In his celebration of having “left the gay identity” sixteen years ago, Exodus International Vice President Randy Thomas attempts to define on his blog what that even means. In the comments section, he was challenged by a commenter known as “College Jay” to define what he called the “gay ideology,” which supposedly held him back from achieving a relationship with the Christian God. Here are his comments, uncut:
When I refer to gay ideology… I am not talking about bar culture (even though that is a part of it.) In fact your seeming need to make sure the non-sensational are represented is a non-verbalized expectation of gay ideology to “balance” what is assumed as negative.
I don’t mean gay ideology in purely a negative manner even though I found it to be legalistic and limiting as a whole. I mean I believe it is an ideology that comes with a general worldview of what it means to be “gay.”
There are many lifestyles represented within gay ideology. I do believe there are core beliefs and worldviews associated with the modern context of being “gay.” That would be the basis and reason I use the phrase “gay ideology.”
Upon being challenged further, he provides Webster’s definition:
1. the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group
And then proceeds to make this claim, negating any positive steps he might have made toward true understanding of the gay community:
If there wasn’t a gay ideology, “coming out” would have no meaning as being a shared experience. That’s just one example. There also wouldn’t be any national organizations to represent those who identify as gay. You would have millions of gay individuals and no gay community if there wasn’t an underlying gay ideology at some level.
Randy’s claim that the “need to make sure the non-sensational are represented is a non-verbalized expectation of gay ideology to ‘balance’ what is assumed as negative” ignores the fact that any concerned individual of any background would protest someone who paints their “lifestyle” with a single broad, negative stroke. Many Jews might be rich financiers, but I’m a poor artist. Many Mexican residents in this country are illegal, but there are also many Mexican citizens. Prisons are loaded with African Americans, but one of their own is also running for President, endorsed by another who earned a substantial sum and huge public influence in part thanks to millions of adoring fans.
Of course we want the “normal” gays to be “recognized.” But Randy phrases it in a way that makes it seem as though drug use, promiscuity, and disease are so pervasive among all gays that we are desperate for the “mundane” gays to be acknowledged in attempt to cover up this supposedly glaring flaw. He even still admits he believes this – by saying that bar culture is a “part of [the gay ideology.]” Honestly, I cannot think of a single gay or lesbian friend of mine who considers cruising bars a part of their core beliefs, as a gay person, or otherwise.
In yet another twist, Randy equates being gay with “legalism” and a “limiting” existence, which is one of the reasons he “left.” Ironically, many describe his brand of Christianity with those exact terms. XGW recently posted a book review confronting the very issue of coerced Christian conformity. The gay community, quite to the contrary, is made up of a diverse lot of people. There are religious gays (including Christian gays, Jewish gays, Muslim gays, and Hindu gays), atheist gays, republican gays, pro-life gays, working class gays, highly intelligent gays, mentally ill gays, “straight edge” gays, and alcoholic gays. Some gays support the gay rights political movement. Others distrust it. There is a lively discussion taking place on Box Turtle Bulletin over whether the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay advocacy group in the nation, is doing an effective job advancing gay equality. National organizations for gays aren’t formed because there is a “single ideology on some level.” They are formed because of individuals who collectively want to make a difference – whether they have the approval of their own community or not.
The only “doctrine” I can think of that applies to all same-sex attracted people – every single one – is that we are attracted to the same sex. This is not a political statement or a mission statement. This is a fact about one’s personal life. Coming out “has meaning as a shared experience” because it’s very difficult for many gays to come out by themselves. As a community that shares the same form of love – considered by much of society to be disgusting and deviant – we also all share the burden of facing a hostile reaction. Should a gay teen be kicked out of their house upon coming out to their parents, having friends in the gay community who will aid them in that time of need is tremendously beneficial. And because coming out can be a daunting task for many, celebrating such an experience with others who have done the same can be very comforting. This does not mean that everybody will celebrate in the same way. Not everyone enjoys attending “gay bingo” in the Gayborhood, just like not everyone enjoys eating potato chips. There are gays who despise such “camp” and think it is detrimental to the community as a whole because it feeds stereotype. But others can’t get enough of it and consider it a part of gay heritage.
Randy claims that “millions of gay individuals” cannot exist if there is also a “gay community.” Would the same principal apply to African Americans and Jews? And if the existence of community is proof of a “gay ideology” then does Thomas also believe in a single “African American” ideology? How about a “Jewish” ideology? I can personally attest that the American Jewry is VERY divided and diverse. Communities don’t form simply because individuality ceases to exist. Where people are persecuted, a sense of community often forms as a common defense – in this case a defense against the very attitudes which are fostered by Thomas, Exodus, et al.
As for homosexual “core beliefs,” I can’t think of a single one, not even at the most basic biological level: because not all gay people think it’s okay to engage in homosexual acts. Many gays instead choose to remain celibate for personal reasons.
Maybe Randy Thomas is confusing political affiliation with the desire to live our lives in peace. This is a basic human desire and crosses all boundaries, no matter what one’s particular affiliation may be. It is not unreasonable for two consenting adult men or women to be able to behave as a heterosexual couple would on a date without facing offended vocal opposition. As long as everybody involved minds their own business, there will be no problem.
Addendum: Randy has posted this point-by-point explanation. I have a feeling this is as exact as he’s going to get.