Bil Browning

A challenge accepted

Filed By Bil Browning | August 24, 2007 11:56 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, The Movement
Tags: ex-gay, IFI, Indiana Family Institute, Love Won Out, Ryan McCann

Over at the Indiana Family Institute's blog, Veritas Rex, Director of Operations and Public Policy Ryan McCann has issued a challenge to me that I'm perfectly willing to accept. Another blogger had a post up about Rev Billy Graham that ended with:

He's also demonstrated the most willingness to minister to those who need God. He reached out to the Clintons during their most difficult times. He's been the least judgmental.

Perhaps his chosen role is more appropriate for Christians? There are those who believe that his approach ultimately does more good for the faith.

I agreed with the sentiment and commented that if IFI followed Dr. Graham's "least judgmental" policy, I'd never have a cross word to say about them. (The Indiana Family Institute is known for right-wing attack ads, political lobbying and anti-gay diatribes.) The comments section lit up and Ryan issued a challenge to me to attend the Love Won Out ex-gay conference as his guest. He'll pay my way in the door and attend with me. But I have to say, you pick an odd first date, Ryan! You really know how to make an impression. I'd have just asked you to the movies... *grins*


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Bil,

I just sent you an email, but I would like to publicly thank you for accepting my offer. It took courage and I respect you for it. I look forward to getting to know you...though I must admit that my invitation was not meant as a date...lol. Dates are overrated anyway, often uncomfortable and forced. Sometimes friendship is the way to go. :)

And I have replied, Ryan. As I said to you there, I've often wondered what happened at one of those conferences... You don't have to worry about what to call our relationship yet - I don't put out on the 1st date and that's still months away. *laughs*

Seriously though. I look forward to going. It should be interesting, that's for sure!

Michael Bedwell | August 24, 2007 3:22 PM

Assuming you went, I'm reasonably confidant you won't exit their "love" cyclotron as another Michael Glatze. Sadly, I'm also confidant that, no matter how hard you might try [assuming you even would], no matter how intelligent, eloquent, sincere, you will be totally unsuccessful in breaking the evil spell under which the attendees who pay to go to these things have fallen. Most mean well, having been terrorized into believing that they or their son or daughter or whoever is going to burn in hell, not live past 40, molest children, etc., ad nauseum.

Frankly, I give NO benefit of the doubt to the organizers. They are PROFESSIONAL gay haters no matter how much they dress it up with all the "love" ribbons and hugs. It's simply another revenue stream for Focus on the Fascist Family. As Wayne Besen summarizes them, “These groups offer promises they can’t deliver
and deliver disasters they never promised."

"Ex gay" should always be written with quotation marks.

On a lighter but still relevant note, here's another "Bill" some of you may remember:

http://www.durfee.net/will/media/TurnedHisBack.wmv

and a follow-up scene in the first half of this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAdOfWIve4E

Alas, I couldn't find the climax (so to speak) but the keyword is "shower" and most know what happened to "Bill" in real life.

:- )

Bil they're not going to cast some spell on you and convert you I hope? If they do just remember to click your heels and repeat "there's no place like home, there's no place like home"

*grins* I don't think we have to worry about that Donna unless they're hypnotists. :)

Maybe they'll pull a Derren Brown on me...

Take good notes... then you can write a scathing critique ofo just what they mean by "change." Jim Burrowway at Box Turtle Bulletin cann give you some pointers. You can also insterview other gays who are there as attendees as to why they're there.... that is if you can find any.

Oh, why do I force myself to play devil's advocate, to stomp and dance on intellectual turf where angels (and definitely journalists!) fear to tread?

Philosophically, for the record, I do believe that gay men who want to live a heterosexual life have the right to do so ... but I do not believe they should be shamed, whether by religion or by social conformity pressures, into doing so. It must be a carefully thought-out, intellectually sovereign, and genuinely free choice which is arrived at in a psychologically healthy manner.

