In Brief: I Am What I Am And It’s Not a Choice
Ex-ex-gay activist Peterson Toscano writes about sexuality, choice and the ex-gay journey in the latest New Statesman (a broadly left-wing British political weekly). Peterson writes both humorously and powerfully:
I chose to be authentic, to no longer demonise my sexuality, to integrate my faith with the rest of my life. I did choose to be a Christian, a Quaker, a vegan and an activist, but I never chose to be gay.
A talking point: How does Peterson’s description of of faith and sexuality compare to Warren Throckmorton‘s words on CNN last week?
I chose … to integrate my faith with the rest of my life.
The congruence with some clients will be with their sexuality; the congruence for others will be with their religious beliefs. Clearly some people feel that the most core aspect of them is their sexuality; others, on the other hand, believe that their religious values and their religious beliefs are the most core, and they would rather explore congruence of their behavior with those beliefs and values.
Are they in disagreement, or are they essentially talking about the same thing?
Although I agree that one’s faith is very important, a choice is never a core aspect. Faith, unlike sexuality, is always a choice. One is not born a Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever, you are born into a family that teaches, or indoctrinates, you into a faith and can choose another faith in time. Sexuality, is, and always will be, an inherent and intrigral part of the person. It is faith, not sexuality, that must accommodate itself to reality.
When faith conflicts with reality, it is faith and not reality that must change. We, People of Faith, must recognize the limitations of the faith heritage and modify our understandings when faced with truth.
I have seen some people who are influenced into same sex love. I have also seen those who are born different and gay. A person may be born a Christian for example, but the person would just be a Christian by namesake until the person is trully touched by God and submit to Him by faith. We have to overcome the idea that everyone is the same. One’s own experiences in life should not be imposed upon others as justification and evidence of the true way of life on everyone else in the world. Peter is not really an ex ex gay in that sense. He had always been gay. And I believe Warren could only be there for those who are troubled with their life as a gay and a Christian, and needs solutions. If a person is allowed to mature naturally and not face persecution, and not swayed by the wants of the common world, he would have the clear mind to realise for himself who he is. When there are no external pressures, there would not be confusion. That would bring forth a clear path. With that, there would not be any need for cure or therapy. Ex gays are created by men. Homosexuals are created by God.
I am in agreement with the Rev. Spears. Unfortunately, people are lead to believe that questioning ones faith is either the work of the devil or a sign of a lack of belief. Either of these views places the person into the position of being duped into believing something that they may find totally improbable. It is taken as a sign of great faith to believe even the most outlandish of points and taken as a mark of pride to say that one believes even when the world would prove otherwise.
The whole concept of being unhappy with one’s orientation ranks on the same level of being unhappy with one’s handedness. I am left-handed. It is harder to be left handed in the world. I just deal with it. If I had been told by my priest growing up that handedness is a symbol of faith and that being left-handed was a sign that Satan was dwelling in my body, then I may be very troubled by being left-handed. I may seek out “handedness reparative therapy” and suffer from stuttering because of it. But, even thought I stuttered and my writing was almost illegible, I would lift it up as a talisman of my great faith.
To me, the whole orientation argument ranks on the same level as the above example. If the social stigma of homosexuality were gone, the need for reparative therapy would be gone too.
The idea that one has to align their behavior with either their sexuality or their faith is what I would call “black and white thinking.”
In the twelve-step programs, we talk about a higher power that reveals himself to us or to the group.
God reveals himself to us as we journey spiritually. It becomes possible to know a God that loves and accepts us and wants to help us with our problems. Personally I found a God who gave me the strength to give up drugs (change the things I can), realize that he created me gay (accept the things I cannot change), and to realize that drug use is a bad behavior but that sexual orientation is intrinsic to my being (the wisdom to know the differnece).
I believe that a lot of the problem comes form letting others define God for you instead of seeking a relationship with him. We are afraid of God because we have been told that he is against us by people that don’t even really know him. I don’t believe that I require any more forgiveness from God than James Dobson or Jerry Falwell and it is my hope that he forgives us all in the end.
In the years since I quit drinking it’s become all about forgiving and being forgiven for me. Even if there is nothing on the other side of the grave it makes life here and now a lot sweeter.
It does not appear, at least as far as these quotes are concerned, that either Mr. Toscano or Dr. Throckmorton are talking about different things. Throckmorton is merely pointing out the obvious about whether an individual’s sexual expression will take priority over his religious beliefs. For some it will and for some it won’t. At least in the quote given and from the CNN interview, I cannot determine whether Throckmorton has any prejudice about what the “correct” decision will be. He’s just pointing out that some people feel the need to try and conform their sexuality to their faith and that individuals such as Toscano do not. A rather neutral thing to say, I should think.
I’m not sure how helpful comments like this are. Throckmorton seems to be responding to legitimate questions with candid answers. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as possible about what he is trying to do so we can have an intelligent discussion.
Are you suggesting that your experience is somehow indicative of the majority? Or that conflicts of faith are not genuine but somehow misdirected reactions to a heterosexist society? You changed from evangelical to Quaker – by any account opposite ends of a spectrum – so apparently at least some of your conflict was rooted in your faith? And is it possible that some people with similar struggles might need an approach like this during those years it may take for them to grow into (what I would describe as) a better understanding of their faith?
I can usually follow you Peterson but I’m honestly confused by your increasing animosity over this. At first you suggested, as did Boese in his post linked above, that Throckmorton was categorizing individuals into an either or dichotomy – faith as central or sexuality as central – when even a casual glance at the guidelines (PDF) would correct that assumption. Now you seem to suggest that even conflicts based on faith are not really faith but society based.
Is anything short of that which is in perfect harmony with the ideal simply not worth the effort? I can’t honestly say that I know yet whether I can endorse his framework or not, but I see little value in not recognizing that it appears to be a vast improvement.
I am not sure where I stand with regard to Dr. Throckmorton’s approach, because it is unclear to me how it actually applies in practice to a Christian (I am guessing that his clients are primarily Christian) who is struggling with the realization that he/she is gay.
I think that it is critical for any therapist who really wants to help a gay person who is conflicted between their sexuality and their religion to acknowledge the reality that their patient is gay and that is not going to change and tell their client this up front. Any attempts to persuade the client that they can change their core sexuality and become heterosexual constitutes lying to the client and setting the client up for failure and heartache.
Once that is established, helping the client figure out what kind of life they can honestly live becomes possible. But any therapist who isn’t going to approach the reality of the client’s sexuality honestly couldn’t possibly hope to be helping the client. They are only using the client to push their political/cultural/religious agenda.
