Ex-Gay Spokesman to Appear on BBC Radio

I read the following on Peter Oulds blog:

On BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Wednesday March 21 Robert Piggott, the BBC Religion Correspondent will be interviewing James Parker of the Journey into Manhood training programme from the People can Change Organisation.

So is Parker going to reach through the radio waves and try to help troubled homosexuals or straight men in male crisis? Is his goal to relieve people of internal struggles? To help men become better men, more secure in themselves and better partners, fathers and citizens?

No, it appears that Parker will try to do what some ex-gay leaders in the USA have been doing–exploiting the concept of change to influence the legal discriminate of lesbians and gays.

Parker contends that it is unwise of the government to bring in legislation about homosexuality when it does not have a full understanding of homosexuality and the possibility of change.

I recently appeared on a national radio program her in the USA alongside of Richard Wyler, the founder of People Can Change. I wrote a little about the encounter and the group here where you can also listen to a recording of the program.

Curiously People Can Change only works with men. Women are less than people perhaps. Just like much of the ex-gay movement in the USA, People Can Change gears itself towards males, and I imagine if it is like Exodus and others, it consists mostly of white Protestant males. It is all part of the on-going campaign to Save the Males! (not from over fishing and pollution like the threatened whale population, more so from saving males from the dangerous influence of the feminine.)

It is one thing if someone wishes to seek change for himself, although I do not advise it. Time after time most people who have attempted it report that their efforts caused more harm than good. Some men, who have had and enjoyed sex with men and still today have sexual attractions towards other men, have been able to maintain a successful relationship with a woman, at least for a few years. Perhaps it is more accurate to call such a man a bisexual instead of a “changed” homosexual or an ex-gay or a former homosexual or a heterosexual.

Regardless, it is one thing to pursue this change for yourself, it is quite another to attempt to influence legislation as a result of that change. Not to mention that every major medical and psychological organization in the world has stated that change is not possible, at least for the vast majority of people and that, in fact, pursuing such a change can actually cause harm.

If it is so wrong to be gay and as some insist that even God is against it, why is it so desperately difficult to actually change? This is not just a modern thing. Men who love men has been a “problem” for thousands of years. It ain’t going away no matter how much you pray.

The good news is that Change is Possible. Society can change and learn how to be accepting and celebratory of its fellow citizens, even the queer ones.

This post has 13 Comments

  1. Jerry Maneker on March 21, 2007 at 4:10 pm Reply

    Peterson: It seems to me that underlying most homophobia is mysogyny! That’s probably why women aren’t particularly targeted by the “ex-gay” industry! More money is to be made on the desparation of males who are made insecure about expressing even the hint of the feminine by those who devalue anything other than the macho image in males. (It should also be acknowledged that those who devalue the feminine are perhaps also likely to devalue women!) This is a societal and cultural sickness and distortion of biological and psychological realities, and, as you accurately state, society has to be changed, not the gay man or lesbian whom God made in His image!

  2. Peter O on March 21, 2007 at 5:43 pm Reply

    In the end the interview didn’t run. I’m trying to find out whether it’ll be on tomorrow and will post as appropriate.

    I’m not sure James is encouraging discrimination by exploiting the possibility of change. Rather, he’s raising the issue that a law that is premised on the basis that sexuality is an immutable natural variance in humanity needs to demonstrate that immutable natural variance to begin with.

  3. ElliotManning on March 21, 2007 at 8:20 pm Reply

    I don’t care what he’s doing, if you ask me (which, you sort of have by posting this entry), this Parker guy is a real twerp. To put it lightly, of course. When are people just going to “get” that we are who we are and we’re supposed to be that way?

  4. Jonathan on March 21, 2007 at 9:37 pm Reply

    …full understanding of homosexuality…

    Are the heads of these “ex-gay” organizations aware of what they are putting out? I think Alan Chambers in his latest post says something similar. If they are saying that homosexuality is something that we don’t really understand yet, how can they place such a strong emphasis on the “change” part. Because if what they are saying is true, then they also don’t fully understand the path they are advocating and all its ramifications, right? Or did I just muddy the waters?

    j.

  5. Peterson Toscano on March 21, 2007 at 10:21 pm Reply

    Peter, can you explain the nature of these laws as you understand them and why you feel there is a threat to people who are ex-gay or may seek to be ex-gay? You make it almost sound like it is a law forcing gay people to remain gay or something. Please explain.

  6. Contemplative Activist on March 21, 2007 at 10:48 pm Reply

    I listen to the Today program most mornings so I will let you know if I hear this and hopefully post a link as they usually archive the programs online.

    Its certainly unusual for the British media to cover ex-gay stuff – altho they did show that “Sad to be Gay” documentary over a year ago (I’m sure you remember Peterson).

    CA

  7. Contemplative Activist on March 21, 2007 at 11:31 pm Reply

    Peter may be referring to these recent laws enforcing gay equality:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6473831.stm

    CA

  8. Willie Hewes on March 22, 2007 at 11:03 am Reply

    It’s a red herring either way. Even if being gay is a choice, that doesn’t mean you can refuse to serve gay people in your restaurant.

    A while ago in the UK there was some hoohah about muslim taxi drivers who refused to take blind people with guide dogs into their taxis, on grounds that dogs are unclean animals to them. *looks for article* Here: http://www.secularism.org.uk/objectiontoblindwomansdirtydogla.html

    Freedom of religion doesn’t mean you can refuse customers you consider ‘unclean’. That’s what the new legislation says, and that’s how it should be to ensure equality for all.

  9. Willie Hewes on March 22, 2007 at 11:04 am Reply

    That link again: Objection to blind woman’s dirty dog (sorry didn’t seem to work first time)

  10. Peter O on March 22, 2007 at 11:38 am Reply

    Elliot,

    I don’t think it’s fair to call James a “twerp” (do people still use that word???) when you’ve not met him or listened to him. Let’s have this debate in a civil and humble manner.

    Jonathan,

    You make a good point. I think James’ (and my) objection is that the laws are framed on the axiomatic basis that homosexuality tends to be immutable because it has a clear biological basis. All we’re trying to say is that the scientific jury is still out on this question (I for one favour a nature/nurture basis based on both the best of the science and pastoral practice and observation) and that therefore a law based on faulty science is not good.

    Peterson,

    The problem with the SORS is not so much the equal access to the provision of goods and services, but rather the constraints that one or two clauses make on freedom of expression and religion. For example, as an Anglican priest I am protected if I refuse communion to someone in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, but if I encourage layity to do the same I might be liable to prosecution. The law is badly worded as it is and a whole number of these sacramental and freedom of expression issues haven’t been properly examined.

    I wouldn’t mind if the law stayed as it is framed, as long as we have some proper legal analysis of all these points BEFORE the Act came in to law and not afterwards. Laws that are framed more by case law then by rigorous and careful statute are bad laws.

  11. Jimbo on March 23, 2007 at 11:44 am Reply

    James Parker ended up speaking on the BBC Jeremy Vine Show on Thursday lunchtime.

    The item was introduced with a mention of the Sexual Orientation Regulations which have just been passed in the UK. These seek to protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination in the supply of goods and services.

    The program host made the point that some Christian groups disapproved of this protection because they didn’t consider sexuality to be like race and sex, because gays do have the ability to turn away from sinful behaviour with God’s help.

    James spoke clearly about his work with the group ‘Living Waters’ [this is a UK group influenced by Andy Comiskey’s US ministry of the same name]. He is 39 and he spoke about how he had lived as a gay man in his twenties before turning his back on that to work through his issues with “same sex attraction”. He met his future wife five years ago and married last year.

    A short segment carried a discussion between James and other members of a Living Waters group, where one man described his homosexual identity in adolescence as having anonymous sex with men in toilets.

    James didn’t believe people were born gay. In his own particular case it was put down to being adopted and mistreated as a child.

    Whilst pointing out that he was not suggesting anyone should change who didn’t want to, he did go on to say that since he had changed he felt he had more “healthy, appropriate and legitimate” relationships with other men. The interviewer picked him up on this description as these were not words that you could apply to sexuality. [e.g. James was inferring that gay relationships were unhealthy, inappropriate and illegitimate].

    (The segment can be heard for the next week on BBC’s ‘listen again’ streaming player.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/vine/
    yoursay_thu2.shtml
    Click on ‘Thursday’ and jump forwards 35mins into the program. The interview and following listeners’ comments last for 25mins.)

  12. Peter O on March 23, 2007 at 4:36 pm Reply

    I’ve got the Wed slot now up at http://www.peter-ould.net/?p=349. I’ll try and get the Thursday slot up as well

  13. Bruce Garrett on March 25, 2007 at 4:23 am Reply

    Let’s have this debate in a civil and humble manner.

    I’m curious. How do you have a civil debate about denying some of your neighbors access to goods and services?

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