Homophobia with a Happy Face

Article excerpt

I recently heard Lon Mabon, head of the Oregon Citizens Alliance, being interviewed on National Public Radio. As I listened, I remembered reading an article that told of an "ex-gay" group Mabon had helped launch to bring homosexuals out of their "lifestyle."

So-called ex-gay ministries are a perverse phenomenon. They are a by-product of anti-gay outfits, such as Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition and the Oregon Citizens Alliance. To obscure the vile rhetoric that calls for abolishing the homosexual "menace," these groups have created spinoffs to convert gays to heterosexuality under the pretext of loving them so much they want to save them from their sick and sinful ways. The "ex" in ex-gay undoubtedly stands for exterminate.

Most perturbing about the ex-gay movement is its hypocrisy. One of the biggest pieces of propaganda promulgated by the anti-gay movement is that gay people, who do not create families in conventional ways, must "convert" straight people to keep their membership up. Yet it is heterosexual people who try to convert lesbians and gays into being straight, or at least into pretending to be. All American children are socialized in their homes, schools, and places of worship to engage in an opposite-sex lifestyle. Everyone in this country is encouraged through all forms of media to lust after, date and marry a member of the opposite sex and produce children. Where this indoctrination fails, ex-gay organizations like Exodus International attempt to co-opt the ones who got away.

Compulsory heterosexuality cannot and does not work because some people just aren't heterosexual. You can put whiskers on a dog, but you don't have a cat. In a new book, "Coming Out of Homosexuality," Bob Davies, head of Exodus International, concedes the futility of trying to alter a person's sexual orientation. Undaunted, Exodus, like all ex-gay groups, insists that happiness lies in separating sexual orientation from its natural, healthy expression. The ranks of ex-gay organizations are full of heterosexual impersonators. If you're lesbian or gay and you join such an outfit, you won't change who you are, you'll just get affirmation for pretending to be someone else.

Even if it were possible to transform gay people into straight people, I'm dubious about how useful that would be. The nations of the world just finished converging on Cairo to determine how to keep the heterosexual "menace" from overbreeding humankind to the point of extinction. Do we really need more of the heterosexual "lifestyle"?

In any case, as with all debates, it is possible to find personal testimony to support both sides of an argument. Most ex-gay groups try to marry their gay male converts to their lesbian converts, thus establishing relationships that are difficult to get out of and ones that depend on the constant supervision of the group to remain intact.

Some gays claim happiness in this arrangement. …