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01/25/2008

Love One (with)Out making them change!

by Jeremy Hooper

_images_melissafryear So you know those Love Won Out "ex-gay" conferences that Focus on the Family stages throughout the country?  Yes?  And have you ever wondered about the breakdown of the sorts of people who actually attend one of these dog "ex-puppy" and pony "ex-horse embryo" shows?  Probably not?  Well, whether you have or you haven't, FOF's Melissa Fryrear -- herself an "ex-gay" -- sheds light on the subject in a new Love Won Out article/advertisement posted to CitizenLink

The majority of attendees are parents or family members of a loved one living homosexually,” Fryrear said. “Many pastors, youth ministers and other church leaders also attend, as do many Christian counselors and therapists. Those concerned about legislative and policy issues that affect the family also attend. Many of the men and women are on their own journeys to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction"

Okay, so in the largest percentage you have parents, the likes of whom clearly have a problem with their child's sexual orientation.  Then below that, you've got religious leaders who, again, clearly aren't signing up for this event because they want tips on how to hang a pride flag.  After that, Mel cites politically-minded "pro-family" types -- not typically 'mo fans, that group.  THEN, after mentioning all of those other sects, she finally gets to those who are "struggling" with their "attraction."  Yes that's right -- at Love Won Out, the ones who are supposedly being "cured" are the afterthought. 

Doesn't this attendance breakdown seem just a little suspect?!  What it essentially shows is that these Love Won Out conferences are like anti-PFLAG meetings, with scores of folks showing up to have their non-accepting attitudes confirmed and emboldened.  And this only makes the scant number of actual gays in the audience feel outnumbered and wrong, something many of them have surely felt their entire life.  You mix that mentality with the "ex-gay" movement's myopic views, discredited pseudo-science, choir-preaching speakers, one-sided Biblical interpretations, and underlying idea that gayness is an addiction from which one needs to be freed, and what you end up with is an aggressively ignorant cocktail that might look like compassion, but that tastes like shame.

Since our opposition is so fond of comparing our lives and loves to alcohol abuse, let us compare these conferences to AA meetings.  Would such programs bring about any sort of success if the crowd was filled with folks who have a religious opposition to alcohol, people who want to bring back Prohibition, and others who simply think alcho-bevs taste like piss?  No!  All that would bring about is a beer and wine-hating group-think mentality, the likes of which would make any actual drinkers in the audience feel bullied and battered.  While we are staunchly opposed to the "ex-gay" movement -- and in some ways opposed to AA due to one of the steps being a religious mandate -- we do think that if folks like Melissa are going to continue their shenanigans, they are going to have to actually deal with the community of folks that they're combating.  If you were to put a community of gay folks in a room in order to deal with their "attraction," the conversation would be a vastly different one.  But why is it that in the eyes of the aggressive "ex-gays," this is the conversation that deserves to be discredited?  Why are we (the ones who actually know what it's like to be gay, the credible scientists who view sexual orientation as a part of one's identity, the parents who accept their gay kids for who they are, etc.) the wacky ones, and they the ones deserving of trust on the subject?!?

All folks like Melissa are doing now is recruiting the sort of mentality that keeps homosexuality an issue in modern society.  These are not compassionate displays.  They are not religious acts of love.  They are glorified anti-gay rallies that are wrapped in a prettier package and presented as if they are reasoned examinations of the subject.  That's not "love" -- it's cleverly masked aggression.

Love Won Out Goes to Memphis [FOF]

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Your thoughts

I worked with "Mel" as a lifeguard in Louisville, KY in the 1980's. I remember her telling me a story about her Mother who made the "AIDS is God's punishment against the homosexuals" comments and it was clearly upsetting and bewildering to her. She (Melissa) also seemed to be spooked by messages she received as a young woman at the VERY conservative Trinity Presbyterian Church in Louisville where she attended. I find her story a fascinating illustration of fundamentalist brainwashing. She was a cool "chick" back in the 1980's. I enjoyed working with her because she didn't seem concerned with popularity. Now look at her. Melissa, if you're reading, it's Eric (my dad was the minister at Springdale Presbyterian, down the road--remember?). Funny how one brand of denomination can crank out two different views. Anyway, give me a holler. My partner and I would love to pick your brain. We promise not to try any deprogramming strategies.

Posted by: hmb_tx | Jan 25, 2008 10:42:47 AM

That's a question I've try to get answered.

Alcoholics don't call themselves "ex alcoholics" they're alcoholics.

So to me "ex gays" are gay, just not living as a gay person.

Posted by: pessullivan | Jan 25, 2008 10:47:44 AM

Excellent read ... I find the whole "ex-gay" movement entirely fascinating ... and incredibly sad. To me, it shows the power of religious ideology and how it can be used incorrectly. Also, your compariosn to AA is dead on. Those meetings wouldn't function if they were filled with upset family members, etc. I think the best the actual gay people accomplish there is abstinence and a continuously active mental suppression of their desires fueled by God fear and societal rejection. I remember trying to ignore those desires in high school - not wanting to be different - and it was pure misery.

Posted by: Shane | Jan 25, 2008 12:29:53 PM

I still believe that these ministries can be useful and helpful to individuals who decide to follow a faith that says homosexuality is wrong.

But the comparison to how AA run and how incorrectly these ministries are be run is pitch perfect.

Posted by: Alonzo | Jan 25, 2008 2:57:50 PM

So to me "ex gays" are gay, just not living as a gay person.

