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NARTH "Lift My Luggage" protest

by Jeremy Hooper

NARTH "Lift My Luggage" protest
Jeremy Hooper

Remarks as prepared

So I'll be honest: I didn't know what I wanted to say here. But as I sat down to put together some thoughts, something so oddly, freakishly coincidental happened that I simply couldn't ignore it. Literally, as I was writing Photo-25down words to say to you today, a comment came into my site, left on a post dated almost a year ago to the date. The subject of the old post was last year's NARTH convention. I had written a little post regarding NARTH's claims that the American Psychological Association has a bias again them. A claim to which I, at the time, basically responded, "No NARTH: scientific fact and biological reality are what have a bias against you, not the APA." Then I think I made some sort of a joke, put in a period, then moved on to something else. Probably something silly that Maggie Gallagher was saying on that particular day.

Now, it's very rare that someone takes the time to leave a comment on a year-old post, and usually when they do, it's because they have a negative bone to pick with whatever was written, not a positive one. And that was certainly true with this comment. It was from a NARTH supporter and it read:

"This article is simply a strawman attack on NARTH. In our culture, those who are dissatisfied with their unwanted homosexual attractions and choose to pursue change are often treated with disrespect, mockery and ridicule, as are the therapists who try to help them. It is ironic that some of the people who defend the freedom to embrace homosexuality are the same ones who mock those who want something different for their lives. Tolerance and diversity mean very little if differing worldviews are excluded."

Okay, right. So nothing particularly interesting or newsworthy about the comment itself. But why I mention it today, beyond the coincidental element, is because this is exactly the reaction I tend to get from pro-"ex-gay" critics. It doesn't matter how measured my words or how organizationally-directed my rejections, the "ex-gay" supporters almost always see our push back as some sort of personal attack. Like we're out to get the human being for the choices they've made in their life. Like we are picking on them just for the sake of bullying.

The truth, of course, is that the vast majority of us who oppose NARTH and the ex-gay movement in general are 100% supportive of people's right to get intimate inside of whatever adult relationship they choose for themselves. We are not threatened by their choice of partner -- even though that partner is oftentimes celibacy. We are not offended by their right to make their own determinations for their lives -- even if that determination means rejecting certain realities. We may feel sorry. I personally feel sorry for anyone who doesn't live his or her truth, whatever reason. But I have no desire to hurt or offend or unnecessarily pile on. The goal is not to make anyone's journey any harder.

At least, I should say, that's not *OUR* goal. That is, however, what the organized Ex-gay movement -- led by NARTH -- does to LGBT people's lives and loves. They prey on vulnerabilities, telling the most susceptible among us that most any bit of pain that an LGBT person experiences in life stemmed from their sexuality or gender identity. They target parents who are desperate to come to a better understanding with the movement leaders instead providing obfuscation. They also target us on a political level, working hand in hand with the so-called "pro-family" groups to provide cover in debating legislation like the Employment Discrimination Act or Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal. After all, if they can quote/unquote prove that homosexuality is not innate, then groups like Focus on the Family can tell their socially conservative supporter that it's okay to not support LGBT people in civil government, since we are supposedly nothing more than broken heterosexuals who are choosing our behavior.

And of course there's also the element of fact. Pure, raw data. It's become a political cliché to quote the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's words saying that 'Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.' But this quote's a cliché because it's so true. We can all disagree. Matt Barber can come out from this hotel and tell me that my marriage is wrong or sinful or whatever. I can then look him back in the eye and tell him it's truly bizarre that a grown heterosexual man dedicates his life to gay people's bedrooms. Because it is. Truly. Bizarre.

But neither of us, me nor Matt, should create or promote junk science groups that are purposely designed to muddy the waters of credible research. Oh, but guess what? ONE OF US -- TOTALLY --- DOES --- DO --- THAT!!! And spoiler alert: It aint me.

So going back to that aforementioned commenter, I would just say: You are absolutely right -- nobody should ridicule, mock, or disrespect you. But pointing out simple facts is not mockery, ridicule or disrespect! Ridicule is telling a legally married man like myself that my family is wrong or broken or unfit for federal rights. Mockery is telling educated scientists that they have a quote/unquote "liberal agenda" anytime they put forth research that jibes with the realities of our known world. Disrespect is taking vulnerable people's money and telling them that something you know is unsupported by independent, peer reviewed fact is actually some sort of magical cure for a non-affliction that never needed a cure to begin with!

Inside this hotel, NARTH is trafficking in all three. Outside this hotel, I am telling them that I will work with every fiber in my being to drain. their. snake. oil. for. good!!



*And now, video:


***See Joe Jervis' great photo gallery: The Good Guys At The NARTH Protest [J.M.G.]

***More photos over at Truth Wins Out: Pictures from Truth Wins Out’s ‘Lift My Luggage’ Protest at the NARTH Convention [TWO]

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