Gay v. Ex-Gay and the Ties That Divide

In celebration of traditional marriage, The Family Research Council (FRC) is declaring the month of July Ex-Gay Pride Month. The kickoff will involve a special dinner to spotlight former homosexuals and their families, and the official launch of two new ex-gay activist groups, including Voice of the Voiceless (VoV).

The goal of VoV, co-founded by Christopher Doyle, is to protect the rights (albeit undefined) of ex-homosexuals and to celebrate their departure from the gay community.

As a former homosexual, Doyle explains, "I was once one of those persons. I am now married to a woman... we've just been really marginalized by the LGBT activist groups because they're threatened we are seeking a different path."

The History page of the VoV website elaborates on this point of animosity; it reads, "We have suffered enough abuse in the... (LGBT) community, and condemn former homosexuals and those who experience unwanted [same-sex attraction] SSA."

The marginalization Doyle speaks of is not a fantasy. There is arguably a great deal of hostility toward the ex-gay community, but upon a closer investigation, the cause is clear and comprehensible.

For one, the title of "ex-gay," which Doyle and others have assumed, is a source for enmity in and of itself, as it makes a statement not just about the existence of former homosexuals, but about the gay community, as well.

There is a reason why members of VoV don't identify simply as straight; they are choosing to identify themselves in relation to the gay community, to say they were once members of that group, wanted to change and were successful.

The hostility arises because LGBT individuals don't want to change nor do they believe one's sexual preference can be changed -- an identical sentiment that goes uniquely unchallenged in the heterosexual community.

It's no secret that the methods of "praying the gay away," exorcism, hypnotism and other forms of so-called therapies are opposed by gay advocates; these methods are widely known to create extreme psychological and in some cases physical pain to the individual, mostly resulting in an unchanged sexual orientation. Thus, this concept of changing one's sexual preference is extremely problematic in that it encourages these incredibly harmful conversion practices.

Furthermore, it belittles efforts for equality, suggesting that homosexuals don't need equal protection under the law, as their sexual preference is more of a "condition" that can be cured. In touting the "ex-gay" profile, Doyle and others are blatantly promoting that hotly challenged notion.

In addition to hostility, from the outside looking in, one might feel some degree of skepticism, particularly when the concept of unwanted same-sex attraction is raised.

Of course, an ex-gay sexual status implies a previous period of SSA, but the question VoV could be addressing is why was it unwanted? The mission statement mentions this period of sexual awareness quite matter-of-factly without diving into its origins.

But it seems as though the unwanted feeling originates externally, influenced by the attitudes observed by parents and family members as early as childhood, one's peers and community at the time of adolescence, and legislatively by the time one's reached adulthood.

For many individuals, the experience of maturation is one of compounded negativity, ostracism and oppression, which can result in fear, isolation, self-doubt and other harmful, self-projected attitudes. And so it's understandable why the unwanted feeling comes into play.

The skepticism applies to what exactly the focus of this feeling is. It would appear that it's not the SSA, given that the definition of sexual attraction implies desire and want. And if we eliminate attraction, the focus then seems to center around the discrimination, violence and general adversity that confront the LGBT community.

In referring to his former homosexual status, Doyle admitted, "The homosexual life was not for me." But a life of constantly fighting for your entitled equality is no life for anyone. For the Constitution affirms, such a life is intrinsically beneath everyone.

Finally, if there was still a doubt in Doyle's mind as to why such hostility exists, he need look no further than VoV's political affiliations.

July 31st, the FRC will host an honorary dinner for ex-gays and their families, and among the invitees are former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, former Senator Jim DeMint and State Rep. Tim Huelskamp.

The FRC, which is the vehicle behind VoV considers gay marriage to be a slippery slope, comparing it to the desire of a man in Missouri who wants to marry his horse.

Bachmann, an avid supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), holds steady in her conviction that gay rights infringe on straight rights, arguing that the Supreme Court ruling against DOMA was an attack on "the equal protection rights of every citizen under our Constitution."

DeMint continues to promote the false notion that heterosexual couples are better parents and Heulskamp, on the heels of the Supreme Court rulings against DOMA and Proposition 8, has introduced a federal ban on gay marriage.

These individuals are the legislative mouthpiece for LGBT opposition, so honoring their contributions to the gay rights conversation is quite the hostile gesture. With friends like Bachmann and Heulskamp, it's no wonder why Doyle and other ex-gays feel marginalized, and being in the unique position of coming from the gay community, they should understand why.

It was the voices of the FRC and DeMint that not too long ago directed their discriminatory speech at VoV members, but it seems that small fact has been forgotten. Perhaps, if ex-gay groups chose a different path to recognition, the reception by the LGBT community would have been different, as it is one thing to strive to be straight while maintaining an alliance to your former community, but it is certainly another to align, celebrate and dine with the enemy.