Randy Thomas has clarified his personal “change” yet again.
Because “ex-gay” organizations like Exodus International (of which Randy is the Vice President) have been closely publicly scrutinized in the last few years, their public facade has changed considerably. For one thing, they no longer loudly tout the idea of changing from homosexual to heterosexual. Since it has been revealed both by their own studies and by ex-gay program survivors that people can’t just flip a sexual switch through years (sometimes decades) of prayer and therapy, the complexities of sexuality have been grudgingly acknowledged to justify the notion of “change” in program leaders. The stubborn persistence of same-sex attraction in Exodus’ leaders and participants has even been acknowledged, largely shifting the focus from altering innate attractions to making it about the “journey of obedience to G-d.” The innateness of attraction has even been somewhat acknowledged, blaming its existence on the “fall of man” – saying we’re all sinners fighting temptation; be it adultery, slandering others, lying, or becoming romantically involved with members of the same sex.
In response to a question about how he has “changed,” Randy begins with this reply:
For me it has led to a celibate life (so far) but many do move on toward healthy heterosexuality and marriage. I also don’t see it as “conversion” but more of a journey.
When asked about praying the gay away, Randy responds with this:
My prayer has rarely, if ever, been for God to change me into a heterosexual (even though my sexual attractions have changed incrementally over time … even with temptations.) My prayer has always been for Him to help me be content to live an obedient and joyful life regardless of what circumstances and feelings arise.
So far, everything that Randy says is reasonable for a person who has religious objections to acting upon same-sex attractions. Nothing quoted would be a direct objection to the “Side B” way of life. But then things take a bit of a turn:
That’s why the whole false social construct of gay vs. straight fails everyone with same sex attractions. It keeps some locked in simplistic easy out answers and others without definition. That’s why I reject the labels gay, ex-gay or straight and have pursued a post-gay journey for over sixteen years now.
Randy once DID embrace the “straight” label (this quote is in response to Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen):
…I am not straight today because I listened to some silly tape (as Wayne Besen suggests…)
Randy is correct, “gay vs. straight” is a social construct – but it is also not one that the greater LGBTQ community adheres to. For one thing, it ignores the existence of “B” – bisexual persons. It also ignores the concept of “Q” or “queer,” commonly used by people who feel that L, G, and B labels are too constricting. The LGBTQ community isn’t a group of “gays,” it is made up of a variety of people who are sexual minorities; including people who don’t conform to any dichotomy, whether it’s related to sexuality or gender definition.
Equally telling is this next quote, in which Randy rejects the term “lifestyle” but defends the validity of his own definition:
I think when most people say “lifestyle” they are picking up on an underlying gay ideology that tries to force people with same sex attraction into the false dissonance of having to choose between “coming out” as gay or remain “closeted.” The way this manifests is different for each person but the ideology imposed is the same. I don’t like the word lifestyle either because it is meaningless nowadays. But I firmly believe there is a basic gay ideology that forces people to believe they either publicly identify as gay or they are ignorant, selfish and self-loathing.
Saying there is no gay “lifestyle” (there isn’t) but then turning around and declaring that all gays adhere to a certain “ideology” negates the previous statement. And nobody in the LGBTQ community is demanding that people either “identify as gay” or be considered our enemy. Rather, we ask for sexual honesty. And once again, Randy’s assertion totally ignores the community’s inclusion of persons who consider themselves sexually flexible and/or refuse to adhere to a label.
Randy’s final statement could, ironically, be applied to any “Side B” person:
…I don’t have to “change” my sexual attractions in order to be reconciled and obedient (not act on those attractions) to God. I also don’t need to force myself into a self-imposed restriction of what God may bring into my life.
If only people like Randy could embody this statement by taking an apolitical, “live and let live” attitude instead of trying to force others to adhere to his “false dissonance” of forcing people to either be “with” the Exodus ideology or “against” it.