Exgay Ministries Move to Stifle Dissent On Discussion Forums
Last week I received a rather bizarre email from a woman identifying herself as Carrie informing me DesertStream.org (an exgay ministry) had shut down their online forum “because of all of the posts being made by pro gay advocates.” The nutty part went on to accuse XGW, “how dare you [XGW?] take away their right and support to interact with other people who do not believe people are born gay.” Carrie goes on to say, “last I checked we are not living in China.” I checked Desert Stream’s discussion board and found this posted:
We have had to temporarily shut down our sexuality forums because of the overwhelming interest by the gay rights advocates. Unfortunately they have decided that our content is too offensive for their taste and are reacting against it. The forums will reopen at a later date.
Who exactly is acting like the Chinese government? Seems to me it’s the exgays shutting down and censoring forums. Here, let’s have a look:
Since the inception of the Exodus: Live Out Loud blog (which has essentially become the new media blog) there has been a blanket ban on dissenting comments, no matter how articulate, respectful or factually correct they may be. Comments that make it past Exodus censors are pretty sparse causing the “discussion” to come out feeling like a lobotomized love-fest.
But Exodus’ online dissent policy is hardly alone.
In a post made earlier today I mention Straight Talk Radio appears to be moving to a subscription based service. But prior to the discussion boards going “members only” blogger Joe Brummer managed to get himself banned from the site.
DL Foster has deleted comments:
I have so much compassion, I am deleting your comment out of deep concern for anyone who may be damaged and wounded by it. I have compassion for you. You are apparently lost and extremely out of touch with real life.
The mock-up of the Exodus ad was hilarious. And true.
“how dare you [XGW?] take away their right and support to interact with other people who do not believe people are born gay.”
I’ve just gotta read that Constitution! There are all sorts of Rights in there since I read it in High School.
Does the “right” to interact trumps the free speech right?
“how dare you [XGW?] take away their right and support to interact with other people who do not believe people are born gay.”
Translation: you might have actually gotten through to someone and collapsed their house of cards.
On the occaisional times I comment on one of these forums its with the understanding that I am only speaking to the operator. At least I can confront someone like DL with their contradictions and illogic and hopefully make them uncomfortable with it.
And then ‘phobes have the raw nerve to call *us* selfish, when they want to keep all the freedoms for themselves and only themselves.
I am very proud that XGW very seldom deletes postings and then only if they are vulgar, flaming, or advertising, not because of the viewpoint of their content.
I am also very proud that those who contribute here, those who favor reparative therapy as well as those who find it suspect, tend to present their position and support it with fact and documentation. Very seldom does this site devolve into a screaming match or a barrage of bizarre accusations lobbed at those with whom the writer disagrees.
Much credit must be given to Mike for setting a standard and holding us to it.
What Tim said.
A group of commenters working on the Down Low from a gay discussion site ganged up on the Desert Stream page and posted incredibly abusive (and hilarious) stuff on their forums. I observed the goings on, though I (smartly) did not actually post anything. It’s very possible that some people or some businesses might have exposed themselves to serious legal liability – both civil and criminal.
This could be a big, big story if Desert Streams plays their cards right.
I don’t think Desert Stream has the grapes to put themselves in a court of law under oath with any possiblity of their rhetoric or “facts” being questioned in a legal sense.
I find it interesting that the majority of blogs that share the same view as XGW seldom delete dissenting comments and that only a minority of the opposite view does the same. It really tells you which side is more Orwellian and likely to fail in a free speach environment.I f they feel that they have to delete strong facts against them, then should know that they’ve already lost their cause.
Here was my response to “Carrie” on May 27:
I sent an additional note a few minutes later:
Note that, in the first message, I was seeking proof that anyone had disrupted Desert Streams forums. Carrie has not responded.
Louella Parsons at June 1, 2006 06:26 PM
“A group of commenters working on the Down Low from a gay discussion site ganged up on the Desert Stream page and posted incredibly abusive (and hilarious) stuff on their forums.”
Personally, I find that type of activity distasteful and counterproductive. But even if it’s true, I don’t see how this could possibly be a “big, big story”.
Other than some whining at AgapePress, who’s going to pay any attention to it? Perhaps they could cry about how awful these commenters are but I really doubt anyone cares.
This thread is interesting, probably moreso to me today because…I just found out that DL Foster has banned my comments from his site. I asked why, but haven’t received an explaination.
It’s fine because in the end, it is his site and he has final control over it. But I think these sites that discourage dissenting thought have a whiff of speciousness to them.
