Friday, June 16, 2006

I Respond to a Response

The Gazette last week published a story that quoted me, and then this person wrote a letter to the editor about it.

The story was about the Love Won Out conference and vigil. A reporter called me and I was completely unprepared -- I hadn't been on any of the conference calls that planned the vigil or anything, though I knew it was happening and planned to go. Anyway, reporter Sean Sedam called me and asked some questions. Here's my part of what ended up in the paper:
Whether someone can truly change his or her sexual orientation has been at the heart of the ongoing debate over the county school system’s sex education curriculum.

‘‘One of the big pushes has been to have something about ex-gays in the curriculum,” said Jim Kennedy of Rockville, who sits on the panel reviewing the curriculum and is president of, one of the groups organizing the protest vigil. ‘‘It seems the whole concept is a hoax and a cruel one.” Gay conversion conference draws protesters and supporters

OK, that was my part in a longish story that quoted people on both sides of the controversy, almost all of them more involved in this matter than I am. I mean, I just don't want this junk in the schools, it doesn't affect me personally in any way. Some people are very deeply involved with this issue, I just want facts in the classroom.

Then this week a letter comes out, written by Regina Griggs, who is the Executive Director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, better known as PFOX. Her whole letter is about little old me.

She starts:
Jim Kennedy’s phobic statements against the ex-gay community are proof of why the public school system must include former homosexuals in its sexual orientation and tolerance curriculum.

In the article, ‘‘Gay conversion conference criticized,” Mr. Kennedy, as president of Teach the Facts, states that the ex-gay community is a cruel hoax. The fact that he sits on the curriculum committee makes us question the school board’s judgment in appointing a biased and discriminatory group to draft school lessons on sexual orientation. Views differ on gay conversion therapy

OK, I don't care, she can have her opinion. And I did say it was a cruel hoax, true that.

How that proves that the cruel hoax belongs in the schools, mmm, actually, I don't get that part.

She could have stopped here, and it wouldn't bother me any. But she didn't.
Contrary to Mr. Kennedy’s assertions that former homosexuals do not exist, the ex-gay community can attest to the fact that thousands of men and women with same sex attractions have made the personal decision to leave homosexuality.

People, one reason I included my part of the original article was so that we could look back and see just where I stated that "former homosexuals do not exist." See that? No, I don't either.

This is the strangest thing, people making stuff up. How do you deal with this? Or, more importantly for me, how is it that my life has sunk to this level? Why am I talking to these people?

OK, I know the answer: they simply need to be stopped.

Listen, I don't know if anybody ever changes from gay to straight. I know lots of people go from (pretending to be) straight to gay, so I wouldn't be surprised if it went the other way, too, though I've never actually heard of it happening when there weren't ulterior motives. It doesn't matter to me if people switch both ways, all over the place.

I look at it this way: I grew up in the sixties, and I don't do everything I did back then.

And no, I'm not going to talk about it. But it doesn't shock me if people change.

I do have serious doubts about someone who is really gay suddenly becoming really straight. I suppose somebody might be bisexual, they might have foolishly thought they were gay and then found out they weren't, they might ... uh ... get hit on the head and wake up different ... I don't know, nothing's impossible. But just a regular gay guy going to a shrink and coming out straight? Mmm, I'd have to see that.

It seems strange that they always claim that their numbers are thousands. Sometimes they say "tens of thousands." But when somebody wants to interview one, or whenever you read about one, it's always the same ones.

My point is, I got nothing against anybody who decides to swing from the opposite side of the plate, whichever side they started on. And I have been consistent about this from the start: if there is such a thing as an "ex-gay" person, I have nothing against them.

Ah, but she's not finished.
Because people like Mr. Kennedy refuse to respect that decision, ex-gays are subject to an increasingly hostile environment where we are reviled simply because we dare to exist. This is exactly why the sex education curriculum must include ex-gays — to combat intolerance against people who are different from Mr. Kennedy.

Ah! This is great. This is just great. I am so evil.

First of all she says I have asserted that they don't exist, and now she says I refuse to accept their decision -- listen, lady, I totally accept anybody's decision to be attracted to whoever they want, or to snuggle up with whoever they want -- I'll go you one, I accept anybody's decision to marry anyone they want, assuming, in all these cases, that consenting adults are involved.

You think you can stop being gay? Cool. Do it.

It's like a couple of years ago, when the Transcendental Meditation guys said they could fly. And somebody showed the videotape on TV, and they were just sitting in a lotus position with their eyes closed, bouncing around like stump-legged frogs. Hey, they thought they were flying. Did I come out against that? No, what do I care if some guys want to believe they're flying? So why would I care if some other guys want to say they're not gay any more? (Well, I admit I would oppose it if the schools started teaching that people can fly...)

