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Henry Kissinger--Before

Actually I do not know if Henry Kissinger in fact did have a boob job. It’s more of an unconfirmed rumor. But it is possible that Henry Kissinger had his boobs done–most likely breast reduction and possibly pec implants.

I guess it is inappropriate to write about the body modifications of a former secretary of state or to speculate about his breasts. Political figures still experience a degree of respect in regards to their bodies, particularly the male politicians who are white.

I remember I was in Spain years ago when Ronald Reagan was president. A photo appeared in El Pais showing President Reagan emerging from the Mediterranean dripping as he lumbered onto the beach. The skin around his middle and chest was all saggy and gathered like cauliflower, and I felt certain I had never seen his body before and equally certain that the same photo did not appear in US papers. So that gets me thinking that Kissinger has definitely put on the pounds the past few years. I wonder if he is considering a change of diet or even gastric bypass surgery with a little tummy tuck.

Henry Kissinger--After (w/ Julia Allison)

Perhaps Kissinger has had botox or even his eyes done. They look stiffer and tighter than I remember them looking a few years back. His lips look thicker too, I think. But this is wrong of me to dig around the skin of a distinguished former public servant (even if he may have committed war crimes.) I know it is disrespectful of me, and I should just let it go and consider other more pressing issues–the on-going saga in Japan, the turbulent and uncertain times in the Arab world, the plight of homeless LGBT youth in our cities.

There is something different about his hairline though, right? It’s different than I had remembered. You see I met Kissinger briefly in the mid-1980’s when I worked in the executive dinning room at the American Express headquarters in New York City. Kissinger along with former President Gerald Ford, both Amex board members, attended a lunch for about 30 people in a private dinning room. Kissinger and Ford sat at the same table. Since I was a Young Rebublican and the youngest waiter on staff, (only 21 and completely adorable) our manager (an aging gay man who more than once told me he thought I was completely adorable)  thought it would be thrilling for me to serve these two Conservative political luminaries.

Henry Kissinger w/ Dolly Parton

I remember Kissinger being fussy about his appetizer. He didn’t want the shrimp–it may be because it was shrimp ,and he is Jewish, or he may be allergic, or perhaps he doesn’t like shrimp, or else he liked messing with me by sending me back to the kitchen with his plate of shrimp and the shocking announcement, “Henry Kissinger doesn’t want shrimp!” The kitchen staff then procured a melon, which I carried back to the former secretary of state. He looked at it, looked at me and annoyed asked, “What is it?” Channeling my mother, who worked in food service for two decades and did not suffer fools lightly, I dryly replied, “It’s a melon, sir. I believe a honeydew although it might be a canary masquerading as a crenshaw.” (OK, I really only just said, “It’s a melon, sir,” but had I been better prepared I would have said more.) I then returned to the kitchen with the rejected melon (which I remember was beautifully garnished with fresh cut strawberries) and announced to the waiting kitchen staff, “Henry Kissinger doesn’t want melon.” The head of catering, a Belgian woman who could have been masquerading as Eva Braun, spat out something in German or Flemish or tongues, and then added, “The hell with Henry Kissinger! Go to the next course.”

I wonder if Henry Kissinger gets waxed. Perhaps between his shoulder blades or maybe his lower back. If he wears a thong (you never know) he might go in for a bikini wax of sorts. Surely he must endure a certain level of manscaping. But why am I obsessing about this public figure’s body? What does it matter? Surely the most important thing is his public record, his intellect, his contributions to the country, his political ideals and philosophy.

Do you think he goes in for a regular colonic? It was the rage a few years ago. Apparently it gives you lots of energy once they clean you out. No! I must stop this insane musing over this man’s body. What business of mine is it? What difference does it make?

Madeline Albrigtht & Hilary Clinton

It’s not like he’s Hilary Clinton or Madeleine Albright or Condoleezza Rice or Sandra Day O’Connor or Nancy Pelosi or former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin or the recently deceased first ever former Vice Presidential Candidate Geraldine Ferraro. They of course have been fair game in the media for discussion about their body parts, their weight, their possible surgeries.  (Al Gore is unique figure. As a male political figure I have heard him discussed in the media because of  his weight swings. He is a known nibbler, not disciplined in his eating. I know this because the I learned about it in the media. They say he has womanly hips.)