I’m going to be honest and say that it has been about a year since I last read Dr. Throckmorton’s proposed guidelines, but I do believe that oftentimes in the dialog taking place on his web site, faith and sexuality are too often understood as an either/or dichotomy. But for some of us, that dichotomy is a false one, and I think that posing the issue in those terms places people firmly into camps neither necessary, helpful, or accurate. I’m happy that Dr. Throckmorton’s guidelines stress the autonomy of the client, but I worry that Dr. Throckmorton’s guidelines, as I remember them, may reinforce that dichotomy. But as I said, I definitely have to go back and re-read them again.
Peterson can answer why he went from Evangelical to Quaker. He also went from Roman Catholic to Evangelical. He can well answer for himself if he so chooses as to why that’s the case. But perhaps those reasons aren’t as “opposite” as they may appear on the surface.
From my own experience, I can certainly say that anyone’s faith journey is bounced against their own experiences and observations — and not just those bounded by questions of sexuality. We all endeavor to synthesize our faiths with our lives and the reality of the world we see around us. We don’t walk around in faith as if the world were an arbitrary thing, but we walk in faith with the understanding that the things we see and experience are real. And sometimes the process of synthesizing our experiences lead us to leave one denomination or faith community for another in the process.
But in the faith vs. sexuality dichotomy, there’s little room to consider the role of synthesis. Instead we are left to assume that I must have abandoned, crippled, or cut off key elements of my own faith in order to live in congruence with my sexuality. But why must we assume that? Can we not instead understand that perhaps my faith, as it continues to grow and mature, was finally able to come to synthesize my sexuality along with my many other experiences and discoveries?
This seems to be the possibility that is missing. It’s faith or sexuality. If I were to follow some scripts that people offer, I can’t have both. I have to abandon — or at least somehow diminish — one for the other. I finally rejected that notion, and once I finally was able to reject it I was also able to step confidently out of the closet and remove my light from under the bushel. Finally.
I came out with some simple equations here, I do not know if any of you agree.
1) Born heterosexual with homosexual behaviour and / or confused bisexuals = Therapy applicable.
2) Born homosexual = Therapy non applicable.
I am in the school of thought that before we solve the issue of whether it is faith vs society vs sexuality as we perused here, we should identity the target audience of any therapy.
Anyway, if a person is comfortable and secure in their core sexual orientation, the issue of faith or society, or even reparative therapy, should not even occur. We would come to the realisation that we live lives for ourselves, and not letting people dictate our lives for us.
Another thought I have (I may sound ridiculous here); I find whether it is therapy by Cohen, Throckmorton or anyone else, any outcome should be considered a success.
Peterson Toscano and many other ex-ex-gays represent just that, because it is by the means of such therapies, through the period of depression and sadness; they are finally secure and know themselves better while affirming themselves in their core identity, so it is not exactly a waste of time and money. They are now happily together with their partners, and no one can ever take away their faith again, no matter what their accusers say.
I would consider even ex-gays such as Chambers a success too. Ex-gays got what they wanted in the end after ‘reorientation’. They are out from what they perceive as a lifestyle that is burning them up. They believe they are saved from hell. They are proud to live the norm of society with wives and children, and going to church as homosexuals with heterosexual behaviour or as ex-ex-heterosexuals.
In the end, we would find the answers and solutions we are looking for all our lives. We are refined day by day by God through our journeys, whether we go into reparative therapy or not.
Clearly we need to evaluate these guidelines in open discussion, something which we probably should have done a while ago. Unfortunately, like Jim we have been slow to study them seriously. I’m not willing to invalidate anyone’s experience, certainly not Peterson’s as I know so much of his struggle from discussion’s with him. I can identify strongly with many of the same issues, and perhaps I will post more of my own story in the near future for perspective.
I would like to interject that, from my understanding of Throckmorton’s framework, the dichotomy we are discussing does not seem to be imposed by him but instead may seem unduly emphasized since the therapy picks up where the client seeks a solution for a conflict which they have been unable to resolve.
My experiences in life, and certainly here at XGW, lead me to suspect that a conflict between faith and sexual orientation is the hardest to resolve, and would therefore be more likely to land one in therapy. I don’t necessarily think that a therapist who recognizes this should be accused of imposing it.
This is why I asked Throckmorton in the previous thread about how he would deal with someone who first chose celibacy (for instance) and then came back after some spiritual growth wishing to explore their same-sex orientation. I believe he indicated this is quite common, as I would have expected.
I just want to reiterate the idea of synthesis. I think the discussions surrounding the guidelines imply that faith and sexuality are dualities to be balanced. But to balance them, one has to shave some weight off of one and add weight to the other. I’d like to see a better emphasis on synthesis as a third path, and a path which I believe is actually the most common one to take.
I do know however several people who did believe that they had to choose between the two. I don’t believe the idea of synthesis was really explored with many of them, and I think it would have been helpful.
I am neither lesbian nor gay; I am however, a transsexual (born male; live as a female). I wish to cross over for a moment, and offer concepts that I think are pertinent to this discussion.
As a Bible-based Christian, I find great evidence that God does change reality through miracles. I also find people of faith praying for miracles. Therefore, faith plus God’s action can change reality.
My focus with Bible-based Christians diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (within my peer support group), is to point out the standard of care shown in Second Corinthians chapter 12, verses 7 – 12: pray to God petitioning for a miracle, until He gives the miracle or speaks to your heart: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Plead for the miracle as you need to, even three time periods. But then, should you be among the many that are denied such a miracle, walk through the grieving process (of having been denied), and then walk into acceptance, embracing and rejoicing that Christ has given you a ‘weakness’ so that His power may rest upon you.
And the outworking of the “strength of Christ” shall be according to each one’s conscience, as taught by Romans 14 for “who are you to judge another man’s servant? To his own Master he stands or falls.” And how does this conclude? With this – “And His Master shall make him to stand.”
Thus, for those that are conflicted within the dichotomy of ‘faith as core’ versus ‘gender identity as core’, this standard of care (II Cor 12 plus Romans 14) allows for petitioning God to change reality until denied, a grieving process, an acceptance process, a rejoicing process, and an individual conscience process.
Are these not the processes that, when perverted from the Scripture, twist our hearts in pain? – petitioning God until ‘sweat becomes blood’, never allowing grieving but pressing forward even harder, avoiding acceptance in the name of ‘faith persevering’, not embracing whom we are but hiding, and then conforming to society’s, family’s, or denomination’s conscience?
True, faith does ultimately appear to conform to reality. But better yet, faith sustains a person through the winter of a miracle denied. Faith begins a spring of growth by realizing that a God “that is love” can deny changing reality. Faith blossoms when we realize that He gives the blessing of ‘weakness’ in order to show the strength of Christ. And then, faith bears the fruit of maturity as we hold His hand in love and learn our own individualized path wherein He makes us ‘to stand’.
I offer that those that are lesbian and gay, and oriented towards Bible-based concepts, may wish to consider the same standard of care.
