Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 31 March, 1997

SEXUAL "RECRUITING" AND THE "EX-GAY" MOVEMENT

Sauce for the Gander



By Franklin E. Kameny

 

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Franklin Kameny spearheaded the new militancy in the gay movement....Militants adopted an ideology based on equal rights for minorities, engaged in direct action techniques of protest, and affirmed the propriety of homosexuals and lesbians leading their own struggle for justice. Their confidence and determination won for the movement and for gay women and men generally a visability that their predecessors had failed to achieve.

John D'Emilio, historian and author of Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States (1940-1970) (University of Chicago Press)

________________________________________________________________________ Organizations such as PFOX, Exodus, Transformation, Regeneration, and other groups of supposed Ex-Gays, who held a conference in Washington recently (Blade, March 7, 1997) seem to be unaware of the ramifications, implications, and consequences of what they are doing. Those can lead into directions not at all to their liking. Unfortunately, our own community also seems unaware of those ramifications, and of the opportunities being afforded to us thereby, and which we should be seizing.

Basically, what they are doing is recruiting homosexuals into heterosexuality (and the word recruiting provides the keynote and theme for this essay). But recruiting is a two-way road and a double-edged sword. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If, openly and overtly and with impunity, they can attempt to recruit us into heterosexuality--and that is exactly what they are trying to do---then, in effect, they have given us carte blanche to try to recruit them into homosexuality, with EQUAL impunity and openness, and they can have no valid objections when we do. Tit for tat! They have liberated us!!

Over the decades, the gay community, and the gay movement particularly, have become hypersensitive to the point of paranoia about allegations that we are recruiting heterosexuals into homosexuality, and we have often overreacted with defensive, cautionary caveats, for example, that "We are not promoting homosexuality." Anita Bryant used the recruitment accusation against us with some effectiveness, in 1977. That hyper-sensitivity has been particularly acute with respect to younger people, with the result that, years back, gay organizations excluded minors, and even currently are overly-cautious in their interactions with younger gays. Any effort to present homosexuality in a positive light, or, in fact, in other than a harshly negative light, to younger people, invariably provokes accusations from the nutty fundamentalists that we are trying to recruit, which accusations our community has tended not only to deny (truthfully) but from which they have tended to flee as in terror, engaging in much harmful overcompensation. We need no longer do so! We can now promote homosexuality to our heart's content, to everyone, young and old!

As reported in the Blade, Anthony Falzarano, of Transformation and PFOX stated that they are going to commence a program of "preventive homosexuality". Obviously we should be commencing an "in your face" program, of preventive heterosexuality, or, short of that, certainly, greatly stepping up and enlarging existing programs of preventive homophobia. In particular, he claims that they will be going into schools with their message. It is crucial that we monitor that effort extremely closely and match their every action with one of our own. Obviously if they can go into the schools, then we have sound legal "equal protection" bases for also going in on a precisely identical basis. If necessary, that should be established and defended by an aggressive program of litigation. If they merely demonstrate or otherwise propagandize in front of schools, we should do the same, with a strong, unambiguous Gay Is Good message.

Factually, of course, it is obvious that the entire issue is illusory. Homosexuality and heterosexuality can neither be prevented nor created. They simply are, to be discovered from within by the individual, or to emerge as his or her life progresses. We gays are perfectly willing to live with that fact, and with the consequent cordial co-existence of both gays and non-gays in a nation, a society and a culture which belongs to us both equally. Unfortunately our adversaries on the religious right, being moral fascists, who insist that we all march in lockstep to the tune of a single moral drummer, refuse to tolerate such diversity. Sexual orientation is immutable, and recruitment in either direction is impossible. (This is certainly true for males; there is some, significant, still-soft indication that female sexuality may be somewhat more flexible and malleable in some instances). This immutability is exemplified by two of their own icons. In the same issue of the Blade, in its On the Air column we read that Dan Puumala, the allegedly "ex" Gay director of the Minneapolis group which presented a recruitment commercial during the Elizabeth Taylor birthday celebration said that, after nine years of trying to change, "I'm still not cured yet." He never will be! Similarly, Michael Johnston, one of their featured public performers recently admitted on a radio program, that after years of supposed conversion to heterosexuality, he still feels homosexual desires and expects that he always will. So all that has been achieved by these people is a profound rejection and denial of what they continuingly are, and a forced performance in an alien role, with no actual change at all. They are typical of all so-called "ex-gays". Much of this is analyzed in an excellent booklet entitled "Ex-Gays?? There Are None!" available until recently at Lambda Rising.

