Michael McManus (not the “marriage-protecting” conservative commentator) discusses in the student newspaper of the University of Nebraska, Omaha, how he stopped being a people-pleasing pushover:
I think I realized the severity of my situation when I told my parents I would go to counseling to try and turn “un-gay.” I knew it wasn’t going to work, but who was I to disappoint? I put a smile on my face, gave my parents false hope, and let the counselor explain to me why I was wrong. I remember sitting there, listening intently. I imagine I was experiencing the same thing that guests on Dr. Phil go through. They know the guys full of shit, but they pretend to be interested. I was such a pushover. First of all, my ex-gay counselor was gayer than me and second of all, I knew everything he was saying was complete crap. I left the session drained and exhausted. It was that same day that I became comfortable in my own skin; I became an individual.
McManus goes on to encourage incoming students to be true to themselves and live as individuals, not people pleasers.
I become frustrated at the efforts made by ex/anti-gay activists to deceive the public and legislative bodies about a fictional “homosexual lifestyle” and various imagined crimes, habits, and trends. I read claims about “hundreds of thousands” and “change is possible” and “former homosexuals” and I wonder how these people who claim to love and serve God can also make statements that are so far from the truth. Perhaps an answer can be found in the words that Shakespeare put in the mouth of Polonius,
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man”.
Being “true to yourself” is sometimes interpreted to mean “put your own needs above others”. But I think on a more basic level, as was intended by Shakespeare, it means don’t lie to yourself. If you are not honest with yourself, you can’t be aware of your motivations in your actions with others. If you are busy trying to convince yourself of the “truth” of your political party, church, family, or others, you aren’t open to the evidence before your eyes. This is not to suggest that one disregard all teachings of others but that one be wise and discerning in comparing them to objective truth and measurable reality.
When considering the rampant blatant dishonesty that has become endemic within the political activism of the ex-gay movement, it may be useful to consider that the life of an ex-gay person may so focused on claiming an identity that is in such stark contrast to their own emotions and attractions that the lines between truth and fiction can become blurred.
If you can convince yourself that you are heterosexual (by faith), and yet you are not physically attracted to the opposite sex, there is very little else that you cannot convince yourself. Your blind adherence to an claim – all physical evidence to the contrary – opens you up to believe that there is a trend among gays towards sex with infants, or that all lesbians were molested, or that there are no stable long-term monogamous relationships.
And if you can be dishonest with yourself, you can easily be dishonest to a news reporter or a congressman.
There has been much discussion here recently about a change in language surrounding the ex-gay movement. I believe that this discussion also calls for an honest admission that a religious conversion may change one’s self-identification – or even one’s standing with God – but for most people it has little impact on one’s orientation.
It is encouraging to see Exodus’ new press release change their identity from “the largest global network of former homosexuals ” to “the world’s largest outreach to individuals affected by unwanted same-sex attraction.” Perhaps this more accurate language with themselves will translate to honesty when dealing with news media or legislators.
I would also suggest that Exodus listen carefully to the advice they give to the APA: “If this institution is to return to its original mission as a mental health organization centered on improving the lives of its clients, it must stop playing politics and employ an inclusive approach that encourages true diversity.”
Perhaps if Exodus were to let go of its political aspirations and return to its roots, it would not feel pressured to make or support false claims in the name of political expediency. Perhaps if this organization were not shackled to legislative goals and electoral positions of political strategists it would be free to be true to itself. There is freedom in honesty and honesty in freedom.