”I do not believe that cure is a word that is applicable to really any struggle, homosexuality included,” said Chambers, who is married to a woman and has children, but speaks openly about his own sexual attraction to men. “For someone to put out a shingle and say, `I can cure homosexuality’ – that to me is as bizarre as someone saying they can cure any other common temptation or struggle that anyone faces on Planet Earth.”
Earlier in the year, Chambers told the Gay Christian Network’s Justin Lee that 99.9% of his clients do not go from gay to straight.
“The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.”
Chambers’ rare bursts of honesty has many on the extreme right in full-fledged panic mode, as they see their ideology threatened or their lucrative business model in jeopardy.
The latest rat to jump ship is the excruciatingly verbose anti-gay ideologue Robert A. J. Gagnon (pictured), who is an associate professor of New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (Even his title makes me want to snooze). In a barely-readable, long-winded 35-page screed (This extremist never seems to get writers block) Gagnon wrote:
“Alan’s approach of providing assurances of salvation to those actively engaged in sexually immoral intercourse is a very different approach than Jesus’ and Paul’s warnings that immoral sexual behavior, among other offenses, can get one excluded from the kingdom of God and thrown into hell.”
Personally, I think that Chambers is on borrowed time. Here is what I recently wrote about the topic:
There are many “ex-gay” activists and reparative therapists who have a vested interest in keeping the scam alive. Some have profited handsomely by engaging in consumer fraud and promising a miracle cure that does not exist. Others have desperately held on to the lie that they have overcome homosexuality for ideological reasons. Exodus’ alleged new direction is a direct threat to these charlatans and zealots who now see Chambers as a heretic selling out their cause.
An Exodus revolt might already be underway. According to a recent report by Ex-Gay Watch:
Random references to groups that had left them led us to compile a detailed comparison of the current Exodus member ministry listings to that of a year ago. Previous to this, Exodus never had much churn from year to year, so losing 20 (or roughly 22%) in one year, many in recent months, is really unheard of. We can’t be certain how or why all these groups came to be delisted, but some of them have been with Exodus since almost the beginning. At least a couple seem to have shut down, perhaps due to the same forces affecting Exodus.
Interestingly, there is an odd debate circulating in some LGBT circles on how to handle the newer version of Exodus. According to an article in Religious Dispatches:
Some gay Christians may still want to try to live in accordance with conservative understandings of sexual ethics, but that path will be a lot more honest, and a lot less psychologically harmful, if they’re not expecting a full scale change in sexual orientation and are not blaming themselves or questioning the state of their souls if they fail to achieve it. Exodus’ critics—gay, Christian or otherwise—who have maintained conversation with them should be credited with helping effect this change. And they, like the rest of us, should continue to work to hold Exodus to promises of amends for harm done by their earlier positions….Exodus may be changing, as is the field of gay politics more generally. But it is only one part of a wider, and in many ways more extreme, movement. While its changes should be acknowledged and encouraged, Exodus should not be conflated with the ex-gay movement as a whole. That, too, many shift over time, but not without a fight.
Let me be clear: Truth Wins Out is dedicated to the eradication of Exodus International and every other “ex-gay” hate group. We are not looking for a conversation with them. We are not looking to “encourage” or “reform” Exodus. We are looking to put this noxious organization out of business and look forward to the day it closes its doors. After all, why would gay activists work to keep alive an organization that demeans, dehumanizes, demonizes, and sermonizes against same-sex relationships? This is an outfit that considers LGBT people sinful, sick, sexually broken, and perverse. The world has about as much need for the existence of Exodus as it does for Black Face theater. Exodus is an ugly relic of the past and is not needed in a sane society where LGBT people are treated as equals.
You know what? It is not okay to portray my beautiful, loving relationship as “sin.” Any group that does so will be vigorously opposed and challenged by Truth Wins Out. There will be no free pass given for such nasty, retrograde attitudes because it is under the banner of faith. Sure, people have the right to believe whatever they want. But we also reserve the right to criticize such religious beliefs as despicable and toxic.
It is also crucial that some in our community stop promoting the meme that “ex-gay” organizations or anti-gay Christian therapists are needed as a stepping stone to coming out for evangelical or fundamentalist Christians. There was some truth to this argument a decade ago, but now it is retrograde and anachronistic. We live in an age of Modern Family and Glee, the President supports marriage equality along with Dick Cheney and 53-percent of the American public, and even Anderson Cooper has finally come out.
Clearly, the world has changed and even the most sheltered evangelicals and fundamentalists have access to the Internet and can witness the lives and loves of healthy, happy, LGBT people. We have to stop infantilizing conservative Christians, including LGBT ones, who falsely claim that we just don’t speak their language. After following these folks for decades, I am quite fluent in their language and I often don’t like what they are saying. And it is incumbent on us to speak out and challenge these individuals and their institutions when they preach homophobia or offer “ex-gay” programs.
Finally, just because a gay person has the misfortune of being born into a fundamentalist family does not mean the individual must be put through a dysfunctional coming out process that includes mean-spirited ministries and homophobic quacks who profit by exploiting such situations. LGBT Christians deserve the same top-notch mental health care, healthy support groups, love and respect, and sound scientific and spiritual advice as anyone else. Exodus and other so-called “ex-gay” organizations or counselors are not the place where a person is going to find such help, since such programs are not genuine stepping stones, but unnecessary landmines that retard the natural coming out process.
There are those in our community, unfortunately, who will argue that there is a place for such programs if they simply reform. I would strongly argue that such poor advice usually comes from those who have yet to fully shed their own shame from their evangelical past. I would suggest that such people get the professional help that they need to raise their level of self-esteem and self-respect.
Here are three things that Truth Wins Out would like to see:
1) Reparative therapy banned for minors in 50 states
2) Alan Chambers dusts off his resume and gets a real job, as Exodus closes its doors
3) Numerous lawsuits filed against “ex-gay” programs that have harmed their victims
The position of Truth Wins Out is reasonable, rational, and rather moderate. We believe that LGBT people are fine just the way they are and that you cannot pray away the gay. Any individual, religious group, quack therapist, or program that claims otherwise is biased and potentially committing consumer fraud. TWO will not hesitate to explicitly tell the truth about this issue, whether it is to the Religious Right or to LGBT activists who support the existence of these entities as a result of lingering internalized homophobia.