“I asked why, but haven’t received an explaination.”
Preachers like a congregation that shouts “amen”, not one that questions the sermon.
Louella Parsons at June 1, 2006 06:26 PM
“Abusive” and “hilarious” are subjective opinions.
I know there are some disruptive anarchist types online who fight perceived injustice with more injustice. But in the absence of copies of the messages or the identity of the group, I’m left with nothing but some allegations by two people (Carrie and Louella) with incomplete or unverifiable identities.
At least one man has been prosecuted for cyber harassment by the Federal Government. See here:
If Desert Streams really wants to pursue this, and has a friendly local U.S. Attorney, some people could go to jail. Of course, by doing such a thing, Desert Streams might create some PR problems for themselves in the process even though the posts were clearly abusive.
As you know, gossip columnists like me tend to throw out BIs. There are enough clues in my initial post that indicate the gay website – though alas – not the individuals who actually sent the hateful and hilarious posts. I’m not forwarding the thread in question because I’m not interested in shortening Desert Stream’s legwork, though if they aren’t clueless they should already know the general source of the harassing posts.
Unless one of you guys are actually a participant on that website, I don’t know why “Carrie” singled you out. She clearly was barking up the wrong tree.
Sorry, the story you provided isn’t relevant.
The man pleaded guilty to sending harassing emails to city employees. He was not charged with posting comments on a page open to public comment.
Unless the people who posted at Desert Stream actually made harassing or threatening statements to individuals, no one is going to jail. “Abusive” public comments (or more likely, comments that disagree with the viewpoint of Desert Stream) do not constitute a threat on their own.
Incidentally, Louella, out of curiousity, why did you name yourself after a gossip columnist known for juicy inuendo?
OH, I think you just answered me.
Posted by: Louella at June 1, 2006 07:25 PM
At least one man has been prosecuted for cyber harassment by the Federal Government. See here:
I looked at the article, and it turns out that:
Murphy was indicted in April 2004, for sending harassing emails to Seattle resident Joelle Ligon and to other employees of the City of Seattle….Murphy disseminated false information about Ligon’s background to her co-workers. The harassment escalated over time, with Murphy sending pornographic material
I’m not an attorney, but that seems very different from posting offensive comments on a message board. A message board is, well, a place for people to post messages. That is why there are moderators and people can delete posts and block users.
Now, if it is the case that someone threatened an individual, I could see how Desert Streams could have a case.
Of course, I emphasize that I have not seen the comments in question and could be entirely wrong.
Well, if Desert Streams wants to be a test case for this incredibly irresponsible piece of legislature, I vote go ahead. We can see it get thrown out on First Amendment grounds, and the grounds that it is incredibly VAGUE.
(Did my unnecessary use of all caps annoy you? Oops, and my real name isn’t “ck”! Don’t tell the Feds!)
“Are you interested in working together to help gays and exgays understand one another?”
I’m willing to work with ex-gays….um….oh yeah…there is no such thing as ex-gay. It’s a phrase made up by bigots and self loathing gay people who try to distroy other gay peoples lives and make money in the process!
Louella Parsons said:
If Desert Streams really wants to pursue this, and has a friendly local U.S. Attorney, some people could go to jail.
You must be joking. Even if the law to which you refer had any chance at all of surviving a Supreme Court review (and I suspect even it’s authors know that it doesn’t), it was designed mainly to protect women from harassment by stalkers, ex-husbands, etc. You are way off by applying it to whatever might have happened at Desert Streams. It does sound as if you have more than a passing interest in hurting the posters in question.
The term “annoying” is so broadly defined that I’m not sure how any court is supposed to deal with it seriously. We certainly would have a case against more than a few ex-gay posters here if such prosecutions were possible.
As a reminder to everyone, we have zero evidence that what LP and Carrie have said is even true. Until we know more, all we are doing is enabling LP (a person with a fake name and no verifiable contact info) to get all hot and bothered over the prospect of sending some gays to jail for allegedly going against the grain at another web site.
Now see….this is where it just goes south for me here….you need to stop that. You have no more credibility in saying there’s no such thing as an ex-gay as the other side of the tent has in saying folks are not born gay. That sort of thing needs to stop on both sides. I may not care for the term ex-gay…in particular…but…it’s the one we have and I understand there are some “nuances” to it. JUST like there are “nuances” to being gay, bisexual, etc….
There just are. Mike sort of covered that in his last comment.
We must play nice. Even when others do not.
I’m with grace on this one
oh my…i just re-read what i wrote….was that a “teacher voice” or what???? can’t help it…it’s in my blood. goodness.