Henry Kissinger & Sarah Palin

I guess I’m fixated on Henry Kissinger right now because next month I head to Oslo, Norway and will perform my play I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window! Lessons before the Second Coming. It is a comedy about cancer, misogyny, and hospitality. I have been doing some rewrites and reading about female politicians and apparently their bodies are essential to the public discourse whether straight male pundits considered them to be hot (Sarah Palin & Michelle Obama) or not (most other female politicians.)

But writing about Henry Kissinger and his possible/probably boob job, well, it all seems so silly, unnecessary, and rude.

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Wow, I feel like I woke up into an alternate reality–a mind bending Inception-like film.  Nothing new for me. I am an ex-gay survivor. I spent 17 years in what is known as the Ex-Gay Movement. As a gay teen I falsely believed I would be more valuable to God, the Church, my family, and my country if I were heterosexual–or at least “less gay.”

So I signed up for string of Exodus programs starting in New York City where I attended support groups nearly every Saturday night for three years. (Exodus International is the group who had an Iphone App that Apple removed after a successful petition pointed out that the app was objectionable and violated Apple’s policies.)

Rejected Exodus Iphone AppAt the NYC ex-gay program they tried to cast out gay demons and insisted, “If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a NEW creation! The old is gone. Behold, all things are made new.” Ultimately I spent over $30,000 on three continents pursuing an elusive cure. The treatments differed from program to program, but the message remained the same. In so many words they taught—“Gays (lesbians and the rest) are immoral. You are broken and need to be fixed. You are sick and need to be healed. We will help you.”

What a surprise when yesterday I read the following statement from one of Exodus’ spokespeople:

“In no way shape or form is our message about trying to cure or do we try to promote that type of methodology or message,” Jeff Buchanan, Exodus International’s Senior Director of Church Equipping & Student Ministries, told The Christian Post.

So I turned to a sexpert, Dr. Jallen Rix, co-facilitator of Beyond Ex-Gay and author of the book Ex-Gay No Way: Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse. Jallen, was I caught in the Matrix all those years? Is Jeff Buchanan saying that thousands of ex-gay survivors were dupped into believing something Exodus didn’t actually offer?

Jallen shared with me the words of Sean, a fellow survivor interviewed for Jallen’s book,

Living in an isolated area of the country, I relied heavily on the integrity of my group’s literature to help me decide whether or not to join their ministry. I read their promises of “freedom” and “change” with great hope and decided to move to California to join them. Once there I endured months of painful struggle to deny my sexual orientation with no favorable results, and even more disappointing was the fact that no one, no matter how long they had been there, could look me in the eye and say they had really changed. Only then did I realize that the Ex-gay promises were false. Their literature creates an illusion of freedom that does not exist, and they know it.

Jallen adds,

“Cured,” “healed,” “changed,” “heterosexually challenged,” — There’s no end to the lingo ex-gay leadership coins to infer that homosexuals are damaged goods. They’ll find another term as long as heterosexuality remains supreme. All the while, the leadership ignores the harm it causes in their attempts to enforce their views.

Now perhaps Exodus has a communication problem. I know that some of the folks in the organization struggle over words. For instance, they don’t always know what to call themselves—ex-gay, former homosexuals, post-gay, straightish?

Alan Chambers, the head of Exodus since 2001 particularly struggles to get his point across. In the following clip he wrestles with Montel Williams over the words freedom and liberate. He also insists he doesn’t urge youth into ex-gay treatment (yet his number one goal this year is to reach out to middle school and high school programs)

 

 

Only after 15 years of attending a variety of Exodus-member programs, I finally heard one of their leaders admit that actual change in orientation was not a realistic goal. During my first week at the Love in Action ex-gay residential program in Memphis, TN (what would become a two year stint) the director informed us that we would never be heterosexual. Wait! What about the big fat slogan on their website and brochures–Freedom from Homosexuality through Jesus Christ? Turns out it’s just PR. They have a public message and then a private reality.

Still the staff at Love in Action (LIA) insisted that I was malformed, misshappen, sinful, addicted, unwell and desperately needed to be healed; they had the cure. If I endured their therapeutic  program, walked through their steps, spilled my guts, allowed myself to be humiliated, than just like the heterosexually-married former ex-gays who led the program, I too could experience “change.”

