Waymon Hudson

The Outing of Anti-Gay George Rekers: A Discussion on Celebration vs Compassion

Filed By Waymon Hudson | May 05, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, The Movement
Tags: adoption rights, Bill McCollum, Family Research Council, Florida, George Rekers, James Dobson, Larry Craig, outing, Roy Ashburn

A question was recently posed to me that has me thinking about the recent news of virulently anti-gay Family Research Council co-founder (and confidant of James Dobson) George Rekers' outing after being discovered hiring a 20 year old male prostitute off RentBoys.com to "carry his luggage."

rekers.jpgThe question is this: should we temper our rightful message of glee over the damaging hypocrisy of Rekers with a message of compassion for someone who is obviously wrestling with internalized homophobia and self-hatred, something that is a huge problem in our community?

I'm not speaking of compassion for the man himself, but for the situation that LGBT people find themselves in even today- where religion and self-hatred warp their sense of self and cause deep emotional pain and rejection of their true selves. Is there a larger lesson, a teachable moment, in using Rekers himself as an example of the damage that anti-gay activism does to people?

To be honest, I have a huge problem feeling any compassion for Rekers. His life has been devoted to hatred and actively blocking rights for LGBT people. His anti-gay and ex-gay "research" have harmed all of us in courts and in the public debate on LGBT rights. I have a hard time not reveling in the fall of his influence and standing in the professional anti-gay machine that he helped create.

Further complicating my feelings is the continued denial and lame excuses that Rekers is giving. Joe.My.God posed a question about the incident on Rekers' Facebook page and got this response:

Contrary to false gossip, innuendo, and slander about me, I do not in any way "hate" homosexuals, but I seek to lovingly share two types of messages to them, as I did with the young man called 'Lucien' in the news story: [1] It is possible to cease homosexual practices to avoid the unacceptable health risks associated with that behavior, and [2] the most important decision one can make is to establish a relationship with God for all eternity by trusting in Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, including homosexual sins. If you talk with my travel assistant that the story called 'Lucien,' you will find I spent a great deal of time sharing scientific information on the desirability of abandoning homosexual intercourse, and I shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him in great detail.

He is still advocating "ex-gay" conversion and false "science". I have a hard time feeling compassion for a man like this.

6a00d83451c96669e201053591dc54970b-800wi.jpgThe personal impact of Rekers on my own life as a foster parent here in Florida also makes compassion difficult. Rekers was one of only two witnesses hired by Attorney General Bill McCollum to defend Florida's anti-gay adoption ban in an effort to reverse a Miami judge who ruled Florida's adoption ban unconstitutional.

McCollum paid Rekers $87,000 for testimony that called gay people mentally unstable and advised that the ban should be expanded to include Native Americans because, Rekers claimed, they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse.

That's the man we are dealing with.

Personally, I am overjoyed that his hypocrisy will neuter his ability to make such arguments in a court of law ever again and could strengthen cases he has testified in as they move forward. I want him unable to cause further harm to me, my family, or my community ever again.

Others may have a higher capacity for compassion than me. I actually think they make a valid point about reinforcing homophobia by seeking to destroy a man based on his homosexuality, the precise thing we condemn Rekers for. But looking at the balance of that and his influence in the anti-gay movement, Rekers being taken down by the very thing he has worked so hard against seems like poetic justice.

I would reserve my compassion for people like Ricky Martin, who struggled with internalized and societal pressure yet never did active harm to our community before coming out or being outed.

People like George Rekers, Larry Craig, and Roy Ashburn aren't being pilloried for being gay or just being outed. They are being shown as hypocrites and liars, which is the damaging part that well deserves the celebration and derision of the LGBT community and society as a whole.

It's an interesting discussion that is worth having in our community, especially with the seemingly steady stream of right-wing gay haters that are being drug out if the closet.

What do you think? Celebration, Compassion, or somewhere in between?


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Chitown Kev | May 5, 2010 3:11 PM

Waymon, I agree with you.

