Good Christian belle

Gay ally Kristin Chenoweth talks about her new country music CD (she adores Dolly!), queers … and the right way to be a Christian

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO KRISTIN | The performer has conquered stage, recording, TV … and uniting gay rights with her faith.

Kristin Chenoweth doesn’t get miffed very easily. But when she does, watch out. Last year, after Newsweek published a commentary on the inability of gay actors to play straight roles, she wrote an extensive letter to the magazine, calling the article “horrendously homophobic.”

But Chenoweth’s allegiance to the gay community goes back to growing up in Oklahoma — a place she returned to for her latest album, Some Lessons Learned, the first of four where the opera-trainer singer fully embraces her country roots.

We had lots to talk about when we caught up with Chenoweth, on a dinner break from shooting her upcoming series, Good Christian Belles. She discussed her history of dating gay men, her opinion on Michele Bachmann’s support of gay conversion clinics … and being a little bit wicked.

— Chris Azzopardi

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Dallas Voice: Your character’s name on Good Christian Belles is Cockburn — Carlene Cockburn. Chenoweth: I can’t wait for my family to hear that one. Are you kidding? I was like, “Wait a minute…!” But I just think the most important thing for me as an actress, because of the lines that come out of my mouth, is to just have to speak them and keep going, because they’re so funny and her name is so funny and the whole thing is just so great. I love it.

Does your character have anything in common with April Rhodes, who you play on Glee? Probably not on paper, but they’re both pretty outlandish people. Carlene, though, is the antithesis of April.

You grew up in Oklahoma, so country music is your roots. How is your new album a reflection of that? It’s so funny, because I get asked, “Why a country album now?” But that’s how it all began for me. Of course, why would anyone know that? It’s not something I’ve been talking about a lot, but it’s the music I grew up listening to. One of my biggest influences is Dolly Parton, and when you look at the history of songs in musical theater and in country, they’re both usually great storytellers.

I know just how lucky I am to do this kind of music. Getting to go to Nashville and sing this music that feels like home to me was a real gift, and one that I don’t take lightly.

The song “What Would Dolly Do?” reminds me a lot of Dolly herself. I co-wrote that. [Producer] Bob Ezrin asked, “Who’s had the biggest influence on you country music-wise?” I said, “Dolly, without question.” And he said, “How would she approach it? Let’s think: What would Dolly do?” I said, “Bob, why aren’t we writing that song?”

There’s something about her that I feel very attuned to. There’s only one Dolly. I’m not comparing myself, but I’m just saying her spirit and the way she looks at life is pretty similar to me. And the cover I did of hers [“Change”] is actually a very emotional thing and it reminded me — of course, how could I ever forget? — what an amazing songwriter she is. You know, I didn’t do a lot of covers. I did two covers, one of Carrie [Underwood] and one of Dolly’s, and I just love both of them. I love their music, I love their spirit — everything they stand for.

It makes total sense, because, to me, both you and Dolly epitomize happiness. Oh my god, thank you. That’s the biggest compliment you could give me.

So, being so happy… what pisses you off? Oh, gosh! I don’t really get mad that often. But I’m not going to lie: When I do, there’s a quiet that comes over me that is a little like whoa, and that happens when I don’t feel other people are prepared or doing their job or pulling their weight. I come from a family where my dad came from nothing and worked hard to get where he is, and he said, “Work hard, play hard, Kris,” and I guess that’s kind of been my motto in life. So when I see people squandering opportunities or having a sense of entitlement, that really makes me crazy. Because I don’t understand it. It’s not a world I get.

One thing that does make you upset is homophobic people. I don’t like that, you’re right.

Your letter in response to that Newsweek column said it all. Why was it important to address your feelings on that issue? To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen. I was on Broadway doing Promises, Promises, and I read the article and I actually thought it was pretty irresponsible. I’m not even talking about whether a person agrees with being gay or not, I’m talking about artistry and gay

actors trying to play straight. It just made me mad, because I thought, “Well, I’ve played a prostitute, does that mean I am one? No.” I just thought it was a little bit of a bullying thing, and I honestly prayed about it — no kidding, I prayed about it.

And by the way, I’m a big fan of the magazine, which is why I was so bummed. But I think that they felt bad and hopefully there’s been some discussion about it and some learning, because that’s what we’re here to do on this Earth, to learn our purpose. Well, one of my purposes in this life — since I’m a believer and a Christian — is to help people realize that not every Christian thinks that being gay is a sin.

To reinforce your point, you made out with your Promises, Promises co-star Sean Hayes at the Tonys last year. It might’ve been a little jibe. It might’ve been a little one! Ha!

What was it like to make out with a gay man? Was that your first time? Well, let’s face it, my high school boyfriend is gay, so I don’t think it’s my first time making out with gay men! I bet a lot of women don’t even know they’ve done it! And Sean Hayes is just a darn good kisser, what can I say?