I missed that comment entirely. Not to gang up, but I would be with Grace on this one too. I know sometimes it’s hard not to react out of anger or hurt, but letting that go unchecked leads to nothing good.
Grace, Amen! You got that problem too. In the real world I am very much a questioner, a challenger, a ponderer, but I get online and I am in teacher mode. I become very authoritarian. I don’t realize I do it, but I do it at school all the time, so I guess on the web I slip into that mode.
So, for everyone I have offended with my teachermodes overtime, forgive me. I will bow my head in shame. If there are callings in life, I was born to be a teacher because it is in my blood too.
I love you all though, and I love what Exgay Watch does for discussion. I think I will go watch a Jayne Mansfield movie tonight.
I don’t have to have “credibility” to state my opinion, rightly or wrongly.
Can someone give me a definition of Ex-Gay – it’s a made-up term by anti-gay bigots in order to perpetrate the lie that Christianity can cure homosexuality. I believe Harry Truman called it the “Big Lie”. He, of course, was refering to Hitler’s lies about the Jews. You either by into the Big Lie or you don’t – I don’t! Ex-gay belongs on the shelf with the War on Christianity, the War on Easter, the demonic Harry Potter, the Gay Agenda, Intelligent Design and any other crackpot idea the fundies come up with to fill their wallets.
Everybody has their opinion and it’s my understanding that this was a place where one was free to express them – oh, only that I have to pretend that there isn’t an elephant in the room, my bad.
I make no apologies for what I say or write and I don’t see why you should either, Grace. I wasn’t offended by what you wrote, I just think you’re wrong.
Grace, Timothy, David, its easier for me to see where pushpak is coming from than you. Gay simply means same sex attracted and to call someone exgay is to say they are no longer same sex attracted. The vast majority of “exgays” admit they still experience those attractions hence the term is misleading to the general public and harmful to gays in that it wrongly suggests its a simple matter for any gay to simply stop being same sex attracted.
Regular readers of exgaywatch and religious people deeply involved in “exgay” issues may mean something quite different, but I personally am not interested in pulling the wool over people’s eyes by overlooking the misuse of terms like this. Its just like when religious people talk about “loving” gays when they really mean control and forcing them to submit to repression. As I see it rather than “exgay”, “antigay” seems like a more accurate term – people opposed to same sex attractions, in themselves and generally speaking all others. “Exgay” is just a shorter version of the “complete change is completely possible” deception.
There is a basic disagreement, even among same-sex-attracted and -affirming people, about what “gay” means. Given that problem, there can be no single definition of “exgay” when nobody agrees on a meaning for the word that the “ex” refers to.
Some say “gay” just refers to same-gender attraction.
Others say it implies acceptance or approval of homosexuality.
Some antigay same-sex-attracted persons call themselves “gay” (and usually “chaste” or “celibate”) because they understand “gay” to describe same-sex attraction, not belief, behavior, or identity.
Meanwhile, some same-sex-affirming persons reject the word “gay” because they perceive it to be too progressive, or too effeminate, or too Caucasian, or too apolitical, or too focused on sex rather than the more important things in life. Depending on the individual motive, they might use labels like “queer,” “GLBT,” “LGBTQA,” or “same-gender-loving,” or they might just reject labeling and say they are who they are.
Given that disagreement about “gays,” I don’t see how it’s possible to make blanket statements about “exgays.”
If the word “gay” referred solely to belief, then exgay would literally mean that someone no longer approved of homosexuality.
If the word “gay” referred solely to behavior, then exgay would literally describe people who choose not to be sexual with the same gender.
If gay referred solely to same-gender attraction, then yes, most self-identified exgays today would be liars — there are few if any self-identified exgays who are not still predominantly same-gender-attracted.
But “gay” doesn’t mean anything consistently — and so exgay activists are more than happy to exploit that ambiguity by defining the word with an array of unflattering meanings that change by the hour.
Pushpak, do you understand the concept of civil discourse? That’s the point here. You can disagree with someone and still do it respectfully. Grace has shown many times that she does not deserve the labels you are using. If you can’t express your point of view without all those hot-button labels and slurs, perhaps you should re-evaluate it. I guarantee you will be taken more seriously if you do.
As Mike just explained, no one expects you to “ignore the elephant” but viewing these issues in black and white ignores reality. As with most things, there is a lot of gray in there.
I tried to post to exodus but I couldn’t get past their wordwarriors. DRAT! What intelligent conversation I must have missed out on!
