Since yesterday afternoon, I have been working my way through a two hour podcast called “Deeper Waters,” featuring three paid “ex-gays”: Doug McIntyre, founder of Homosexuals Anonymous, Greg Quinlan of PFOX, and Grace Harley. Over the course of their discussion, they said things both shocking and profoundly sad, including the assertion in the headline, comparing “ex-gays” to Holocaust victims. If you have two hours, this podcast is a disturbing look at what “ex-gay” ideology really looks like. My major takeaway is how deeply they believe that their homosexuality was caused by early trauma in their lives, and honestly, the childhoods that these three describe sound painfully awful. The trouble is that they believe that their sexuality was caused by this trauma, which is simply scientifically wrong. I’m going to go through some highlights below, if you don’t feel like spending two hours (I listen to “ex-gay” podcasts so you don’t have to). These highlights go in the order in which they occur in the podcast.
Early in the podcast, all three describe their childhoods. Greg Quinlan says that he grew up with a “redneck father” and a “hypercritical mother,” and that his homosexuality was caused by Hugh Hefner. Really. He believes that his exposure to Playboy magazine at an early age led him to start having sex with one of his male friends. He describes a horrible relationship with a father who admitted that he hated him, and that he truly became “ex-gay” when he forgave his father.
Grace Harley claims that she was both homosexual and transgender. She was molested by a relative at eight years old, but reports that she felt attracted to women long before that. She says she didn’t know she was transgender until she was in her twenties.
Doug McIntyre reports that he grew up with dominant older sisters, a dominant mother and a dominant grandmother, and that his father beat him. He also explains that he was molested by a neighbor at age four and pulled into a pedophile ring for ten years. Toward the end of that time, he was a full fledged male prostitute, and was arrested. His story confuses me a bit because he doesn’t actually say that he was gay, but that he was being abused and started selling his body. After turning his life around and going to a Christian boarding school, he went on to form Homosexuals Anonymous.
The host asks them if they still are attracted to the same sex, and both Quinlan and McIntyre dance around the question. They explain that they believe homosexuality to be a “compulsion” and that, because they no longer feel “compelled” to have sex with men, they are no longer gay. Does this mean that every time a gay person goes through a dry spell, or just experiences a slump in libido (yes, Quinlan, normal gay people experience the same ebbing and flowing of libido as everyone else), that they’re not gay anymore? The truth is that McIntyre and Quinlan are gay men who allegedly are not having sex with men these days. No matter how much they want to deny science and teach people that homosexuality is a “behavior” or a “compulsion,” it’s simply not true.
Quinlan is not married, but explains that he is “taking applications from the opposite sex,” with his primary requirements being that they are currently breathing and unmarried. That is quite a low bar.
Harley, on the other hand, claims that she was magically delivered from homosexuality on Bill Clinton’s birthday in 1992, and that she hated that it happened on that day, but that she has never had another gay thought. She also explains that, at some point during that period, the Lord changed the radio station in the car, from a secular station to a Christian station. I was not aware that the Lord intervened in those situations.
Harley went on to claim that she has also been delivered from being transgender, and that she is so much of a woman now that she has lipstick in her purse, and that the day before, she couldn’t find any shoes in her house and she wore high heels. She follows the high heels story with a hearty “Hallelujah!,” at which point Doug McIntyre asserts that he still has better taste in dresses than his sisters.
(This podcast goes back and forth from unintentionally hilarious to profoundly sad, if you can’t tell.)
Addressing the fact that the only visible “ex-gays” on the planet seem to be those who are currently making money off of the scam,Doug McIntyre makes the insane claim that there are more people who have “come out of the homosexual lifestyle” than those who are “in it.” Quinlan then explains that we don’t know who these people are because they are being bullied by mean gay people and are afraid to come out. How that story would be believable to anyone, I do not know, but inside the Fundamentalist Christian bubble, they’ll believe anything. So deep is their imagined victimhood that McIntyre and Harley actually compare “ex-gays” to Holocaust victims. Not only is that statement profoundly sick, it’s anti-semitic. But McIntyre explains that the tactics used by gay activists are similar to those of the Third Reich in the years leading up to the Holocaust.
This, from people who claim to be heterosexual, and therefore are not victims of any sort of societal discrimination.
After these audacious statements, the group begins to discuss the “science” behind same sex attraction, with McIntyre claiming that, because alcoholism and pornography addictions affect the same area of the brain, homosexuality is an “addiction.” No one on the podcast notices that those things have absolutely nothing with each other, because they are all convinced that homosexuality is some sort of compulsion, and do not accept the reality that even if your bedroom is so dry that tumbleweeds have taken up residence in the area, if you are primarily sexually attracted to people of the same sex, you are gay.
