Posts Tagged 'ex-gay'

“I’m not gay, I just have SSA.”

If you’ve never read any of the ‘ex-gay’ religious literature, it might surprise you to learn that they don’t actually talk about homosexuality all that often. Instead, they’ve done away with the concept of sexual orientation altogether and turned homosexuality into SSA, or ‘Same Sex Attraction’. SSA, they argue, is not something you are (is not part of your identity), but is something you have, and something that you can stop having if you try hard enough.

This is an almost Orwellian linguistic trick, and I have to applaud the more underhanded of these groups for employing such a devious and subtle bit of social engineering. One of the primary goals of the gay rights movement has been to convince people that homosexuality isabout  more than just sexual behaviour or even about who one is attracted to; it has a profound effect on a person’s identity and is not something that you can simply ‘give up’, regardless of how much you might want to. According to the ex-gay crowd, they know better.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I sympathise with those who are unhappy with their sexuality, especially young people who have to deal with religious stupidity. My advice to them might be ‘toss the damn Bible out the window and do what makes you happy’, but I can understand why a lot of them don’t want to do that. But these ex-gay organisations are inevitably motivated by the desire to ‘save’ gay people, and thus can’t be expected to be even remotely impartial in the information they dispense. Don’t believe me? Then take a look at this rather frightening website.

‘Living Hope Ministries’ was apparently set up to help young people who are gay who suffer from SSA to recover (and yes, they actually call it ‘recovery’). Having read many of the resourced on their website, I rather suspect that they’re more interested in ensuring that fence-sitting gay Christians don’t go over to the wrong side. But regardless of how good or bad their aims are, the advice they give is atrocious, insulting and potentially dangerous. The following is from this article:

1. Where does homosexuality come from?

People end up with SSA (same sex attraction) because of a number of contributing factors:
• parental relationships
• gender identity confusion
• sexual and/or emotional abuse
• peer rejection

Nice. If they have any scientific research to back this assertion up, I can’t find it. Which is actually beside the point, since very few scientists would claim that they know for sure what causes homosexuality. Living Hope has already shot their credibility to pieces by pretending to be certain about something where certainty is currently impossible.

God intends for us to go through a series of stages in our emotional development, and those who experience same-sex attractions are stuck at an earlier stage. First, we are supposed to have a close bond with our mothers, then our fathers, then our same-sex peers, then finally opposite-sex peers. Those who are romantically or erotically drawn to their same sex need to grow and mature emotionally.

I’ll have to go and tell all of the straight people in my forme high school who are currently getting stoned and drunk on a nightly basis while having unprotected sex that they’re more more emotionally mature than me. I’m sure they’ll be just as surprised to learn this as I was.

The rest of the article goes on to play off of painfully old-fashioned gender stereotypes that sound like’ve come straight from a Saturday-morning cartoon. ‘Masculinity’ is apparently a spectrum with ‘sterotypical jock’ on one end and ‘sterotypical nerd’ on the other, while women don’t even have that much room to diversify into. The entire argument is a travesty, and does not cite any secondary source at all (it rarely even directly cites the Bible, despite invoking it endlessly). As a final slap in the face, ‘recovery’ from homosexualiy is equated with recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction.

Having turned what is for many people a very real and even positive aspect of their identity into a psychological malformity, Living Hope finally tips its hand and informs the reader that the only way to ‘recover’ is through God. In other words, ‘Join our cult or you’ll never get better’. And in case you need me to qualify that ‘cult’ label:

17. Why am I so deeply ashamed and dirty?

The reason you feel shame is because you already know conviction of the Holy Spirit in your life, and you have resisted true repentance, and the devil has come in and made you feel bad about who are you are. You may be experiencing guilt as well as shame. Guilt is feeling bad for what we’ve done. Shame is feeling bad who for we are. Guilt says, “I acted out with a person of the same sex.” Shame says, “I’m a miserable loser and unworthy of love because of what I did.”

Satan is a liar. First he entices us by convincing us that something sinful will be so good and fulfilling, and then when we give into temptation, he beats us up with shame and guilt messages.

And so on. Who the hell is actually helped by this bullshit?

Perhaps that’s what irritates me most about the SSA phenomenon; it doesn’t help people. Go to Exodus International, go to any blog on WordPress owned by a ‘recovering’ gay Christian, and you’ll repeatedly see the same story over and over again: “It’s a daily struggle,”; “I still feel attracted to the same sex, but…”; “I’ll continue to pray and hope.” I’m not saying that nobody ever goes from gay to straight (or from straight to gay), but for the great majority of people, this road to change simply does not work. If you’ve tried for years to change who you’re attracted to and failed, don’t you think it might be time to admit that maybe it’s all right to call yourself ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay’? Groups like Exodus or Living Hope are selling a phantom product; what they call ‘change’, I call self-enforced celibacy and repression.

All of this might sound very vitriolic, and it’s meant to, but I want to reiterate what I said earlier: I do not care if somebody wants to change their sexual orientation. If it’s something they want and if they can manage to do it, then more power to them. What I do care about is religious organisations preying on vulnerable teenagers using unscientific nonsense, and nonsense is exactly what most of this is – for more proof of that, just read virtually any article on the Living Hope resources page. Rarely do I get genuinely angry at anything I read, but the sheer amount of unqualified statements and bizarre generalisations on that site infuriates me. It pains me to think that some desperate young people will go there seeking guidance and help.

The motivation behind reformulating homosexuality as ‘Same Sex Attraction’ is obvious. Whether they admit it or not, organisations like Living Hope want to characterise homosexuality as an illness that must be fought – and the only way to do that, they want you to believe, is by joining their religion.