In this scenario, if he were simly, say, a regular ol' Joe Schmoe Southern Baptist (just as an example!) and he were exposed before his congregation then I would have a lot more sympathy for him.

This man actively campaigned against civil rights for our community. He's a part of the anti-gay industry.

And surely, I think that he bought more rent boys with the money that he's made thus far from that industry.

"Lucien" or "Geo" is simply the one that he was caught up with.

Sorry, no compassion whatsoever here.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 5, 2010 3:24 PM

Society exerts all kinds of unfair pressure on us all but despite the fact that I have been fired from jobs, reviled by family and denounced by all sorts of people, I have never engaged in any anti LGBT activism, even when I was pretending to be an "ordinary" heterosexual to the world. As a transexxual who grew up in East Texas, I think I can speak about social pressure with some little authority. I'm no "better" than he is but I somehow managed to not become a self loathing hypocrite who makes life miserable for others as a way of feeling better about myself and removing any doubt that I was as straight as it's possible to be. He would have earned my sympathy if he felt forced to remain quietly in his closet but he did not. He chose to make himself an enemy of my community to hide the fact that he's actually part of it. He gets nothing but contempt from me.

Um, didn't we just have this conversation?

SkepticalCidada | May 5, 2010 3:30 PM

Has Rekers stopped lying about his own sexual identify and come out? No.

Has Rekers stopped lying about ex-gay conversion? No.

Has Rekers apologized and vowed to make up for his history of venomous anti-gay activism? No.

Zero compassion for him. Let the mockery proceed. He's experiencing a tiny fraction of the injury he's helped to inflict on millions of gay people for decades. How many gay suicides do you suppose are traceable to his activism? My compassion is directed THERE, not at this pig.

I beg to differ.

These gay fundies need a place to go. And we need allies among the fundamentalists who can counter the lies that the other fundamentalist say about us.

If we show compassion, then it is possible some of them will change their mind about LGBT people and change their views. Maybe Rekers could have a "conversion" experience and realize that what he knew about gay people was wrong. Conversion experiences are powerful stories for the Christian right, being born again is the basis for the evangelical movement. And if Rekers were to talk about his experience of having a conversion about realizing that God doesn't judge LGBT people, others who are in the Christian right will listen.

Okay, I doubt that Rekers personally will become an ally, and yes he is a jerk, but the point is that there are **some** closeted gay fundies who will become allies if we leave the door open for them. If we close the door, then we lose those potential allies.

And politically, it would really really help us if we had some allies in the Christian right. The Christian right used to be united against environmentalism and now they are split, with many feeling it is important to protect the Earth. I think it is possible for the Christian right to split on the gay issue as well, as people they know in their church communities come out.

But how is calling him out on his own hateful bigotry closing any doors? He closed that door long ago when he started actively working against the LGBT community. It's one thing to be a closeted homosexual, it's a totally different thing to work to take away rights from us. That was a choice that he made, and that is the choice the we are choosing to vilify him for.

This man was a professor at South Carolina, which says he must have a brain in his head somewhere. He was so desperate to fulfill his innate need for companionship, that he put his entire career on the line in order to fulfill it. Human needs can be incredibly strong, and when they are suppressed for too hard and too long, bad shit tends to happen. It breaks my heart that a guy like this has to exist. There shouldn't be people who dedicate their lives to eradicating the gay. There shouldn't be gay who feel so much societal pressure to be straight that they can never live honestly. It is bad for all of us that both of those categories of people exist in pretty large numbers. It wastes our resources on petty fighting when the talents of those two groups could be put to more productive things. It causes an increase in the spread of disease because people like Rekers are the very types of people that go to public parks for anonymous sex because they are so afraid of being gay, but so in need of fulfilling that need for companionship that they engage in incredibly risky behavior. It's pathetic. It's sad. And it won't go away until attitudes about homosexuality are changed enough that that second group of people starts to shrink down to almost nothing.

The good news is that that group is shrinking. The bad news is that it wasn't in time for Rekers to be able to avoid completely wrecking his life.