These groups have a number of gurus, upon whose pseudo-professional authority they rely. Chief among these is Dr. Charles Socarides (the father of Richard Socarides, the White House liaison to the gay community), and a much-more-recent arrival on the scene, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover. These two and a small group of their colleagues appear in forums and seminars sponsored by such groups as Gary Bauer's ferociously anti-gay Family Research Council and as authors of letters and op-ed articles in such publications as the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times. Socarides has actually participated in a picket line against the American Psychiatric Association. They paint a factually unfounded picture of homosexuality as the invariable result of a constellation of childhood traumas involving what they consider to be bad parenting, child molestation, and the like, in a pseudo-psychoanalytic structure which was current in the 1950's and 1960's, but which has long been professionally discredited. Basically, they are a small clan of noisy psychiatric "flat earthers", on the fringes of their profession, and should be so characterized and treated. In particular, they present grossly inflated statistics as to a successful change rate from homosexuality to heterosexuality. Their definitions of "change" and "success" are loose, their semantics are bad, and their facts do not stand up to scrutiny as researcher after researcher has shown over the past 35 years.

Of course, the basic question is why anyone fortunate enough to be gay should want to change, even were change possible. For myself, I have not the slightest idea as to why I am gay, and I could not care less (any more than the average heterosexual male cares why he is attracted to women; he knows that he is and proceeds to build a sizable, enjoyable and rewarding portion of his life around that fact, but he really doesn't care how he got to be that way. So do I with my attraction to men). Genetics, environment, parents, nature, nurture,--who cares? I know that by whatever the process, luck was with me, and I came out with much the better of the two options as to homosexuality and heterosexuality. Therefore even were such change possible, why should one want to swap a first-class superior homosexuality for a second-class inferior heterosexuality? I, for one, certainly do not. Neither, to my perceptions, do the majority of gay people, men and women both.

Almost 40 years ago, long before Gay Pride and Gay is Good, and the high-profile, grass roots gay movement appeared on the scene, while all gays were still in the closet, and the level of self-loathing was high and unrelieved by any countervailing influences, I polled all the gay people that I could find. The question that I put to them was: If medical science came up with a pill, which would change you to heterosexuality simply, easily, quickly, conveniently--and cheaply--but the change once made was irreversible, would you take it? The response was a resounding No. Shortly thereafter, another gay activist, independently, put much the same question to gays in New York, with the same result. While the results of these surveys certainly do not represent hard data, they are clearly indicative of the reality of the attitudes of that time. And certainly, if that was true near 1960, it is very much more true in 1997, giving the lie to these "ex" Gays who claim that there are hordes of dissatisfied gay people just waiting to be "delivered" from their homosexuality, if only they were informed of the "truth" that such "deliverance" is possible. We know that we have a good thing, and are not about to be persuaded that we should give it up. The only deliverance that we gays need is deliverance from the raging hordes of homophobes, from fanatics and charlatans such as Falzarano, Johnston, Puumala, and their henchpeople, from quacks such as Socarides and Satinover, and from the zealots comprising PFOX, Exodus, Transformation and their ilk. If they want to wallow in their self-created misery, and waste their time in endless efforts, predestined to be futile, to convert into heterosexuality, let them; that is their loss but that is their right. But deliver us from their crusading efforts to recruit us into their profoundly destructive foolishness.