And I did. Sadly not the change they promised. In fact, I wished I had been warned that as a result of demonizing my desires and going to war against my sexuality and personality with the weapons that they supplied, I would change into a confused, depressed, self-hating, and suicidal mess. The “cure” was awful. During my time in LIA one client attempted suicide and another, during a psychotic break, was stuffed into a strait jacket and carried out by the police.

If you read Exodus’ literature, attend their conferences, follow their links to organizations they endorse, and buy the books they sell, you will hear over and over again that “there is hope for the homosexual. Change is possible” and similar messages worded in clever, misleading ways. And when they say Change, they don’t mean two 10’s for a 20. They target gays and lesbians weighed down with the burden of a family that rejects or may reject them, a church that says “come as you are—except queer,” and a legal system that consistently values heterosexuals over anyone else. Ripe for the picking Exodus offers hope, a way out—a cure.

I have no idea which Exodus International Jeff Buchanan works for. Perhaps he should review the About Us section of the Exodus site.

Christ offers a healing alternative to those with homosexual tendencies. Exodus upholds redemption for the homosexual person as the process whereby sin’s power is broken, and the individual is freed to know and experience their true identity, as discovered in Christ and His Church. That process includes the freedom to grow into heterosexuality.

Being an ex-gay survivor myself and personally speaking with over 1,500 fellow survivors, I can say that Buchanan is correct on one point—Exodus has no cure to offer. Instead they issue a curse for those who submit or are forced to submit to their teachings. They offer harm—psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage. They tamper with their clients’ relationships, careers, personal development, and finances. They make a mess of our lives in Jesus’ name.

So what exactly does Exodus do? They now publicly admit that no one changes from gay to straight. They claim they don’t offer a cure. They say they don’t therapize. What services do they provide? Basically they will undermine your sense of self as they reinforce the notion that you are not good enough as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer person. They will demonize your desires, and will not even be satisfied if you choose to be celibate yet insist on honestly calling yourself lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. To add insult to injury they have fought to deny happy homosexuals and transgender people legal rights and protections. They malign LGBTQ people, our relationships, our desires, our dreams, and then they export this message to Uganda, South Africa, Croatia, Singapore, Costa Rica and beyond.Peterson with his partner, Glen Retief

It took me nearly 20 years to understand that Exodus’ vague promise, “Change is Possible” was false and to discover and embrace that Authenticy and Integrity are possible and well worth pursuing.

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Are programs that tell people they need not be gay simply silly, misguided throwbacks? Surely the media has gotten a lot of mileage out of covering the “ex-gay” phenomenon.  It can be a sexy and entertaining story. But the portrayals of the people who run these programs run counter to the aims and ideology behind the treatments they offer. It’s time to see these “ex-gay” programs for what they are–Straight Supremacist groups.

Two leaders of the Ex-Gay Movement, Alan Chambers and Janet Boynes, recently received a sympathetic treatment on Lisa Ling’s Our America episode Pray Away the Gay? And some have asked, “Why not? It was not a ‘hard’ news story, rather a portrait of overlooked Americans on the fringe.” Hmmm, if it were that simple.

Another story getting buzz has to do with an Apple iphone app. A petition (with over 30,000 signatures) demands that Apple must remove an Apple approved app linking people to Exodus International, the world’s largest ex-gay group which for a long time has claimed people can find freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ. Alan Chambers, the man prominently featured in a positive light on the Lisa Ling program, has headed Exodus since 2001.

Why all the fuss? Why not let these folks have their freedom of speech even if what they have to say is wacky, antiquated, and panned by proper medical folks?

In the case of Exodus, here’s why we fuss. For one, we are NOT talking about a freedom of speech issue. Exodus is free to say whatever they want on their blogs and pulpits. No private company like Apple has to use their resources to promote Exodus’ message. Apple has the right to say, no.

Exodus spokespeople  paint themselves in the media as kindly folks who simply want to help those who are unhappy with being gay. They don’t force anyone to do anything against their will. They do not want to interrupt the lives of happy homosexuals who are content with their sexuality or identity. That’s what they say, but that’s not what they mean. They are being wise as serpents and gentle as doves. They are duplicitous.

