About 50 turn out for protest of anti-gay therapy conference
Fifty protesters carrying signs and yelling slogans circled the Marriott Dallas-Fort Worth Airport North Hotel where the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality was holding a conference on Saturday, Oct. 27.
A yell leader with a bullhorn led the protesters in chants of “Quack, quack, quack stop the attacks” and “Tell the truth, stop the scam I’m just fine the way I am” in a demonstration against the association’s three-day conference. Several hundred therapists who believe that homosexuality is a treatable mental disorder attended the conference.
The protesters who held signs that read, “NARTH sells snake oil,” “I am proud of my gay child” and “Ignorance is a treatable disease” spent a little more than an hour at the hotel demonstrating against the association. The protest included a news conference with several speakers representing groups such as Valiente DFW, the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas, PFLAG Dallas and Equality Texas.
Wayne Besen, the founder of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Truth Wins Out and the coordinator of the protest, said he was pleased with the turnout and impressed by the motivation of the protesters.
“I’m thrilled,” Besen said. “We did this with no budget, and we responded quickly. We had passionate, eloquent speakers. Dallas is always organized.”
Besen told the audience that NARTH “markets religious dogma,” and that its leaders and therapists are “quacks and frauds.”
“This is not a scientific conference,” said Besen, who is the author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth,” which profiles leaders in the ex-gay movement and reveals several scandals involving them.
The Rev. Colleen Darraugh, lead pastor for MCC Dallas, told the audience she is a “healed, whole, happy homosexual.”
“My sexual orientation is a gift from God,” said Darraugh, who noted “it is clear the Bible is unclear” about the issue of homosexuality.
Kathy Collier, co-president of PFLAG Dallas, said she gives thanks to God for her gay son.
“I want all parents to get to the point that they celebrate who their children are,” Collier said.
The speakers included a man who said he spent three years in “damaging” reparative therapy. “It’s just B.S.,” said Brian Nesbitt.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 2, 2007