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02/29/2012

Audio: The carefully workshopped 'ex-gay' archetype

by Jeremy Hooper

In a recent interview with Christian radio host Janet Parshall, professional "ex-gay" Stephen Bennett did that thing the professional "former homosexuals" always do: He linked a whole host of horrible life experiences and choices to his sexuality, as if unrelated feathers are undetachable parts of the gay bird:


[SOURCE: Janet Parshall]

It's so telling. Virtually to a person, these career "ex-gays" have backgrounds (or supposed backgrounds) of prolonged drug abuse, alcoholism, family strife, molestation, vicious shunning, obsessions with club life, bulimia, and any number of things with which most people truly would need to deal, if they wanted to advance. These "former gays" then link those other elements directly to their sexual orientations, as if it's all in the same bucket. Alan Chambers does it. Charlene Cothran did it. Melissa Fryrear does it. Janet Boynes does it. We never see an "ex-gay" paycheck-earner who just happened to be LGBT with the everyday, up and down life experiences that are most common among the LGBT population. They are always presented as having been addicted, abused, trapped, entrenched, damaged, broken, stuck in horrible relationships, sex-crazed, lacking ambition, immoral (or at best amoral), and generally hurting -- part of a "lifestyle" rather than a life.

I actually think it does more damage to their cause than they realize. Most modern Americans now know an LGBT person or two. Many more see LGBT people in pop culture. A growing number even realize that the negative cultural elements that do greet some LGBT people are largely the byproducts of decades of forced differentiation and stigma, not innate "brokenness." So I think when these folks go into media and position gay "change" as a need to overcome a laundry list of life horribles, a growing number of people roll their eyes. People know that being gay in 2012 doesn't mean being "trapped" in any sort of "lifestyle," and more and more see how the long overdue relinquishing of past biases is leveling life's playing field so that the past anguishes that so unnecessarily plagued so many are lessened for current and future generations. More and more people know that Stephen Bennett, despite his pretense of firsthand insight, doesn't speak for the LGBT experience, writ large: He speaks for Stephen Bennett, or at least the professionally-crafted version thereof.

Oh, and of course he speaks against the entire field of credible science. So there's that, too.

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