This old copy of the About XGW page needs a bit of a rewrite. Feedback is welcome from everyone — but especially from exgay readers who may disagree with religious-right politics.
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Overview of Ex-Gay Issues
Ex-gay ministries and therapists have been active for about 30 years and say that thousands of folks have changed because of them. Their views, based in conservative religious faith, dominated the mental health fields in the early 20th century.
However, when researcher Dr. Robert Spitzer went looking for well-established ex-gays to study in 2000-2001, he only found 200 people eligible to participate in his study — even though he publicized his study through ex-gay ministries and reparative therapists for 16 months.
Most ex-gay leaders say that it’s possible to change from gay to straight, and a few sincerely believe they have changed their orientation. Most ex-gays, however, report they have only modified their behavior, not their sexual attractions.
Few leaders in the ex-gay movement claim a success rate any higher than 20 to 30 percent — and they do not clearly define what constitutes success.
In any event, they do not discuss what happened to the other 70 to 80 percent. Many of those who did not “succeed” have organized an “ex-ex-gay” movement with its own ministries to encourage tolerance, sexual moderation, and spiritual healing from wounds they say were caused by intolerant fundamentalism and prejudice.
Some ex-gay ministries and political outfits generalize about “homosexuality” or the gay “lifestyle,” asserting that all or most gay people are promiscuous, drug-addicted, depressed, emotionally unstable, incapable of long-term romantic relationships, and effeminate or tomboyish.
Of course, those generalizations are inaccurate, but some ex-gay groups believe in the stereotypes because their recruitment techniques happen to appeal disproportionately to people who suffer from untreated addictions, depression, or a desire for religious absolutism.
Groups like NARTH (the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) say they are putting science to work in studying homosexuality and evaluating “treatments” for it. In fact, NARTH releases few detailed study results, none for peer review, and its public statements are frequently tainted by political and religious biases. For these reasons, NARTH has little credibility among mainstream therapists.
Exodus International is a conservative Christian network of ex-gay groups. Exodus says that faith is the problem and the answer — homosexuality happens when people walk away from God and the solution is to adopt conservative Christian faith and politics, and be either celibate or married. Exodus speaks for more than 100 local ex-gay ministries, many of which are relatively informal, unfunded support groups, a few of which have paid staffs. These ministries are more often led by laypeople who are ex-gay themselves than by professional therapists; open hostility toward the professions of psychology, psychiatry, social work, as well as Christians who affirm gays, is not unusual.
Local Exodus member ministries often do not take positions on political issues such as nondiscrimination legislation, or antiharassment policies in public schools. However, their membership and referral dues support national Exodus leaders who lobby for antigay discrimination; support antisex laws; support efforts to remove gay Christians from active participation in churches;
oppose antiharassment policies; and seek to reverse the custody rights of biological and adoptive parents who happen to be gay.
Ex-gay ministries often operate like small businesses. They receive financial and marketing support from client fees, honoraria, individual Christian donors, and political organizations such as Focus on the Family.
One common tactic, derived from the political organizations, is to selectively cite undated statistics from discredited researchers, while ignoring more current data that has passed scientific peer review. In the genre of discredited researchers, Dr. Paul Cameron stands out. Due to his rigging of data, and alleged plagiarism, Cameron has lost his professional standing among his peers and his research is not considered credible. Regrettably, the Exodus International web site continues to cite Cameron’s claims as fact.
Another common tactic is to disseminate unsubstantiated allegations about the beliefs, values, and behaviors of unnamed but all-powerful gay activists or organizations. When repeated often enough, these strawman arguments take on a life of their own — even though none of these statements seems to be traceable to a real gay individual or organization.
Ex-Gay Watch’s agenda
Ex-Gay Watch believes that celibacy is a valid choice, but not the only valid one, for people who are attracted to the same gender.
The site affirms efforts to reduce the incidence of sexual addiction, depression, divorce, and domestic violence across all of society.
The site opposes laws that may infringe on freedom of speech, especially in regard to religion or sexual orientation.
We oppose laws that compel government, businesses, churches, or individuals to discriminate against people on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.
We believe private individuals, businesses and organizations have a right to discriminate, just as they have a right to commit other wrongs, but we believe the actual choice to discriminate is unethical and worthy of opposition.
We view with concern the weak science, religious biases, binge behaviors, and partisan politics that are, unfortunately, common among ex-gay political activist leaders and spokespersons.
We believe that the manipulation of human sexuality and personality to serve religious or political agendas is harmful to gays and ex-gays — and a threat to the health and diversity of religious communities.
Since the ex-gay movement currently abides by no published standard of accountability, we encourage the formation of uniform standards by which the beliefs, practices, and performance (success and failure rates) of individual ex-gay programs can be independently measured and rated.