Mike, gays and exgays don’t represent most people.
Wouldn’t you agree that to most straight and not overly religious people gay simply means same sex attracted? Of the same sex attracted people you know, don’t most of them use gay in that context and refer to themselves as gay?
I’ve never heard any same sex attracted person refer to themselves as queer and from what I’ve seen at exgaywatch I’m one of few who refers to herself as LGBT.
I’ve never heard any same sex attracted person refer to themselves as queer…
I’m not sure how it applies to the topic but I’ve actually known a few gay people that use that term for themselves, and each other, interchangeably with gay. While we are talking about labels however, how does one define “overly religious people” (preferably without using more labels) ?
David when I said overly religious person I was thinking of people who are not regular church goers and don’t consider religion and god the most important thing, or very important to their lives – someone who doesn’t organize much, if any of their lives around religion. People who are not amongst the most strongly religious with strongly religious being in my best guess 10% of the Canadian population and 20 or 30% of the American population.
Let me ask you and the rest at exgaywatch, do you refer to yourself as gay, and if so, by that don’t you mean same sex attracted?
Civil Discourse – meaning – Shut up and drink the Koolaid!? There was NOTHING in my post that was disrespectful nor did I use any “hot -button labels “ (whatever those are?) and definitely no slurs ( I’m a black girl from the Eastside of Detroit, trust me if I send a slur or a dis your way, it will be quite clear). I post on Pam’s and Dispatches from the Culture Wars in which I use (and is FREE to use) much more inflammatory language.
I replied to Grace’s statement in which she said and I quote “You have no more credibility in saying there’s no such thing as an ex-gay ….” Maybe I don’t know the rules. Could someone please explain? Is Grace allowed to address everyone else’s post but others aren’t allowed to address her posts or is there a lot of “gray” in this issue also?
“I guarantee you will be taken more seriously if you do.”
First of all David, it’s nice to know you can guarantee things. Secondly, what makes you think I want to be taken seriously? This is blog! And maybe I would take XGW more seriously if someone would address the content of the comments instead of the way I state them.
“….perhaps you should re-evaluate it.”
Take a deep breath and get ready to be angry with me. OK, now let it out and let the anger go also. Because I want to say something that will initially seem insensitive but I really want to reach your thoughts not your emotions.
You are behaving with hostility. Go back and re-read your posts as though someone else wrote them.
No one is trying to stop you from stating your opinion, but you need to be able to take it when people don’t agree with you. Rather than get angry, consider what they said.
Pushpak, could you please email me, I have some issues I wish to share with you privately.
Randi, queer is a frequent term used by gays. It is more inclusive and more political. I will use it personally to get nervous straight people to relax around me (as a joke such as “I may be a bad queer, but…”). When we named a school festival Queer Fest, the only complaints we got was from older gay people who found the term offensive. I don’t use it all the time, but it is something that is used fairly frequently.
Queer was the term I was used to using when I was first out in the 80’s and for the same reasons that Aaron states – inclusivity and political action. I also use it to describe myself at times.
Aaron and Hava, my mother called me queer recently, I took it as an insult coming from her.
My concern is more about the misleading term “exgay”. Regarding that, when either of you use the term “gay”, do you mean “same sex attracted”, or not?
I’ll respond to the content of your post:
I think it’s absurd for you to make sweeping generalizations about other people’s lives when you don’t know them at all. (Yes, some exgay/antigay people do this too, and I have criticized them for doing so.)
I have lamented elsewhere how ambiguous the term “exgay” is. But setting aside that particular word, there are people who say that their sexual attractions have changed significantly in the course of their pursuing what they believe to be God’s will for their lives. I am one; I believe Grace’s husband is another. So I would question what sort of evidence or justification you could possibly have for being so confident that we are lying about our personal lives. How could you know that?
Getting back to the topic of this thread, I never saw the Desert Stream forums so I don’t know what the focus/point of them was. If it was primarily a support forum, then I think it’s understandable for them to do some sort of censorship. There are gay sites that do the same. GCN (Gay Christian Network), for example, forbids posting anything pro-exgay or linking to any exgay perspectives on its forums. Although I think that stance is a bigoted one, I can understand it and respect it, because the goal of GCN forums is to create a safe space for like-minded people to support each other. If the point of the Desert Stream forums was similar, I see little ground for complaint about censorship.
Civil Discourse – meaning – Shut up and drink the Koolaid!?