Rekers is now going to get to be on the other end of "Family values." To us, its code for "Fags stay away." Rekers is finally going to get to be on the receiving end of that message. I hope he's ready for it. I'm glad he's going to be getting some of what he's been dishing out for the past 4 decades. I'm glad he's going to be a pariah with the gays and the "family values" Christians because of his past actions. He's earned that. But I do sincerely wish we lived in a world where he didn't feel the need to go down that path in the first place. In a world where he could've felt free to be honest about who he was, things would be much better for a whole bunch of people.

I spent a good 10 years as one of those closet cases because I grew up hearing messages like Rekers', so yes, I'm glad he's now going to get justice. I know how bad that closet sucks though, so I will always have compassion for those who are stuck there.

I'm in general agreement with everyone: Rekers has actively sought to harm us as a community and as individuals. When he apologizes and starts to try as hard to undue some of that damage, I might find it in myself to forgive him.

Compassion? Yes, that's unavoidable, for me at least. But that compassion has to work past a lot of anger at what he's dons and contempt for his methods before it's going to take front and center.

I have no compassion whatsoever for this man, nor for Roy Ashburn, Larry Craig or Ted Haggard. I don't believe in karma in the religious sense, but I do believe that what goes around comes around, and these men deserved their humiliation. It would be one thing if Rekers had come to terms with his sexuality after being outed, like Jim McGreevey or Jim Kolbe. But instead, he actively and deliberately sought to destroy his own people, and everything seems to indicate he will continue to do so. And I don't use the term "destroy" unthinkingly because he was a key member of a political movement whose goal is nothing less than eradicating us from society.

Furthermore, for the religious right, the George Rekerses and Roy Ashburns of the world represent model GLBT citizens. That's basically what they want, for us to stay in the closet and enjoy only the occasional, surreptitious same-sex encounter while marrying members of the opposite sex and living fake lives while helping to oppress any of those among us who dare to be who they are or are unlucky enough to get caught. That's what the closet, the downlow, "love the sinner hate the sin" or whatever you want to call it is all about.

On the other hand, it's important to understand where this type of behavior comes from. Rekers comes from a combination of time and culture that in many ways precludes self acceptance for GLBT people. There are countless others like him, and there's no telling how many Republican family men in states like Mississippi go to the voting polls by day to vote away rights for GLBT people while spending nights sucking cock in public restrooms.

Fortunately, with our increased visibility, the likes of George Rekers and Roy Ashburn will become increasingly rare in the years to come, I think. But in the meantime, it's important to keep fighting against those people, organizations and ideologies that exist to keep us in the closet or force us back into it, and dealing people like Rekers a big, steaming spoonful of Schadenfreude is part of that. If Rekers comes around and decides to be honest with himself and others, then great; if not, then I don't care because I'd rather spend my efforts and resources on people with the courage to be who they are than those so consumed with self hatred that they feel compelled to impose it on the rest of us.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 5, 2010 4:40 PM

Furthermore, for the religious right, the George Rekerses and Roy Ashburns of the world represent model GLBT citizens. That's basically what they want, for us to stay in the closet and enjoy only the occasional, surreptitious same-sex encounter while marrying members of the opposite sex and living fake lives while helping to oppress any of those among us who dare to be who they are or are unlucky enough to get caught.
Well said! People like Rekers only re-enforce the closet for the rest of us. WE don't want to live in the closet, THEY want us there so they can pretend that we don't exist, so they can continue to nurse their hatred and bigotry. I too can find it in myself to forgive him and welcome him but only if he renounces his past crimes and attempts to make amends. As long as he continues to pretend that he's not gay and preach his divisiveness and intolerance, not so much. People like Rekers are in Uganda as we speak, pushing a law that will allow lifetime incarceration and even the death penalty for being gay. Keep that in mind while you search for compassion.

