Exodus International’s shutdown, apology show change really is possible

exodus_international_logo“Change is Possible” was the slogan used by the ex-gay organization called Exodus International. I use the past tense since that group is officially closing its doors. And lest you think it is just quietly going away, the organization’s president, Alan Chambers, issued the statement that he was “sorry for the pain and hurt” experienced by so many at the hands of his group.

“I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.”

After I caught my breath, I read the apology from Chambers again and realized that the organization was not just admitting defeat; after working for 38 years and trying to convince people that they could change their sexual orientation the group is seeking to atone for its actions. Chambers envisions the group ree-merging as a new ministry, one that works to create “safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities.” Now that is a group I could get behind.

Personally, I think the name is so tarnished and the reputation is beyond repair. Since the scientific community has openly repudiated “reparative therapy” for LGBT people, support for Exodus has been dwindling. Now as it closes I suspect the religious right will simply disavow any contact with it at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing is not swept from history, at least as far as the evangelical right is concerned. Rewriting history is their strong suit after all and if they can rewrite the Bible by cherry picking verses, they can certainly make an inconvenient episode like “Exodus” go away.

—  Hardy Haberman

Record low turnout for ‘ex-gays’ in Sugarland?

The “ex-gay” group Exodus International held its quarterly Love Won Out convention near Houston this weekend. The Houston Chronicle reports that about 450 people attended the conference at Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugarland:

Outside the church, dozens of protesters lined up near the Southwest Freeway to complain about the group’s message. Exodus president Alan Chambers argued the group is anything but anti-gay.

“The fact of the matter, I was gay, the people who are leading these ministries were gay,” Chambers said. “We know what anti-gay felt like. That is something we could never be. And so for us, because of our faith and because of our beliefs and because of our experience, decided we wanted something different.”

The group holds the Love Won Out conferences four times a year throughout the country. And wherever Exodus International heads, critic Wayne Besen follows, gathering locals to protest the group.

Besen, the founder of Truth Wins Out and author of Anything but Straight, has been countering Exodus International’s image of homosexuality for several years. “They present it to be a miserable life that is either going to end in death or loneliness or unhappiness and that’s not true,” he said. “You are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Besen reports on TWO’s blog that it may have been a record low turnout for Love Won Out.

The event included an officer from the Sugar Land police force that deliberately harassed and ticketed me for allegedly jaywalking. It was clear that this was rogue cop with an attitude problem. The other officers on the scene had been easy to get along with. There were also a few fundamentalists who came into the protest to argue scripture, showing that they were both ignorant of the Bible and homosexuality.

While our protest was a success, Love Won Out continues its decline, with perhaps a record low attendance of 450 people in the nation’s fourth largest city. The failure of Exodus at home is one reason the hate group is increasingly pushing its destructive message overseas in nations where LGBT people are unable to defend themselves for fear of persecution and even violence.

Watch video from TWO’s protest below.

—  John Wright

When he’s not hawking tractors down in Hillsboro, Alvin Kaddatz is busy peddling ‘ex-gay’ therapy

Alvin Kaddatz

Last week we told you about an anti-gay ad that appeared recently in The Lakelander newspaper in Whitney, Texas. Before posting the item, we put a call in to Kaddatz Equipment, the Hillsboro-based auction and farm equipment company that took out the ad, and requested the information they were offering about “companies to boycott because of their support of perversion.” We even gave them our Dallas Voice email address, but they didn’t catch on, and we received a response on Monday. The email from Alvin Kaddatz, the owner of Kaddatz Equipment who also apparently serves as chaplain for the Texas chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Auctioneers, contained a link to the Human Rights Campaign’s Buying for Workplace Equality 2011 as well as two links to the web site of the “ex-gay” group Exodus International. Our initial reaction was two-fold: first, don’t put yourself out on the research, boys; and second, this redneck clown is probably Rick Perry’s BFF. Here’s the full text of Kaddatz’s email:

Thank you for your request.

We are attaching the list of companies who support immorality. This list can also be found on the Human Rights Campaign website at http://www.hrc.org/documents/2011_BuyersGuide.pdf.

Also attached is a link to some information from Exodus International. This may also be found at their website at http://exodusinternational.org.

We pray for all those in this lifestyle. Christ grants forgiveness to all those who repent. In scripture, John 8, verse 11 states:“She said, No man, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” KJV.

We hate the sin but love the sinner, just as Jesus taught us.

If you need any further assistance, please let me know.

Sincerely,
Alvin Kaddatz

http://exodusinternational.org/2009/12/whats-your-success-rate-in-changing-gays-into-straights/

—  John Wright

New rumor: Could Rick Perry be ‘ex-gay’?

