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    You’re not the kind that needs to tell me / About the birds and the bees

    I think that a lot of what Joe Kort says in his latest post at Ex-Gay Watch makes sense. I’m not so sure about this segment, though:

    I believe that most people involved with ex-gay organizations and choose to deny their own homosexuality are turtles [that is, people who duck for cover and minimize themselves when they feel insecure].

    Really? The average ex-gay autobiography I’ve read tends to go something like this: “One morning, after years of drinking, taking drugs, and alternately working as a hustler and being dumped by my latest exploitative boyfriend, I woke up for the hundredth time in a pool of my own vomit and realized my problem was that…homosexuality is sinful!” I’m not the first to notice this, but it’s hard not to read prominent ex-gays’ detailed accounts of their past lives without sensing a kind of thrill and reverse-braggadocio underneath: “I was such a bad mo-fo it took God to straighten me out!” It allows those with loudmouth tendencies to stay loudmouthed in the role of Getting the Message out. (That doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re sincere, by the way.)

    And at the same time, it seems only fair to mention the flip side: I think a lot of the more militant gays haven’t worked through their God issues. By this I mean that they avoid the process of confronting the possibility that the anti-gay religious folks are correct, which would lead to practicing homosexuality only once they were secure in the examined belief that it was the right path for them. Normally, I try not to speculate about what’s going on inside people’s heads, but I can think of no other explanation for the weird touchiness and reflexive dismissiveness of a lot of gays when the subject of religion or transcendence comes up. I wish people (on either side) didn’t feel the need to make themselves feel better about their own choices by deriding those who make the opposite ones, but that problem is probably as old as civilization and doesn’t seem to show any signs of abating.

    11 Responses to “You’re not the kind that needs to tell me / About the birds and the bees”

    1. Mrs. du Toit says:

      Jefferson’s quote, “It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.”
      Essentially, the author states that deciding for oneself that they are not who they thought they were, works only in one direction (ie, from straight to gay).
      He should be careful pronouncing those who choose the other direction as turtles, lest give weight and credibility to those who see the direction as a one way street.
      If we concede the point that “people change” or have a path of self-discovery unique to themselves, then we must also concede that whatever choice or direction people choose (forward or backward, depending on your point of view) is equally valid.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, Connie, I don’t know that he meant to say it was invalid, exactly. I didn’t put this in my post, but sometimes when I read these guys’ (the ex-gays’) stories, my reaction is, You believe in God, and that he doesn’t want you to practice homosexuality–fine. It’s a free country, and I agree that wisest path is the one that keeps you out of trouble. But, honey, can you just for *one second* acknowledge that the problem with your previous life might have been that you were an ALL-AROUND LOSER WHO WAS TOO IMMATURE TO HANDLE LIFE, and not just that you were gay?! Aside from that point, yeah, I’m with you. We all get our three-score and ten to figure out what’s what, and at some point we all need to acknowledge that different people will reach different answers on the non-falsifiable stuff. And that people change.

    3. Mrs. du Toit says:

      Switching teams isn’t going to make you a better player?

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      I’m not sure what you mean, if you’re not joking around. But to interpret that straightforwardly, I don’t think switching from the team you were meant to play in just because other people want to see you on another one makes you a better player, no.

    5. Mrs. du Toit says:

      It makes no difference. It someone is happier being something else (whether it is what they “really” are or not), it’s my business. If they believe they will get something they want by doing something else, then they’ve made the bargain (with all the associated trade offs) that suits them best.
      If what people are after is “acceptance” they aren’t going to find that superficially, no matter what team they play on. If they cannot handle the responsibilities or temptations of life, changing the temptations won’t decrease their attraction. If, however, they want to be a member of a group that requires a certain code of conduct or behavior, and they’re willing to accept that as a consequence and live it, then more power to ’em.
      “If I ever go looking again for my heart’s desire, I’ll never go looking beyond my own backyard. Because if I don’t find it there, I never lost it to begin with.”

    6. Mrs. du Toit says:

      should have been, NOT MY business.

    7. Sean Kinsell says:

      This won’t come as a shock, but I agree with you. That’s why I was focusing on the ex-gays who see outreach as their goal and act as if homosexuality were a one-way ticket to certain misery. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest that people choose religious beliefs over their sexuality. And, actually, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that they want to make themselves and their message available to people they think need their help.
      It does bother me that they misrepresent gay life by acting as if all of us had lives that are as pathetic as theirs were. I haven’t always been a Boy Scout, but I can pretty honestly say that I was never in danger of becoming an abused, effed-up junkie. If people such as me can have the honesty not to go tarring every ex-gay as a sell-out, it seems to me that ex-gays can have the honesty not to act as if every homosexual ended up in the gutter.

    8. Mrs. du Toit says:

      I don’t think this is a gay issue, as you say. You might not have directly said that, but I think that’s the take away message.
      There are people who are addicted to all sorts of bad behavior and decide to reform themselves. Sex wasn’t about romance, bonding, or attraction, as much as it was filling a void, getting attention, or just sexual stress relief.
      I don’t think these types of folks ever were gay to begin with–they were just living a life on the edge where they increased their jolly enhancement by “living on the fringes.”
      There are just as many straight people who are attacked for reforming when they do the same kind of thing. They once lived like minks where any partner will do, no matter the gender. When these people decide that their bodies aren’t to be treated this way and it creates a death spiral of unhappiness, they’re just as quickly attacked by libertines still on the treadmill to self destruction. If someone “reforms” it makes those who haven’t look bad.
      But I think this is a lot like ex smokers. As we all know, there is nothing more irritating than an ex-smoker who tries to convince you that their way is the BEST WAY.
      As you say, some folks were never on the same path and don’t like the comparisons. A very valid point.
      I’m reminded of the Christian Ad Campaign that involved putting up billboards that said, “I found it!” A few weeks later a Jewish group put up a billboard in response, “We never lost it.”

    9. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, smoking’s a different story altogether. I mean, do you have any idea what those things do to you? Just think–if you quit today, your lungs would be back in shape by….
      [points at imaginary bird and runs]
      Of course, I’m joking. I sometimes want to take up cigarettes just to give some of those busybodies the kind of stroke they’re always predicting for smokers. There seems to be an anti-whole milk brigade out, too, to judge from some of the comments I’ve gotten while innocently ordering my latte on recent trips home.
      You’re right that that was my overall point. People make their own trade-offs, and those who are genuinely unhappy and asking for help cannot be wishfully lumped in with those who are simply prioritizing things in a way one doesn’t like. (All other things being equal, of course–I’m not factoring in children or marriage vows.)

    10. Eric Scheie says:

      A right to do a thing presupposes a right not to do it.
      While I disagree philosophically with the idea that one must “be” one sexuality or another (and define himself that way), if someone wants to “change” his sexual preference it is not my business. But likewise, it isn’t his business what I might do. So, the need that some of the “ex-gays” have to convert people who are not seeking conversion can be annoying. But to treat that annoyance as some sort of malevolent hate crime displays massive insecurity.
      If a group of gay people ran around calling themselves “ex-straights” they’d be considered little more than a comedy routine. Hmmmmmm….
      Looks like someone beat me to that idea!
      Nice post, Sean. (And some very thoughtful comments by an old favorite, Mrs. du Toit.)

    11. Sean Kinsell says:

      Thanks, Eric. BTW, Amritas pointed to a Deroy Murdock article from a few years ago that asked the same kinds of questions from a slightly different angle. I didn’t get around to linking it yesterday (sorry, A!), but it makes a nice complement to your TX A&M link.