Steven Splinter | May 5, 2010 4:41 PM

I feel we can separate compassion for a lonely gay man caught up in a web of lies, with our desire to defend ourselves against a malicious man. The former does not negate the latter, or weaken any of our efforts towards equality. If he were to come out as gay or bi, he would still be responsible for his actions against the GLBT. If we were to shun him and leave him out in the cold, though, that would say more about our fear and pain than him. We don't have to let bygones be bygones, just recognize him for who he is: someone who committed great harm while dealing with a profound inner conflict.

kathygnome | May 5, 2010 4:54 PM

should we temper our rightful message of glee over the damaging hypocrisy of Rekers with a message of compassion for someone who is obviously wrestling with internalized homophobia and self-hatred

No.

I see 3 options. The first question to be asked is whether he really is gay or not.

1. If he is not Gay - torch him for crimes against humanity.

2. If he is gay and continues to deny it - torch him for being a total hypocrite, and for crimes against humanity

3. If he comes out and recants as well as begs for forgiveness - then do the Christian thing and forgive him.

And finally, no matter which of the 3 options it is....pray for him and others like him.

That nasty queen is getting what she deserves. I hope she had a good time on her vacation. She'll be paying for it the rest of her miserable self-loathing life.

James Savik | May 5, 2010 6:14 PM

This guy is a maggot. Step on him and GRIND him into the concrete.

By his own bible, we should not put our pearls of compassion before a swine like him.

You don't have to pay me $87,000- I'll tell you he's an asshole for free.

Have any of you seen the "Word from our Media Center" on the FRC web page? I quote:

"Yesterday evening, we began to see online "news" accounts of Dr. George Rekers, a reparative therapist for homosexuals, actually being involved with a male prostitute. Some of the stories identified Rekers as being a founding board member of Family Research Council. I had never heard of Dr. Rekers, so I asked our corporate attorney to review past documents. We did verify that Dr. Rekers was a member of the original Family Research Council Board prior to its merger with Focus on the Family in 1987. FRC has had no contact with Dr. Rekers or knowledge of his activities in over a decade, so I can't speak to what he may or may not have done. However, I can say that while it's extremely disappointing when any Christian leader engages in the very activities that they "preach" against, it's not surprising. The Scriptures clearly teach the fallen nature of all people. We each have a choice to act upon that nature or accept the forgiveness offered by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. As leaders, we should do our best to ensure our actions--both public and private--match our professed positions."

Can we say "Distance!! We need distance from this guy!!!" I also love how they put news accounts in quotes, as if the news were somehow fake! These guys are ridiculous!

You have to remember, Jason, that these folks consider Fox News, OneNewsNow.com, Baptist Press, 700 Club, etcetera as *legitimate* news sources.

They consider everything else the "liberal media", and as such are biased towards such pious people as themselves, telling lies that homosexuality isn't curable and that transsexuals aren't mentally ill for mutilating their bodies instead of accepting their god-given gender.

friday jones | May 5, 2010 9:23 PM

Isn't his problem that he did NOT internalize his self-hatred, and that he turned it on the entire LGBT community?

I'm ready to forgive.

But forgiveness requires true repentance, and as much restitution as can be managed. There's neither here, yet.

The rentboy stuff, the hypocrisy, that's minor. This person was part of a program at UCLA that deliberately tortured trans kids to straighten them out. Many suicided. More attempted to. And he just plain lied, fabricated data, about the "success" of this program, one involving both deliberate clinical physical and psychological torture of children.

Parents who brought their children to Rekers had to agree to participate in the "curing" of them. "Kraig," a four-year-old who participated in the UCLA Feminine Boy Project, was also monitored in the clinic's play-observation room. Only this time, it was his mother who wore the bug-in-the-ear, listening for her behavioral cues from the folks behind the wall. While playing, "Kraig would have seen her suddenly jerk upright, and look away from him toward the one-way window," Burke reports (based on transcripts of his case):

His mother was being prompted, through the earphones, by the doctor. She was told to completely ignore him, because he was engaged in feminine play. Kraig would have no understanding of what was happening to his mother. On one such occasion, his distress was such that he began to scream, but his mother just looked away. His anxiety increased, and he did whatever he could to get her to respond to him, but she just looked away. She must have seemed like a stranger to have changed her behavior toward him so suddenly and for no apparent reason . . . He was described as being in a panic, alternating between sobs and "aggressing at her," but again, when his distraught mother finally looked at him and began to respond, she stopped mid-sentence and abruptly turned away, as if he were not there. Kraig became so hysterical, and his mother so uncomfortable, that one of the clinicians had to enter and take Kraig, screaming, from the room.

