exgays exist. And some exgay ministries are relatively benign. But exgays are largely anonymous and secretive. And many exgay political activists subscribe to fringe political ideologies that make them as unpalatable to mainstream society as the Unification Church, Jimmy Swaggart, Michael Savage, or Gary North.