Most sincerely; Caryn
In the other thread, Throckmorton said:
Perhaps from this we can assume that room is available for further discussion on this. I’m only guessing at this point, but I would think that synthesis is the ultimate result for the majority of us, but I do not know if that includes a majority of those who would seek therapy under this particular protocol. There was certainly a time in my life when I would (and did) reject it, and if a therapist had emphasized the possibility I most certainly would have discontinued treatment.
The more I think about it, any imposition of that type from a therapist would have turned me away. I was lucky that my own psychiatrist did not and I was able to eventually able to bring those two areas of my life into harmony. Certainly areas of life outside my direct control do affect me negatively, and I don’t like that, but (for me at least) these are not issues to be resolved in therapy.
As I’ve said before, to this day I have no idea of the specifics of my psychiatrist’s faith, or even if it exists. Frankly, I couldn’t care less.
I’ve been reading Warren Throckmorton’s blog regularly for a while and have commented there several times. I appreciate Warren’s intention to help people live by their personal beliefs and values, without focusing on the unrealistic goal of changing orientation.
I’ve offered an analogy to a therapist working with a Catholic priest who’s struggling with celibacy. As a former Catholic, I have no patience left for the Catholic church as an institution and its mandate of clerical celibacy. But I can respect an individual priest who decides to be faithful to his vow and seeks help in doing so.
All of that said, I still see two big problems with Warren’s approach.
First, his approach may be valid for clients who have clearly thought through all the issues and come to strong, mature convictions about their moral values vs their homosexual orientation. But out of all the people I met in ex-gay groups, the large majority were much more divided in their own minds on these issues. They had been taught by family and church that homosexuality was unnatural and sinful–yet why did it feel so natural for them? Often, they clung to what they had been taught just out of fear of the unknowns on the other side.
I don’t think that Warren, by his own description of how he might counsel individual cases, would do much to help a conflicted individual realize that “If you DO decide to embrace your homosexual orientation, you can build a healthy, responsible, happy life.” Instead, I think that his framework has an inherent bias toward affirming the traditional religious view. And in that, I think it would do a disservice to those who need help finding the path that will work best for them over the long term.
My second objection also has to do with that “long term.” The fact is, as often pointed out, that religious views do tend to change and modify throughout a person’s life. Sexual orientation, for most people, does not. What happens to people who build their identity around their religious values, in contradiction of their orientation, if their values do shift in the future? What happens especially if they’ve gotten married or formed other major commitments involving others? A lot more people than just Warren’s own clients may be getting set up for future heartbreak through this approach.
NickC — Please produce my descriptions of how I would counsel individuals that lead you to the conclusion you cited.
And to your first objection, we advocate the assessment and informed consent phases taking as long as needed to work through values issues. For some folks, this is the therapy.
About the long term issues, I have also talked with people who wished they had the opportunity as younger people to pursue other options than those they did.
I read through Warren Throckmorton’s guidelines, and I think that while the overall tone emphasizes reasonableness, they still hold out the hope of sexual reorientation in an unrealistic way.
The consistent impression that I got while reading the guidelines is that a well adjusted sexual reorientation without signficant negative side effects is as likely as any other outcome for patients who desire to pursue that path.
There is no convincing evidence that one can truely change their sexual orientation, and that isn’t even acknowledged in the guidelines.
Not telling the patient upfront that it is extremely unlikely (approaching zero percent probablility, if not zero percent) that they will be abe to change their sexual orientation is just being dishonest. And how is a therapist helping anyone by stringing them along with some dream that is not going to come true?
John — Please advance your data for the zero percent probability.
You have been practicing in this field for how long? What are your numbers? Reorientation apologists go on and on about the lack of data, but don’t come forward and present their success (or lack thereof) data. I would have to toss that ball right back in your court.
John — My assessment has always been satisfaction with counseling, not degree of change. I have always surveyed clients periodically regarding the degree to which they feel that counseling is helping them. These numbers are consistently above 90% satisfaction. I do not have numbers for change because this isn’t what SIT is about. Also, any number in the present would not be of much interest. Follow up would be needed. I do have follow up on some clients and some have experienced shifts in orientation, some have not very much and others settled on a gay identity.
Regarding follow-up, I am currently following up the participants in my 2005 paper and will have some kind of report in the next several months.
While change data is not relevant to SIT, I do agree that those who promote change should advance more data. However, having said that, the absence of data is not proof of no effect — and so my original request stands. Where is your support for your assertion? You asserted a number, not me.
Frankly without representative samples, any number is a guess. The closest thing we have to that would be Nick Cummings recollections of his work at Kaiser Permanente where he says about 13% of his conflicted gay clients changed. I think if we can say anything given the research and reports we have, it is not zero but after that, who knows?
You say that SIT is not about changing orientation, but in your own guidelines you talk about patients deciding to pursue change of sexual orientation. So for the subset of SIT patients who choose to pursue sexual reorientation, it is about sexual reorientation.
You say that you follow up with your patients and that “some” reoriented, “some” didn’t and “some” had another outcome. Using “some” for each group (as you did in your guidelines and in your post here) implies equal probability of falling into each group which I think is very misleading.
There has been more than enough time and more than enough patients who have been seen by the various therapists who hold themselves out to be reorientation (or reparative) therapists. Simply following up on the numbers of patients who attempted to reorient, and those that succeeded wouldn’t be terriby difficult, and would be extremely interesting to those in various scientific and sociologic fields as well as the general public. Yet, there is no data. I can’t imagine why.
Even on an anectdotal basis, how many people have any of us met who had a convincing change in sexual orientation?
You challenge me for giving the number zero, as if I started the conversation. You are the one asserting that reorientation is possible and implying that it is as likely an outcome as any other, yet you have no evidence to support your claim.
Speaking for myself, I would have to say none. But we still have to define these pesky terms. I’m assuming in this instance that change means no or almost no sexual attraction to the same sex, where once there was entirely or almost entirely. However, if we are talking about those who are bisexual to one degree or another, that also changes the picture.
This has always been a major problem, defining terms in a way that everyone is talking about the same thing. It’s too easy to be deceptive (or be deceived) when the terms are so poorly defined.
Dave, that’s true and reminds me of the complexity of human sexuality, not only in regards to orientation, but also considering the diversity in libido, sexual expression and comfort levels.
Some folks are more sexual than others, and we are all wired differently. We view and use our sexuality and bodies differently based on multiple factors.
This became apparent to me with the many different types of ex-gays I met through the years. “Change” for one looked very different than for someone else.
Many come looking for all types of changes, some legitimate, some unrealistic. Although most professionals today acknowlege that a change in orientation is unrealistic, this is the dream many people have long desired. Many believe (and are taught) that same-sex desire is the root cause to the actual problems thay face on a daily basis. Therefore, changing, curbing or containing these desires becomes a primary goal.
