Archive for March, 2011

Civil Discourse: is it Dead?

Posted in LGBT Issues and Stuff, Uncategorized on March 21, 2011 by scottsteaux63

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace have broadened the field of discourse to an entirely new dimension.  Total strangers can become online “friends” simply through finding similar interests or views.  But it is amazing how quickly it can turn ugly.

One of my Facebook friends, a man I thought of as a true gentleman, a real Christian, and had grown quite fond of, posted something yesterday evening asking “Where is the outrage over Obama’s war?”  I posted as reasonably as I could, saying that while I didn’t like it any more than he did, it didn’t seem as if we had any choice in the matter.

His response startled me.  He went on the attack, accusing President Obama of being another George W Bush and a lot of other choice phrases meant to inflame despite their lack of substance.  I replied that I was not about to put Obama and Bush into the same category, and he and another person whom I did not know but was on his Friends List went after me for that statement.

I was going to leave it alone, because I really had no desire to create tension between myself and this man that I really liked, but I don’t like being attacked for my opinions, and I find being ganged up on for them intolerable.

So I posted one last time on the thread, stating simply that it would be my final word on the subject, that I did not agree with him on this issue, that it was not written in stone that friends have to agree on everything, and that I was hurt and offended by the way I was attacked and ganged up on for a simple statement of opinion.

If his earlier response surprised me, his next one shocked me.  I guess he took the line that the best defense is a good offense, because turned the caps lock on and accused me loudly of accusing him falsely of disrespect.  And as if that were not bad enough, he took the opportunity to once again voice his opinion on the Libya situation, as if  the three previous times he had done so were not sufficient to make his views clear.

So I told him that I was finished with him and that all his claims to be a good Christian were belied by the fact that he could not even bring himself to apologize for hurting my feelings, and I removed him from my Friends List and blocked him.

I have a friend of more than thirty years’ standing who has been a Republican all his life, though a decidedly moderate one, and needless to say we don’t agree on a lot of things.  But we have been close friends since childhood, and some things are stronger than differences over things like politics.

I’m afraid this morning finds me a bit depressed.  I have blocked plenty of people on Facebook without a second thought; one of the nice things about it is that you do not have to stand for abuse, harassment, or even irritation.  But last night’s debacle hurt.  I did not expect the reaction I got from a man whom I had come to consider a real friend.

Is this what we’ve come to?  What ever happened to agreeing to disagree?  Why have so many people become so intent on being right that they are willing to sacrifice friendships, relationships, and love for it?  Is this something new, or have we always been this way, and the Information Age has simply brought it to light?

Either way, I sure don’t like it much.

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ONE NATION UNDER GOD: The REAL Story Behind the “Ex-Gay” Movement

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2011 by scottsteaux63

A few days ago, I posted a long and rather angry review of the Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Pray the Gay Away?” segment of their Our America news magazine, a show which despite its claims to journalistic open-mindedness gave far too much air time to the “ex-gay” movement and barely a quarter of the hour to a Gay Christian camp for kids called the Naming Project.  In fact, the show in general, and the host Lisa Ling in particular, treated Exodus and its current president Alan Chambers with such deference that the end result made it look like living authentically and living  a lie were equally viable alternatives.

A petition was posted on Facebook to get the Oprah Winfrey Network to pull the show (a little late, perhaps, but we do what we can), and I signed it and posted it on my own Facebook page.  To my surprise, some of my straight friends didn’t understand why I was so worked up about this thing.  I directed them to my original review of the piece, and now I direct them to a true exposé of the “ex-gay” movement, a documentary from 1993 called ONE NATION UNDER GOD, directed by Teodoro Maniaci and Francine Rzeznick.

I first came across this film when it aired on the PBS program P.O.V. in, I think it was June of 1994. At the time I was thirty-one years old and had been out since the age of nineteen, but I had never heard of the “ex-gay” movement. So when I saw the coming attractions, I sat down to watch. Needless to say I was horrified.

The historical information, such as the persecution of LGBT persons in Nazi Germany and the mostly negative attitudes in the postwar years, I already knew about. But somehow the existence of this “ministry” that professed to “change” gay persons into straight persons had escaped my notice.