Days after allegations that he’s closeted resurface, governor announces N.H. trip to speak to group promoting ‘ex-gay’ therapy

DAVID WEBB | The Rare Reporter

Sometimes the comments posted by readers of LGBT newspapers provide a fascinating glimpse into the mindsets of our community’s greatest adversaries because they are often part of the audience.

One that caught my eye recently was posted by a reader who objected to criticism directed against Texas Gov. Rick Perry for agreeing to headline the annual dinner on Oct. 28 of the anti-gay group Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire. The engagement is seen as further evidence that Perry is leaning toward running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2012 because New Hampshire is the first presidential primary state.

That put Perry on the LGBT community’s radar again because Cornerstone Action advocates the repeal of the state’s same-sex marriage law, and it promotes the work of so-called “ex-gay therapy” groups such as Exodus International, Love Won Out and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. The conversion therapy practiced by these groups has been denounced by the American Psychological Association, which refutes the notion that homosexuality is a mental illness.

The offended reader who was obviously a proponent of “ex-gay therapy” and a fan of Perry’s wrote, “Many, many people tormented with same-sex attraction have benefited from therapy. The homosexual pressure groups have no moral right to speak for these individuals.”

Only one reason comes to mind why someone would feel tormented by same-sex attraction, and that would be a result of being taught that homosexuality is evil and an aberration. Those same teachings would make someone who is heterosexual fear and despise someone who is openly gay. And if someone is gay and doesn’t want to be, it’s pretty easy to see how they would express homophobic opinions to help keep their shameful secret.

Groups such as Exodus International claim they are not attempting to influence “people who are perfectly happy living their gay life,” but the readers’ remarks make it clear they are monitoring everything we do by reading our publications. They also attend our public events surreptitiously when they are not staging protests, which prompts the question, “Why all the interest if suppression is not their goal?”

Perry’s camp announced the New Hampshire engagement after his appearance the previous weekend at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, where participants, enamored of his conservative social and fiscal policies, reportedly shouted, “Run, Rick, run.”

The announcement of the New Hampshire appearance was viewed as humorous by some because it followed on the heels of the re-emergence of widespread rumors that Perry is secretly gay and that his wife, Anita, almost divorced him over it. The rumors that the governor’s wife caught him involved in a sexual act with another high-level male government official became so widespread several years ago that Perry denied them in an Austin newspaper story, calling them a “political smear campaign.” A spokesman for the governor has acknowledged his staff is prepared to address the rumors again should he run for the presidential nomination.

Although almost no one actually believes Perry is secretly gay, his alignment at this point with a group so involved with the promotion of “ex-gay therapy” seems a little peculiar. After all, many of the proponents of ex-gay therapy claim they are recovered homosexuals, and several have been exposed by gay activists as frauds who still engage in same-sex activity.

With all of the rumors that previously circulated about Perry being gay and others claiming he cheated on his wife with other women, it would seem like the governor and his staff might be concerned that the next wild tale could be that he went to ex-gay therapy. If not, maybe the governor thinks this is a way of appearing to be compassionate toward a group of people his actions seem to indicate he despises.

Having talked with several of Perry’s and his wife’s high school and college acquaintances —some of whom are gay and lesbian — over the years, I doubt that Perry was always so intolerant and self-righteous. In fact, I understand the governor sowed quite a few wild oats in his younger years, to put it in the vernacular of his West Texas roots.

But somewhere along the line during his 26-year career in Texas politics, Perry, who is a Methodist, apparently realized that conservative religious zealots would propel him to fame, fortune and power if he pandered to them. That, unfortunately, puts the LGBT community in the crosshairs of Perry’s aim, so it is a real possibility that the rest of the nation is going to experience what it is like to live in a state where an over-the-top, anti-gay elected official sets the political tone. •

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright

Can serotonin cure gay mice? Do we care?

Researchers in China have reported a series of experiments indicating that sexual orientation — or at least sexual preference — in male mice is determined by the levels of serotonin in the rodents’ brain.

Mice first bred a little of boy rats whose brains were not receptive to serotonin then put them in a cage with females and other males. The male mice with brains not receptive to serotonin ignored all the other mice, male and female, at least in a sexual way. But when they put the not-receptive-to-serotonin boy rats in a cage with only other boy rats, “the modified males were far more likely to mount the male and emit a “mating call” normally given off when encountering females than unmodified males were,” according to reports on BBC News.

The researchers then bred a male mice that lacked the tryptonphan hydroxylase 2 gene, necessary for the production of serontonin and conducted the experiments again, getting similar results.