In my English class the other day, we were discussing gay marriage for the purposes of argument (we also discussed death penalty). This is a group of older students, and some are very religious (in fact, one is a minister for John Hagee). I try to keep the discussion as balanced as possible, but one student was very upset. What I try to suggest is that belief without evidence is simply belief, which is fine, but we can’t use pure belief as argument. We need evidence. Anyhow, she said that gay people can change, so that means gays should not be allowed to be married.
So I said, “Have you met any gay people who have changed?” She replied that she had not, but she heard stories of change at church. I said, “How do you know they have changed?” She said that it was because they were now Christian, and God does not allow Christians to be gay. She did acknowledged that it could not be measured or tested (evidence). However, she insisted it was true. I asked her if it was possible for a straight person to change also. She said no, but gay people can change. The clincher–I said, “Would you allow your daughter to marry a man who said he was exgay?” The student was horrified by the thought, and then she realized that there was no really convincing change in exgay people. She realized that even though she believed change exists (and I do not dispute that), it is not testable to any sufficent degree. It is not something useful for evidence in argument.
I think that these variations on change come out over time in the ex-gay experience, but I would bet that the “change” these ex-gays were looking for when then first approached the ex-gay programm was quite simmilar and it was probably something very close to what Dave stated:
These folks approached the ex-gay programs hoping to no longer be gay. When that failed, they had to compromise and find other acceptable outcomes for themselves. However, the fact that they found some other (perhaps temporarily) acceptable outcomes doesn’t mean that their original intention wasn’t to eliminate their gayness. Their conversion or reorientation was a failure.
The waters only became muddied after the original goal was abandonned or modified. But for the next person approaching the therapist or program hoping to eliminate their gayness, they aren’t interested in how this person was (perhaps temporarily) happy with their celibacy or other outcome. They want to know how likely it is that they are going to no longer be gay. And for that information, all these people who were happy with their other than complete reorientation outcomes have to be counted as having failed in order to give an honest answer to the seeker of sexual orientation change. I would guess that this seeker of orientation change isn’g going to be particularly interested in spending thousands learning to be celibate.
Aaron – that was nice… really nice… Heck, I would not marry an ex-gay!
Dr Throckmorton – another curious question, may I ask, had there been any transsexuals under your care, and had there been any conversions made under the SIT guidelines. What are expected of them and how are the results?
“Heck, I would not marry an ex-gay!”
Yukichoe, that is very nice. Most ex-gays have already been spoken for, including yours truly. I wouldn’t marry a liberal, even if they were excepting of my past.:)
P.S. My wife knows all about my past. She couldn’t even tell I was an ex-gay man, and she says I am one hell of a lover.
Lee, I think the point is that most people are not convinced when told of someone being exgay. It is not that an exgay person cannot be a great spouse, husband, or wife. I think it is simply that many who believe that people can change would not want an exgay person marrying a child.
Excuse me, can we get a break from the ‘I’m having sex with the opposite sex and that proves something’ routine from ex-gays? Your need to broadcast the quality of your love life is more a version of ‘I think you protest too much’ than proof.
I am responding to the post without reading any of the above comments, so if something I say has already been said, I’m sorry. The battery on my laptop is running low… 🙂
For me, neither faith nor sexuality have been choices. Both of them seem to have been thrown at me. Sexuality, inborn or learned, is nothing I chose, but it is something I must deal with (just like every other person, gay or straight, must deal with it). It is up to all of us to decide what our sexual behavior will be; it doesn’t matter if we have religious beliefs to influence us or not. Attractions are not a choice; what we do with our bodies is.
At the same time, my faith in God has grown so much over the years that I cannot imagine disregarding it or the path that it has led me down. Is it a hard path? Of course! It’s not like I particularly enjoy the prospect of not having sex. But, at the same time, I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t enjoy the prospect of not having a beer, or having to wait until marriage to express their physical love.
But I do it because I believe in God and I believe what the Bible says about homosexual behavior (note: let’s not argue about that last bit now, shall we? I’m not going to be around for a week or so anyway…) Those beliefs, like my sexual preference, are not likely to change no matter how hard I try. They are too real; God has been too close. Therefore, I decide to live with both. It’s not because I’m afraid of what society thinks. If you haven’t noticed, it’s not like Evangelicals really like my stance, either…
It’s because of God. There really are men and women like me who do this because of God, and for no other reason. We don’t demonize our sexuality. We just see it for what it is (and, more importantly, where its proper place is) and move on with our lives. In a way, I have integrated my sexuality and my faith. My struggles with the first has greatly increased the second.
Dear Lee, Just which words are discriminatory to you? If you are gay, you would not like me. Because I am a girl and you would be looking for men. If you are an ex-gay, you would not like me, because I do not conform to your standards of woman. So how are we going to get married? I thought you said you do not care whether I or anyone likes ex-gays or not, but offended by my remark? Just to ask you, would you marry an ex-transsexual? And calling me a he/she? Now that is discriminatory remark. But do I mind? No. Why? Because you have shown the kind of person you are, the mentality you possess and the shallowness of your knowledge. I am but only a transsexual guest here, so feel free to badger me all you want. I am just glad as an ex-gay you are here sharing your experiences openly, trusting other peoples experiences and validating their sexuality, even though they are different from yours.
OT Technical comment here:
Lee, you had a couple of comments listed in the recent comments a few minutes ago, but they were not in the blog. Did you go back and delete these during the edit period? Also, you are placing non-working URLs in the field when submitting comments, please leave that blank unless you actually have a website.
Your last comment above was snagged by the spam filter (not entirely sure why) and I released it. The other two are a mystery unless you know. We rarely have posting problems.
Back to the regular thread…
Lee, my comment was not about disliking ex-gays. Rather I was annoyed by the ‘look I’m married’ routine. There is already a tendency in evangelical churches to portray married people as better in the eyes of God. They get more attention and they receive more positions of authority and ministry. Singles are perceived as immature and are not thought of with the same respect given to married people. The ex-gay movement further magnifies this message by offering up marriage as proof of true change, of God’s favor on the poor wretched ex-gay who has repented from a sinful ‘lifestyle’. It treats marriage as if it’s some milestone rather than the serious commitment it is supposed to be. There is all this concern in some circles about rendering marriage meaningless, what what could be worse than making marriage into some merit badge?
