Responding to NPR’s Ex-Gay Puff Piece

These days I stay out of the ex-gay fray. I spent far too many years enduring the ex-gay lifestyle, then for nearly a decade I processed the harm that gay reparative therapy brought to me and so many others. In 2008 I retired my one-person comic exposé of an ex-gay boot camp, Doin’ Time in the Homo Ho Mo Halfway House, and focused my performance energy on exploring the many gender non-conforming Bible characters. Most recently I am playing considering LGBTQ response to climate change.

Perhaps I should have gone to Quaker Meeting for Worship with my husband, Glen, on Sunday morning, but I stayed home instead to attend the film Trans that the local Unitarian Church was showing in the early afternoon. Since I have elected to stay off-line on Sundays (Ah, it’s been glorious, like living in 1992 all over again and enjoying books and music and letter writing without the tyranny of Twitter), I listened to our local NPR station as I puttered around the kitchen.

I was shocked to hear the story of a man who liked men but married a woman because of his faith in Jesus. He is a pastor, and while he did not like to use the word “sin” when talking about gays, his message was the same old tired anti-LGBTQ dribble that certain types of churches and Christian organizations have been dishing out for decades. Having gone down the same route myself, I heard through the kinder gentler language the thumping heart of the anti-LGBTQ message. Rachel Martin, the NPR host probed a little with her questions, but did not challenge the story with any facts about how medical associations worldwide have denounced gay reparative therapy and the harm that comes from suppressing one’s orientation and gender differences.

Since I was living off the web for the day though, I needed to pause and not respond on-line immediately. I filled my day with other things that nourished me and connected with LGBTQ people and allies in my community. The next day I had multiple Facebook messages about the segment, and lively discussion ensued. I may have the most diverse collection of Facebook friends including some who still identify as ex-gay or who are straight and married to an ex-gay. They say they are happy, and it works for them.

Having friends who have a different worldview, who listen to news from sources that sound like science fiction to me, softens me to think about the humans behind the rhetoric. It helps me to attack a message without dehumanizing my opponent. Writing an article for the Huffington Post about the NPR “Puff Piece” (pardon the pun), I kept my ex-gay friends and their spouses in mind. I also thought of my former self who was once fiercely committed to destroying the gay part of me and truly believed this was a holy act. Holding onto these tenderly did not drain the passion or clarity from my denunciation of the message being broadcast. Rather it helped fuse my head with my heart.

Here is my HuffPost article: It Gets Boring: NPR Features Same Old Ex-Gay Story

And here is a video I produced some time ago in which I explain the many reasons I spent so many years desperately hoping to de-gay myself.

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