—  admin

WHAT’S BREWING: Elizabeth Taylor dies, Apple pulls ‘ex-gay’ app, Chick-fil-A exposed

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Actress Elizabeth Taylor, a longtime celebrity advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS, has died at 79 from congestive heart failure. From Wikipedia: Taylor devoted much time and energy to AIDS-related charities and fundraising. She helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) after the death of her former costar and friend, Rock Hudson. She also created her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (ETAF). By 1999, she had helped to raise an estimated US$50 million to fight the disease. In 2006, Taylor commissioned a 37-foot (11 m) “Care Van” equipped with examination tables and X Ray equipment and also donated US$40,000 to the New Orleans Aids task force, a charity designed for the New Orleans population with AIDS and HIV. The donation of the van was made by the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation and Macy’s.

2. In response to an outcry from the LGBT community, Apple has removed Exodus International’s “gay cure” app from the iTunes store. “We removed the Exodus International app from the App Store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people,” an Apple spokesman told FoxNews.com. More than 146,000 people had signed an online petition launched by Truth Wins Out calling for the app to be removed.

“This is not a question of free speech, but of stopping a virulently anti-gay organization from peddling false speech at the expense of vulnerable LGBT youth,” said John Becker, director of ommunications and development for Truth Wins Out. “Exodus may pose as the victim, but they are a victimizer that has left a trail of shattered lives and broken families. We are grateful that Exodus has lost at least one platform with which to disperse its dangerous message.”

3. An investigative report published Tuesday by Equality Matters shows that from 2003-08, Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm gave more than $1 million to anti-gay groups: When two Missouri organizations, the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and FOCUS St. Louis, decided earlier this month to cancel a presentation by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy over his company’s controversial affiliations, they made the right decision. Although Cathy has unequivocally denied being anti-LGBT and claimed that he and the company have “no agenda against anyone” and “will not champion any political agendas on marriage and family,” Equality Matters research proves just the opposite. In fact, the company has strong, deep ties to anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and its charitable division has provided more than $1.1 million to organizations that deliver anti-LGBT messages and promote egregious practices like reparative therapy that seek to “free” people of being gay.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Youth pastor at anti-gay church says he had sex with boys to purify them

 

Brent Girouex

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A former youth pastor at an anti-gay church in Iowa is charged with 60 counts of sexual exploitation after he told police he molested young males to purify them in the eyes of God. Brent Girouex, 31, of Victory Fellowship Church in Council Bluffs, said he wanted to help the victims with homosexual urges by praying while they had sexual contact with him, according to police. “When they would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind,” Girouex allegedly told authorities. In 2010, Victory Fellowship Church used its website to call on people to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Read more on Girouex’s church from Truth Wins Out.

2. Speaking of “ex-gay” therapy, Exodus International now claims its iPhone app isn’t designed to cure people of homosexuality. The group’s statement comes in response to a petition by Truth Wins Out — which now has more than 127,000 signatures — calling on Apple to remove the ex-gay app from the iTunes store.

3. A homophobic new ad (screen grab above) for the Brazilian liquor Cachaça Magnifica suggests that parents might need a strong drink after discovering their son is gay. Who the hell comes up with this shit? Answer: Agência 3, Rio.

—  John Wright

Janssons to speak at Truth Wins Out event

KC, left, and Larry Jansson

KC and Larry Jansson, the subject of last week’s Valentine’s article, will speak in Memphis on Feb. 21. That stop is the end of a 12-city tour for Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen.

The event will highlight the harm caused by programs that claim to turn gay people straight through prayer and therapy, according to a Truth Wins of press release. Besen said he chose Memphis as his final stop because Exodus International’s flagship ministry, Love In Action, is based here. The Janssons met while participating in the six-month program at Love In Action.

They will share how they tried to “pray away the gay,” according to the press release. Well, maybe Larry did. He called himself the more brainwashed of the two. But KC thought the rules were a joke. He attended because his parents sent him and his choice was to be homeless.

Truth Wins Out wrote this:

Besen’s multi-media presentation offers a unique, innovative and entertaining look behind the mask of so-called “ex-gay” programs. Besen is the author of two books including the critically acclaimed, “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth”. He is also noted for photographing “ex-gay” poster boy John Paulk in a gay bar in Washington, DC and helping expose the late Rev. Jerry Falwell’s personal “ex-gay” activist Michael Johnston as a fraud.

The couple appeared on the Michelangelo Signorelli’s show on OutQ on Sirius radio today. Then on March 6, they will appear locally on Lambda Weekly on 89.3 KNON-FM at noon.

Larry called the attention they’ve gotten from the article overwhelming.

“It’s important to continue to speak out so that others don’t have to live through the pain we did,” said Larry. “It’s possible to live a happy and healthy life as gay.”

Sound like an “It Gets Better” video? They’re planning one soon.

—  David Taffet