Respectfully jay, many in here are aware of the concept of doing it for God. In fact many of those who are now ex-ex-gay were doing it for God. What they concluded is different from what you’ve concluded. You say you do not demonize your sexuality, keep this in mind though, you benefit from a far more accepting society. When I was your age, it was during the AIDS crisis. To admit same-sex attraction was to bring up the spectre of death in the minds of people around you. The rhetoric and fear was horrific, people saying it was God’s judgment and worse. I didn’t know any gay people or even any struggling people, all I heard was the demonization by a society more afraid than informed. You spoke of putting sexuality in proper place and moving on. I have to wonder how you’ll feel twenty years from today, when you’ve been trying to move on for two decades, weighed down by the realization that you can’t shake off your desires anymore than you can suddenly sprout wings and fly. When you notice that the people telling you that God is enough all seem to be married, proof that being alone with God isn’t something they are willing to do. When you’ve talked yourself out of feeling anything for anyone because you are so afraid you’ll have the wrong feelings. And that despite the grand talk about relationships and friendships, that the church’s fixation on married people means you’ll end up in singles groups designed to disintegrate because when your friends get married, they go off to be with their married peers. Then there’s the endless routine of diverting attention from your single status, lest people hone in on the reality. And even if you actually date, you always have the wonderful privilege of picking the time when you’ll tell the girlfriend your secrets. Based on my own experience, I would say to you to consider carefully what you are undertaking. I too thought my beliefs wouldn’t change, but time takes its toll, life is full of lessons both good and bad. To put it bluntly I did not get through this unscathed. It’s a hard path you’ve chosen, a very hard path. Perhaps the debates we have today will make it easier as the church comes to terms with same-sex attraction, and perhaps your journey will be a smoother one than mine, but don’t have any illusions about this, I too when through this experience doing it for God, and I still ended up getting hurt.
Chances are being one hell of a lover has little to do with orientation and more to do with your wife’s personal preferences. My ex ex gay husband was to me as your wife percieves you to be as a lover. Bragging about your sexual prowess has nothing whatsoever to do with what we are about here and is actually inappropriate to the discussion.
PW, thank you for your comment. I am extremely grateful (I could even say blessed) that I was born in this time, rather than a few decades ago. I certainly don’t want to compare our experiences. Yours probably were much worse than mine, and I am grateful that I live in an accepting time, and I’m grateful that I have an accepting family. I wasn’t lying when I said that this decision was mine. No person has put me up to it or said that it is something I should do. I came to the conclusion myself.
I do not care if people in the church affirm me or not. I don’t care if they understand. I don’t care if being alone with God is something that they aren’t willing to do. My faith and my choices are mine; I don’t need others to affirm them. I’m doing this for God, not for others.
Thanks for your concern about my future, but give me some credit. I’ve thought this through. I’m not a coward; I’m not going to shy away from a friendship because I’m worried about my feelings. I already have gay friends and I’m willing to get closer to them, just like I want to get closer to all of my friends and family.
Diverting attention away from my single status? Are you kidding me? You don’t know me at all, friend. I wear my life on my sleeve. If anyone asks why I’m single, I’ll tell them the exact truth. It hasn’t cost me anything yet (so give the Church some credit), and even if it does I don’t care. It’s their problem, not mine. Let them know the reality. Honesty pays out so much more in the end than even the slightest deceit.
As for a girlfriend, I’m not going to have one until I’m attracted to women. Since I’m not actually working on that (I don’t even remotely consider myself ex-gay) I really don’t have to worry about it. If the time comes, and I’m attracted to her, then I’ll let her know from the beginning where other attractions fall (or have fallen). If she doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to continue the relationship, that’s up to her.
The thing is, those may have been your experiences, and I’m sorry they were bad. But I am a completely different person and probably handle situations very differently from you. Just because I’m taking up the same road doesn’t mean I fit into the mold so easily. Don’t stereotype someone that you haven’t met, and don’t tell me what will happen to me. I wouldn’t dream of doing that to you.
It’s spoken from experience and evidently, it’s a COMMON experience not to be dismissed.
Jay, I’ve heard a lot of people still in their process say the same thing as you.
Waiting until they are attracted to women. Maybe you’re accepting that it’s quite an undertaking already and are giving yourself plenty of practice to get things just right.
You ARE a completely different person, true that.
But this process you’re undertaking ISN’T. It’s been a method, fueled by gender bias and expectaion, that’s gone on for DECADES.
Tried….and the failure rate has yet to be admitted by those invested in putting you through the process, but are hard pressed to admit how much it fails.
I don’t know how old you are Jay. But you remind me of another young man several of us are acquainted with.
And he had an literally ADOLESCENT expectation of what woman would come along as his opposite sex mate. His hopes in my view, were very unrealistic.
Heterosexuals attract and are attracted to each other in a very specific way. Sometimes a lot of qualities about gay men, attract women.
Most of which is that sometimes you can have the spiritual, emotional and intellectual bond…but WITHOUT the sexual tension.
This is the sort of thing that led me to understand the emotional qualities of gay men as being conducive to how HETEROSEXUAL couples can get along with each other.
But where the bedroom was concerned, or the basic full on fiery sexual attraction that occurs betweeh hets, isn’t adequate between gay people and straight people.
The ex gay industry, or churches fail to see the non sexual benefit that gay people have for us straights.
Instead they want to assume that the male/woman model is the only kind and to ASSERT this, make gay people try to confrom sexually when it’s a FORCED situation.
Gay folks deserve better.
I have an intense relationship with several gay men as my best friends. Spiritual advisors, emotional equals and intellectual matches.
And I know that them NOT wanting to sleep with ME, isn’t personal.
What a RELIEF!
The church is matching up gay people wrong and has destroyed a lot of people in the process.
Jay, I wish you well. But where it REALLY counts in the eyes of the church, you won’t be able to do what’s expected of you.
You might be trained to, but even THAT can only go so far.
And that’s just it.
A straight man doesn’t require TRAINING to want a woman. They just DO IT.
Sorry, Jay….you’re NOT so different from PW.
You just think you are for now.
Women don’t just come along. You ATTRACT them in a specific way that heterosexual men can do.
And you’re going against yours at great cost. I wish you well.
I just think that you’re one of many who have felt the same way before.
I for one don’t discount your experience, personality, or beliefs about how you choose to conduct yourself or even how you choose to identify yourself. You have value and worth, just as you are, and where you are. You may or may not be in a different place in 10 years. But, wherever you are I know that you will have arrived there purposefully and with just as much worth as anyone else who may arrive at a different place where their sexuality and the way they express it is concerned.
As far as the church expecting you to get married in order to have worth, I just don’t agree and I’m part of the church universal. And many others agree with me, including Paul the apostle, former murderer of Chrisitans and self-labeled chief of sinners. It’s a journey. Godspeed on yours, Jay. And Godspeed to PW and Regan as well.
Jay, then extend the same respect by not being so cavalier about it all. From what you’ve described your circumstances have a great deal to do with your ability ‘to move on’, you don’t have to deal with many of the challenges that I and others face. You can say ‘I don’t care what other people think’ because you know your family accepts you as you are. You can say ‘I don’t need others to affirm [my beliefs]’ because you already have people who affirm your beliefs. You may indeed be pursuing this path for one reason, but the evidence clearly shows that you have many reasons for feeling safe and secure in the path you have chosen. I wish you well.
