Bil Browning

Why is MTV Promoting Ex-Gay Therapy?

Filed By Bil Browning | July 15, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: ex-gay, ex-gay ministries, MTV

Thumbnail image for MTV logoMTV recently aired an episode of True Life that focused on ex-gay ministries. The episode, subtitled, "I Want to Be Straight," highlights the story of two teens as they struggle to change their sexual orientation.

Instead of telling viewers about the dangers of these conversion therapies though, the network turned it into a puff piece that could have been produced by Marcus Bachmann or Focus on the Family.

To make matters worse, they've done a follow-up with one of the subjects that's posted to their blog. Again, it's like a pitch for kids to find Jeebus and pray away the gay. Check it out after the break.

Pray-The-Gay-Away.jpg

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I work just down the road from MTV and I'll tell you the greedy bastards in this industry are seeing mega dollar signs in the growing christian market because of the power theocrats now hold over their audiences. Just the other day I was in a meeting with one of my big bosses and was shocked to hear the words "We love Bishop Jakes" come out of his mouth. Producers and studio execs are addicted to the automatic audience that they get with anything that panders to religion. They have this way of rationalizing it by saying "It's just business" and shrugging off the social implications of their actions with the old "Everyone is entitled to their opinion" bullshit. It disgusts me.

I have not watched the episode yet (no cable tv, but if there's a link to the episode online please let me know), so my opinion may change after writing this. I did read the episode summary on the MTV site http://www.mtv.com/shows/truelife/episode.jhtml?episodeID=181191 to try and get a wrap on gist of the episode.

The stories of the two people seem to be tragedies. All they want to do is to please their families, and decide to do anything that they can to try and change themselves. They think they will be happy after the therapy. The tragic part is that they will give up a true understanding of themselves for a false outer appearance for their families.

Of course, from reading the follow-up on their blog, there doesn't seem to be any proof that they are not both still gay. Melanie acknowledges that she is still interested in dating women. Kevin acknowledges he is still attracted to men and tries to give poor excuses for why he's not dating women. The only thing they may have done is to not be sexually active.

Has anyone watched the episode yet? I may be completely wrong in my assertions, as again I have not seen the episode.

I've been through these therapies, and I can empathize a lot with the kids; it really is all about pleasing their families at the obvious sacrifice of their own mental health and well-being. MTV should be ashamed of their behavior for making this episode and helping to legitimize this incredibly dangerous practice.

"These desires will always be here."

The above sound bite from Melanie was played after every ad break.

Did you actually watch the episode before writing this post? Both Melanie and Kevin made it clear they were trying to change due to intense familial pressure, rather than personal choice. Melanie showed the deep scars she still has from her mother stabbing her when she was caught with another girl when she was 16 (the camera continues to focus on the scars often throughout the remainder of the episode). Kevin's parents seemed to make it pretty clear that he was welcome as a family member only if he plays it "straight."

Both Melanie and Kevin were forthright in their admissions that they are still primarily attracted to the same sex. Melanie started dating women again (after dating some men) and said she is not sure what path her life will take. Kevin has evaded all attempts to get him to date women.

The producers didn't really need to attack reparative therapy in the piece. Melanie and Kevin's eyes gave it all away; they appear to both know it just ain't gonna happen, and are stuck between being themselves or being violently attacked and/or ostracized.

It was a heartbreaking episode, and I don't think any reasonable person could come away from it thinking either would ever change.

I was so disturbed after watching this episode, which MTV has re-aired a few times since its' initial June showing, that I found myself moved to act. I believe that with each airing, MTV is causing damage to the esteem of LGBT youth who are struggling with their lives, and possibly, with similar acceptance issues of their families and peers. And, while, as "Lightning Baltimore" states above, one comes away thinking that both teens featured will never actually "change" and "become straight," what Lightning is missing is the fact that the harm done by MTV's acceptance of the concept of reparative therapy, is already done.

Many teens watching this show will be inspired to "want to be straight" to gain the love of their families, rather than face the adversity, strife and hardship that may often arise from their living without their support. But to imply that these young people, and millions of others like them worldwide, should even "want to be straight," is the inherent problem with this episode. A family's love is supposed to be unconditional, and not based upon one's sexuality. In the follow-up on MTV's site, re-posted above, Kevin even discusses that he has created a ministry to help other "broken" kids change!

Being an LGBT youth is not to be equated with being "broken," as Kevin suggests... it is a natural state that should be accepted by those who were born that way. MTV's implication that it is better for Kevin, or the young lady that was actually stabbed by her mother, to "try being straight," in order to gain the acceptance of their anti-gay, religious zealot, parents, is simply absurd. If you believe in God, surely you must grasp the concept that he loves you exactly the way he created you, and doesn't need you to "change." Why would he have created you this way if he thought there was something wrong with being LGBT?

I was so incensed by this show, I felt I had to do something about this subtle, (or maybe not so subtle) form of anti-LGBT bias, that I created my first ever petition. It can be found at http://www.change.org/petitions/mtv-stop-telling-youth-they-can-pray-away-the-gay. Please stop by and sign it, along with the over 700 people that have agreed, in just the last few days, that there is something inherently wrong with "I Want to Be Straight." I am clearly not alone in my interpretation of this episode of "True Life" on MTV, and we need to make our voices heard, and let the producers of the show know that people worldwide are offended by their shameless attempt at promoting reparative therapy as a viable "solution" for LGBT people.

If not, we may end up with another Hitler, who had a more permanent "solution" for people that did not fit into his standards of acceptability.