david_pickup.jpgGay bloggers recently had a field day with ex-gay counsellor David Pickup’s “Increasing Manhood” video, one even speculating whether it was a spoof, in the vein of Donnie Davies.

Unfortunately, Pickup (right) and his campaign to undermine the masculinity of gays — while supposedly helping them to jayson_graves.jpgdiscover their true manhood — are very much for real. Pickup is a member of the “therapeutic team” at Healing for the Soul, the ex-gay ministry of Jayson Graves (left). And who is Jayson Graves? Well, he is a lot of things but what surprises us most is that he is also a board member of Exodus International.

It is not hard to discern the ex-gay genre into which Pickup fits. He is Training Coordinator for an LA chapter of the controversial Mankind Project (New Warriors in Training), and his own Workout program is similarly testosterone-fuelled, leaning heavily on the work of NARTH’s Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.

To get a sense of Pickup’s philosophy of homosexuality and masculinity, one need look no further than this personal ad he placed on Bodybuilding.com in 2000. These things have a tendency to disappear off the Web, so I reprint it here in full, with comments:

My name is David. Let’s get the stats out of the way. I’m 6’2′, 240, 49c, 34w, 18a, all-around big muscular man. I’m 44, and look about 35. Yep, I’m in great shape.

As we’ll see, this kind of detail is apparently key to Pickup’s perception of masculinity. He denies there’s anything homoerotic about this. It’s just something gay men (and, frankly, most straight men) can’t understand without turning it into something sexual — in his opinion.

Now the important stuff. In MY personal experience, I’ve realized I don’t need the sex thing with other men. I need the identifying, affectionate, affirming thing. I now know getting sex from men who especially are big, muscular and masculine was my subconcious attempt to get back what I lost from my father and peers while growing up…the male bond that is close, intimate, affectionate, challenging, tough, and affirming of masculinity. I got a kind of sexual intimacy with other men before, but I feel I had to sacrifice my own sense of masculinity,(being so “into other guys” bodies. I was never as complete a man as these guys.) After sex, the feeling of masculinity I got from other men would never remain permanent within myself. I realized the issue was not sex, it was coming into my own self as a real man…a real body that felt, smelt, looked masculine, and was integrated into my true self. You can’t get this by borrowing it from other men through sex. Manhood is an acheivment that I never graduated to INSIDE where it counts the most.

I still need and long to be with men, especially those who I admire for their physical acheivement and independent attitude. But I get the permanent benefit into myself when the relationship is one that is “iron sharpening iron”, the MUTUAL male bond. The full-on gay guys who go the sex route do not understand this because they haven’t felt what its like to have this kind of bond with another guy, and because they in reality are detached from masculinity because it never hooks up INSIDE their own bodies/spirits,(something our fathers and peers should have helped us to aquire). Gay men can’t conceive of the possiblity of two full grown men who are strong of body, mind and heart who love each other and acheive this kind of intimate bond.

Sure, sometimes I’m still tempted to turn intimacy into a sexual thing, but then I realize all I want is to BOND with another guy who is similar to me, who will help me gain my birthright as a fellow man. When I get that, I feel whole, loved, connected to myself and to my strong brother. I don’t need sex then. In fact, it side-tracks me.

Having said all this incredible stuff which I think not many men out there will believe, I would very much like to hear from guys who want to talk about this, and who are interested in developing a relationship like the one I’ve described above. If you’re gay or straight, that’s fine. Treat this as an experiment. Have you got the balls to really talk about this? In the spirit of this, I’ll tell you, I don’t yet have enough of these experiences with other guys who can go there with me, and I’m tired of wasting time. Thus this ad.

If you message back or email me at [email address removed], I’ll tell you more about who I am. Yeah, I’ll even send the obligatory pic, and it would be cool if you would do the same.

Favorite quote, “The greatest thing you’ll ever know is just to love, and be loved in return.” -song.

Isn’t there something unhealthy about this need for affection from “masculine” men in order to feel secure in his own masculinity? Pickup admits explicitly that (as a no-longer-homosexual man) he needed a body that “felt, smelt, looked masculine,” and that he is now interested in non-sexual relationships with men whose “physical achievements” he admires. While he says it is the “full-on gays” who have a problem being or feeling masculine, who really sounds insecure in his masculinity here? If to be truly masculine I felt the need to be muscley and smell of sweat and hang around with other guys who are muscley and smell of sweat, I’d start looking a little deeper, and not paper over the cracks by surrounding myself with good-looking men to make me feel better about myself.

Jayson Graves is apparently happy to have David Pickup and the odd philosophy he represents on his team — and Exodus is happy to have Graves serving as a board member. We asked Exodus President Alan Chambers about this. He declined to give his own view on Graves, but did confirm that of Exodus’s 16 board members, Graves was not among the nine personally appointed by Chambers. Graves was voted onto the board by Exodus member ministries.

In the past, we’ve seen Chambers attempt to distance himself, and by extension Exodus, from those on the fringes of the ex-gay movement, and here on XGW we’ve been vocal about those we consider beyond the pale, even by Exodus standards. We have never known Chambers to have qualms in being selective about who he shares a platform with, yet he appeared content to join Jayson Graves in defending the ex-gay movement on Fox last year. Listen to Graves as he waffles his way around the host’s attempt to pin him down on the actual content of his therapy:

In the interview, Graves denied being a “conversion therapist,” but went on to say, “I’m just a person who helps people through therapy. But I’ve also walked this road myself. So I’m a person who’s come out of these same gender attractions,” which surely amounts to the same thing. Despite earlier that year having denied that “change” could be “complete,” Chambers too boldly declared, “I used to be a gay man and I’m not today” (available in the full interview).

Why does Chambers disavow promises of “change,” only to revert to such wishy-washy rhetoric and tolerate it from his Exodus colleague, Graves? Alan, is it not an embarrassment to Exodus to be associated with Pickup’s hyper-macho brand of ex-gayism? Alan, does Exodus endorse Graves’s Healing for the Soul counseling practice? With regular signals and promises of a new direction for Exodus, why are embarrassments like this continuing to surface?

Hat Tip: Good As You (video clip)

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