BINGO! Wouldn't an "ex"-gay just be a straight person? No? Then you are bi or gay. You've just put yourself back in the closet sweetie.

As for Mel...saw her on some news show a few months ago speaking to an audience about how she just LOVES red-headed men. She doesn't know why they do it for her, but she just can't get enough of them! (Uh, Mel, LUST is a sin - but that is topic for another posting.)

Anyone know the hair color and the level of butchiness of Mel's former girlfriends? I'd be curious to see if they were masculine red-heads.

Posted by: stojef | Jan 25, 2008 3:14:27 PM

"I still believe that these ministries can be useful and helpful to individuals who decide to follow a faith that says homosexuality is wrong."


That's all good and fine Alonzo but when they demand "their beliefs" be made law of the land, I have a problem with it. I will not be dictated to and I will not give into demands by those who feel that my very being is an abomination and I need to change and adhere to "their beliefs" just because I, as a gay person, DO NOT fit their worldview.

Sorry, their free speech rights end when my civil rights are being trampled on.

Posted by: Ken R | Jan 25, 2008 3:33:28 PM

Ken - My support of ministries like Love Won Out that help people who choose to follow a brand of faith that says homosexuality is wrong - doesn't mean I support that their beliefs should by any means be use to deny you, myself and all taxpaying GLBT people from being treated equally.

I just want to acknowledge that if a GLBT person should choose to follow a faith that says that their sexuality is incompatible with their faith they should have some avenue in which to seek help.

Posted by: Alonzo | Jan 25, 2008 4:59:06 PM

"Ken - My support of ministries like Love Won Out that help people who choose to follow a brand of faith that says homosexuality is wrong - doesn't mean I support that their beliefs should by any means be use to deny you, myself and all taxpaying GLBT people from being treated equally.

I just want to acknowledge that if a GLBT person should choose to follow a faith that says that their sexuality is incompatible with their faith they should have some avenue in which to seek help."

But Alonzo it doesn't stop with the individual making a decision on going into these "help" ministries. In fact, because of these ministries, and their false claims of "change" it has caused pain and suffering in the GLBT community. Just because the ex-gays repress their real feelings and desires and swish around and claim they changed they believe every other GLBT person MUST too. This is the very reason why they are fighting against our equal rights. They refuse to believe there is anything innate about being gay. It's is all a choice on our parts and they are willing to bring the GLBT community down in order to maintain their status quo as self absorbed ex-gay wannebe heterosexuals with a homosexual must change obsession.

I don't personally have a problem with someone that wants to live according to their religious beliefs. But when their beliefs demand that I don't get equal treatment and I must conform to their belief system because they demand it they are going to have a fight on their hands.

Posted by: Ken R | Jan 25, 2008 5:26:21 PM

Sorry Alonzo, but I have to agree with Ken. These groups are not about helping people with unwanted same-sex attractions or who believe their sexuality is incompatible with their faith. How anyone can put any trust in a group that claims no one is gay - they are just suffering from same-sex attraction disorder? Get it? We aren't GAY. We're just SSAD!

If they make claims to help people psychologically and change their orientation, then they need to be accountable to state and local regulatory agencies as medical/psychological practices.

If they are just church-run organizations, then they need shut up about discrimination against "ex"-gays because they are already protected under the First Amendment.

These groups want it both ways. They want to be able to dispense junk-science and then demand protection as churches. Sorry, not on my tax dollar.

Posted by: stojef | Jan 25, 2008 6:44:50 PM

"So to me "ex gays" are gay, just not living as a gay person.

BINGO! Wouldn't an "ex"-gay just be a straight person? No? Then you are bi or gay. You've just put yourself back in the closet sweetie."
--
Technically now they're "openly" in the closet.

What's that line about people who live in glass closets...

Posted by: Emproph | Jan 26, 2008 3:26:47 PM

IMO the bottom line to this whole "ex-gay" thing is it's a money-making scheme, and nothing more.

Those few "ex-gays" out there just want the chance for their name to be in the spotlight, and this is the only way to get recognized. Notice how all of the "ex-gays" have websites/blogs with pictures of themselves splashed all over the place - even ones with photoshopped teeth, like Stephen Bennett and his "wife".

Posted by: Scott | Jan 28, 2008 5:11:55 PM

Speaking of this woman, isn't she the one who Wayne Besen reported was trying to show "ex-lesbians" how to "act like a lady" - and obviously she was no expert either, because she fell off the stage trying to walk in high heels LOL

That's even funnier than the "ex-gay" men who poorly tries to act as if they're genuinely interested in sports, Nascar, and demolition derby's. If THOSE GUYS can't get excited about all that butch "hetero" stuff, how do they expect potential "ex-gay" men to do so?

And on this same subject LOL, if "ex-gays" are prohibited from enjoying anything that's "campy", then why are a couple of the well-known "ex-gays" such big Disney fanatics? You can't get any campier than Ursula singing "Poor Unfortunate Souls", with Flotsam and Jetsam floating around her arms like boas. Are those guys special exceptions? Why do THEY get to watch campy stuff, but not any of the other "ex-gays"?

Posted by: Scott | Jan 28, 2008 8:35:04 PM

I always get the feeling that no matter how many ways she keeps telling us how happy she is since her conversion.
She seems terribly sad and lonely to me.

Posted by: emma | Jun 1, 2008 7:03:06 PM

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