I’m just musing here, but it occurs to me that in some ways the existence of the ex-gay movement does the gay movement quite a bit of good.
Consider: there was a time when the leaders of the Religious Right would sooner cut off their hands than admit to having a friend who is homosexual. Now, ex-gays are bona fide Prodigal Sons for the fundies. Whether they mean to or not, ex-gays are our ambassadors–to some degree–reaching the hardest hearts in Christendom in a way we never could. Because of them, the fundies are at least considering gay issues, and having conversations about the topic. Is homosexuality inborn? We gays know the answer, but would Dobson ever listen to one of us? No. He listens to them…and it does affect the rhetoric. The absolutes aren’t quite so absolute. "Love the sinner, Hate the sin" may not be much, but it’s a start. Even if it’s primarily negative, I think any ongoing conversation about gay issues on the Right is better than none at all. It’s a lot more than was happening 20 years ago, and it’s actually quite a big thing.
For the average religious person, especially one who has a gay child, the existence of the ex-gay movement can provide a needed context in which to learn about gay issues. Once people start to learn, they soon see that the evidence in support of reparative therapy is so slight (and the counter-evidence so compelling) that many, if not most, will come around to full support of gay rights. Isn’t that the very journey most gay peoples’ parents take? First clinging to a hope that their child will change; then eventually realizing that change isn’t really possible and wasn’t meant to be… Before you know it, we’re loved just for being who we are.
And that’s the thing kids, change really isn’t possible, at least for most gays. Straight people who spend time with ex-gays are fully concious of the fact that ex-gays are…well…gay. "Those who have eyes to see will see, and those who have ears to hear will understand." If something is TRUE, it doesn’t stay secret. Ex-gays? Yep, they’re gay. And everyone knows it.
For gays who are confused, the ex-gay movement is its own worst ambassador. You don’t have to spend much time in the movement at all to realize that it’s filled with a bunch of deeply troubled people. The happy, well-adjusted ex-gays are few and far between. Most ex-gays end up coming out eventually, anyway, and living their lives as gay. If the ex-gay movement provides some gays a half-way point that makes them feel better about the whole issue, and eases their transition, just as well.
What we have on our side, ultimately, is Truth and Liberty. We are who we are, through no fault of our own, and we shouldn’t be forced to lie about it. That’s the whole issue, in a nutshell.
I admit this thought is sort of half-formed, so I’d love to hear some other voices weigh in…