Journalists and news outlets love the ex-gay story!
Homosexuality! Is there a Cure?
These stories come in cycles especially after someone like Ted Haggard is outed and then placed into gay rehab.
Many journalists are busy people working on multiple stories simultaneously so they don’t always grasp the complexity of the ex-gay story or have the time to dive into the ex-gay/ex-ex-gay worlds. This becomes apparent in the questions they often ask.
Is Change Possible? Can someone change from gay to straight?
Most people on any side of the ex-gay issue who know about the lives of ex-gays and the various ex-gay treatments involved understand that these sort of closed-ended questions fall flat in light of the intricacies we’re talking about here and in particular when we consider the people most directly affected. None of us really became heterosexual. This is evidenced in one of the most challenging dilemmas many of us faced in trying to name ourselves. Even those of us who married people of the opposite sex could not honestly call ourselves straight. As Marvin Bloom used to say say when he was still ex-gay,
I’m a former homosexual. I’m not exactly straight. I’m growing into heterosexuality, slowly.
Another popular question from journalists is,
What is the most outrageous treatment you experienced in an ex-gay program?
This “sexy” question exploits everyone involved. Yes, crazy, outrageous things happen in many ex-gay programs, but by focusing on these wacky practices, we overlook more important issues. One could too easily discount the whole thing and say, “Man, look at those crazy people!” without getting to the heart of the matter or to any useful analysis.(But then again, much of the news is about entertainment and not information.)
As a trained teacher, I know the power of good questions. They can open up a discussion and get people to think in fresh new ways. They can blow away assumptions and deepen understandings. Below I offer a list of new questions journalists can ask about the ex-gay movement. In the comment section, please feel free to add some of your own.
- What does “change” actually look like?
- If it is not really a change from gay to straight, then what were you seeking? What did you hope to achieve?
- Why did you pursue it?
- In addition to a faith struggle, what other factors influenced you?
- What pressures in your life encouraged you to seek change?
- How would your life be different today if you had been straight or if you had miraculously changed to heterosexual?
- What public safety concerns might gay reparative therapy raise?
- If the Bible so strongly influences many people’s decision to alter their sexuality, what other issues in the Bible inspire the same level of commitment that Christians actually go into programs in order to adhere to Biblical standards?
- What are the costs associated with going ex-gay?
- What were the consequences for you and your loved ones?
- What good did you get from your experiences?
- What advice would you give to someone considering going into an ex-gay program?