For about the past year, Exodus V.P. Randy Thomas has been slowly transitioning from using the term “ex-gay” to describe himself to the term “post-gay.” He has since taken over the Exodus Blog, and the term “ex-gay” is rarely found. Articles having to do with ex-gay issues are now tagged “post-gay,” and the term has replaced “ex-gay” to describe people who are trying to go from gay to straight – or, at least, less gay. In a recent post on the Exodus blog, Randy takes pride in having adopted a term for himself that is, according to the Huffington Post, “avant-garde.” That’s quite a change from “conservative,” a term used to describe ideology labeled “ex-gay.” But Randy’s “post-gay” and the Huffington Post’s “post-gay” are not the same.
Peter Ould has been using “post-gay” to define his sexual identity for much longer than Randy, and the term as used by them can be defined with the following:
I think the main problem with ex-gay is that it is an ontological statement. It presents, intentionally or not, the one who calls himself as ex-gay as one who’s sexual orientation has changed from gay to straight. He/she is claiming to have gone from one state of being (gay) to another (straight). And while that is the case for many who are ex-gay, for others it isn’t so clear. For some their sexual desires move more towards those of the opposite sex but not to a point where they are exclusively heterosexual in their attractions.
The alternative is “post-gay”. Post-gay isn’t an ontological statement, it’s a vectorial statement. For those uninitiated in the deeper arcane magicks of mathematics, a vector is simply a description of a direction and magnitude. It describes a movement, not a position (which is ontology). Post-gay then is less about being straight or gay and rather about a choice of a journey.
Perhaps a personal example to clarify. I’m post-gay because I chose to leave “gay” behind. I chose to no longer accept “gay” as an explanation of who I was and instead to begin a journey away from it. I chose to do so because I was convinced from the Scriptures that “gay” wasn’t a suitable way to describe myself, that it wasn’t a valid way for a Christian to establish identity.
The term “post-gay” isnt’ new. And it wasn’t created by Christians who were unsuccessful at changing their sexual orientation from gay to straight. It stems from Queer Theory. About.com’s “gay life” portal defines post-gay as:
Term used to describe same-gender-loving individuals that do not identify or associate with mainstream gay culture.
A brief Google search returns mostly results that use the term in this context. The only one that clearly stands out is a result that leads to the Exodus Blog.
Performance artist and gay activist Peterson Toscano has written about the adoption of “post-gay,” referencing Glen Retief, a professor at Susquehanna University:
What [“post-gay”] means is that sexual orientation is no longer seen as important to psychological self-definition, because the equality and legitimacy of same-sex and opposite-sex intimacies, physical and emotional, have become so taken for granted that sexual orientation is not even worth noticing anymore.
The key point is here is that until you let go of heterosexism (not just homophobia), you can try as hard as you like to be “post-gay” but you won’t succeed. Let’s say, for example, same-sex attraction is a temptation to sin, whereas an opposite-sex attraction is not a temptation to sin when it occurs in the context of heterosexual marriage. From this it follows there is no way same-sex desire can be equally valuable to a human being as opposite-sex desire. Let’s be real here: one can be channeled into God’s form of expression, while the other cannot; one may help you fulfil God’s will, the other will never do so, at least not in the same straightforward way.
To sum that up a bit, “post-gay” was coined to refer to an ideology that sees each sexual orientation – homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, and asexual – as being equally valid forms of human expression, and therefor not worth segregating with labels. But Randy, Peter, and Exodus couple the term with an ideology in which same-sex attraction is inferior to opposite-sex attraction, falling short of their Christian Biblical ideal – and in doing so they obliterate that inherent equality.
Rather than “vectoral,” the term “post-gay” is indeed “ontological,” because it describes a nature of being: a way of being in which sexual orientation no longer exists in the context of a hierarchy, as it does with Exodus. Ex-gays – or, at least, people who no longer wish to be considered same-sex attracted – might find “post-gay” appealing because it is used by people who consider “gay” a term that suffocates their human identity. People like Randy don’t want the term “gay” applied to them, and in fact loudly proclaim they are no longer “gay-identified,” but can’t go without using a label because openly identifying as “not gay anymore” (however you choose to express it in words) is too important to their “journey in Christ.”