Quinlan then takes over and incorrectly claims that science has found no biological basis for homosexuality. People started becoming gay, instead, because they took prayer out of schools and because “pornography became a civil right.” He then claims there is no such thing as separation of church and state, and that homosexuality became a thing when that silly notion became popular.
Harley, who is prone to meandering proclamations that start in one place and end up on another planet entirely, claims that children have to be taught how to withstand the solicitations and peer pressure to become gay in school. Moreover, she explains that, if gay people are happy being gay, then they have been “turned over to a reprobate mind” by God, and that, at their core, they serve Satan, their “true father.”
Harley also claims that gay activists “call all Christians hateful,” which is simply not true. There are many wonderful Christians who don’t teach a fraudulent form of “love” that requires LGBT people to deny who they are and live without love, as exemplified by the NALT Christians Project.
The conversation then turns to how Fundamentalist Christians should reach out to gay people. Doug McIntyre claims that it is important to tell people the truth (his version of it), because being gay means you’re going to have more depression, suicide and STD’s than any group in the world. This is particularly gross, because we know via common sense and social science that the primary reason for those statistics is that anti-gay churches, families and communities reject LGBT people and inject them with the sort of self-loathing that is the hallmark of fundamentalist Christianity. Absent that rejection and alienation, LGBT people don’t experience those things in such high numbers.
Quinlan tells the story of Molotov Mitchell and his “gay friend.” I wrote about this when it happened and explained that Molotov’s story was absolutely sick, and that in no way was he being a “friend” to this gay man. Here’s what I said in 2010:
In this creepy video, Molotov Mitchell talks about how he handles his “gay friends,” by telling them, with no supporting evidence whatsoever other than the fact that other people are brainwashed to believe the same things, that they are headed for a fiery hell.
At the end of the video, the “moral of the story” comes, because apparently the gay guy he’s talking about was particularly susceptible to becoming a victim for Mitchell, convinced to buy into self-loathing in service of a fundamentalist Christian worldview that has been summarily disproven, and moreover, is harmful to those who choose it as a lifestyle.
Quinlan, on the other hand, believes that Molotov’s story is exemplary of Christian love, which shows just how morally bankrupt their movement is.
Harley then shares her own opinions on reaching out to those inflicted with The Gay. She explains that she doesn’t know who in her life is gay, because she is not “up on her discernment.” This is a hilarious fundamentalist way of saying her gaydar is on the fritz. She does, however, believe that if a child is showing “tendencies,” that the family should seek Christian counseling to prevent homosexuality. Those unfamiliar with the practice should read Box Turtle Bulletin’s excellent report on Kirk Murphy, whose life was destroyed by counselors trying to prevent homosexuality in him. Harley also claims that children should be kept away from television and gay people, because children won’t know that homosexuality exists unless they’re told about it. This is fundamentally insane, and in utter denial of reality, but such is the “ex-gay” movement. Indeed, she claims that she didn’t know she was a “homosexual transgender” until she saw something about it on the eleven o-clock news. If she had not seen that news report, she says, she may not have entered “the lifestyle.”
Despite funny parts like that, the overall feeling of this podcast is deeply, profoundly sad. All three of the “ex-gay” activists had horrible childhoods, so if you’re gay, you must have also had a horrible childhood. They claim that “leaving the homosexual lifestyle” enabled them to heal, but it sounds much more like a Band-aid to me. They have a convenient scapegoat for their trauma, and they’re teaching others to use their sexuality as a scapegoat, to avoid true healing. The fact that they do this to themselves is sad, but the fact that they inflict it on others is cruel and evil. Millions of LGBT people grow up with happy, healthy childhoods, but those millions are not the prey for the cycle of abuse that characterizes the “ex-gay” movement. These three can’t see it, but they have become their abusers, and they prey on people who, like them, are extraordinarily broken. Instead of directing broken people to true healing, they convince them either that early childhood trauma caused their homosexuality, or that the awful state in which they find themselves (drug abuse, poverty, etc.) is caused by their homosexuality. For the Fundamentalist Christian community, they paint the average LGBT person as someone who is as broken as they are, and this works because Fundamentalist Christians are so inwardly focused and ignorant of the world outside their echo chambers that they don’t know any better.
Not all abusive personalities are violent. What they all do have in common is that they’re manipulative, and that they invade other innocent people’s lives with their own pain, which perpetuates the cycle. What Grace Harley, Greg Quinlan and Doug McIntyre have experienced in their lives is a tragedy. They are, however, adults, and they have a responsibility to do the real work and break the cycle of abuse in their lives. Living as spokespeople for a type of “therapy” that has been proven harmful, that has a track record of driving people to depression and suicide, and that, moreover, doesn’t even work, is not breaking the cycle.
They’ve simply found a different way to abuse, and it has to stop.