In clear flouting of the Ninth Commandment, which prohibits the bearing of false witness and other forms of lying and prevarication, they attempt to bolster their feeble case with a farrago of misinformation presented as fact, which attempts to demonize both homosexuality itself, and gay people. Homosexuality is persistently characterized as a "destructive" lifestyle, with no meaningful effort made to provide factual support for that characterization. AIDS is played up, to the exclusion of all else, as if that is both the totality and the inevitable consequence of being gay. A completely fictitious claim (created, to my knowledge, by that notorious, infamous, fanatically homophobic defrocked psychologist "researcher" Paul Cameron), unfortunately not publicly refuted to date by any voice from the gay movement, that the average lifespan for gay males (AIDS aside) is 42 years, is widely accepted as "gospel truth" by the whole radical right, and is endlessly touted by the "ex" gays as "proof" of the destructiveness of homosexuality. When they have done with their pack of lies about homosexuality and gay people, they have made of us apparent villains, pursuing a life of unmitigated evil and reveling in it. They then compound their mendacity by offering a fictitious "way out", unfortunately seized upon by a few of the gullible. The gay community has made no concerted, systematic effort to rebut these lies. It is time that we started!

However, and most important, these groups operate by attempting to dump a heavy load of guilt upon gay people, through their false assertions that homosexual conduct is immoral and sinful. Of course it is neither. Their "crotch morality" is an immoral morality, and a sinful one. We need to counter their assertions with equally unconditional ones of our own, unambiguously framed, to the effect that homosexual sex is not only not immoral, sinful, wrong, or undesirable, but is affirmatively moral, virtuous, right and desirable, and is fully as much so as is heterosexual sex. Adopting their religious terms, we must make it clear that our homosexuality is a God-given blessing, given to us directly by our Creator God to be enjoyed to its fullest, exultantly, exuberantly and joyously. All of this, subsumed under Gay is Good, must be put forward as an undebatable moral absolute, quite as absolute as their alleged moral absolutes, derived from sources much more authoritative and reliable than theirs.

They harp endlessly upon their asinine claim that they "hate the sin but love the sinner" (Actually, they hate both). Of course the two are inseparable, since lifelong celibacy is a nutty idea, and so gay people and active homosexuality are indivisible, just as with heterosexuals and their heterosexuality. Since homosexual sex is not a sin, but a virtue, we are not sinners in that respect (if in any) and there is no sin to hate. What needs to be said loudly and clearly is that the real sin, of course, is homophobia, and both the homophobes such as they and their homophobia should be hated.

I have suggested, only half facetiously, that we should set up store-front operations near their offices, entitled, perhaps, "Sauce for the Gander," in which we can recruit heterosexuals out of the desolation of heterosexuality and into the joys of homosexuality, and try to rescue some of the victims of these vile organizations. Certainly, when they hold conferences, we should hold workshops nearby to help undo the harm that they are doing, and dispel the falsehoods that they are disseminating.

In summary and conclusion, it is said that every cloud has its silver lining, and in this instance that is a rather broad silver lining. While this tiny band of rather pathetic, deluded, self-hating, homophobic zealots, with their fraudulent claims of successful conversion of Gay people into "ex" Gays, will probably continue to gain a certain amount of notoriety and will, thereby complicate our legitimate efforts to dispel homophobia and to bring gay people as gay people , fully into the American mainstream, they have freed us up from previously strongly-felt constraints to moderate our approaches and our rhetoric, though a carefully-calculated appearance of neutrality, and suppression of any obviously affirmative portrayals. Since they are promoting heterosexuality and proselytizing for it, we are now fully free to promote homosexuality and to proselytize for it. More specifically, while we have been able to claim that enjoyment of our homosexuality is part of our pursuit of happiness, inalienably guaranteed to us as a right by that definer of America and Americanism, the Declaration of Independence, and, a s such, being Constitutionally protected as one of our unenumerated rights under the Ninth Amendment, we can now openly, freely, and actively go one step further. That same Declaration tells us that: To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men. That means that we Gays have a right to expect and now to demand from our governments at all levels, active and affirmative, support, encouragement endorsement, promotion and protection of us as Gay people and of our Homosexuality, and of our right actively, openly, and overtly to attempt to persuade people not only that Gay is Good, but what we have always known but have been hesitant to proclaim: The truth that Gay is better. Thank you Anthony Falzarano, PFOX, and your whole motley crew!

Let the Gay recruiting begin!

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Excerpts from the above statement by Franklin E. Kameny, Ph.D., appeared in the Washington Blade, Washington, D.C.'s lesbian and gay newspaper of record. Dr. Kameny requested that GayToday publish his provocative words in full. Dr. Kameny is universally recognized as the initiator of direct action and outspoken militancy in gay movement strategy.

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