Sfweekly.com lampoons a trio of Northern California ex-gay ministries.
One group helps parents reinforce their own stereotypes about “the gay lifestyle” that they imagine their adult children to be living. Group leader Carol has no qualifications in counseling or medicine, so it’s no surprise when the parental support talk runs amok. The parents condemn their children to hell, outright. They imagine their children to be pedophiles. They collectively reinforce their own namecalling — lobbing exactly the sorts of insults and stereotypes about their children that, Carol claims, cause homosexuality: “People call them sissy-boy or queer or fag, and they begin to believe that.” A bizarre sort of demon envy is evident, as the parents mistakenly attribute more power and influence to Satan than to God Almighty.
Like PFOX, this parents’ group seems never to have met honest, less-than-cured exgays. Is this because these parents barricade themselves within an artificial world of stereotypes, or is it because exgay advocates make no effort to set antigay parents’ groups straight?
“Jose,” the next profiled exgay advocate, is a bit more grounded in reality than the parents. He is honest than change of sexual attraction is a slow process — but dishonest, perhaps, in failing to acknowledge that significant change, if it happens at all, rarely lasts long. What Jose seems to advocate is not healthy, sexually aware celibacy, but rather asexuality — a denial or suppression of all sexual attraction.
Whereas Jose sees the exgay lifestyle as a journey into asexuality, the sfweekly.com article portrays a third profiled ministry as a warrior cult. These warriors invent the vice of “cannibalism” when a healthy, unaddicted gay person offers no tangible vices to blame on homosexuality. The warriors also, allegedly, accuse all men of wanting lust, not intimacy. Naturally, this belief raises troubling questions about the warriors themselves:
If this were true of men, then aren’t the exgay warriors condemned to a life of lust? Is it really wise for women to marry lust addicts? And might these exgay warriors really be the “man-hating feminists” popularized by their own conservative mythology?
The sfweekly.com article doesn’t explore questions as deeply as I’d like. It identifies none of the exgay advocates or groups, so most of its observations are unverifiable. Furthermore, the writer’s disguises and deceptions steer the story in some intentionally extreme directions.
As it happens, the third ministry’s slogan easily identifies the group, via Google, as New Hope Ministries. The article might have benefited from a look at NHM’s history: It was founded by two of the exgay movement’s grandparents, Frank and Anita Worthen.
The damage allegedly done by the Worthens to former exgay clients is profiled in Wayne Besen’s book, Anything But Straight.
(Hat tip: Dan Gonzales)