David Roberts over at Ex-Gay Watch (awesome narrow-focus blog, you should definitely add it to your RSS feed if you have an interest in the ex-gay movement) has just uncovered a thank-you letter sent by the NAACP to PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, an ex-gay group) for participating in their convention in 2007. PFOX apparently bragged about it in an email:
The PFOX exhibit displayed useful information on unwanted same-sex attractions and tolerance for the ex-gay community. We distributed many brochures, flyers, stickers, and buttons. The attendees were enthusiastic about our booth and our ex-gay volunteers staffing the booth were well received. Many people remarked at how glad they were to see us and took extra handouts to distribute at their church back home. Gay groups like the Human Rights Campaign have exhibited at the NAACP for many years, but PFOX was the first and only ex-gay booth there.
Lots of groups participate in the convention (including the HRC), but this seems like one group that definitely should not be there. The whole point of their message is to eliminate our visibility and promote the idea that faking being a part of the majority is a great way to live. They're the definition of an anti-civil rights group, so I'd think that they're the NAACP would oppose their participation in their convention.
But they sent this in a form email to PFOX about their participation:
The success of our 97? Annual Convention was due in large measure to the support provided by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays + Gays. We were gratified by the enthusiasm and avid participation of our delegates, members and friends from across the nation who expressed many favorable comments about our convention. The additional audiences we reached through our web cast are also aware of your involvement as a contributor to our historic 97th Annual Convention.
Obviously it's a form letter in which "name of organization" was replaced by "Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays + Gays." But that doesn't excuse it - they shouldn't have been there promoting misinformation at a gathering of civil rights leaders.
I hope this doesn't say anything about the NAACP. They've been quite supportive of gay civil rights in the past:
I am astounded by those who believe hostility toward homosexuals and the denial of civil rights to them is not a civil rights issue. That's why when I am asked, 'Are Gay Rights Civil Rights?' my answer is always, "Of course they are."
NAACP hasn't only worked with HRC, but also the NGLTF at Creating Change. They're a great ally.
This sounds more like a mistake than anything else. Whoever was in charge of approving groups invited to the convention was probably not as familiar with gay rights politics as the people who read a site like, say, The Bilerico Project are. While I and many of you have developed an instinct to projectile vomit at the sight of the word "ex-gay," a lot of people might think that's just another gay rights group if they aren't familiar with that distinction.
As Jim Burroway pointed out a while ago, these groups have come a long way when it comes to repackaging and marketing their filth. And while we know the key words, not everyone else does.
Either way, these people shouldn't be invited, no matter how they sell their garbage.