Wait, so you dated a gay man in high school? Yeah, and I’m like, “Well, that’s why we were such a great couple!” He didn’t pleasure me in any way but he helped me pick out my prom dress!

Was he one of the first gay people you knew in Oklahoma? Yeah. I want to tell you something I know about myself: When I was in the second or third grade, I first heard the word “dyke,” and it was in reference to a girl in our school who was very, very tomboyish. I didn’t really understand what the word was, but I knew I didn’t like the way it was said. And for some reason I’ve always been drawn to the person that was alone, and I don’t mean to make me sound like I’m Mother Teresa, because I’m not. But I’ve always been drawn to people who felt left out or different, and maybe it’s because, I too, felt different and unique. People would not think this of me, because there’s this perception of me that, “Oh, life’s been perfect and things have come so easily.”

But let’s face it: My speaking voice is very interesting. Yes, I was a cheerleader but I also wanted to do all the plays, I was in renaissance choir, and, I too, felt a little bit like an outsider. I was always drawn to people who felt that way, too. And sure, some of them were gay and I never did understand — I guess the word is fear.

God made us all equal. He made me short, he made someone gay, he made someone tall — whatever it is, it’s not a sin; it’s how we’re made. And that’s the way I feel about it. It flies in the face of a lot of what Christians believe, but as I’m finding out there’s a lot of Christian people who think the same as me. So that’s my deal, and I think we should not be careful of the unknown but rather accepting and loving of it.

As someone who’s Christian and supports the gay community, how do you feel about the pray-away-the-gay program that Michele Bachmann supports? [Long pause] You know what, you can have your opinion. One of the great things about being in this country is we get to freely say what we believe. I just don’t happen to agree with that. Though I like the “pray” part!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Peter LaBarbera freely admits to using Paul Cameron’s discredited work, sees nothing wrong with it

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

If you want the quintessential fact why the Southern Poverty Law Center is correct in calling out certain religious right organizations for their anti-gay bias, check out this portion of an interview between members of two of these groups -  Peter LaBarbera, head of Americans for Truth and Martha Kleder of the Concerned Women for America:
 

Transcript:

Kleder: One of the things I've also noticed is that the SPLC seems to be riled by the  fact . . . uh . . . if they don't particularly like your source that you document then you must be a hate group.

LaBarbera: Paul Cameron

Kleder:  Yeah.

LaBarbera: They say if you cite Paul Cameron, then you are a hater. I mean that's ridiculous. You know there is a researcher who just came out and found that Paul Cameron's work on the greater likelihood of homosexual adoptive parents to have . . . for the child to emerge as a homosexual. He confirmed Cameron's thesis. You don't have to agree with everything Paul Cameron ever did but how proposterous to say that citing a researcher . . Paul Cameron's work has been published in peer-reviewed journals. What they've done, Martha is set up these criteria and then you violate them,  they call you a hate group, and then they have their little echo chamber on the left which reports their charge. And of course the media, which really doesn't like us anyway. The media is very pro-gay, they cite us and so it begins to take a life of its own.

One of the main reasons why religious right groups (i.e. Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, The Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, etc.) have been profiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-gay hate groups is because of their repeated citings of the work of discredited researcher Paul Cameron. They use his work to spread propaganda about lgbts.

As all of us, if the not the vast majority of us, knows, Cameron is a researcher who has made a name for himself by creating studies designed to demonize the lgbt community.  These studies for the most part have been published in “vanity” or “pay-for-publish” journals and they are not “peer-reviewed” in the normal sense. No “peer” who objects to Cameron's work has the right to remove it from the journal.

He has also been discredited and censured by many group and individuals on the left, the right, and in the middle due to his bad research techniques. Several of his studies have been criticized for such errors as having small sample sizes, showing an anti-gay bias in interviews, and not having enough responses to establish a suitable analysis.

Let's take a quick look at his history:

“Right now, here in Lincoln, there is a 4-year-old boy who has had his genitals almost severed from his body at Gateway in the rest room with a homosexual act… It’s really awkward. I could see where Gateway would want to suppress this. I could see where the parents would want to suppress it. It could be just a rumor. But enough things have happened recently so that such a thing doesn’t have to be invented.” – Paul Cameron told this story to a group in 1982 in Lincoln, NB in an attempt to kill a human rights ordinance,  Lincoln Star May 8, 1982

The story was discovered to be a hoax and Cameron was called out in the local newspaper-  “A leading opponent of the proposed Lincoln Human Rights Amendment spreads rumors of an alleged vicious incident calculated to damage the proposal’s chances at the polls. When asked about it, he admits the rumor was without foundation. He refused to say from whom he heard the rumor. Nonetheless, he still insists it ‘could be true’, even though responsible authorities in the city say there was not a shred of evidence such an incident ever took place. The seed is planted, to the contrary.” – Editorial. Lincoln Star (May 10, 1982), as quoted by Brown, Robert D.; Cole, James K. Letter to the Editor, Nebraska Medical Journal 70, no. 11 (November 1985)