I probably shouldn’t do this, but, oh well. I’ve visited with Jay quite a bit. And he does not KNOW that his family will be accepting of his choices. I know for a fact that one of the few people in his family who know of his sexuality and his decision has encouraged him to pursue a different path. He is just not typical. I’ve been surprised by some of the situation that surrounds him and I sort of thought I’d seen it all. I sound like a Mama Bear defending a cub here, and even though I don’t know you as well as I know Jay, (i don’t know you at all, but i do appreciate that you’ve commented on my blog a bit 😉 I would do the same for you.
Pam, cool, well I was going on what Jay said and I should take my own advice and not minimize what he faces either. 🙂
Jay, I actually admire the honesty of your post.
I was extremely impressed with your post and information to Jay. What you went through is almost identical to what I went though. Throughout my early adulthood I had convinced myself that I would remain celebate — for God. I had convinced myself that, though it would not be easy, it was the only way for me to live my life in a method that was congruent with how I understood the bible to address homosexuality.
For the first five or so years, I was able to do so; however, as time went on, I saw my life changing to a lonely, almost absent, life. As time went on living this life became as if I was living as a “shell”. That there was no authenticity to my life. I was not happy and I was not able to connect emotionally with anyone. I was afraid of getting to close to people either male or female. Though I had a number of women want to date me, I could not bring myself to even date. Afterall, I was not physically attracted to them –what was the purpose? Dating would just lead to disappointment and heartbreak. As I aged it was more and more difficult to explain why I was stilll single and why I was not dating. (I did not attend an accepting Church — rather a Church that demonized Gay folks.)
To make a long story short, I experienced almost all of what PW said would happen. I now (20 years later) have completely changed my thinking and wish I had done so far earlier.
While I’m sure it is not the same path for everyone, I do want to point out the striking similarity to PW’s post and how things actually turned out for me.
Regan DuCasse wrote
Well what about that straight man, who was sexually abused by his mother and raped by his stepfather his entire “childhood” ? How does he overcome his gynophobia, when his mothers words is repeated in his mind: “Women are dirty stay away from them” …. It took this man a lot of therapy to survive and to allow himself to “want” women, and overcome his reenactment of the abuse his stepfather put him through, in the shape of self destructive obsessive compulsive homosexual behavior.
Through therapy he started a process of healing and he overcame his fear of women during the process that also included sensitivity training with a female therapist. He thought he was gay for 18 years. Then he fell in love with a woman ….
So sometimes it does require both therapy and training for a straight man to allow himself to “want” women, and not just do it! He felt no need to demonize his attraction to men, but thought “that was he he was” until he learned otherwise and let go of his gay identity and became an “Ex-gay”. But hey ….. people like him are of course disingenious, liars, untrustworthy and according to some gay activists a phenomenon like the “Loch Ness Monster”.
People like him should not be allowed to get “Repairitative Therapy. The only politically correct choice for him according to APA, ACA….ETC. is to “Choose to be who he is”. And According to well I guess the accurate word in this case is “The Gay Industry” his only choice is to be Gay.
Marcus, I do think the situation you present here is a very specific case–I don’t know many people who would be in the situation. Here is the problem–the assumption is with the word straight. According to your presentation, you did not consider yourself straight for a period of time. Regan’s viewpoint is still correct I think.
No one is saying exgay people as a whole are liars, etc. I don’t know your situation. However, I do think that probably most straight men, even if they have terrible home situations, do not need to be “trained” into attraction (which smacks of behavioral therapy). There is an ethical question to this–if something is natural (even if it is somewhat learned at some point), should it be changed? What if there is no harm in the original issue? Your situation sounds very specific to your situation.
Aaron it is true that I for 18 years considered myself to be gay. But that has changed since I became attracted to a woman. I consider myself to be straight today. Human sexuality is more fluid than some think.
And yes I do present a very specific case. But I have seen many other male survivors of childhood sexual abuse who will struggle much more with sexual identity issues later in life. Straight men who punish themselves by having sex with other men… . It may be a very specific problem but it is not as rare as people think.
On the other hand we see gay men who struggle to accept their sexual orientation since sex with a same sex partner
gives them flashback to the sexual abuse they suffered. Boys who suffered sexual abuse by a female perpetrators, especially by their mothers will often struggle more with sexual identity issues.
Many male survivors will need therapy. Some will deal with their sexual identity issues on their own. Others will keep struggling to accept their gay identity. A therapist´s role must be to help support any client to live as well with the feelings they have.
Whether “something” should be changed must be up to the client to decide. Being gay is not not a choice and I doubt that many gays will think they need to change.
You and Reagan are of course right when you say that the majority of straight men do not require training to want women. My point however is that … yes some do!
Neither you or Reagan say that, but what about Mr. Wayne Besen and His Truth Win Out Org.? Now there is man with that mission! To expose the “Exgay lie” and the “Exgay myth”.
Marcus, I agree 100% about Wayne Besen. I have frequently atacked his presentation. Many would say Wayne serves a certain purpose–the attack dog (an extreme gay advocate vs. the extreme Christian element like LaBarbara). However, I disagree highly. I think Wayne, while his intentions are good, is dangerous because people will see him as representative of the gay community as Richard Cohen is of the exgay one. Both are on the edge and misrepresent the whole. I have even written him personally about his unfair presentation. His exgay myth and lies I think are a reaction to the same language from the Traditional Values Coalition. I do want to make it clear that many of us feel that exgay people should be presented fairly even if we disagree. The only issue for some of us is that it is often used for political purposes or that every gay person should do the same thing.
As far as fluidity, I do think it depends on the person (and I do think women probably have more fluidity than males).
In my situation, exgay therapy made me realize I could not change. Exgay therapy was positive for me because it made me realize how gay I was. I did not have the psychological components that others have stated (weak father, sexual abuse, etc.). In fact, I hate when people state clearly that homosexuality falls into two camps: biology or psychology. I think it is a complex issue, and in my case probably a mixture of things. I am cool with that. Handedness is like that too–most have a set type of behavior with right or left handedness, but some are socialized into one way–some do develop access to the other hand. I also did not have the self-destructive tendencies that many exgay people report. What is funny is that I am very comfortable with women. I have had sex with women. I have seen more women naked than just about any male gay person and I find some women very attractive. I even own Bettie Page DVDs and go to Burlesque shows, but I find nothing sexual about women. I think I am pretty gay and not much fluidity in my situation, but I do respect those who feel they would be better off in another situation and go through therapy. My best to you. You seem very well reasoned, and I respect that. And I am sorry what happened in your past–no one should go through that.