But I most especially love the last line of that paragraph. The idea that anybody would be like me, wow. I'd hate to live in a world where everybody was like me. I'd never get away with anything -- they'd all know what I was up to! I wouldn't even want to meet somebody like me.

Look, if you used to be gay, and now you're not, you're straight. And I don't see that there is much of a case to be made, that there is a lot of intolerance for straight people.

If "ex-gays" are "reviled," it's not because they decided to change -- it must be something different. How about ... the obnoxious way they go around telling other gay people that they need to change, too? How about those ridiculous "change is possible" billboards, like the one they put up along 355 last year? How about the destruction they do, trying to convince perfectly healthy young men that there's something wrong with them? There is reason for people to not like them, but it's not what she's saying.

Ms. Griggs wants to pretend that there is discrimination against people who say they have changed their sexual orientation. There's not. There's a reaction against obnoxious, homophobic, holier-than-thou moralizing, but nobody cares who you sleep with, or used to sleep with, or whether those are the same or different.

She has one more thing to say:
Contempt of those who have resolved unwanted same sex attractions perpetuates misunderstanding and harm against the ex-gay community. It also demonstrates a disregard for diversity and a refusal to respect a basic human right to dignity and self-determination. Please remember that former homosexuals are also worthy of respect.


She makes a strident case against something that doesn't exist, and her sermonizing has nothing to do with what I said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regina Griggs (who has a son who is still gay) says,"Contrary to Mr. Kennedy’s assertions that former homosexuals do not exist, the ex-gay community can attest to the fact that thousands of men and women with same sex attractions have made the personal decision to leave homosexuality."


Where are the thousands of "exgays"??? No one can bring them to any one spot for any study of this made up group. If you are "exgay" you are straight, always straight and never were gay.

Or are all "exgays" housed in Richard Cohen's "office" cuddling with him in "therapy?" Has Regina brought her son to Cohen for "therapy?"

What I now see are TV shows depicting conversion therapy in bad light. For example even soap operas (As the World Turns) are getting in the mix on that one.

Why when looked into conversion therapy is noted as harmful? Because it is and no one needs to be fixed.


June 17, 2006 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so tired of the fraudulent name PFOX. As others have said here, there is no such thing as an "ex-gay" my mind it would make more sense to have an organization called "Ex-Confused Heterosexuals" (ECH) since that is what an overwhelming numbers of these "ex-gays" really are...heterosexuals who were raised in sexphobic, homophobic environments and who were seeking a contrary expression of their own intrinsic sexuality as a way of getting out of their stifiling existences. I am happy for them if they have finally got in touch with their "closeted" heterosexuality; maybe they can finally admit that they never were homosexual and find the peace that their tortured lives have denied them. In the meantime - give up the "ex-gay" baloney! Rob

June 17, 2006 1:48 PM  
Blogger digger said...

It seems Ms. Griggs is picking on you now Jim. She has a habit of attacking individuals in the press for having different views than her, and she's been known to vilify gays at school board meetings. I should have more sympathy for her, but it's hard. I saw a recent article in the Telegraph (the British paper) where she joined PFOX when her teenage son told her he was gay. She's now terribly pleased that he admits there is the possiblity of change for some people, but says it is entirely his decision. I can imagine the pressure he feels that he is under, but I suspect he has a much more stable support group than she does. Gay people entirely understand and can sympathize with all the issues around unsupportive, or reluctant families. We all have families. But for someone like Ms. Griggs, what kind of support can she get, if she rejects PFLAG. Still, she's so strident and unkind it's hard to have that much sympathy for her. But I'll try. Maybe a little prayer is called for.


June 18, 2006 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Steve Boese said...

I've posted details from Joseph Nicolosi's talk inside Love Won Out.

It's important for me to respect the folks in attendance there who are working mightily to reconcile their sexuality with their faith.

Folks coming from conservative Christian backgrounds have a real challenge, I think, in that their religious leaders and folks like Dobson and Nicolosi are engaged in a holy war with most mental health care providers.

Young ex-gays (I met a few during lunchtime at LWO) are likely to be earnest, hopeful, and devoted to their faith... I worry about happens down the road if their journey is not going well, and yet they've learned that they can only go for good mental health care by putting their salvation at risk.

June 18, 2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Steve -- Thanks so much for providing a link to your first person accounts of the June 10, 2006, Love Won Out Conference at Immanuel's Church in Silver Spring.

I urge all readers of this Vigilance Blog to follow the link in your comment above and read your reports.


June 19, 2006 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"people who minded their own business,
Good people live and let live."

"If you are "exgay" you are straight, always straight and never were gay."

"As others have said here, there is no such thing as an "ex-gay""

June 19, 2006 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Made up "ex-gays" live life just fine as the straight people they always were.


June 21, 2006 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

June 22, 2006 7:45 AM  

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