Kraig's treatment continued in this vein. He was also put on the "token system" at home. Inappropriate, feminine behaviors earned him a red token, masculine ones, a blue token. Each red token earned him a spanking from his father. After more than two years of treatment, Kraig's behavior had turned around. He was now described by his mother as a "rough neck," and he no longer cared if his hair was neat or his clothes matched. But when he was eighteen, after years of being held up (under a pseudonym) by Rekers as "the poster boy for behavioral treatment of boyhood effeminacy," Kraig attempted suicide, because he thought that he might be gay.

He has not apologised for such actions, and indeed still recommends them.

Oh yes, the rentboy? Same age as his recently adopted son.... think about it.

I can believe that his relationship with the rentboy was celibate. But innocent? No way. Classic Gladstone Syndrome, where a john rents a prostitute, then spends hours preaching at them - and then goes away and flagellates themself for being so naughty, and being tempted. It's a paraphilia, one of the kinkier kinds, but harms no-one. Better that coming on to his son.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 5, 2010 10:42 PM

OMG that's ugly! I think the beatings I got were better by comparison.

JonathonEdwards | May 6, 2010 1:15 AM

I think from an ethical perspective we are required to demonstrate compassion. However, what that compassion looks like depends largely on what steps Rekers takes in the coming days and weeks.

If he does the Ted Haggard thing, goes into "therapy" and gets "cured" and reasserts his "heterosexuality, compassion will look different than if he comes out and then works his ass of for the rest of his life trying to undo the damage he's done. I think the former is more likely, but we can hope for the latter.

If its the latter, then I think we are bound to welcome our brother home and help him. After all, the root of his "sin" is sytemic, religiously supported homophobia, of which he like the rest of us are victims. His response needs to be repented of and damage undone, but if he goes about that, the he should find a warm and loving gay community welcoming home a prodigal.

However, if he pulls a Haggard and, after the blogstorm dies down, returns to his old "tricks", then compassion looks different. In that case, the compassionate thing to do is grab him by his hair and drag his ass out of the closet and then force him to stand in the light until his eyes stop hurting and he starts to understand what fresh air smells like. Because if this event doesn't free him from the evil, diseased life of closet living, then the compassionate thing for us to do is take care of it for him. By any means necessary.

I add this only for context: I am a Christian pastor. So I say this with all the many layers implicit: sometimes God's love takes the form of a boot in the ass. If Rekers keeps on keepin' on, then the compassionate thing for us to do is allow God to use us as that boot. However you choose to understand that.

Jonathon, that is the most well-put definition of compassion in a situation like this that I've heard. Well put!

Chitown Kev | May 6, 2010 9:41 AM

But don't forget that in Haggard's case, Ted Haggard also apologised for the wrongs that he did to the gay community and said that they were wrongs (make of his apology what you will.

Haggard did that along with his therapy. And while Haggard has not renounced his religious beliefs, the very fact that he asked for forgiveness (after a passage of time) allows me to be a little more compassionate to Haggard nowadays.

No compassion or sympathy for this self-loathing, anti-gay hatemonger. Hope he dies in agony alone.

FreddyMertz | May 6, 2010 8:22 AM

I'm a firm believer of Karma and of what you put out is what you get back. That said, I fall on your side on holding compassion for those who struggle with their sexual identity for whatever reason, without cause harm to the LGBT community.

Rev.Dr.Ron Wrinkle | May 6, 2010 9:54 AM

My first gut reaction sent the lyrics to the Queen standard "Another One Bites the Dust' running through my head with a sense of joy.

