Alex Blaze

PFOX at NAACP convention

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 30, 2008 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Politics, The Movement
Tags: ex-gay, Julian Bond, NAACP, PFOX

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.

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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.

And this was said with no sense of irony? Hahaha!


Bah, it's not as if I haven't adjusted to the neglect gay rights issues receive in multi-issue fora. There's this persistent presence of misinformation/ignorance, even an utter lack of interest in informing oneself.

The more aggravating part, though, is that this happened at the NAACP, not some WASP organization. The mainstream African American community is already fairly hostile to LGBTs (luckily, it's non-religious leaders have been ahead of the crowd, and lent their support in various endeavors). With the McClurkin mentality being so prevalent, this mistake is fairly catastrophic.

Although I agree that ex-gay groups spread misinformation (at least often, if not always), there is also the matter that ex-gay's, or wannabe ex-gay's, have a right to self-determination just like the rest of us. Let's face it: sometimes gay men marry women, and although there is some amount of difficulty, tension, and conflict (what marriage is free of this?), overall it works out pretty good. The marriage of Cole Porter is a good example.

I'm sorry if saying this makes me unpopular, but I believe the LGBT community oversimplifies this issue, and should exercise more caution and thoughtfulness when discussing and countering the ex-gay movement. They have a right to their message, and we have a right to ours.

"Let truth and falsehood grapple in the marketplace of ideas" --- that's a quote from an early American journalist (but I forget which one, and must admit such so that I myself am guilty merely of forgetfulness and not guilty of plagiarism).

P.S. I love that acronym PFOX! I doubt that Oscar Wilde could have come up with a name that is a more apt self-parody ... And I'm sure their perspective on the malleability of sexual orientation is "pFair and pH-Balanced!"

A.J.-- Your idea would be sensible if the marketplace was made up of individuals that can discern good arguments from bad ones. When it comes to the proletariat, though, demagoguery is the dominant currency.

They have their right to self-determination, of course. But what does that cost us? A mother forcing/blackmailing her vulnerable son into "treatment" by these quacks? Let us not forget the youth.

As for instances where such a forced scenario works out, I'd like you to point me in the direction of some stories (and please forgive me if I'm coming off as accusatory or disdainful; that is not what I mean to convey). I just have a hard time believing that any gay man is happy living a lie. Rather, I think it is the fear of disappointment that keeps them in that place; the mortification can be unbearable, as we have seen with religious LGBT youth committing suicide upon finding that they are not able to reconcile their belief system with their identity.

Nick~ Ha ha!

Lucrece~ I don't think that it's particularly worse that this happened at an NAACP forum - they've consistently advocated for LGBT rights in the past.

AJ~ Personally, I find the marketplace of ideas to be a rigged game founded on a bedrock of nihilism. The whole idea is "There is no right and wrong, so we'll just let people buy into ideas that are more attractive or better packaged or more common."

Not that there's anything wrong with nihilism and rigged games....

I should also add that PFOX actively works against gay rights and GSA's, so it's not like they're just a group of people who want to be celibate and left alone.

I am of the theory that ex-gays are really bisexuals who don't realize that is also a sexual orientation. PFOX exists because they push a binary sexual orientation concept and ignore bisexuality because it would screw up their entire program. They can't have people believe they could be attracted to both sexes. What a novel concept! Of course, there are many gays and lesbians who also don't believe bisexuality exists, thus adding fuel to the ex-gay fire.