No, Civil Discourse meaning:
Discourse: Civil is here defined as human discourse that stays within the realm of rational decency. For a discourse to stay within the realm of rational decency, the people involved must follow the requirements of sound rational thinking enough to fit the occasion – even when conforming is inconvenient. Civil discourse is a non-totalitarian approach to mutual problem solving. It is a looser term than ‘sound rational thinking’ but presupposes enough commitment to sound reasoning to resolve the problem at hand in a cordial manner. Civil discourse can accommodate minor infractions and still be civil. Civil discourse is a moral interaction because it presupposes ethical standards that those involved should follow.
How Pam and the others conduct their blogs is entirely their own business and has nothing to do with XGW. Different venues have different requirements.
…what makes you think I want to be taken seriously? This is blog!
Yes, and this is a blog about serious issues. If you post here, you will most certainly be taken seriously. If you do not wish to be, I suggest you don’t post – it’s up to you. XGW is not The Onion.
I don’t see what the need is for anyone to tell anyone else they don’t have same sex sex anymore or that they are “significantly” less attracted to the same sex – beyond trying to convince others they should do the same or that its a simple complete change. If you’re no longer considering a same sex relationship what does it gain you to tell anyone that? People will assume you are heterosexual anyway, you don’t need to confirm what is most’s automatic assumption. With “exgay” one does need clarify the automatic assumption that “one was same sex attracted and now is no longer”, is wrong.
Disputed Mutability, ealier in this thread someone mentioned something I understood as saying when you create a forum its an open invitation to all would be commentors regardless of their opinion. I’m not familiar with this non-VMS technology but it seems to me likely if unanimous opinion is a critical concern that one can restrict a forum to certain members without making it open to all. I’d imagine Desert Stream had a list of members which it could create a forum solely for. Strikes me as a pretty simple solution to their supposed problem without having the drawback of falsely implying all opinions are welcomed and rationally considered.
I agree with Randi. If a forum is meant as a support group, then ensure that members must be approved, viewing/posting is restricted, etc. If a forum is meant to be a discussion board with moderation, then moderators ought to clearly post rules about discourse.
I used to post at Theology Web for a while. Religion can be a pretty heavy topic, and there were often posts that were removed or edited by administrators. However, they only did so when it was clearly against the rules of the board. It’s a very workable scenario–it just requires some time and consistency on the part of the moderator, as well as a willingness of the participants to self-critique.
Perhaps Desert Streams is taking this time to consider carefully what kind of environment they want to foster. That would be my hope–that they facilitate conversation, but also allow people to have a secure/private forum for support, if that’s what they desire. As ridiculous as it would be for a group of people to crash an AA meeting in order to convince people that drinking is great (not to compare homosexuality to drinking–I despise that metaphor), it’s the same idea with web forums. Just as AA can lock their doors or toss out disruptive people, so can a web forum.
But if a town hall meeting were to shut down because of dissent, that would be a different situation.
“I don’t see what the need is for anyone to tell anyone else they don’t have same sex sex anymore or that they are “significantly” less attracted to the same sex – beyond trying to convince others they should do the same or that its a simple complete change.”
Randi, the “need” is fairly obvious. Pushpak and you are claiming that people like Disputed Mutability and grace’s husband don’t exist. Thus, for the sake of reasoned and informed argument, it is “needed” that they respond.
I, for one, am NOT looking for a venue in which my inaccurate biases are reinforced.
I am inclined to view claims of “significant changes” to sexual attraction with a great deal of skepticism. And it is for that reason that people like grace and DM are so valuable to me; they remind me to keep my claims within the provable instead of making all inclusive “black or white” type statements based solely on my opinions and biases. (well, of course I do from time to time but they help keep it from excess).
Language is fascinating.
Personally, I find the use of the term “ex-gay” both accurate and misleading at the same time. I think this is because I don’t see the words “gay” and “homosexual” as interchangeable equivalents, though many do. For me, “gay” is a term that developed in a particular cultural context to refer to same-sex attraction in a positive or neutral manner. “Homosexual” is a clinically neutral (if clunky) word, which can be applied to same sex attraction and/or behaviors in all kinds of critters, including humans.
Someone who identifies as ex-gay is rejecting their same-sex attraction as neutral or positive, and is attempting to live without acting upon that attraction, either as a celibate or in a heterosexual relationship. Many ex-gays are honest and do not claim that their attraction to the same sex has vanished, though it might have decreased, or even become irrelevant in the focus of their lives.