Believe it or not, there are thousands of women out there (women, care to speak for yourselves?) who would accept a gay man as a husband as long as he gave them the relationship they want, and not all women, even today, insist on monogamy. This is not to say that such marriages are easy. (What marriage is easy?) The wife and marriage of the late Hoosier composer Cole Porter is a case in point. The marriage of Leonard Bernstein, recently noted on this blog, is another.

(Who knows, in an alternate universe, possibly Lisa Minelli and David Guest would have lived happily ever after? ... No, my guess is that Lisa needs drama in her life more than love, and finds simple, month-after-month-and-year-after-year harmonious love to get boring very fast ... but I digress.)

But such husbands are not "ex-gay" ... they are simply gay men who find a workable way to marry a woman anyway.

Even so, I also believe that a gay man has a right to attempt to eliminate his homosexual desires from his personality. But I also believe that this pursuit, when repeatedly unsuccessful, should eventually be abandoned. Maybe all I am saying is, as gay men we must each be allowed to walk our own journey through life. Men walking this path do not deserve for us to ridicule them, but to be supported any way we can, even when our wish for them would be for them to select a different path, and to select it sooner rather than later.

Finally, I am not saying that the leaders of "ex-gay" movements are or are not charlatans --- I suspect that many are, and a few aren't --- but I am cautioning that great care is needed when we approach this topic, because the right of a gay men to live as straight is also a civil right --- and this is a carefulness that I often do not see the out-and-proud GLBT community practicing.

P.S. to Ryan McCann: If the chemistry between us is really good, I have been known to put out on a first date. So maybe you should invite me next time! --- AJL

Bil,

I would encourage you to attend with a very respectful attitude.

When I was coming out about 14 years ago, I attended one in Rochester NY. I was thinking homosexuality was immoral but had begun reading books by Christians which said it was OK. My purpose in going was to better understand why they thought it was immoral. No one, even at that time talked about being cured (only straight fundamentalist preachers and politicians say that) but they did talk about a life time of struggle.

What I did find was a lot of good gay, lesbian, and trans people who for many reasons believed their sexual orientation or gender identity was immoral and this was one of the very few places where they could openly talk about their issues of sexual orientation or gender identity. And since they thought it was immoral, one of the few places to get encouragement and assistance. To many of those who attend, just showing up at one of these conferences was very risky and personally threatening.

I would recommend reading “The Children are Free” by Jeff Miner or listen to a couple of his sermons on homosexuality and the Bible (www.jesusmcc.org). To most attending, the single most important issue is what does God think about this.

Dave Wene

PS Just as most of us do not like homophobic people interrupting our events, many of the people attending this conference do not want theirs interrupted either.

I've also attended Love Won Out as an openly gay guy who could count on being recognized as such. (I have dialogued with ex-gay supporters and leaders intermittently since 2000.) Jim Burroway has been much more effective than me in documenting his experiences at a different Love Won Out, but you can also see my observations, as far as I took them.

My approach was to go in with an open mind, prepared to listen as objectively as possible. The visceral responses came easily enough, some of which surprised me. The stories from Love Won Out are best told with the facts, though.

The other perspective I carried with me is that these folks live within a subculture which is foreign to me. I would feel out of place with the customs and assumptions of Hassidic, Muslim, and any number of other subcultures, so I find it helpful to be aware of the same regarding some conservative Christian environments.

And, for me, that is the prescient point about environments in which support for ex-gays is strong: These are subcultures with their own distinctive assumptions and approaches to relationships, science, education, and faith. They are entirely valid as such and have every right to exist within their ideology.

What they are not, but often portray themselves to be, is mainstream, or grounded with credible evidence, or authorities on how public policy should be crafted to serve all people fairly.

--Steve

I would encourage you to attend with a very respectful attitude.

Of course, David. Mostly I'm curious as to what goes on at one of those conferences. As I told Ryan in my e-mail to him, I tend to think of those conferences rather like the Masons - secretive and mysterious. While I know that sexuality isn't changable - you like what you like - I'm also aware that it's not bipolar. It flabbergasts me that some don't see this and fall for the whole ex-gay thing. It'll be like watching Benny Hinn - you know it's mass hypnosis but everyone falls for it.

Please don't change - come back as the Bil we all know and love :)