Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Play Me a Tiny Violin, Part II

So, I was reading through some of the friend of the court briefs in the California marriage equality case and I came across the following argument put forth by the group "Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH)," "Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (P-FOX)," and "Evergreen International:"

"Ruling that gays and lesbians are an immutable oppressed class unnecessarily stigmatizes the small minority of Californians who have changed their self-understanding of their orientation."

[...Pause while I'm mulling that over...]

To me, that sorta just looks like a fancy-shmancy way of saying that if the California court holds that being gay is an unchangeable characteristic, ex-gays might think that maybe deep down they are still a little bit gay. Or that maybe, just maybe, the court would arrive at a conclusion that ex-gayness does not really exist.

Such an outcome, of course, would be disastrous to the ex-gay industry.

How does "JONAH" and company "prove" their argument? By providing a single testimonial of one man who writes about how his religion helped him not be gay anymore.


I'm sorry, but I have trouble feeling sympathy for those who voluntarily participate in a movement whose fundamental thesis is that being gay is something "wrong" that needs to be changed. So, if JONAH wants to talk about "stigma," let's talk about how the ex-gay industry stigmatizes all gay people because they use testimonies of some "ex-gays" to make implications about all gay people. If some people "can change," the arguments goes, then all gay people can change. And further, it's some sort of "moral failure" if those of us who do not want to or cannot change do not change. Right? In other words, the ex-gay industry's premises are that gay people are unnatural, diseased, and immoral. Now that is stigma. Forgive me for failing to conjure up sympathy for ex-gays who are part of a movement to stigmatize me.

Weapon of Mass Projection much?

And let's also talk about how the entire ex-gay movement is nothing but quackery that has been discredited and disavowed by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and 10 other mainstream medical, health, and mental health organizations because homosexuality is not a disorder, "reparative therapy" often does more harm than good, and because such "therapy" is unproven and unscientific.

And from a strategical standpoint, in the context of an environment that (wrongly, I believe) makes the immutability of gayness a necessary condition for the receipt of equal rights, to make the argument that "the immutability of sexual orientation oppresses ex-gays" sort of prevents gay people from advocating for equal rights.

What a convenient Catch-22. Gay people only deserve equal rights if gayness is immutable. If gay people argue that gayness is immutable and advocate for equal rights on that basis, they are oppressing ex-gays. If they don't advocate for equal rights, they won't get equal rights.

It is for that reason that I think the ex-gay industry won't be satisfied until we're all living in a cookie-cutter world where gay people no longer exist, or if they do we shut up about it and live quietly in sin.

Oh yeah... one more thing. Disregarding for a moment what the professional organizations say about ex-gay "therapy," my own personal thought is this: If you have to try so fuckin' hard not to be gay that you need workshops, treatment, and counseling to get over it, girl, you're probably always going to be a little bit gay.

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