Saturday, October 19, 2013

On becoming ex-straight

By Frank Moraes


I saw over on Crooks & Liars today that the anti-LGBT activist Peter LaBarbera was pushing the alleged success stories of ex-gay people in the media. His idea is that since Fox News has been so good about distorting demographics by highlighting the few black Republicans, the network should do the same for the ex-gays.

Let's think about that for a minute. I can well imagine why Fox News might have a problem with it. As a people, we aren't too comfortable with sexual vagaries. So even acknowledging that people get confused sexually is likely to turn off the average viewer who is in his 70s. But there is the other aspect of this, which is that almost no one really believes that sexual orientation is something that people decide. I think everyone's experience is like mine: when I reached puberty, I started noticing girls. If I had been gay, it would have been boys. There wouldn't have been a decision. So people introduced to the concept of ex-gay generally think that the people involved are really mixed up or they are simply lying to themselves.

For me, this is kind of personal, but I think most people, if they are honest, will understand if not identify. You can ask my many and varied wives and girlfriends and they will all confirm that I do not have a very great sex drive. But my sexual orientation is pretty strongly heterosexual. Still, I can imagine the effect it would have on me if I lived in a world that told me since I was a kid that heterosexuality was wrong. Or if I were told that God himself hated the fact that I had sex with girls and would torture me to the end of the time for doing it. In that situation, I would be an excellent subject for anti-straight therapy.


And look how great it would work if they put me together with some guy who also liked girls but didn't have a particularly strong sex drive. A night of mutual masturbation, some cuddling while watching a movie, and we'd be home free. We wouldn't be gay, really. We'd just have managed to stifle our sex drives and focus on the other aspects of our lives. And that, I think, is how it works with those successful ex-gay folks. It is common for ex-gay men to hook up with ex-lesbians. What's up with that? God forbid an ex-lesbian would hook up with a man who had a strong sex drive!

So my guess is that the successful ex-gays are a collection of people who have been really warped by religion and other social mores. But they've got to be people who either have weak sex drives or who are bisexual and can choose to just go one way or the other. What it most definitely is not is a bunch of people who have strong homosexual drives learning to have strong heterosexual drives. And what that means is that the movement does not "cure" the people they ought to care the most about. In that same article, Tea Party leader Rick Scarborough said that "homosexuality much more likely leads to AIDS than smoking leads to cancer." If that's the case, you'd want to go "cure" the most intense of the gays.

It reminds me of Prohibition. A lot of people have noted that making alcohol illegal really did reduce drinking. The problem is that it most reduced drinking among those who didn't have a problem! So they take these poor men away and make them play football and slap each other on the back. And they take these poor women away and, I don't know, force them to pretend they aren't capable. And all they manage to do is get some bisexual woman to settle down with an effeminate man. Brilliant!

The whole thing is so sad from the perspective of those who are driven into such ex-gay therapy. The truth is that sex is a strange thing that our society ill prepares us for. And people have all kinds of sexual tastes and when those aren't the rather narrow socially acceptable tastes, it has to be difficult. But the other side of it is pure evil. These are people who take the weaknesses of others and exploit them. They are the modern con artist and it makes it even worse that they do it for God.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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