. Cameron has also had numerous condemnations rained down on him by the medical community:

“(Cameron) misrepresents my findings and distorts them to advance his homophobic views. I make a very clear distinction in my writing between pedophilia and homosexuality, noting that adult males who sexually victimize young boys are either pedophilic or heterosexual, and that in my research I have not found homosexual men turning away from adult partners to children . . . I consider this totally unprofessional behavior on the part of Dr. Cameron and I want to bring this to your attention. He disgraces his profession.” – Dr. A. Nicholas Groth in letter written to the Nebraska Board of Examiners of Psychologists on August 21, 1984
 
“Paul Cameron (Nebraska) was dropped from membership for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists – American Psychological Association, 1983

 
The science and profession of psychology in Nebraska as represented by the Nebraska Psychological Association, formally dissociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writings and public statements on sexuality. Further, the Nebraska Psychological Association would like it known that Dr. Cameron is not a member of the Association. Dr. Cameron was recently dropped from membership in the American Psychological Association for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists – Nebraska Psychological Association, 1984

 
Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism” – American Sociological Association, 1985

The Canadian Psychological Association takes the position that Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism and thus, it formally disassociates itself from the representation and interpretations of scientific literature in his writings and public statements on sexuality. – Canadian Psychological Association, 1996

And while we are at it, let's not forget those on the right who dismiss Cameron's work:

“Given what I now know, I believe there are flaws with Paul Cameron's study. One cannot extrapolate from his methodology and say that the average male homosexual life span is 43 years.” – former Ronald Regan Cabinet member William Bennett criticizing Cameron's “gay lifespan study.” – New Republic (1998, February 23, page 4)

This article has been removed due to the inaccuracies surrounding the research of Paul Cameron. – A posting on the webpage of Ex-gay group Exodus International

And if that's not enough to convince you of Cameron's lack of credibility, check out various comments he has made regarding the lgbt community:

“What homosexuals do is so incredibly stupid, so patently absurd and antibiological, that only a foolish society would take their whimpering about ‘equal rights with heterosexuality’ seriously . . . Are we supposed to feel so sorry for them that we join them in the march to the cemetery?” – Paul Cameron, The Advocate, October 29, 1985

“At the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference, Cameron announced to the attendees, ‘Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.’ According to an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Cameron was recommending the extermination option as early as 1983.” – Mark E. Pietrzyk, New Republic, October 3, 1994

“If you isolate sexuality as something solely for one’s own personal amusement, and all you want is the most satisfying orgasm you can get – and that is what homosexuality seems to be — then homosexuality seems too powerful to resist. The evidence is that men do a better job on men, and women on women if all you are looking for is an orgasm.” - Paul Cameron, Rolling Stone, March, 18, 1999

Cameron is the religious right's dirty little secret. Many of the organizations named as anti-gay hate groups by the SPLC  have used Cameron's studies even though they are aware of his dubious history of condemnations.

However, many of them won't admit to this fact.That is except for Peter LaBarbera. And what makes it worse is that LaBarbera is trying to justify work he knows has credibility problems.

And by the way, LaBarbera's claim that another researcher proved Cameron's thesis about children in same-sex households is also incorrect. LaBarbera failed to mention that the researcher, Walter Schumm, used the same bad methodology Cameron used to come to his original thesis:

Schumm’s “meta-analysis” (and Cameron’s before him) doesn’t even have the benefit of being built off of random convenience samples. There were no convenience samples in any of the ten prior works that Schumm used for his meta-analysis. In fact, they weren’t even professional studies. They were popular books! That’s right, each of the ten sources that Schumm used to construct his “meta-analysis” were from general-audience books about LGBT parenting and families, most of which are available on Amazon.com. Schumm read the books, took notes on each parent and child described in the book, examined their histories, and counted up who was gay and who was straight among the kids.

But here is the important thing – with Cameron's credibility problem, if he were “publishing studies” about the African-American community, Jewish community, or women, then he and those who freely cite his work would be thought of as either racist, anti-Semitic, or gender biased.

So what's the difference between Cameron's work impugning any of these groups and what he is doing to the lgbt community? Why shouldn't be he and those who use his work be thought of as “haters” in spite of the fact that they can hide their lies behind the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality?

At any rate, the usage of Cameron's work certainly does put a monkeywrench into religious rights claims that they are being “targeted” by the SPLC because of their “Judeo-Christian” beliefs.

I never knew that freely citing research known to be sloppy and inaccurate was a tenet of  “Judeo-Christian” beliefs.

Related posts:

Homophobic 'researcher' Paul Cameron in all of his repulsive glory

More homophobic lies from the Paul Cameron Poland tour

Hat tip to Kyle Mantyla of People for the American Way's Right  Wing Watch , Box Turtle Bulletin, and Dr. Gregory Herek.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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