Jayson, I would also agree with you. That is one of the things I think is dangerous about the ex-gay movement. It can lead to feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. Granted, there are some like Marcus who are helped by threapy to regain their hetero identity. I think there are more like me who are helped by therapy to happily live into our gay intentity.
The “exgay lie” of Focus on the Family and NARTH is this:
All same-sex-attracted persons were sexually abused (according to Melissa Fryrear) or badly fathered (Joseph Nicolosi). All same-sex-attracted persons experience fluidity and ability to change.
Exodus is complicit in these lies by affiliating with Focus and NARTH via Love Won Out, and Exodus adds some lies of its own: Gay men are somehow uniquely incapable of long-term monogamy, so don’t even try. Gay people are demonic, or at least possessed by overpowering demonic influences. Gay activists are enemies of God. (And what exactly does Exodus think should be done about demon-possessed enemies of God? Imprison them via sodomy laws, deny them equal access to public facilities and services, and deny them equal protection in the event of a hate crime.) If someone can’t “change,” Exodus further asserts, it is their fault, and God and church shall reject them for it.
All of these lies are disseminated by Exodus, Focus on the Family, NARTH, and PFOX, and if exgays disagree with these lies, then they should take up that concern first with these organizations. Blaming the messenger (such as Wayne Besen) seems to me like a flight from responsibility.
Hi Marcus, I appreciate your comment. However, Aaron did address what you said. But I can take it further.
For example, a good deal of the time, ex gay ministries are dealing with people already quite experienced either as gay people or gay people who have already tried earlier on to achieve Jay’s goal. Pam’s ex husband fits the latter category.
We have experienced straight people who have either gone through several divorces or unfufilling relationships and decide that having one isn’t for them.
It’s another way of rejecting the opposite sex because of lack of success with it.
Some people seek counseling or are willing to entertain the idea that maybe something is wrong with THEM, rather than something is wrong with all the people they failed to have a meaningful relationship with.
The ex gay ministry or industry is one of the few examples of exploiting this and making homosexuals virtually the ones solely responsible for how heterosexuals feel about them, AND at the same time making them reject virtually any and all relationships with other gay people-except as the goal that you’re all in straight class together.
Which has unintended consequences even then.
Relationships are tough, whether you’re gay or not.
However, with the ex gay goal, the focus is skewed and the expectations are quite high without any real understanding of how long or intense the commitment will be.
Or how much it might financially cost.
The struggle to become straight, can be as much of, or MORE of a struggle than being gay is.
However, according to Exodus or whoever…..homosexuality IS the struggle and not the other.
I found that organizations such as Family Research Council, the Traditional Values Coalition and Focus on the Family exploits the ex spouses of gay men and women and includes them as examples of homosexual dysfunction.
There is something of a disconnect between forcing such couples to assume that marriage and all the public affectation is enough.
However, when these results occur, and implosion of the family, it’s inevitably the gay person who will get blamed rather than the effort to be heterosexual.
Jay, I’m not criticizing you. A lot DOES depend on demographics, whether or not there was an initially supportive environment to be gay in.
Since most households are religious, it’s difficult for a young gay person to avoid the pressure to conform.
Older generations had even less access to support or information.
I wish you luck, and nobody’s blues is like another’s.
However, the voice of experience is a valid one, whether it comes from gay people who went through the experience.
Ex spouses like Pam (hey sistah friend!), or straight women like myself who listens to the folks on both sides and can see for myself that Exodus or ministries like them DO strain credibility.
I do wish you luck.
But let me put it this way Jay. There are a LOT of ignorant folks out there that don’t know gay people that well.
And you are to me, and example of why MORE gay people are needed to represent themselves and what being gay means.
I’d prefer that there was less and less interference and more opportunity for people to learn.
And you’re a loss of that opportunity.
While I respect your experiences, I disagree with your conclusions. I do NOT support anyone going through reparative therapy.
RT works under the presumption that one’s same-sex attraction by definition is due to a trauma which can be repaired. While this might be the case in some rare instances (yours for example) it is counter-productive to take this one-size-fits-all approach.
It is much like going gambling in Vegas wearing your lucky socks. Yes, you may – by coincidence – win big while wearing those socks. But attributing the win to the lucky socks and assuming that you’ll always win while wearing your lucky socks could ultimately result in bankruptcy.
What I would support is that those who were molested seek therapy for that experience. If the result is that they find themself becoming attracted to the opposite sex, well then that is a good and natural thing.
However, and this is an important however, the goal should not be changing ones orientation but rather making peace with the past. Healing, not “changing”.
I believe there may well be people who throught the healing process find themselves to be heterosexual. And that’s good for them. However, I think that many of those who go seeking a change in their orientation and who find themselves to be straight now – especially those who are most vociferious and zealous about it – ultimately discover that their change was in attitude and political affinity rather than in attractions.
Thank you Aaron for your empathetic response. And you are so right about the fact that we really do not know for sure what causes same sex attractions. Many factors including biological and/or psychological factors are obviously involved, and it is probably highly individual.
I also deeply respect you for coming to the conclusion that you could not change, and even tried. I wish you find love, happiness and acceptance.
And isn´t this the point we are discussing here? That any outcome of therapy is a success? That anybody should have the freedom to pursue therapy in order to try to change or come to accept their gay identity? A change in who we are sexually attracted to is very rare. With or without therapy.
Mike: You are right that these generalizations about people who have same sex attractions are false. You are also right about the despicable political and religious activities some of the persons and organizations you mention are involved in. This is probably the main reason, why the majority of exgays choose to live their life quietly (like the majority of gays and lesbians). They do not want to be associated with the anti-gay political and religious activities these persons and organizations are responsible for. I do not question that some of these are part of the “Anti-gay industry”.
Wayne Besens lies masked as truths and his mission to demean every exgay is however, just as tasteless and despicable. Writing that exgays like myself are fleeing their responsibility by not holding these persons and organizations accountable for their anti-gay politic activities is unfair. I do not support Exodus and its spokespersons, NARTH etc. I would be partly responsible to call these persons on their anti-gay actions if I did support them or were a member of any of these. So Mike are you a member of TWO and fleeing your responsibility to stop the lies spread by “the messenger”??
I am not sure how this thread became about Wayne Besen, but he has caught political ex-gays lying time and again, and has called them liars. I don’t really disagree with him on that.
The other issue that Marcus delves into is the issue of “the choice” to pursue reparative therapy, and that is spot on to this subject. Throckmorton’s SIT guidelines seem designed to present reparative or reorientation therapy as one choice among many for a person who is unhappy with their same sex attractions. The language of ex-gays who are opposing the APA panel looking into reparative therapy is focused on respecting “the choice” of the patient to pursue change.
It seems that a concerted effort is being made to change the focus of the discussion of reparative therapy by trying to hide it by burying it within the larger framework of SIT therapy. I don’t think that the APA will be that gullible, and I don’t think we should either.
