The Unreal World

I read LJ’s account of the Love in Action open meeting. Apparently for certian meetings anyone can come and sit in on a therapy session with the Love in Action/Refuge client. OUTRAGEOUS!

I remember when I was in the program; we were constantly protected from outsiders. None of our meetings were open except twice a year for the Family and Friends Shame Fest, um Weekend, but that was by invitation only.

Dear Mom & Dad,
You are cordially invited to watch me spill my guts in front of you and tell the most shaming, personal stories of my sexual history. You will be coached on how to respond so that I will be appropriately scared straight.
Can’t wait to see you. Tissues will be provided, but please bring your own Bibles so you can personally bash our brains out.

Never would we have imagined having an OPEN meeting. Is that even ethical? I guess if you don’t run a licensed facility and you shield yourself with the Bible and church sanctioned legitimacy, then you can get away with lots of stuff.

Then Willie Hewes alerted me to the CBN interview with Joe Stark, the father of Zach, a 16-year-old who is a current resident of Love in Action/Refuge. Up until this time, even though folks protesting LIA in Memphis knew Zach’s family name (where he lived, cars they drove, etc), they fought to protect him and his family. The repeatedly refused to give the media any of this info. But dad goes right on national TV (well national Christian TV) and outs his whole family.

Zach’s dad says

We felt very good about Zach coming here because… to let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him some options that society doesn’t give him today.

There are so many things wrong with that statement, I do not know where to begin. Please do it for me in your comments.

This is madness. I understand that Zach’s father and the LIA program feel attacked by protesters and the media, but instead of asking long, hard questions, they react defensively and put innocent people at risk. And what does Zach’s mom have to say about all this, or is she silenced too?

Here’s the break down:
Dad controls his family
The program controls Dad
The conservative church controls the program
The straight white male system of power and privilege controls them all.

This isn’t about saving a lost boy, this is about reasserting the system of power and privilege that feels more and more threatened by so many growing liberated voices.

Stop Whispering, Start Shouting!

This post has 8 Comments

  1. abbyladybug on July 13, 2005 at 11:52 pm

    I’m too tired to add, but yes, it’s enraging. If I had any energy, I’d rage some with you!

  2. Anvilcloud on July 14, 2005 at 12:17 am

    Like Abby said.

  3. sadia on July 14, 2005 at 2:40 am


    I went to the CBN interview.. and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up!
    There’s that word again….“lifestyle”………!!! It does it to me every time!

    I was talking to a client a couple of weeks ago, about an anti-bullying program they run for parents and educators, so I shared some of the homophobia my partner was running into at the school she works at.
    And in his conversation.. which was mostly very understanding.. he used that word. lifestyle. I noticed how even though he was a straight ally sharing his educating experiences, that the word left me with shivers.

    Just today I was talking to Ann about my reactions to this word, and that there must be a way I can tell well-meaning folks just what that word does to me, and to others.. and how this word “lifestyle” has been used as a weapon against us. And that’s it… “it hurts when I hear that word because it is most often used as a weapon against me and other glbt folk”.

    After my experiences at FGC this weekend and learning how we really need to ask our straight allies to stand up and speak out, I am committed to memorizing this mantra and not retreating into my shell when I hear this word.

    … and I will be holding Zach and others in the light.


  4. Willie Hewes on July 14, 2005 at 6:50 am

    I know what you mean, Sadelle. Lifestyle… it’s the entire lie summed up in one word.

    About the open group therapy meeting, no, that’s definately not ethical. Is any of the stuff they do?

    What saddens me about Zach’s dad’s story is that he quotes some bogus statistics about how being gay is going to give his son aids, as if personal choice or Zach’s personality has nothing to do with that.

    As if wanting to sleep with a man automatically leads you to drinking, drug use and unsafe sex. Which gay person is more likely to be self-destructive; the one who’s accepted himself and has a network of family and friends supporting him, or the one who has been kicked out of house and home for something he can’t help?

  5. Peterson Toscano on July 14, 2005 at 3:07 pm

    Once on the Faith Under Fire TV show, the host asked me, “So Peterson, how do you justify your lifestyle with the scriptures?”
    I replied, “It’s really hard, I spend more money per month on soy lattes than on feeding the poor. I mean how does any Christian in America justify their lifestyle with the scriptures?”

