Listen through to Sam Brinton’s part of the interview (you’ll spot him with his red mohawk) to hear his story of being forced into conversion therapy as an adolescent where he endured electrocution therapy and other aversion therapy (ice, burns, etc.) Sam is my hero!
Anyone who knows anything about me knows I was part of a radical, extreme church for a while, and that, as a result, I am not part of any church now. I’m still healing, and part of that healing process involves researching for and writing several books that have to to with extreme religion.
Today I came across this video of a fiery pastor who asks why religious people feel the need to condemn homosexuality and same sex marriage. See the video here – it’s pretty amazing. At one point, he gets too real for his own congregation, but that’s why I love him so.
He challenges ignorance. He challenges fear. He asks why straight folk feel the need to oppress GBLT couples. It’s great stuff. Just fabulous. This guy is lucid, and rational, and he moved my soul. Thank you, pastor. Thank you.
My heart has been bleeding about this topic lately. I can’t help but to echo this pastor’s sentiments. Why, oh WHY do straight people feel the need to stop gay people from getting married? Why do they feel the need to condemn a form of sex just because they don’t enjoy it, or they don’t understand it? Why do people feel the need to condemn people who are unlike themselves?
Deeper than this, why do so many people feel the need to suppress sexuality in general? What is so scary about sex that people throughout history have felt the need to control what their people do? Why is sex so scary that people feel the need to control – not only what they do, but what other people do?
These are the questions that run through my head as I write out the story of a man I recently interviewed. His name is Gabe, and his story has moved my heart so very deeply. When I work on his story, I can hear his voice cracking as he cried, telling me how he had done his best to get straight. He’d tried so hard to be someone he wasn’t. He’d spent years of his life and thousands of dollars desperately trying to be someone he wasn’t.
God created Gabe gay. And yet, Gabe tried for years to be something he wasn’t – to please the very Being who created him to be who he is.
I believe God loves us as we are. Just as I love my children (and I am fallible) just the way they are, God loves us now. There is nothing we can (or should) do differently.
Like I said earlier, I’m no longer religious. I’m not even sure what I believe doctrine-wise. Is God a God? A Goddess? A genderless Creator? A nameless being? I don’t know. But I do believe this with all my heart: I believe that God is loving and accepting, and I believe in spreading that love and acceptance as far and wide as I can.
Peace to all. Spread love, not hate.
Today I spent time at the Charlotte Pride Festival with my daughter, Arianna. As you’d expect, we saw lots of inspiring people standing up for love, tolerance, acceptance and progress.
Ari and I had a great time, cheering on groups and talking about the wonderful people I get to interview this week for my work-in-progress.
The protesters were there, of course…
I love living in the South… except for the religious condemnation, such as this…
But at least there were some clever people there to lighten things up a bit.
I find myself amazed that so many religions condemn homosexual activity. I firmly believe that any god who created someone gay, bi or transgendered would love that person just the way he/she created that person to be! I also believe that creator would celebrate each and every one of his or her creations living out what love relationships came naturally to that person.
Which is, of course, one of the main reasons I am working on my book. I hope to open minds within the religious community that currently condemns, suppresses and oppresses.
There were a lot of inspiring people marching and volunteering today, but my favorite group was this one:
These people were enthusiastically chanting something like:
“No papers, no fear
A bunch of queers are marching here!
Unashamed! Unashamed! Unashamed!”
I didn’t actually know there was a particular or unusual challenge for gay undocumented immigrants before researching it today (Click here and here and here to learn more about the specific challenges gay undocumented immigrants have faced), but I loved several things about this group in particular:
Their enthusiasm – unbridled.
Their joy – contagious.
Their message: UNASHAMED.
To me, that’s what this whole movement is about. The right to live your life, as you are, who you are, completely unashamed. Proud of being straight, gay, bi, or transgendered. Able to live freely, with pride, with dignity, with respect. Free from condemnation or fear.
Why Would Anyone Try Conversion Therapy?
As I’ve been performing research for my book on sexual orientation change efforts, I’ve followed the work of Dr. Jallen Rix, sexologist and author of Ex-Gay No Way.
Dr. Rix and his colleagues surveyed men and women who have engaged in conversion therapy.
This blog post explores the answers to the following question (as presented on the Conversion Therapy Survey):
What were the reasons (the motivations) you tried to follow an ex-gay path?
Many people, both gay and straight, are baffled by the concept that people would actually pay money to go to therapy to change their sexual orientation.
This question explores the “why” behind the choice to try to change a person’s orientation.
The Conversion Therapy Survey Answers
415 people answered this question on Dr. Rix’s survey.
When asked why they tried conversion therapy (in other words, why they tried to change their sexual orientation through therapy), people gave the following responses:
- Over 300 people believed God wanted them to change their orientation from gay to straight
- Just under 300 people believed they would be condemned (by God) if they did not successfully change their orientation
- Just under 300 people reported societal pressure to conform to heterosexuality
- Just under 250 people reported fear of losing friends and family
- Just over 200 believed they were “sexual deviants” and such deviation from the norm was morally wrong
- Just about 225 reported feeling self hatred for being gay
- Approximately 100 reported they didn’t think there was any other option but to try to change
You can read the actual responses here.
Why This Conversion Therapy Survey Matters to Me
I’ve been working on a book about ex-gay ministry experiences, motivated initially by the story of a dear friend of mine who denied his sexual orientation for over 30 years before coming out.
It’s important to understand why people would be willing to spend thousands of dollars and years of their lives trying to suppress or change their sexual orientation from gay to straight. Once we understand why people feel pressured to do this, we can provide the support needed to alleviate that pressure.
Thank you, Dr. Rix, for conducting this survey and posting the results online! May this result in positive change!