Exodus is a Straight Supremacist group that believes that heterosexuality, straight marriage, and gender normative behavior are superior to anything lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) people have going on in their lives. At Exodus conferences, in their books, through their many local programs they state that LGBTQ people are inferior to heterosexuals. They say over and over that LGBTQ folks are morally, spiritually, developmentally damaged. Just last week Alan wrote that even celibate gays who still identify as gay “fall short of God’s best.” In fact, he makes it clear that God’s best is for people to be heterosexually partnered, even if they are not heterosexual. They do not seem to consider the needs of a straight person who may well suffersas a result of this union (which is often the case.)

Under Alan Chamber’s leadership of Exodus, the group has made aggressive moves to target young people–in the words anti-gay Christians have often used concerning gays–Exodus has attempted to recruit and convert queer youth to a straight lifestyle. Exodus came under fire in 2005 when their flagship program, Love in Action, began to take teenagers against their will into their youth program, Refuge. A young man by the name of Zack cried out to his friends for help before he was cut off from the world and forced to attend a straight camp.

Under Alan Chamber’s leadership Exodus has taken over the Love One Out conferences, a day long event that assures parents and church youth workers that their queer youth need not stay that way. They offer testimonies of people who claim they have changed, and project photographs of former homosexuals now heterosexually partnered surrounded by spouse and children. They provide false hope and leave out important information–namely that the vast majority of people who attend their programs (70% by Alan Chamber’s own reckoning) find that a straight (or straightish) life is not realistic or healthy to pursue. At Love Won Out they do not mention the psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage many of us experienced as a result of going to war against our sexuality and identity. They do not mention that ever major medical association has denounced reparative therapy and ex-gay treatments saying they do not work and may likely damage those who try them.

And what is Exodus’ big goal for 2011? To reach out to youth in middle school and high school with a message of hope! You don’t have to be bullied for being gay because you can chose the superior identity of being straight. They have a new iphone app in large part to reach out to the younger generation with their straight supremacist message. In essence they say, “The bullies are right. You are a worthless piece of shit, but we can bring value to your life. We can help you leave all that gayness behind and become holy and valuable to the world around you.”

Apple does not find the message of Exodus objectionable. Lisa Ling’s Our America also did not find fault with the message. Perhaps they do not know enough about it. Perhaps they have mostly heard from Exodus which has developed a slick public persona over the years while politically opposing pro-LGBTQ legislation, while trying to eradicate gayness in themselves and the world around them.

Over at Beyond Ex-Gay, the site created by ex-gay survivors, we state,

We believe that ex-gay experiences cause more harm than good. Certain people who currently identify as ex-gay say they are content as such. We don’t seek to invalidate their experience. For us such a lifestyle was not possible or healthy.

If someone like Alan Chambers wants to live a straight life and he is happy with that life, that’s fine. But that he insists that his lifestyle choice is superior to the lives and identities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people is objectionable. Perhaps he has not yet allowed himself to meet happy, well-adjusted queer folks. Once we leave his programs and sort ourselves out, he wants nothing to do with us and his discounts our stories. But ultimately this is not about Alan Chambers or even Exodus, it is about a message that gets sent out by churches that make it clear that queer folks are not allowed at a seat at the table unless they conform to the heterosexual, gender-normative pattern of the world around us. In that light, perhaps some can see Alan Chambers as a victim of a system that in turn transforms him into a victimizer of others. And why would Lisa Ling or Apple want any part of that? Why not call it what it is and stop pretending or ignoring reality.

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And why do I care…

Peterson Toscano protesting Love Won Out

For me the Ex-Gay story is a personal one. I spent 17 years, and over $30,000 on three continents attempting to change and suppress my gay orientation and gender differences. I spent much of that time in Exodus programs including two years at the infamous Love in Action residential facility (gay rehab?) in Memphis, TN. Through the years I have met over 1,500 people who have been through these programs and heard first hand the damage their time in these programs has caused. In 2003 I began to tell my story through comedy in the one-person play, Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, and in 2007 co-founded Beyond Ex-Gay with fellow ex-gay survivor, Christine Bakke. I’m currently writing a memoir about my experiences trying (and failing) to go straight and the many reasons I did it. 