That being said, this is a very involving movie for a documentary. It has lots of drama, and in spots it is downright scary, as when that one man says, and I quote: “God hates homosexuals, and so do Christians.” Completely untrue, of course, but imagine being a gay kid of, say, fourteen, wondering how to cope with his or her feelings, hearing a message like that, particularly if the kid also happens to be a Christian.

It has moments of comedy as well. When the film finally gets around to interviewing Sy Rogers, who was at the time the president of Exodus, it gets positively campy. Rogers is so feminine that the whole thing literally becomes surreal. Put him in a dress and he would have been more convincing as a woman than he was as a man. And when they got into the business of “changing behaviors” — encouraging men to play football, and teaching butch women about hair and makeup, my partner and I fairly howled with laughter.

There is a lot in this little, hour-and-twenty-six-minute film; it swings from campy comedy to human tragedy (when one of the founders of Love in Action described how he was forced to end his long-term relationship with his partner I wept). And whether you’ve been victimized by them, or you’ve never heard of them, ONE NATION UNDER GOD tells the truth about the “ex-gay” movement in a way that no other work I have ever come across does. A must see.

“Pray the Gay Away?” Shame on You, Oprah.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2011 by scottsteaux63

Last Tuesday, the newly-created Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) broadcast a segment of their “news” program Our America entitled “Pray the Gay Away?”  It purported to ask, and by implication perhaps answer, the question, “Can a person be Gay and Christian?”  I can describe this program in two simple words:  EPIC FAIL.

Where to begin. I don’t know anything about Lisa Ling’s alleged journalistic credentials, but obviously objective reportage is either something that she never learned or simply was not the purpose of the show. The simple facts:

1) Forty minutes of the hour were spent on Alan Chambers, Exodus, Janet Boyne and her so-called “success story” Christian, who was still as gay as the month of May even though she got him to stop doing drag. As for Chambers’s “marriage,” it is best not spoken of. And Michael Bussee’s segment was much too short; if you blinked, you would have missed him completely.  Michael Bussee, for those who may not know the name, was one of the original co-founders of Exodus; after trying to live as a heterosexual man and even marrying and fathering a child, in the end he fell in love with one of his male Exodus co-workers, Gary Cooper,  and they ended up leaving Exodus, celebrating a commitment ceremony in 1979, and were together until Cooper’s death from AIDS in 1993.  Their story can be found in the excellent documentary ONE NATION UNDER GOD (1993), directed by Teodoro Maniaci and Francine Rzeznik.

2) Twenty minutes were devoted to the Naming Project, a summer camp for kids who want to live as Christian and Gay.  We did not get to know the kids very well because of the rush job on this segment; basically all we learned was that it was a summer camp for kids who are Christian and Gay.

3) Lisa Ling repeatedly and offensively used the word “lifestyle;” on the live follow-up segment with Gayle King she attempted, unsuccessfully, to weasel out of it by claiming that she only used the word because Chambers did.

4) The follow-up show was not much better; if Oprah insists upon giving her BFF Gayle King her own talk show she could at least teach her how to host one. Plus, Janet Boyne appeared YET AGAIN on the follow-up show, as if we had not had enough of this obnoxious woman.  I tried several times to call in but could not get through; I wanted to tell Boyne directly, “Lady, you’re a DYKE!  DEAL!!!”

5) No probing questions were asked of anyone in the “ex-gay” movement; the whole thing was so low-key that, whatever their intention may have been, they succeeded only in making the “ex-gay” movement look like a viable alternative.  While she danced around the question, Ling never actually came out and asked about their (nonexistent) “success rate.”  Only on the follow-up show did they have a doctor who stated flatly that “reparative therapy” is nothing but, to quote her directly, “quackery.”

Shame on Lisa Ling for lousy reporting. Shame on Gayle King for not being able to handle a call-in show.  King promised a caller on hold before the final commercial break that they would get to her, and never did.  And shame on Oprah Winfrey for showing such pap on her own network.  There was a time when Oprah used to ask the hard questions.  Not any more.  Or maybe she actually believes what this show suggests.

All I can say is this:  If it were possible to “pray the Gay away,” there would not be a single gay person in the world today.  OWN took a ridiculous premise and not only did nothing to expose the truth, they actually helped promote “reparative therapy,” and I find that reprehensible.