Yes I can!

couch
DECISIONS, DECISIONS Life coach Tim Kincaid helps with those needed a-ha moments when gay men can’t figure things out on their own. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

The Gay Coaches Alliance isn’t what it sounds like — members like Tim Kincaid just want to make gay men more fabulous

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

When I first heard of the Gay Coaches Alliance, my mind flashed back to my high school coach’s gloriously thick thighs in tight grey Bike shorts. Man, those were some nice thighs. Alas, this groups isn’t a GSA for queer whistle-wearers. None of these coaches were going to improve my running time. Rather, GCA is an organization of life coaches that want to get gay men on the path to a better self.

And local coach Tim Kincaid had his sights set on me.

First I had to figure out if I needed coaching. I’m pretty relaxed about everything around me. When the office is insane, the boyfriend’s in a mood and the traffic won’t let up, I can Zen myself into a chill zone. I have freakouts, but mostly, I’m good.

Then I discovered that’s not what gay coaching is about; it may even be holding me back. Chill isn’t bad, but it doesn’t put me in motion.

Prior to our laser session (translation: a roughly 20-minute abbreviated rap), Kincaid sent me the Wheel of Life exercise in which I rate key segments of life like career, relationships and personal growth from one to ten on a pie diagram. Then I connect the dots to see how un-round my wheel is. Even cavemen would’ve thought mine was a hot mess.

“That’s not unusual,” Kincaid says. “Let’s take a look at some of these.”

We discussed safe ones like “physical environment” and “career.” I didn’t want to get into specifics about my “erotic fulfillment” or “significant other/romance” channels in just a few minutes. That stuff is too juicy and will wait for my memoirs.

The idea behind coaching works to help people build stronger lives through deep listening, compassion and empathy. Ultimately, the client (here, me) comes with his or her own answers.

“We help them think through situations by asking powerful questions,” Kincaid says. “Coaching is more present- and future-oriented with a bias for action.”

As it turns out, my bias for action involves clearing out the dining room and looking for advice on a potential side business. After moving into the boyfriend’s house, I’ve wanted to make my stamp on the place. My ingrained laziness at moving heavy things and unpacking forgotten boxes is my biggest opponent. Only no longer!  Thanks, Tim Kincaid!

“Part of coaching is to deep dive into your values and see what makes you tick,” he says. “If that value isn’t being honored, we have to get to what will resonate with who you are.”

To make me accountable, he finally asked if I’ll do it. I learned that when a coach asks something, a simple “yes” or “no” suffices, but with a nay comes a counteroffer and I did not have time for that. I mean, Project Runway is back on.

Thus, by Labor Day, that room will be (notice I didn’t say should) edited down to the necessities before making a den out of it. As for the side business, he assigned me to contact a peer I knew in the field to pick their brain and get some basic advice. That was done by the end of the day. Score! Man, progress felt good.

Kincaid discovered his passions have altered over the years. He dreamed of working for American Airlines, which he did for 16 years. At 50, that changed. He took an early retirement package, earned his doctorate, received coach training and now he makes lives better — or gives them direction rather. Although the focus of him and the GCA is geared toward gay men, he’s not opposed to expanding his services to the other letters of the LGBT communities.

“The alliance figured there were a lot of gay men who needed a coach to get past unquestioned beliefs or things told to them by culture and society,” he says. “I would love to see other groups form and coach all people in the community. This is just the starting point.”

I told Kincaid I felt guilty for wanting more since dreams of mine have come true. He told me something I never considered.

“Just dream some more,” he says.

That’s some good Oprah-stuff right there.

For more information, visit KincaidCoaching.com or TheGayCoaches.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

This JONAH has one whale of a story to tell

Jewish ‘ex-gay’ group is just another attempt to get money from conflicted gay men for ‘therapies’ that do nothing but let closeted gays get their jollies through others’ fears

Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

JonahWith all the hubbub of the Fred Phelps Cult making a visit here and the oil spill continuing in the Gulf, one story seems to have dropped through the cracks. Luckily, Wayne Besen at the blog Truth Wins Out (TruthWinsOut.org)  has been on it like a dog on a bone. It involves a group called JONAH.

Aside from the biblical acronym, the group’s full name is Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, and it is part of the ex-gay industry.

Now before anyone corrects me and notes that it should be called the “ex-gay movement,” let me explain.

Not only has the whole “ex-gay” or “reparative therapy” thing been debunked by the scientific community, no major scientific group actually approves “treatment” to change sexual orientation. No one, from the American Psychiatric Association to the American Psychological Association, even considers homosexuality something to be cured.

So what you have with the ex-gay industry is a bogus cure in search of a disease, and more to the point, several organizations who have found that the whole useless endeavor can generate a lot of cash.

So, far from being a grassroots movement, the ex-gay scam is a business, albeit “non-profit.”

Meanwhile, back to JONAH.

The group was co-founded by a fellow named Arthur Abba Goldberg. Seems he was known 20 years ago in the financial community as “Abba Cadabra” for his apparent wizardry with money. That wizardry turned out to be a scam, and Goldberg was convicted of federal mail and wire fraud as well as a conspiracy to sell worthless bonds.

The guy is a real peach, and now he has reinvented himself as the leader of an “ex-gay” therapy group.

One of his “life coaches,” Alan Downing, recently has been implicated in something a bit more touchy-feely than you would expect from an ex-gay. According to men who went to Downing, part of his treatment involves having clients strip naked in front of a mirror while touching parts of their bodies, including their genitals.

The activity is observed by the “therapist” while he encourages the subject to “internalize his masculinity.” If this sounds like a voyeurs’ delight, you haven’t heard anything yet.

Downing and Goldberg are part of another bunch called “People Can Change.” A big part of their “therapy” is participating in a retreat near Phoenix, called “Journey into Manhood.” According to a writer, Ted Cox, who secretly attended one of the sessions, for $650 a pop you get to participate in a group grope for the weekend.

Now if this sounds homoerotic, what goes on there seems even less like therapy and more like just plain sex. Participants make the journey to manhood by hugging, touching and lying on each other in a “cuddle room.” Manly stuff!

If this were a Body Electric retreat I could understand it, but for something that is supposed to “cure” homosexuality, it seems to be far off the mark.

My whole point is that the “ex-gay” industry is rife with scandal. From George Rekers, the anti- gay activist who hired a “rent boy” for a European vacation, to John Paulk, former chairman of Exodus International who was photographed coming out of a gay bar in Washington D.C., the ex-gays just can’t seem to keep their gay from coming out.

I fully expect to hear about even more surprises from the reparative therapy scam in the future. But I shouldn’t be surprised.

It all stems from the greed of folks who see in gay men a vulnerability, especially if those gay men have not fully accepted their own sexuality. It is the worst kind of deceit, to prey on the psychologically vulnerable and manipulate them for cash.

It is unfortunate that they hide behind pseudo-religious organizations that protect their questionable programs as “free speech.” Maybe as more and more of these groups are exposed and debunked, their victims will see the futility of trying to change and embrace their sexuality.

That will also take society to change as well, but luckily it is already happening. Public opinion surveys show more and more Americans affirm the idea of equal rights including marriage for LGBT people.

It is my hope that some day those unhappy people who turned to groups like JONAH will emerge like the biblical Jonah from the whale into the sunlight. Then they can work on frying the bigger fish, accepting their sexuality and enjoying their lives.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens