Politically Motivated Ex-Gays

Over at Ex-Gay Watch, Emily K wrote a post entitled Exodus Should Come Out of the Political Closet. In it Emily K raises the essential question,

If Exodus is so adamant about freedom of choice – freedom to live the way one wants to live – then why are they so determined to make life more difficult for sexually honest gays?

Reading her post, I began to reflect on my own anti-gay feelings and actions when I identified as ex-gay.

At age 17 I elected to leave the Roman Catholic Church and began attending a Fundamentalist Bible Church. The spiritual conversion I had experienced in the privacy of my home quickly turned into a full-blown cultural conversion that affected the music I enjoyed, my daily activities AND my politics. In the early 1980’s I learned that to be a good Christian I needed to support Ronald Reagan, oppose abortion and adhere to the teachings of the politically active Moral Majority.

One principle seemed to override much of the covert political actions we did through our jobs, at school, and wherever our feet touched ground, a principle that gave us license as Christians to operate with duplicity. We took the words of Jesus, “Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves” to mean that in advancing the Kingdom of God, we could employ any means necessary. We didn’t have to be honest with “people in the world” (ie non-Christians or the wrong kind of Christians) as we had a higher calling allowing the end results to justify the means we took to realize our goals.

We also operated under fear. If we didn’t overturn abortion laws, if LGBT people received more rights and opportunities, if we did not wholeheartedly support the Israeli government’s expansion into Palestinian territories and other parts of the region, God would judge our nation, and we would suffer. We functioned as warriors for Jesus and the church, reclaiming lost ground, taking advantage of every opportunity we had to advance the agenda laid out for us by Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and others.

From my personal experience, I did not operate out of love or truth or justice, rather fear motivated my actions. Fear is toxic to the brain, causing neural pathways to shut down, keeping us from thinking rationally.

I also felt motivated by hate–mostly self-hatred. I hated homosexuality IN me. Therefore, I felt a strong revulsion and opposition to it anywhere I saw it or sensed it. As an ex-gay, I went to war against myself and my sexuality. With a war raging inside of me, I projected that war outwardly as a personal jihad against anything gay. Laws protecting LGBT people and granting them rights threatened my own personal battle to eradicate gayness in me. If I could not be gay, if it was bad for me, I assumed and asserted it was bad for everyone else.

As I opposed gayness (in me and all around me) I received affirmation and even respect from the straight men that I desperately wanted to please. The more I hated myself for being gay and strove to destroy my gay orientation, the more praise and attention I received from straight church leaders. When as a “former homosexual” I spoke out against gay rights, I gave these straight folks permission to maintain their heterosexual superiority over non-straights.

I had no peace within in regards to my sexuality. As a result, I stirred up trouble for others who frustrated and threatened me with the peace and comfort that they exuded.

I do not pretend to know what motivates the political anti-gay actions of Alan Chambers, Randy Thomas and other men with gay attractions who seek to change and suppress these in themselves. I know that for me I could not assent to “Peace on Earth and Good will toward ALL” until I found peace within and extended good will towards myself.

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This post has 3 Comments

  1. greggmoreland on November 11, 2008 at 2:10 am Reply

    Fear…that has been my motivation much of my life. While I was raised in a somewhat fundamentalist church, I was fortunate to be raised in an environment that didn’t exactly ascribe to the Moral Majority fear…I lived in my own fear of actually being discovered as ‘different’ so I didn’t have any need for anyone else’s fear. If I couldn’t be ‘perfect’ then how could I tell anyone else they had to be more perfect than me?

    Thank you so much for sharing this, and other memories from your past. It really helps me to continually make sense of who I was (and in some ways, still am).

  2. Tim Morris on November 11, 2008 at 5:40 pm Reply

    Gay issues aside I beleive often we hate in others what we see or fear in ourselves.
    I personally became more self righteous the more I was offended by others. Example:
    I spent my youth and much of my early adult years as a tea totaler.
    I believed that Christians didn’t drink alcohol. The churches that didn’t condemn this vice I saw as unchristian. I spoke out about it and in my church that got lots of amen’s. I became indignant toward those I saw with a drink. I was spiritually superior to others, in my mind.
    How perverted I had made the gospel
    Now I feel enlightened and struggle with the same attitude toward those of whom I once was. Maybe I fear inside I’m not as accepting as I say.

  3. Glen R. on November 12, 2008 at 11:55 am Reply

    Oh, Peterson! This blog entry is so beautiful, honest, and moving. Thank you for sharing it.

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