However, I think many, if not most people, upon hearing the term “ex-gay” think “ex-homosexual.” And it seems that while many individual ex-gays admit they struggle with same-sex attraction, that ex-gay organizations are quite content to allow – if they are not actively encouraging – “ex-gay” and “ex-homosexual” to mean the same thing in people’s minds. And there very well might be ex-homosexuals out there, but I bet they are a lot rarer than the folks who identify as ex-gay.
And to add something actually on-topic…
I think it’s okay for folks to want to build an on-line community of like-minded people. I don’t know the forum that felt it necessary to close down its discussion list, or what its objectives were. But to pull a completely trivial example out the the air, if I’m a member of a site for fans of the TV show Firefly, and I find the boards flooded with “Firefly sucks!” and “TV show X whups Firefly’s butt,” I’m going to get annoyed, and would want the posters to quit or leave. Are the 1st Amendment rights of these posters violated if they are banned from the list?
If someone comments politely, “I find TV show X much more entertaining and here’s why,” I’d find that a lot less annoying. I might engage in conversation, though I might just ignore it, because that’s not why I’m on the forum. However, if the point of the forum is “Firefly rules and all other TV shows are lame,” forum members don’t have much of a leg to stand on if folks come on to argue with that premise.
However, Carrie’s complaint to Daniel does seem… peculiar.
good point. However, many of the ex-gay leaders are now using the language “former homosexual”. This is decided less vague, and – in my opinioin – also decidedly less honest.
Timothy, I’m not saying Disputed Mutability and Grace’s husband don’t exist, just that “exgay” is a black and white term for most of the general public just as “gay” is. If an “exgay” needs six paragraphs of nuance to explain what it means I’d hope they’d not use the word and just say “I’ve lessened my same sex attractions by X%”.
I would like to hear in detail about Disputed Mutability’s and Grace’s husband’s story. Its hard for me to imagine they were not always bisexual like me and/or that they’ve not made significant changes in same sex attractions. I’d need a long conversation to judge and a rating of the diminishment in same sex attraction using a 0 to 10 scale (0 being not at all same sex attracted and 10 being the strongest same sex attraction they’ve ever felt). I doubt either would be willing to indulge me to that extent so any claims to significant change are a question mark for me at best given Spitzer, Shidlo and Shraeder.
Now that I think about it given the large numbers of “exgays” claiming to have lessened same sex attractions, a percentage amount is glaring in its absense from such statements.
Randi, I’m a bit confused myself over the meaning of the word ‘gay’. It’s meaning seems to shift over time and context. I would take ‘homosexual’ to mean same sex attracted and ‘gay’ to mean a number of things, including homosexual men, as opposed to lesbians; same sex attracted individuals, both male and female, though I have to add that the term homosexual here is, in my opinion, more appropriate and accurate; and a socio-political catagory of homosexual people who identify with it. I think the last one is where the ‘exgay’ movement places itself in opposition. I personally believe that exgay people are still homosexual in orientation while trying to develop bisexual tendencies so that they can live in a heterosexual way. They choose, usually for religious and often for very homophobic reasons, to not identify with the idea of being gay in it’s socio-political context. I recognize that among the individuals in the exgay movement, there are varying levels of honesty about their situation going on.
Since calling someone ‘gay’ is also used as an insult by certain people, I’d say that it’s about the same as the term ‘queer’. It depends on who is saying it and why. Sometimes I prefer the term queer. It’s a word that has been reclaimed by a particular group of homosexual people that is very positive in that context. I know some neo-pagans who consider it a compliment to be called ‘witches’ by people who are friendly to them, where as the same word coming from a fundamentalist Christian would be likely to be an insult. Because of the association gay has with male homosexuality, I actually prefer the term queer at times because it includes everyone who identifies differently. It reminds me a bit of using ‘man’ when we really mean ‘humanity’.
Word meanings are very fluid, and are especially so when they refer to marginalized groups.
Wikipedia has a thorough explanation of the terminology of homosexuality.
Even the word homosexual has no single meaning.
Are the 1st Amendment rights of these posters violated if they are banned from the list?
You bring up some good points Les. I think I understand what you mean by this statement, but we need to remember that only the Federal Government or other civil authority can violate someone’s 1st Amendment rights. Private citizens or other non-governmental entities can “censor” all they want. It may not always be appropriate, but it’s not a Constitutional issue.
The first meaning Wilkepedia lists (and presumably the most common as I’ve said) is “In the original sense, it describes a sexual orientation characterised by lasting aesthetic attraction, romantic love, or sexual desire exclusively for others of the same sex or gender.”.
