Core Issues director Mike Davidson told The Daily Telegraph he believes being gay is a “normal developmental aberration,” and explained what he really means when he says he’s ex-gay.
“We don’t consider it a disease,” he told the paper. He later added: “I see homosexuality as a normal developmental aberration. Which I know would sound profoundly disrespectful to some people, but that is how I have experienced it.”
Core Issues is the UK group that, with Anglican Mainstream, planned an advertising campaign on London transport, featuring the slogan “Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get used to it!” Boris Johnson, London’s Conservative mayor, pulled the ads, saying they were offensive in a city known for its tolerance and diversity. Davidson and his allies are now planning legal action on grounds of both human rights and breach of contract.
In Saturday’s Telegraph interview, Davidson said he married and had a child while struggling with homosexual feelings. He had his first physical gay contact with a professor at Bible college, where he was training for ordination to Christian ministry. When he moved to the UK with his family in 1999, he began seeking out other gay men and again “acted out on those feelings.” His wife and son were devastated when they discovered his secret life.
Bizarrely, Davidson maintains that he and his wife have “had a fulfilled marriage in every sense of the word,” and appears to blame his relapse on the pressures of moving from South Africa to the UK so quickly. Yet his account of what followed does not sound like an account of an entirely fulfilled marriage.
He goes on to speculate, indirectly, whether another life crisis might trigger a relapse. He later says he could “probably” turn round and walk back. His way of depicting his “sexual orientation change” is revealing:
It may well be true that I could live such a life, but my choice, Cole [the journalist], is in another direction. … The gay community will say I am a repressed gay, that there is no real change here, it is just about behaviour modification. My experience has been that the more the behaviour has been modified, the more I don’t connect with that part of me that once was much more prevalent. … I feel I am far, far away from where I was.
What his words reveal is familiar. For all the simplistic soundbites about being healed, becoming ex-gay, leaving homosexuality or experiencing a sexual orientation change, when you pin down ex-gays on what they mean by change, it’s clear they’re not talking about a fundamental shift in orientation as the average person understands sexual orientation. The attractions are still there; the ex-gay has just chosen to view them differently and behave differently.
What also becomes clear is that, like so many prominent ex-gays, Davidson’s story is one of destructive gay behaviour. And blame for the consequences appears to be put squarely on homosexuality as a general state rather than simply one person’s bad choices. Interviewer Cole Moreton gets that it goes far beyond the mere fact of Davidson’s gayness:
Surely it isn’t homosexuality per se that he has had to deal with, as much as a series of painful, damaging experiences to do with secrecy and shame? How can he make the leap from there to urging people to turn away from faithful same-sex love, something he has never experienced?
Davidson gives a PC response to this, saying that monogamous gays should have “the freedom, the space, the respect and the value to do that.” This doesn’t flow with Core Issues’ rhetoric about homosexuality, however, or its decision to buddy up with the viciously homophobic Anglican Mainstream.
“Try not to paint me as naive,” Davidson tells Moreton. Sadly, he’s either naive or, for all his outer gentleness, just as homophobic as his allies.