In reading Tanya Erzen’s Straight to Jesus (get this book) a number of things jumped out at me as being relevant to our discussions here.
Erzen quotes from Alan Medinger’s book Growth into Manhood (a must-read at New Hope):
Most male overcomers I have encountered continue to differ from other men in that they do not become sexually stimulated by the sight of a woman’s body.
Erzen noted “Many ex-gay men … say they are not attracted to women in general, just their wives.” This seems consistent to what we have heard from those ex-gays and spouses that have shared with us at this site. She further adds this anecdote “at an Exodus workshop I was not allowed to attend entitled Sex in Marriage, Alan Chambers told the men that it took nine months after his wedding before he was able to consummate the marriage.”
It’s clear that while marriage and children are held up to the world as proof of “change”, these marriages may not be recognizable to the heterosexuals that they are displayed before. When Exodus lobbies the APA with examples of married “former homosexuals”, I suspect the APA members would be less impressed if they understood that the “heterosexuality” of the ex-gay marriages was in all likelihood vastly different than their own.
It may well be that some gay men are able to build a relationship with one particular woman and find in her a fulfilling and sexually satisfying relationship. And it may be with time that his attraction to her grows while his interest in all other people diminishes. There are those who participate here who might suggest that their life is evidence of this. And for those who find someone to share their life as completely as possible, I wish them success and happiness.
But the political face of Exodus seems to tell a story that is in conflict with this truth. With their emphasis on proclaiming “change”, their political anti-gay agenda requires not only a change from something their agenda opposes (homosexuality) but also a change to something that their audience can relate to (heterosexuality).
For much of the anti-gay agenda to be palatable, the public needs to be convinced that these examples are no longer gay, not that they are in some other category of being a same sex oriented person in an opposite sex relationship. They can’t relate to this and so ex-gays have to be repackaged as heterosexual. For example, today the SBC Baptist Press says this about Focus on the Family’s Caleb Price
Price says he identified himself as a homosexual for about 14 years but now is a Christian and heterosexual.
This dissonance between the personal and the political faces of ex-gay individuals cannot be easy to reconcile. I wonder if this insistence on a political identity with which it may be difficult for the ex-gay strugglers to identify will eventually lead to either a shift away from political rhetoric or a split within the movement.
(I apologize to the women that participate here. New Hope is solely comprised of ex-gay men and thus Erzen addresses men more than women. Some of the thoughts fomented by the book will be more relevant to women in other posts.)