Upon further reflection, I am more in a "wait and see" mode. Many of those, such as Larry Craig who was rehearsing for "Dancing With the Stars" in the airport restroom are getting their retribution.

However, others, like the Rev. Ted Haggard, continue their disgusting hypocrisy by claiming to be "cured" of being the person that God created. This is the real harm done to very good people; particularly youth who are struggling with identity. He's telling them that they, not God, made them the way they are. And they are evil.

Haggard's lies cause harm and teen suicide. Hopefully, Reker will not follow the path that will lead to his destruction.

It may be that such blogs/websites as this are why we will not miss the media-see Newsweek is for sale, etc. Some of the commentators here give us information, and views of course, that the msm-media not sex-does not do research- and are lazy, etc.

BUT, I hope others saw Stephen Colbert's version of how to deal with the man, on his show on Comedy Central last night!

I feel no sympathy for him at all.

JonathonEdwards | May 6, 2010 1:38 PM

Just to be clear, I said nothing about an apology. Words are meaningless. When I say "work his ass off for the rest of his life to repair the damage he's done", that's what I mean by repentance. And even then, he will still have to answer for his crimes.

That, of course, is a theistic response, but as a Jew, you are probably familiar with the concept of tikun olam. Even in an atheistic construct, the idea of "repairing the world" can be seen as the highest aspiration of man. So far Rekers has done the opposite. If, however, he comes to his senses and works to "repair the world", I don't know how we can fail to embrace him.

Or is there no path in your construct for people to turn away from evil and return to the human community? If so, I hope you are wrong because that describes a scary, scary world.

Just to give a pan-theological perspective, I feel as if a lot of the entreaties for us to see if he apologizes resemble the Christian idea of accepting Jesus and redemption. As an atheistic Jew, I'm not bound by the absurd conceit one can (out of choice) be an evil, hateful bastard all one's life only to be saved by a late night conversion. And it's not that he's suffering so much, is he? Compared to the rest of the population, are either Larry Craig or Ted Haggard really doing so badly?

JonathonEdwards | May 6, 2010 2:51 PM

And just to be clearer...my response above referencing tikun olam was intended for ginasf. In case there was any confusion. :)

GraciesDaddy GraciesDaddy | May 6, 2010 10:47 AM

I think that, apology or not on the part of Rekers, after a passage of time, be it a few days or a few weeks, history will repeat itself and there will be MORE "rentboys" of Rekers's to come forward; indicating an ongoing penchant for young "luggage carriers." "Lucien" is likely not the first to hold such a [ahem]... position. The anti-gay crowd will further distance themselves from him and the gays -- even the more compassionate ones -- certainly won't try to comfort him. He will have NO ONE to whom to turn.

Compassion for him? Nope. I've often heard that the worst punishment in the world is not hostility or sanctions or censure or other similar punishment, but indifference -- simply not caring what happens to a person as an individual.

That seems like the place Rekers belongs: Alone, no friends... and even his enemies won't have anything to do with him. As my self-serving, pretentious aunt used to say, "You've made your bed, now you have to lie in it."

Oh, well.

New details coming in from Rekers' escort remove all doubt of what happened on the trip and if Rekers really does enjoy gay sex, which he hypocritically preaches against:

Anti-Gay Preacher George Rekers is a Homosexual Says Escort, Gives New Details:

?The male escort hired by anti-gay activist George Alan Rekers has told Miami New Times that the Baptist minister is a homosexual who paid him to provide body rubs, once a day, in the nude, during their ten-day vacation in Europe.

Lucien decided to speak out after a heart-to-heart with a friend, Michael, who alerted him to the grim realities of his client's ant-gay activities.

Compassion doesn't mean just accepting people as they are. It's about realizing that we could all find ourselves in someone's place (not exactly, but in the middle of a career-ending scandal of our own making) and treating people as fairly as we can with that in mind.

It's about not holding our noses up high and laughing at this dude, and being open-hearted enough to treat him like a human anyway and accept him if he really does want to change an. It doesn't mean we just let him testify in court and continue his harmful work without challenge.

