During the course of 2008, critics of the ex-gay movement have pointed to at least three prominent ex-gay activists whose web pages or recent statements spread unhealthy myths and ignorance about the human health disaster of HIV/AIDS.
Debbie Thurman of TheFormers.com:
Have we forgotten where AIDS originates? … the gay ghettoes, those urban areas where most homosexuals congregate and where gay bathhouses still operate with impunity. These are also the enclaves where intravenous drug use abounds.
“[For HIV infection] One of the fast growing demographics is now males, ages 13 to 24 … also points to the likelihood of older HIV-infected men having more sex with teenaged boys.”
Bob Davies, former executive director of Exodus International. The Exodus web site still claims:
Those who practice these sins “receive in their own persons the due penalty of their error” (v. 27). In today’ society, homosexuality is reaping a bitter harvest. Homosexual men are six times more likely to have attempted suicide than heterosexual men. Between 25 and 33 percent of homosexual men and women are alcoholics (the national average is 7 percent). Currently, 70 percent of Americans with AIDS are male homosexuals or bisexuals. Homosexual involvement reaps deep devastation in the lives of many who practice it.
Perhaps most grotesque is an alleged statement by Joseph Nicolosi, former head of NARTH. According to former patient Daniel Gonzales:
I remember Dr. Nicolosi telling me, in response to the question of whether one could easily contract HIV from semen, that if this were the case then gays would be “jerking off in hamburgers all over” to infect people.
All of the above ex-gay myths are discussed and refuted on the linked web sites.
I was reminded of this ongoing pattern of ignorance today when I saw the latest news from geneticists tracing the history of HIV.
From HealthDay News via washingtonpost.com:
The most pervasive global strain of HIV began spreading in humans around 1900 in sub-Saharan Africa, a new study claims.
The research, which is published in the current issue ofNature, found that HIV began spreading between 1884 and 1924, around the same time urban centers in west central Africa were established. This estimated time of origin is decades earlier than the previous estimate of 1930.
As critics have said before: If these ex-gay activists — and those who stand by them — were consistent in their ignorance, they would now blame AIDS on the modernization of Africa or, worse, on “the African lifestyle.”
But they don’t: Unlike same-sex-attraction, ignorance is a choice, and these particular ex-gay activists — most notably, Exodus’ web editors — choose what to be ignorant about. They can choose to “change,” but despite criticism, they have not.