A short column by Adam Reilly about the so-called "Love Won Out," "ex-gay" conference appeared in this week's Boston Phoenix. And Reilly correctly ridiculed the conference’s infantile understanding of gender and sexuality.
I do have a slight disagreement with the tone of Reilly’s last paragraph, though. He writes, “Take a deep breath everybody. If that’s the best Love Won Out can do, Massachusetts has nothing to worry about.” I get the impression that he’s suggesting “ex-gay” groups are so clearly nutty that no one will take them seriously. Actually, these anti-gay bigots will give us "something to worry about" if everyone treats them like harmless kooks and quacks.
“Ex-gay” groups have been getting a lot of unwarranted media attention and many of the claims they have made on the air have gone unchallenged. Several times, spokespeople for these groups pulled statistics out of thin air. For example, a few representatives of “Love in Action” claimed on CNN that “hundreds of thousands” of people are “ex-gay.” That it took Robert Spitzer, who did a very controversial study of “ex-gays,” sixteen months to find just two hundred people who claimed “change” shows how absurd and unscientific this claim of “hundreds of thousands” is. But don’t expect the mainstream media, which doesn't have a good track record when it comes to critically assessing right-wing claims (e.g. WMDs in Iraq), to point that out.
Furthermore, these “ex-gay” groups are targeting public schools to use as soapboxes for their anti-gay propaganda. See here and here, for instance. Because queer youth have such a difficult time with harassment and intimidation in secondary schools, for “ex-gay” groups to be stoking the fires of homophobia in public schools is beyond disgusting. These groups are becoming more and more confident and they will only stop when they are stopped. We must work to expose their lies and, especially, their right-wing political connections.
If you are looking at gay rights issues from a lobbyist, legislative perspective you may not see the importance of taking action against homophobes. If you are looking at it from an activist perspective, and as someone who wants to change the social and political climate in this country, the importance of standing up to “ex-gay” bigots is a little clearer.