It is not my job nor duty to befriend this person, or people in these situations. While I may have my own form of empathy or compassion for him at a distance, in day-to-day reality these people are very directly responsible for law, policies, and propagation of stereotypes that directly hurt me and my family. They foster an environment that leads LGBT teens to commit suicide. They remove or restrict opportunity, they take money from my pocket. They hurt my family (both my direct family of partner and two adopted sons) and a larger community-family of which I'm a member. They willfully make life harder, more expensive,and less joyful for me. They make life harder for my children. They fight to restrict my citizenship and patriotism. On and on and on. I may forgive these things, but I don't enable them or spend my precious time and money making life easier for them. Give me a break.

It is fine, Christian (or whatever perspective your maintain) to have compassion, but to embrace and make it easy on him/them ... no way. In the simplest sense: they made their bed, let them lay in it. In another way, they should experience the hell here on Earth they have created for others. They have family and friends, colleagues, etc. They can find the support they need on their own.

or, and here is the big one, if they suddenly feel rejected and need support, let them ask us for our help? Huh? I'm sure the LGBT community would be forgiving and helpful, even, if they asked. But, curiously, they don't, they dig their heels in, apologize to their wives and churches, and ignore our community in the face of their own suddenly revealed hypocrisy. For us to reach out to them, to worry that we need to make it easier and more compassionate for them is nothing shy of insane to me.

If an LGBT person feels the need to make a difference to another LGBT person who is suffering, go mentor for an LGBT youth program or find others who WANT and NEED your help. We should not be enabling our disablers. That is insane.

JonathonEdwards | May 6, 2010 11:00 PM

Although I am, of course, coming from a Christian perspective, I am also coming from a tribal perspective. I believe we DO in fact have a debt of loyalty to GLBT people AS GLBT people. Only the presence of active harm to our community overrides that obligation.

As I noted, compassion will look different depending on Rekers' next steps. If he comes out and works his ass off to make things right, then I think we have a tribal obligation to help recover one of our own.

If he doesn't we out him and keep him in the light until the above is true.

And incidentally, I am capable of mentoring gay teens - have and do - at the same time I can help a 60 year old man just coming out of the closet deal with the damage he's done to himself and his community. Compassion is one of those things that leads to more compassion.

No, they deserve disdain and disgust.
Help them get into reality. Honest feedback.

I wouldn't say "compassion," but rather "understanding."

It gives more leeway on what to do with what you know.

When I was in college there was a kid on the football team who made a great big show of ripping down a sign we at the LGBT students association had put on a table in the dining hall. (We did this weekly, "drop by and chat if you have any questions" dinner that actually produced a surprising number of really great interactions.)

The school went into disciplinary overdrive, suspended him from school and banned him from the football team permanently. A lot of us (mostly the seniors -- the older kids) argued against that because we knew damn good and well that this kid was in "methinks he doth protest too much" mode, but they wanted to make a point.

Which they did. Punctuated by the fact that the kid killed himself when he got back home. He felt like he had no way out.

I think we've all been there to at least some degree and it's incumbent on us to understand that and leave open the possibility of change.

As for this Rekers guy, though, I think we can understand him, too. It's important, but for a different reason -- this one is important to understand for the same reason that my Daddy spends a lot of time trying to understand deer. It makes it so much easier to ensure that there's venison on the dinner table.

So, I wouldn't call it compassion, which is kind of across the board. I'd call for understanding, which implies a case-by-case look at what and who you're dealing with -- with the response determined by what you figure out.

Andrea B | May 7, 2010 5:34 AM

To hell with compassion.

Rekers and others like him such as Zucker have treated us as objects of abject hatred, sexualised every aspect of our lives, despised us, encouraged everyone to hate us, encouraged everyone to bully us , encouraged everyone to ostracised us and ensured that we are discarded from society at every oppertunity. Most of society has went along with that.

He is down on the ground.

Kick as hard as you can and drive it home.