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Audrey Mbugua, a human rights activist in Kenya published a powerful piece that appears at allAfrica.com. In Transgender Rights Not Simply Gay Rights she highlights some of the injustices against many transgender people in various parts of Africa. In the US we understand that local, state, federal government, employees, places of worship, and late night comedy shows have all contributed to the persecution and oppression of transgender people. Audrey Mbugua in writing about recent events in Africa, points out the irony (and well known fact amongst transgender and transsexual people) that some of the perpetrators of the injustices are gays, gay rights activists, and the media. She gives the following recent example:

Tiwonge & Steven

(W)e all recall the arrest and trial of Auntie Tiwonge and her boyfriend Steven in Malawi that sparked condemnation from local and international human rights fora. Despite the evident transgender status of Tiwo, these activists humiliated her over and over again for them to perpetuate the gay agenda in Africa. Instead of these activists taking the opportunity to educate others about the transgender concept and challenge the lack of laws that cater for people who are changing sex, they branded her and her boyfriend as male homosexuals. It’s only after their release that some gay activist made token noise that Tiwonge is indeed transgender, but the damage had already been done.

In her piece Audrey provides specific examples that have appeared in the press, that while intending to educate people about transgender issues and people, actually serve to misinform and potentially worsen their plight.

And let’s consider the ever-ridiculous habit of the images that LGBT organisations use to depict transgender people. What happens is they use a picture of a person busy applying a tonne of make-up and a wig. Then this person has to have features that are meant to say ‘it’s a man putting on make-up’, or a picture of a person with a very hairy torso and in a dress. This results in the world believing that transgender people are female impersonators, pretending to be women and going late at night to get unsuspecting straight men to sleep with them. They get accused of the crime of deception, which results in hostility and violence against transgender people.

The article is a must read for folks who wish to be transgender allies and for anyone involved with organizations and movements that tag a T onto the end of the LGB. While there is some overlap in some issues LGBT people face, non-trans folks like me need to educate ourselves, listen to the criticism, educate more, and listen more. As Zack Ford and I discussed in our most recent episode of Queer and Queerer (Trans Allies Gone Wild!) allies often get it wrong and need to be open to criticism. Good activism always comes out of good relationships.

More and more information is being shared by all kinds of transgender, genderqueer, transsexual, gender non-conforming folks through through blogs, YouTube videos, (my new favorite channel is HaydenShyBoi) news stories, memoirs, Twitter feeds, and more. Now with access to the Internet no one needs to be ill-informed.

I am grateful for the many trans folks who have taken part in studies and surveys about their experiences. I know it can be time consuming, but so vital in the work of getting funding and awareness about specific trans issues. I know of a new survey being done by a friend of mine at Smith College. She is looking for trans people over 18 who live in the USA to fill out an on-line survey regards health care and treatment. You can find the study here.

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Freshly back from Creating Change and AWP, Zack and Peterson are energized to be advocates and writers. This week’s episode focuses on a roundup of news related to the transgender community, including unfunny sketches on Craig Ferguson and SNL, hate crimes, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell/trans people, and a big new study that reveals “Injustice at Every Turn” for the trans community. We also share our experiences from our conferences and, of course, an erotic poem!

The Queer and Queerer Podcast!


Listen to this week’s program

or Download it on iTunes (see link below oh and also rate us if you do that whole iTunes thing)

Here’s some more information about what we talked about this week:

» This week’s erotic poem: “Song for a Lakota Woman” by Chrystos (Listen to Chrystos read it.)

» Chris Geitner’s report on Craig Ferguson and SNL

» Murders of transgender people in Honduras

» Sentencing of Ashley Santiago’s Murderer

» Autumn Sandeen speaks out about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

» The Task Force and NCTE Study: Injustice at Every Turn

»I Too by Langston Hughes

» Peterson’s Post about the Trans-Inclusive Commercial from Argentina

» Robyn Ochs!

» Peterson’s Schedule

» The Trans-Ponder Podcast!

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The feed has the 25 most recent episodes; the rest are archived on this page.