    I then challenged him on his assumption that my “lifestyle” is something sinful, the assumption being that I go out and have unsafe sex every night with strangers, do lots of drugs and have lousy relationships. I told him, that’s not my lifestyle, so I don’t need to justify it.

    Finally, I mentioned that in the Psalms it says that God desires truth in the inmost part and the best thing I can do spiritually is to be honest with God, myself and the world about who I am. For years I lied to myself and everyone else about being “ex-gay”. I need to be honest about who I am.

  6. shalom on July 15, 2005 at 6:33 pm

    Zach’s father is so misinformed and brainwashed by this mainstream institutional religious BS that he is making bad decisions. I am so (I can’t even think of a word to go here) at CBN for even publishing Zach’s last name, because it opens up a big can of worms.
    Love is a tenet of every major religion; even most atheists that I know are pro-love, and often the world forgets.

  7. Jennifer on July 21, 2005 at 2:57 pm

    What Zach’s dad is doing to him by keeping him at LIA is slowly trying to brainwash him, trying to convert him to being straight. I don’t think it will work. I know from experience, not from being in an ex-gay program, but from being in another program where some of my family members tried to change me, tried to mold and sculpt me into something (or rather, someone) that I was not. It was excruciatingly painful for me, because it was when I was starting to break out of my shell and figure out who I was and what purpose I had in society, what my assigned role was. They drugged me and said things would be different afterwards. All those false promises and lies. Conformity isn’t always good, and I have discovered that in my case, it can have extreme consequences. I haven’t talked about this with very many people before, so it’s a little awkward. I was basically a vegetable for my eighth grade year of school, which was very embarassing for me, especially since I had moved from one town to another the summer before I started seventh grade and didn’t have many friends. My friends in seventh and eighth grade were some of the special education kids. The rejects, the lowest of low in the whole school. Of course, since they got made fun of and shunned by my seventh and eighth grade classes, so did I, which made it even harder to make a few new friends in a different school system.
    I almost had to repeat eighth grade because the drugs I was on made me fall asleep in my science and math classes a major portion of the time. Sleeping through class causeed me to miss the lectures, which meant that when I got home with my homework, I usually had no clue what I was doing and how to find the correct answers. I threw away most of the photos taken of me during these middle school years because they were to embarrassing and painful for me to look at or bother saving. Eighth grade and he summer before was when I discovered what truly aweful things anti-depressants like paxil can do to a person. I was physically changed, in more than one way, and I hated it. I was extremely overweight, depressed, self-conscientious, humiliated, embarrassed, teased, failing a few classes, and feeling like my family hated me just because I wasn’t perfect. I’m still not perfect (but working on it),and I still feel that some of my family members shun me because I’m not quite what they expected, not always responsible, sympathetic, and obediant. Oh, and when I get mad at specific family members, I sometimes swear more than Eminem does in his songs. My grandmother told me a while ago that I’m not very lady-like and Christian-like, with all the cursing and my other unconventional behaviors. I am who I am though, and I don’t plan on changing for anyone, especially not my grandmother, who thinks I should wear more feminine clothing, act more lady-like, not swear at all, and listen more to her advice. like about being in the human services program for school (which I’m kind of bored with now). I swear in my poetry, why not vocally? What is the big difference? I don’t understand the views of people sometimes. Why should I fit the generic female mold? Dammit, poeple should stop trying to crush my dreams, and fuck if they are unconventional, not well thought out, and as some say “not practical”. I’ll do what I want to and no one can say otherwise. I do accept suggestions and comments from a select few group of individuals though. Wow, that was a long rant and rave session. Now I’m almost fully exhausted.

  8. Peterson Toscano on July 22, 2005 at 2:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. Reading it, I felt overwhelmed for you and amazed at the woman I know today who overcame like you did. It is a miracle that you survived.

    Sounds like you are not only finding yourself, but embracing yourself in spite of other’s expectations. I just heard a speaker who talked about “coming out” and that everyone has to come out, gay and straight peope. He said that when we come out, it means we stand up and assert our true selves often in direct opposition to what others want and believe. We stand alone, if even for a moment saying, “This is who I am and even if I am hated, rejected and cast into hell, I have to be honest.” It becomes a profound spirtual experience and rebirth.

    Thank you for your comments. I so appreciate knowing you and can’t wait to see you at NEYM.

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