In other words homosexual most often means same sex attracted as I’ve been saying. I agree with Les that the words “exgay” and “exhomosexual” mean the same thing. I think for most people “gay” and “homosexual” mean the same although personally I would say “homosexual” has negative overtones “gay” does not. I perceive a difference but concede that in general there is not. People deeply involved in one side or other of the issue may percieve important but subtle political distinctions in such terminology, but I think most people don’t because they don’t care about it deeply. What those people think “exgay” means is more important than what same sex attracted minorities and their close supporters think.
Wilkepedia agrees with me in general as I see it. Most of you haven’t said whether you refer to yourselves as gay and if by that you simply mean same sex attracted. I suspect you do and you do. Hava you said you sometimes prefer the word queer because gay is associated with male homosexuality. I’m not sure about the rest of what you wrote, but that line says to me you also feel gay mostly means same sex attraction.
Talk of connotations is fine, but I think 70%-80%
or more of people see simple black and white and “exgay” means “Complete change has completely happened”.
“Most of you haven’t said whether you refer to yourselves as gay and if by that you simply mean same sex attracted.”
That’s because most of us are finding this argument over the subtleties of semantics to be tedious.
Timothy’s interpretation of my “need” to say anything is correct.
For what it worth, as best as I can estimate, I went from over 99+% same-sex attracted to currently 25% same-sex attracted. It varies (I’m working on a blogpost about that), but that’s on average. That would be a Kinsey 5.9+ to a Kinsey 1.5.
Obviously that’s all very easy to say, and far more difficult to prove. But there it is.
Well Timothy that’s as good an excuse as any to avoid confirming the obvious.
Randi, you are taking an already off-topic argument and making it personal. Please don’t.
David to me use of the term exgay promotes the idea that gays are undeserving of consideration, it hurt to have my arguments on that called tedious. If I’d have gotten an honest answer to my question ealier I suspect I’d have had little need to go on as I did. Tedious or not, now I think the point’s well made on my part.
good grief! I just thought we should all be nice and respectful of one another and not make bold sweeping statements of the sort we abhor hearing from the truly anti-gay crowd.
my husband used to have a huge amount of trouble performing sexually with me because of his same sex attraction….and now….he doesn’t. i have no numbers to put to it.
i said, originally, that i ALSO have trouble with the label, ex-gay, BUT, it’s the one we have.
the point is….we are all individuals…and we should be respected and valued as such. my point is no different than the entire point of the gay movement….is it not? and i do NOT under any circumstances feel that my husband is “victimized” as not existing by the gay movement…i’m NOT saying that, at all. it matters not one BIT, actually, if anyone thinks he exists or not….i’m the one married to him and i know full well that he does exists and we have a wonderful marriage. it really is of no consequence to me personally for it to be affirmed….but….i think we should be respectful of one another here.
much love to you all,
What was tedious, at least to me, was your intense argument into the nuances of the meaning of the terms gay and exgay, and your roll call request of other’s self-identification. It felt like the argument of the beard, at least in it’s futility. There is no doubt that many use the term “ex-gay” while trying to minimize gay people, but the term itself is not going to hurt you. This is “ExGay Watch”, remember? And we have not summarily decreed that no one can change their sexuality, only that if one can, it’s apparently rare and takes enormous will power to do so.
Additionally, this is a discussion, not an interrogation. Timothy is not required to respond to a personal question just because you put it to him.
Lastly, your entire argument was completely off topic so try to head back in that direction.
The change you describe seems reasonably believable to me. However I’m not sure that it reflects a shift along the Kinsey scale in the way you suggest.
I can easily understand how there could be a reduction in same-sex attraction. I think that may simply be a matter of focus or mindset. For example:
I faithfully followed the tv show LOST. I loved it and could hardly wait for the next week. Then one day I was away on the night it played. And I was busy that week and didn’t catch up on the DVR. Then another week’s episode came on and I missed that too. I was in a place where I just wasn’t that interested in the show. Other things were more important and I really had no interest. (Then I started watching the episodes I missed and was right back into it.)
My point is that I think that we can get in the habit of looking to see if someone’s attractive, and we can dwell on the idea of finding a mate, or gettin’ some, or just identifying as a sexual person. And that all reinforces our base orientation. And if we break out of that – because we find a partner, or get busy at work, or decide it isn’t right for us spiritually, or a thousand other reasons – we notice people of the same sex less. For myself, if I am in a relationship, I do not find people outside that relationship to be attractive (well, OK, maybe an exception for Brad Pitt or the other truly amazingly beautiful people).
But rather than being a shift along the Kinsey scale, I would see this more as a difference in our focus, on what is at the forefront of our thoughts.