If you use a different podcatcher, the Queer and Queerer raw feed can be found here.The feed has the 25 most recent episodes; the rest are archived on this page.
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I don’t often get heated in media appearances, but when faced with the outrageous, one needs to express outrage. Last night I appeared as one of several guests on Wellness for the REAL World with Dr. Veronica Anderson, an Internet program on Blog Talk Radio. It aired live, and is available on demand here. The topic? When a Straight Couple finds out One is Gay. Here’s the show description:

Former Forbes Magazine writer Kiri Blakeley, author of Can’t Think Straight: A Memoir of Mixed-Up Love, drolly details the emotional fallout after her fiancée announced he was gay. Not wanting to deceive her any longer after a 10-year relationship, he tearfully admitted he’d been questioning his sexuality for the past two years. Dr. Veronica discusses the stages of her emotional journey, and other guests share their own stories when a straight couple discovers one partner is gay. Do they inevitably split? Or do some decide love really does conquer all, and they stay together despite a need for separate sex lives? Other guests include Bonnie Kaye, host of BTR’s Straight Wives, Peterson Toscano, who spent 17 years and $30,000 trying to become straight, and Arthur Goldberg, who runs a service that helps gays become straight.

Kiri Blakeley talked about her 10 year relationship with a man who ultimately came out gay. Bonnie Kaye, who discovered her husband was gay, has also written about that experience. On the show Bonnie spoke pointed out the unnecessary pain and suffering many couples face because of an unworkable marriage pressed on them by homophobia and the imbalanced value society places on heterosexual marriage. Similar to my own story, Joseph Knudson also shared about living as a gay man in a straight relationship.

Arthur Goldberg, co-director of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) and a supporter of other anti-gay* groups like People Can Change, also appeared. And this is when I felt outrage. Goldberg was a last minute addition to the program. The producer told me that they wanted to get all sides of the story. That may sound reasonable particularly if the topic is a political issue with opposing opinions, but in the case of gay-to-straight conversion, having guests who represent “both sides of the issue” creates a false dichotomy as if we are looking at two equal sides of an issues.  In this case the sides are reason and madnesshealth and harmsound medical practice versus quakery performed by unlicensed and untrained religiously motivated bigots.

Imagine this scenario. A local school has been rocked with an epidemic of drug abuse resulting in the hospitalization of students because of unknown dangerous chemicals added to the drugs. Parents suffer as their children live at risk of exposure to drug dealers selling a potentially life-threatening substance. A local TV chat program decides to air an episode to highlight the issue. They bring in parents, children directly affected, and a teacher. Then to show all sides of the issue–they also bring on one of the drug dealers to talk about how happy his customers are with his product and allude to studies that suggest that his drugs help people. I don’t think so. For the health and well being of the community and the listeners, a drug dealer selling dangerously laced drugs does not get a public platform to push his junk.

See this is not about “airing all sides.” It is about responsible and accurate reporting. Theories and treatments that suggest it is wrong to be gay and that some sort of “cure” is possible put people at risk of real harm. As the program last night highlighted, one of the risks comes to straight people, particularly women, who marry gay men trying to be straight. The harms to bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and gender non-conforming individuals are great. For this reason the American Psychological Association and ever major medical association have denounced ex-gay treatments.

Arthur Goldberg

After hearing Kiri, Bonnie, and me speak about the real suffering we experienced, the devastating situations we endured, Arthur Goldberg made no reference to any of it. He simply launched into a string of misinformation about supposed studies that prove “thousands of people” have changed their sexual orientation. To add insult to injury, one of the co-hosts asked Goldberg to share in greater detail his faulty theories and practices. After which Arthur Goldberg disingenuously tried to convince the hosts (and perhaps himself) that he was not anti-gay, that he took a neutral stance on the issue all the while explaining that gays are gay because of emotional misshaping.

Broken by ex-gay survivor Jason T. Ingram

Exodus International, the large anti-gay organization just put out a video commercial advertising their Love One Out conference, an event that serves to reinforce the harmful notion to parents and pastors that it is wrong to be gay (or bi, lesbian, or trans) and that gay people can and should change. As Evan Hurst has pointed out, the Exodus ad offers up images of sad homosexuals looking forlorn and tragic. The message they attempt to portray is that being gay sucks. But juxtaposed to the sad queers  they display images of happy homosexuals like Neil Patrick Harris with his partner and their children, and out and proud gay Christian singer Ray Boltz. Exodus undermines its own message. In fact, the message they are inadvertently communicating is that being ex-gay sucks. Trying to suppress your gay side, living to please others, engaging in an inauthentic life filled with self-loathing and violence towards one’s desires result in pain and suffering.

