I Like My Gay Peeps Just the Way They Are
“Heterosexuality is not normal; it’s just common.” – Dorothy Parker
You may or may not be aware of the fact that the Christian right in this country actually sponsors camps to turn gay people straight. It’s a form of behavioral modification. They have lesbians dress and act more “feminine.” They have gay men dress and act more “masculine.” They teach each how to react to the opposite sex in a dating setting, i.e. they teach the lesbians to be more submissive and the men to be decisive and aggressive as they are supposed to be. I don’t think they actually do this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they hooked their sex organs up to some sort of arousal monitors and then shock them in some sort of aversion therapy every time they show arousal to the same sex.
The biggest supporter of this healing of homosexuality is a group calling themselves Exodus International. You can find them on the web if you don’t believe me: http://www.exodus-international.org/. They claim to deliver homosexuals from their homosexuality. Their most vocal proponent was a man named John Paulk.
John Paulk was a homosexual who went through one of these so-called transformational camps. He was a very troubled man who had a history of extreme promiscuity and alcohol and drug abuse, not something that every gay man automatically experiences as a natural part of the lifestyle, but something that John Paulk believed to be a part of the gay lifestyle from his own personal experience. He went through additional counseling, both one on one and in groups, and then declared himself to be an “ex-gay.” He married a “former lesbian” named Anne. They had three children together.
John wrote an autobiography about his life and eventual conversion experience. It’s called, Not Afraid to Change. In it he never claims to have overcome his desires for men. In fact, he still admits to having the urge. So, I’m not sure how he thinks he “cured” his homosexuality by marrying a woman who would also prefer, I’m sure, to not have sex with him. John Paulk and his wife Anne wrote another book together, called Love Won Out and started booking conferences and speaking engagements. It was then that he came under the attention of James Dobson, the leader of the right wing Christian fundamentalist group, Focus on the Family.
From 1995 – 2000, John Paulk was the manager of Focus on the Family’s Homosexuality and Gender Division, conveniently labeled as the department that would deal with homosexuality, bisexuality, cross-dressing and transgender folks. One might even presume that those pesky feminists and limp wristed males might also be “served” by this ministry. In the year 2000, when John Paulk was touring all over the country, speaking on behalf of Focus on the Family and Exodus International, he was discovered and photographed in a well-known gay bar in Washington, D.C. He still remained with Focus on the Family for an additional three years after the scandal and then moved to Portland, Oregon with his wife and children where he now enjoys some renown as a local celebrity chef.
Frankly, I can’t see how he’s triumphed over homosexuality any more than my high school choir teacher has. He’s been married to the same woman for thirty some years. When I was in college, I used to see him all the time on the third floor of the student union, coming out of the mens room on weekdays when I knew that there were no choir functions going on. I couldn’t figure out why on my own. Some snarky men who worked in the college’s photography department had to clue me in. Later, my former choir teacher was arrested for propositioning an undercover police officer for homosexual sex at a public park in the city. It caused a scandal. He lost his job. His sons left their home and went to go live with other people and refused to speak with their dad, but his wife didn’t leave him. I’m glad that he saw fit to continue to honor his marriage by presumably continuing to live in hypocrisy. Otherwise, he would have to admit he was gay, and we wouldn’t want that.
About a decade ago I started attending a non-denominational Bible church in Dallas. It was a good church. I didn’t think it was fundamentalist or over the bend conservative. I met a young woman there that I’ll call Carrie. She and I were about the same age. We became friends. She struck me as a bit of a tomboy, and she played softball when she was in college. She was active in our singles group, but she expressed dissatisfaction one day with the fact that she had applied to work with children in our church but had not been allowed to do so.
I asked her why they would ban her from working with children. She was a very delightful young woman, and she would have worked well with children. And then she told me the story of how she was a “former” lesbian. She had even lived with a woman for a few years, and then there was a painful break up. Carrie’s mother had been praying for her daughter to be delivered from her homosexuality, so Carrie went to one of these Exodus camps and had since been living life as a heterosexual woman. She thought that the church would not let her work with children because she “used to” be a lesbian.
This upset me so much that I went to go see the pastor of the church. Frankly, the idea killed me that she might not be welcome in our church as a gay woman. I thought that whether you thought it was a moral issue or not, a church has a moral obligation to be welcoming to sinners. We’re all sinners. Jesus opened his ministry to the poor and oppressed and those who were spurned by society: the tax collectors and adulterers and prostitutes and lepers. You might even say he concentrated specifically on them.
It also concerned me that a young woman had worked so hard to become a woman “delivered” from her lesbianism and now living as a heterosexual woman as God presumably wanted her to be [Editor’s Note: This is obviously written with tongue in cheek.] and was now being punished for that. The very notion that she was not being allowed to work with children or youth because she might “recruit” some young woman over to the dark side, as if homosexuals and pedophiles were both sexual deviants that were therefore interchangeable, was abhorrent to me.
I was assured that none of my suppositions were true, and that my friend Carrie’s not working with youth or children had nothing to do with these issues. I have to tell you, frankly, that I didn’t buy it. I left that meeting still thinking that that was exactly what was going on with that situation. So, not for the first time, I felt very disillusioned with the church.
What happened to Carrie? She met a man. She married him. They moved back to Carrie’s home state and had a child together. I got a postcard from her when they were expecting their first baby. If she’s truly happy, then I’m happy for her. I just hope she’s not living a lie to please God. Because I don’t think that would make God very pleased.
Entry filed under: Chrisitanity, Faith, Gay Rights, Human Rights, Spirituality. Tags: Christianity, Exodus International, Gay Lesbian and Bisexual, Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, johnpaulk, Love Won Out, Religion and Spirituality.