Tell everyone you know about this vermin and make sure that he never gets up again.

He showed no mercy to us, even when he was begged to in his clinic.

Let the wheel come full circle. Give him no mercy.

That way those who campaign to keep us classed as mentally ill will then come to realise that keeping us mentally ill, will eventually come back to bite them on the ass.

FYI, I emailed Rekers the following. I wonder if I'll get an honest response?

Dear Prof. Rekers,

I was brought up in a conservative Christian family. I went to "the meeting" every Sunday morning and evening with my family. It was an assembly of good people: solid jobs, reputations, teetotalers, respected in the community (even if perhaps considered a little "anti-social" by some because of their reluctance to mix socially with those outside of the meeting). I think you get my drift.

While growing up I never experienced any heterosexual inclinations whatsoever. By my early teens I was conscious of my sexual attraction for males, even if it took me a good decade or so to affirm it. At high school I experienced a few clandestine liaisons. However, during the first two of my years at university, I publicly identified myself as an anti-gay right winger, of such an extreme variety that it even caused my parents acute discomfort. Significantly, I was still living at home, and, incredibly, still going to the meeting. At the same time, I was hanging out in university toilets - not quite having sex, but doing the next best thing: looking, being looked at, and, most importantly, fantasizing and wishing.

I calmed down in my third year, and started listening, at last, to the voice that was me and not "the meeting," my parents, or social milieu - slowly working my way towards a reconciliation with myself. Fortunately, when 22 years old, I met a wonderful guy (who I am still very close friends with) who took me under his wing and treated me with as much gentleness and understanding as my own parents - with more understanding in some ways, because he understood my sexuality. At the same time, I came out to my parents (something that required a considerable effort of will on my part). Although my parents accepted as best they could this "bolt from the blue," I noticed how cold most of the "good" people of the meeting went, and realized how thin and ineffective the so-called "redeeming power of Christ" that they touted really was. As soon as most of them were confronted with something outside of their experience, they went stern, cold, fearful, and profoundly uncomfortable - no different from any average group of middle class heterosexuals in the early 1980s faced with a homosexual in their midst. Yet their so-called "redeemer" was the same Christ who freely ate and drank with dishonest, oppressive tax agents, and prostitutes, and said that the rich could only follow him if first they "gave all they had to the poor." This is NOT the kind of man who would have looked with discomfort and barely-veiled disgust at a young man in his 20s who had just declared to the world what his whole psyche had taught him was true from as far back as from when he could start feeling anything, i.e. that he was gay. In fact, this is not a man who addressed the issue of gayness at all.

To therefore claim a Christian motivation for preaching against and try to "cure" homosexuality is false. Jesus didn't bother himself with the topic, and, judging by his actions, he identified the enemies of the "kingdom of heaven" to be those perverted by power and wealth, much more than by any form of sexual desire.

To have devoted your life to preaching against and try to "cure" homosexuality means you have wasted your life if you think that in doing so you have been promoting the "kingdom of heaven" on earth. On a more personal level, the facts of your case have spoken, as has the young man you hired. I snapped out of lying to myself and living the double life you have lived, which is very similar to the one I was living in my late teens. I recognized immediately your exaggerated hangup about homosexuality, because I, as a closeted gay man, had spited myself with it too. Do I sound judgmental? You bet, because I subjected myself to the same judgment in deciding to declare my sexuality to the world, and reaped the unpleasant (short term) consequences of loss of friends, of reputation, of trust, for it.

I encourage you to come out of the closet. Seek forgiveness from your family and colleagues for your longtime pretense, and from all the gay people to whose oppression you have contributed, albeit in as refined a way as you have. I realize it is harder for you than it was for me because the edifice of self-repudiation you have constructed is such a large and painstaking one. Try to accept - or perhaps, discover - that being gay is way more than about having sex. It is about love: loving others enough to accept them for what they are, and, more importantly, loving yourself enough to accept yourself for what you really are, forgiving yourself for having been untrue to yourself for so long - and then actively proclaiming your liberation.

Sincerely,