As to the issue of choice, people have a right to live their lives however they choose, but I think that it is appropriate to hold mental health professionals to a higher standard. There is no convincing evidence that reparative/reorientation therapy works and psychologists should not be enticing their patients into this course of therapy with promises of success.
I disagree with Peterson that it’s possible to choose your religion. Or, at least that it’s possible to choose whether you actually believe it or not. I don’t think you can force yourself to believe or disbelieve that God is real. Belief is largely involuntary.
I mean of course you can choose to call yourself Christian and go through all the motions without actually believing. So is Peterson suggesting that sincere belief is not necessary to be Christian?
Hugo Schwyzer has a recent post about how “faith is not a choice”
Jasmine, many thanks for pointing out Hugo’s article. I greatly appreciate his perspectives on faith and gender.
I have to disagree highly about faith not being a choice. Yes, unreasoned faith may not be a choice, but then again unreasoned faith is not good (blind faith). Even Christ suggested that there was choice in faith when he asked the rich man to give up his items (or said that one follows him and leaves behind family). Faith is deep, but it is also problematic. What if faith betrays everything that reason presents? People can do very extreme things because of faith (Jamestown Massacre?). There are parts of Protestantism that believe faith in some exists prior to birth–but that would suggest a cruel God since some are saved before birth. As an agnostic, the idea of faith not being a choice is really faulty. Yes, we grow up in families and inherit their faith, but in most cases there is a point where one has to accept that faith and engage in ritual that is purely choice (communion, baptism, etc.). Unlike food, housing, sexuality, etc., faith is not necessary to survival. It may be secondary and help aid survival, but ultimately people choose faith if it is reasoned.
My sister, who is now passed away, was upset that I was not Christian. She did not have a problem with me being gay, just not a Christian. She said, “I don’t know how you can’t believe in God because don’t you want to go to heaven.” For her, reason was useless–choice was made on reward. People can also change faith and religion as if they change clothes.
I agree with Aaron that belief, actually, is voluntary. So is faith. And faith compasses of voluntarily believing in something that is not solidly proven. So there is a choice there. If the faith is a fixation on something that is proven false, it is delusion. It all starts with a choice.
Christians believe in an intangible Christ, though all have not seen or heard from Him. Christians have to bear the consequences if Christ do not exist. Or end up in hell because of the wrong choice of God. Still Christians choose to believe in the Christ. That is faith.
We know our sexual orientation and gender identity is inborn and generic because reality, sciences and our own beings in existence proves it. We are who we are. That is belief.
The fundies lied so many times they have faith in their own lies. To the extent the words of the Bible are selected, distorted, or misinterpreted either intentionally or unintentionally to justify prejudice, intolerance and bigotry. They choose to discriminate truth. That is delusion.
Dave Bennett wrote an article sometime back in reference to the late theologian Paul Tillich:
Yeah, I think both of us are guilty of not trying to put ourselves in the other’s shoes. For what it’s worth, I have met some opposition, with both of my Christian friends and non-Christian friends. Not much, mind you, but enough that I’ve braced myself for whatever might come in the future. My family is rather liberal and I have no idea how they’ll react to my choice to pursue celibacy. I know my brother (who I’ve come out to) thinks I should just go ahead, have a boyfriend, etc. It is one of those weird situations when a kid is more conservative than his family, but I’m dealing with it.
I’m not trying to be straight, so my Christian friends still don’t like when I call myself “gay” (gasp!), and my non-Christian friends don’t really understand the concept of being celibate. It has put me in a variety of odd situations, but I must admit that it has not been so bad. I certainly don’t want to take away from anyone else’s experiences.
Like I said, I’m not really trying to be heterosexual. I was merely saying that the only way I’ll have a girlfriend is if I’m attracted to her first. I’m not going to partner up with the hope that I’ll get attracted. That is just plain wrong.
I’m not “waiting” or looking forward to heterosexual desires, though. I don’t think they are guaranteed or, for that matter, necessary. I completely agree that the church has a long way to go in realizing that not everybody is heterosexual and that being straight is, frankly, not all that.
Also, I certainly hope that I can show people what it’s like to be gay. I mean, I am gay. I don’t hide that fact and I don’t pretend I’m something I’m not. It has cost me, whether you want to believe it or not. Even though I’m celibate, my mannerisms, my voice, the very fact that I refer to myself as a homosexual has cost me. So has the fact that I’m a Christian. I’ve almost lost friends on both sides, and I’ll tell you all about it if you ask. So don’t say that I’m not out there, and that I can’t represent just a facet of what being gay, or being Christian, means.
Thanks, girl. I could use some of your grace, sometimes. You always know how to put things in a more Christ-like tone. I really appreciate you (along with everyone here, I think). Have a blessed day.
This is an extremely belated reply to Warren Throckmorton’s question to me in comment 15 above: “NickC — Please produce my descriptions of how I would counsel individuals that lead you to the conclusion you cited.”
That was in response to my statement, in comment 14: “I don’t think that Warren, by his own description of how he might counsel individual cases, would do much to help a conflicted individual realize that ‘If you DO decide to embrace your homosexual orientation, you can build a healthy, responsible, happy life.’”
I didn’t have a chance to answer Warren at the time, and then was on vacation. Just catching up now. If anyone is still following, I feel Warren does deserve the courtesy of an answer.
I was thinking specifically of a direct question I posed to Warren on his own blog. I asked how he could advise a young person who was still conflicted about his homosexual orientation vs religious beliefs. Would Warren, without steering the client in one direction, affirm to him that if he DID decide to embrace his sexual orientation, that choice could lead to a healthy, productive, happy life? In other words, would Warren provide equal affirmation for either direction?
Warren’s answer was only that he would steer the client to the best available resources to help with his decision. He did not say, and I have not seen a clear statement from him, that he would affirm a decision to embrace a homosexual identity equally with a choice to follow traditional religious precepts.
Perhaps I, as a layman, do not appreciate the constraints upon a therapist to remain neutral while a client reaches his own decision. Perhaps Warren feels he cannot offer any affirmation of either choice, lest he unduly influence his client.
But I feel strongly that in the real-life situation of most people struggling with their sexual identity vs their religious upbringing or beliefs, the one voice missing is a trusted, neutral counselor who can dispel the fear and prejudice surrounding these choices. And that means being able to tell the client that–despite what his worried parents and his minister and his church youth leader may tell him–choosing to live as gay can indeed be a healthy decision rather than a straight path to promiscuity, drug abuse, and eventual damnation.
Not the ONLY healthy decision, mind! But A healthy decision.
Perhaps I am misjudging Warren and his sexual identity therapy, but I am not sure he would give his clients that assurance–clearly and without qualification.