Thursday, December 9, 2010

Undercover At A Gay Conversion Camp



There's a switch inside every gay man, that can set this man straight.   However it's kind of rusty, and it takes years of fasting and prayer to loosen it up, and even then, it gets stuck.  But the problem isn't the switch, it's just that gay men just aren't trying hard enough!   At least that's what groups like Exodus International tell people when their members aren't straight enough, at least that's what they told me.

While many gay men have experienced ex-gay conversion therapy and some have lived to tell about it, how many straight guys do you know undergo therapy to cure their homosexuality?   In a brilliant attempt to expose both the uselessness as well as the danger of ex-gay programs, Ted Cox, a writer from Sacramento, also a heterosexual man, went undercover posing as a gay man, and signed up for Journey Into Manhood, a program designed to change gays into straights, by use of quasi-psychology, attempted spirituality, and a whole lot of Kool-Aid.

I'm not sure exactly why such a story is more interesting than, let's say, your average gay dude doing the same thing, I think it hits me on a few levels:

1.  The fact that a straight man cares enough about the well being of gay men.  I mean, this is huge.  Whenever someone decides they're going to be in solidarity with someone, or someones that they are not, it just humbles me, and touches my heart, and reminds me of all the good that exists in the world. He willfully put himself in someone else's shoes, shoes that, while fashionable, fit way too tight, and walked in them for several days.   So much so that he would undergo a journey into the unknown, one where he ended up feeling a man's erection for the first time.  For real.
Sometime during all that holding and touching and singing, while I was cradled in the Motorcycle position, I felt it: the unmistakable bulge pressing through his tight jeans. It was the first time in my life I had a felt another man’s erection.
I attended an ex-gay group in Los Angeles many years ago, at the recommendation of a Coptic priest, and this sort of thing happened all the time.  In fact, more seasoned members saw me as "new meat" in retrospect, and told me that I desired affection more than sex, so we should cuddle and spoon with each other so we can train ourselves to receive intimacy without having to be sexual.   Granted, heavy crushes ensued, and plenty of physical reactions and salutes, and while I never engaged in anything sexual with these men, the lines were very blurry, and at the end of the day, we were behaving as boyfriends on an emotional level, while leaving sex out of it, creating some real internal conflicts.  Jealousy, attachment, dependency, it all existed in this group.    I found myself almost in love with another member, and just hating myself for feeling something I shouldn't have been feeling, especially when I was doing things that was supposed to make me less gay.    But how can you spend nights in the arms of someone, without growing romantically attached to them?  It's just so contrary to who we are designed as people. Oy vey!  Luckily that didn't last too long.

2.  The so-called "reasons" why men end up being gay become somewhat debunked when the author realizes his story is not so different from the other guys in the program, except, he's not gay!
Dad and I haven’t spoken much in the 10 years since I left the Mormon church; in fact, I haven’t heard from him at all in three years. And yet, despite being raised by an abusive, spiritually castrated father, I have a strong preference for women.
This was a big one for me.   Yes, we had problems at home, but these issues very much affected me growing up.  These were issues I did not even want to remember, until ex-gay experiences brought them back up, resurfaced them, and they were a tool in explaining why I was feeling same-sex attraction (SSA).    I mean it made perfect sense.  And it made perfect sense that once these wounds were healed, so would my attractions to men.    And these wounds started healing as I sought reconciliation with my parents, especially my father.   However, I remained gay.    Then there were guys in the ministry who had the perfect childhoods, who were still gay.  And then there were my straight friends who had equally jacked up childhood experiences as I had, and were very much attracted to women.   Maybe NARTH needs to get their facts straight!

But let me emphasize something.   The Orthodox church can look at this, and say, well that's all mumbo jumbo, and these programs are clearly deficient and doing more harm than good, but what about will power?   Unfortunately the church teaches that even being attracted to men is a sin.  A sin that plagued me since I was a little boy.  That's a story for another time, back to Ex-Gay Undercover!


Also what Ted sees, is a group of men, who are sincerely wounded, who are sincerely looking for help and for healing in their lives.   One cannot help but feel bad for the recruits, and disdain for the leaders.

While I have made peace with the fact I spent many years trying to fix myself, and many years being faithful to something that ended up harming me, I wish those years had not happened. I'm left thousands of dollars poorer, and with emotional baggage that I am still working through at times.   But again, I feel lucky.  Lucky to be alive, and lucky to be loved.

Ted, I salute you.   Read the full article here on Good Men Project

1 comment:

  1. Fr. Thomas Hopko also ascribes to the idea that homosexual attractions may be an, involuntary sin. The idea that sin is involuntary is of dispute in many Orthodox circles. If sin is the abuse of free will, then how exactly is it possibly to sin, even against one's own free will?

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