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    Once a queen, always a queen, says Welfare Queen

    So that remark by John Stossel in the last week or so has drawn the predictable response (via the Washington Blade):

    Promoting his new book “Myths, Lies & Downright Stupidity,” Mr. Stossel said: “There are these groups like Exodus International that says, ‘We can fix you. If you just pray, if you turn your life over to Jesus, we can make you straight.’ And I’ve talked to lots of people who supposedly were cured, and they were not.”

    “John Stossel’s assertion that homosexuals cannot change is an affront to the thousands of individuals, like me, who have experienced it,” said Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International.

    Mr. Chambers, who describes himself as a former homosexual, called Mr. Stossel’s remarks a “mischaracterization of our views and oversimplification of this issue.”

    Well, there are plenty of affronts to go around, there, Mr. Chambers. Plenty of us gays aren’t too happy about having it implied that our lives are about promiscuity, addiction, and bitchy exploitation.

    At Ex-Gay Watch, Mike Airhart has a fuller transcript of Stossel’s remarks, which are more carefully qualified than the soundbyte above would make them appear. Also at XGW, Daniel Gonzales has a post that indicates why it’s so difficult to take ex-gay advocates at their word on the efficacy of their programs. Melissa Fryear, who apparently spoke at a Love Won Out conference, defended her assertion that thousands of men and women have overcome homosexuality as follows [excerpted, of course]:

    One, organizations like Exodus International have been in existence for several decades. Currently, for example, there are over 125 member ministries throughout the world. Each of these individual ministries have participants ranging in number of a dozen to hundreds. Given the longevity of Exodus and its breadth of referral ministries, again, thousands of men and women have participated and overcome their struggle with homosexuality.

    In addition to Christian organizations, secular organizations and secular therapists such as Masters and Johnson and the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) have also been working for decades with thousands of men and women seeking to overcome their same-sex attraction. The therapists and clinicians associated with NARTH alone, for example, have seen over 1,000 clients since its inception.

    Finally, while you and/or your readers may not hold to a biblical worldview, as Christians our biblical witness of former homosexuals dates back to the first century. 1 Corinthians 6:11 states, “And such were some of you…” referencing men and women who once lived homosexually. Needless to say, in the millennia following, many have followed in those same footsteps.

    An XGW commenter named Joe Brummer responds with a point that should be obvious to anyone with so much as a modicum of understanding of statistics (about halfway down the thread): “She states in her email how she came up with the numbers, but then explains only how people have signed on to the programs. While millions of people sign on to weight watchers, a much smaller number stick with the program and actually succeed. I see this as the same.” Exactly. Plenty of organizations exist long-term without being able to offer strong evidence, let alone proof, that they’re helping people to achieve their aims. Zen Buddhism has been trying to help people attain enlightenment for far longer than Exodus has been around, but I’m guessing that Fryear would not take that as an indication that it’s actually doing so (even if its adherents claim to be satisfied with the results).

    And that last paragraph has to be one of the most astonishing displays of disingenuous PR-maneuvering I’ve ever seen…and remember, darlings, I follow Japanese politics. Who on Earth would listen to a statement that “thousands of people have made that decision [to leave the practice of homosexuality]” and assume that it included everyone in the last two millennia? There is simply no way to take that as a good-faith statement made in the expectation that its auditors would understand what was being omitted. If we’re going to be consistent in our math and it’s just a few thousand people since AD 1 we’re talking about, that’s a handful a year worldwide. Not exactly encouraging (assuming your idea of “encouraging” is the possibility that you can leave homosexuality behind).

    And yes, I know: Gay activists massage statistics all the time, too. It’s just as wrong when they do it. My point is that this quackery is bad no matter who does it, and it frustrates the search for the truth. As things stand now, no one appears to have reliable data. The figures that are offered always rely on testimonials, which are notoriously unreliable when used by themselves.

    To judge from the commentators whose tone suggests the lowest level of axe-grinding, it’s at least possible for a tiny percentage of highly-motivated people to change their behavior long-term. Whether that’s just a behavioral adaptation or an actual change in sexual orientation as experienced by the subject is probably impossible to prove. And perhaps it doesn’t matter much to those who succeed in learning to function as heterosexuals if their goal is getting behavior that they consider sinful or sick under control. But it matters if “reparative” therapists and ex-gay support programs are going to make flat statements of the “Change is possible” variety. I’m not much moved by arguments predicated on the idea that selling people false hope is okay if it’s for a worthy cause.

    3 Responses to “Once a queen, always a queen, says Welfare Queen”

    1. Alan says:

      It’s really sad that some people feel they actually have to change wholely to be okay with themselves. It can’t be healthy and I don’t see how their lives could possibly result in anything other than hurt.

      But, it is their life. I think, given enough time, the culture that allows for the kind of niche filled by these orientation-peddlers will no longer be necessary.

    2. Gay Orbit says:

      A Re-Post

      And a link to a post Sean wrote on Wednesday.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      That’s exactly my take, Alan. I don’t know that the you-can-change types will ever entirely disappear–homosexuality is against the doctrine of too many religions for that. But certainly the comfy assumption that you can change your sexuality if you just kind of give it the old college try is not getting any more credible.

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