Like Arthur Goldberg in last night’s program, Exodus and its leader, Alan Chambers, have never directly addressed the suffering of the majority of their former clients who experienced harm at the hands of ex-gay ministers and reparative therapists. Even by Exodus’ own rosy estimation, at least 70% of people who go through the doors of their ministries come out gay. The treatment fails.

But what happens to these people? Does Exodus know? Do they care? They do know because we have communicated to them directly and on-line (see Beyond Ex-Gay) about the devastating results of  their “care.” Former Exodus leaders have publicly renounced the work of Exodus and offered apologies.

Renewed by Jason T. Ingram

Many of us have suffered for years needing expensive therapy to undo the faulty treatment we received at the hands of misinformed ministers and counselors. Wasted years, wasted dollars, lost opportunities. Most of us have worked through the pain and confusion and ultimately came out and reclaimed our lives. But it takes work and sadly there are also many casualties that experience the negative psychological, emotional, and spiritual affects of Chamber’s and Goldberg’s teaching for the rest of their lives. With work, proper care, and a willingness to embrace reality, we grow healthy, well-adjusted, and yes, happy–content in being authentic.

Dr. Veronica Anderson and her co-host, Russell Cook failed by bringing Arthur Goldberg onto a program ironically called, Wellness for the REAL World. Fortunately the other guest spoke with clarity, knowledge, and truth. I guess one might say that by hearing the madness of Arthur Goldberg, listeners will only get more convinced that ex-gay treatment is a bad idea. Perhaps, but Goldberg, like Chambers and other dishonest propagandists for the anti-gay religious movement, expertly weave in falsehoods into every sentence. They have been proven unreliable witnesses who do not deserve invitations to public platforms. They have their blogs and conferences to share their message to those with itching ears to hear it. I say leave the rest of us out of it.

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*  “anti-gay” because ex-gay is a misnomer. Really groups like Exodus, JONAH, NARTH, Living Waters, etc seek to annihilate gayness in individuals and in some cases in society by supporting anti-gay legislation. As someone who lived 17 years in that “ex-gay” world and in religious groups that feared gay rights, I understand that the basis of much of the ex-gay theories and practices are really anti-gay.

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I have returned safely home from South Africa (see photos below!) only to find that I was a busy boy on-line while away.  In addition to a video interview, I at last appeared on the Flatus Show for a two part interview.

The Flatus Show!

In Part One Kentie and I chat about my sordid Christian Fundamentalist past and the ex-gay movement including the often unseen reasons why I tried to de-gay myself. Anyone who tells you that they went gay for Jesus is full of shit. I also reveal my sudden flight from Zambia after messing around with guys when I was a missionary. Sodom, Abs,  Focus on the Faggot, tops, bottoms, and so much more. Have a listen here or download from iTunes.

In Part Two I discuss transgender Bible characters, and the complicated feelings I felt (and feel) towards my former wife. Marvin Bloom makes a cameo appearance and trashes me and Kentie. Discover Marvin’s back story and wild gay past. He also dishes about romance with his partner who is a transgender man.  You can listen here or download on iTunes.

Speaking of Marvin, he appears in a video interview conducted by Robin Hankins for Just as I Am. In classic Marvin fashion he sounds crazy, says some profound things, then insults the host. Gay man or creepy gnome? Marvin reveals all. Check him out.

Robin then interviews me via video about my ex-gay past, Beyond Ex-Gay, my performance work. South Africa, and a bunch of other stuff about faith and queer identity. Watch it here.

Apparently South Africa is Gayer than Hollywood, well, at least that is the conclusion Zack Ford and I come to in our most recent Queer and Queerer podcast.

This week we discuss the public perception of LGBT people nationally and globally and particularly in the media. There are a ton of links below that inform our conversation, so check them all out, and of course, enjoy this week’s erotic poem!

Check it out here.

And now some photos from South Africa

Beach Goats. Seals?

Smirking at Cape Point

Mdumbi Village, Transkei Wild Coast

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