If, however, the reduction in attraction to persons of the same sex were coupled with a sudden attraction to the opposite sex (a reaction as opposed to deliberate) then this may well suggest a real shift. If you see a couple walking down the street and think “what a hot guy” and then “ohmigosh, the girl with him is attrative also” then I’d think a shift is occuring (but not if you say “ok, i’m going to look at the guy, not the girl, ok focus now”.)
Ultimately, what I deduce from the writings of many ex-gays is that they don’t experience a change in orientation so much as a change in their focus. They practice not seeing the same sex as attractive until they can habitually respond that way. But their attraction, when it pushes to the surface (and it will), is to the same sex not the opposite sex.
Unfortunately, orientation is much more basic and primal than watching a tv show. And the internal drive for love and companionship means that it takes a lot more effort to push attraction down than it does to change the channel (my personal tentative as-yet-unproven belief is that it’s mostly hard-wired in most gay people).
Please don’t think I’m discounting your experiences. You did not discuss whether or not you have found an increasing attraction to men and I don’t want to put words in your mouth one way or the other.
But I wanted to share with you my thoughts (and I hope I wasn’t too offensive).
I appologize. I was a bit inconsiderate.
But to answer your question:
Even for me the meaning of “gay” shifts according to the context. For example, in general I do use the word to be the same as “same sex attracted”. But not always.
For example, someone in the closet would not be part of “the gay community”. And in the context of “gay and lesbian”, the word would refer only to males (I prefer the term “gay men and women” but I know I’m way outvoted).
Also, I think that “gay music” includes a number of straight performers (for example Martha Wash) and that “gay icons” are very frequently heterosexual (Judy, Bette (both of them), Barbara, etc.).
I’ve found myself laughing at some comment made by a straight friend and saying “that’s the gayest thing I’ve ever heard” when the person was simply saying something that fit a bad stereotype of gay people (“sorry I’m late, but I had to get a manicure”). Or I’ll go to the Abbey in West Hollywood, a “gay bar” in which recently about half the people are straight (it is becoming VERY common in WeHo for “gay” events to be broadly mixed). For that matter, for a while the Miata was a “gay car”.
So too, ex-gay can get a little slippery as a term. Does it mean you don’t like Madonna anymore, or that you’ll no longer dress well or drive a convertable? Those are all stereotypes, but often that has more to do with “gay culture” than sex.
The meaning that the television talking heads hear is that you no longer are attracted to the same sex. And to the shame and discredit of many ex-gay ministries, they encourage the public (especially legislators) to believe this interpretation.
But I suspect that most ex-gay people mean that they no longer identify as part of the gay community. They would like to find themselves not attracted to the same sex – and some claim or see progress in this area – but it is the rejection of a gay identity that determines that they are “ex-gay”.
And for those who take this step, the term is as good as any other – AS LONG AS they are not deceptive in the way they use it.
So, as you can see, holding rigidly to one definition is neither productive nor realistic. And that’s why I didn’t try to answer you earlier.
David if you didn’t get that I was arguing – no nuance – gay means “same sex attracted” and exgay means “not same sex attracted”, I’ve totally wasted your time and I apologize. I obviously have to rethink my total failure to communicate.
Timothy, excellent thoughts, many heterosexuals experience diminished sex drives, doesn’t mean they’ve changed orientation.
Wikipedia did not agree with you; it indicated that there are a diversity of definitions. Like so many fundamentalists do, you cherry-picked one definition from Wikipedia and discarded all the definitions that you didn’t like.
Yes, Mike I cherry picked the first meaning offered on the assumption that it is the most common meaning, what do you think is the most common meaning? I think that would say a lot in itself. After reading some ways into the Wilkepedia entries “same sex attracted” was the only definition that was prominent and clear to me.
I’m not offended at all–your thoughts are very reasonable, and respectfully put.
The short answer is that I agree with you–I consider the significant part of my attraction change to be my enormously increased attraction to men, not my diminished experience of attraction to women, which as you point out can have various possible explanations along the lines of mental focus, suppression, repression, etc.
I’m sorry if it wasn’t clearer…I meant by my use of the Kinsey numbers to indicate that I have experienced a huge increase in opposite-sex attraction, from nearly nothing to where it is my primary (but not exclusive!) kind of sexual attraction.
I’m working on a more detailed answer about the nature of my attraction change experience, but I think I will stop contributing to thread drift and post it on my blog instead. 🙂
thanks for clarifying. I look forward to reading your post on your blog.