Great Read: Writer Goes Undercover At An Ex-Gay Camp

Great Read: Writer Goes Undercover At An Ex-Gay Camp

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to spend a weekend of your life in the middle of the desert at one of those quasi-Christian camps dedicated to "curing" the gay right out of your genitals? Well, wonder no more!

Over at Alternet, you can read all about how Ted Cox went undercover at a "Journey Into Manhood" camp, Matt Taibbi-in-The Great Derangement-style. What does it feel like for a man, learning to be a man, with the help of other men? It involves isolation and strange rituals and "Native American flute music" and re-enactments of junior high school gym class humiliations.

Oh! It also involves spending the day participating in astoundingly homoerotic activities:

"For this next exercise," says one of the staff, "Try to keep an open mind."

Three staff members take a seat in the middle of the room. They demonstrate three different "healing touch" techniques.

First: Side-by-side, where two men sit shoulder-to-shoulder, facing the same direction, their legs outstretched in front of them. The man giving the Healing Touch puts one arm around the receiver.

Second: The Cohen Hold, named after "certified sexual re-orientation coach" and Healing Touch pioneer Richard Cohen. For this position, the receiver sits between the legs of the giver, their chests perpendicular, the receiver's head resting on the giver's shoulder. The giver encircles his arms around the receiver.

Third: The Motorcycle. The receiver again sits between the legs of the giver; this time, the receiver leans his back up against the chest of the giver. Again, the giver wraps his arms around the receiver.


The Guide leans back and opens up his legs. I scoot between his thighs, turn away from his face, and lean back while he wraps his arms around me. I flash back to a night months before, when a then-girlfriend held me the same way. She lit candles. We drank wine and later had sex.

At the Guide's direction, the other men from the group place their hands on my arms, legs, and chest. This is so they can impart their healing masculine energy to me.


The Guide whispers in my ear how I used to be the Golden Child, how everything was wonderful before someone hurt me, how I put up walls to protect myself, and now it was time for those walls to come down.

Like so many times that night, I'm trying not to crack up.

Yeah, well, that's understandable. But there's plenty of stuff to read about that's not at all funny. Like the bizarre exercise in which participants are asked to beat their "fathers" in effigy to death with baseball bats. There's also the fact that "ex-gay watchdog groups document the stories of men who, after years of failed attempts to become straight, resort to suicide."

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