Copied from: Southern Poverty Law Center
By Evelyn Schlatter and Robert Steinback
Ever since born-again singer and orange juice pitchwoman Anita Bryant helped kick off the contemporary anti-gay movement some 40 years ago, hard-line elements of the religious right have been searching for ways to demonize gay people — or, at a minimum, to find arguments that will prevent their normalization in society. For the former Florida beauty queen and her Save Our Children group, it was the alleged plans of gay men and lesbians to “recruit” in schools that provided the fodder for their crusade. But in addition to hawking that myth, the legions of anti-gay activists who followed have added a panoply of others, ranging from the extremely doubtful claim that sexual orientation is a choice, to unalloyed lies like the claims that gay men molest children far more than heterosexuals or that hate crime laws will lead to the legalization of bestiality and necrophilia. These fairy tales are important to the anti-gay right because they form the basis of its claim that homosexuality is a social evil that must be suppressed — an opinion rejected by virtually all relevant medical and scientific authorities. They also almost certainly contribute to hate crime violence directed at the LGBT community, which is more targeted for such attacks than any other minority group in America. What follows are 10 key myths propagated by the anti-gay movement, along with the truth behind the propaganda.
MYTH # 10
Gay people can choose to leave homosexuality. (Or worse: Homosexual orientation can be cured.)
If people are not born gay, as anti-gay activists claim, then it should be possible for individuals to abandon homosexuality. This view is buttressed among religiously motivated anti-gay activists by the idea that homosexual practice is a sin and humans have the free will needed to reject sinful urges.
A number of “ex-gay” religious ministries have sprung up in recent years with the aim of teaching gay people to become heterosexuals, and these have become prime purveyors of the claim that gays and lesbians, with the aid of mental therapy and Christian teachings, can “come out of homosexuality.” The now defunct Exodus International, the largest of these ministries, once stated, “You don’t have to be gay!” Meanwhile, in a more secular vein, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality describes itself as “a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality.”
“Reparative” or sexual reorientation therapy — the pseudo-scientific foundation of the ex-gay movement — has been rejected by all the established and reputable American medical, psychological, psychiatric and professional counseling organizations. In 2009, for instance, the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution, accompanied by a 138-page report, that repudiated ex-gay therapy. The report concluded that compelling evidence suggested that cases of individuals going from gay to straight were “rare” and that “many individuals continued to experience same-sex sexual attractions” after reparative therapy. The APA resolution added that “there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation” and asked “mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation.” The resolution also affirmed that same-sex sexual and romantic feelings are normal.
A very large number of professional medical, scientific and counseling organizations in the U.S. and abroad have issued statements regarding the harm that reparative therapy can cause, particularly if it’s based on the assumption that homosexuality is unacceptable. As early as 1993, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that “[t]herapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving change in orientation.”
The American Medical Association officially opposes reparative therapy that is “based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based on an a priori assumption that the person should change his/her homosexual orientation.”
The Pan-American Health Organization, the world’s oldest international public health agency, issued a statement in 2012 that said, in part: “Services that purport to ‘cure’ people with non-heterosexual sexual orientation lack medical justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.” The statement continues, “In none of its individual manifestations does homosexuality constitute a disorder or an illness, and therefore it requires no cure.”
Some of the most striking, if anecdotal, evidence of the ineffectiveness of sexual reorientation therapy has been the numerous failures of some of its most ardent advocates. For example, the founder of Exodus International, Michael Bussee, left the organization in 1979 with a fellow male ex-gay counselor because the two had fallen in love. Other examples include George Rekers, a former board member of NARTH and formerly a leading scholar of the anti-LGBT Christian right who was revealed to have been involved in a same-sex tryst in 2010. John Paulk, former poster child of the massive ex-gay campaign “Love Won Out” in the late 1990s, is now living as a happy gay man. And Robert Spitzer, a preeminent psychiatrist whose 2001 research that seemed to indicate that some gay people had changed their orientation, repudiated his own study in 2012. The Spitzer study had been widely used by anti-LGBT organizations as “proof” that sexual orientation can change.
In 2013, Exodus International, formerly one of the largest ex-gay ministries in the world, shut down after its director, Alan Chambers, issued an apology to the LGBT community. Chambers, who is married to a woman, has acknowledged that his same-sex attraction has not changed. At a 2012 conference, he said: “The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.”
Examples of LCMS anti-Gary Hate Speech using this myth:
“Resolved, That the President of the (Lutheran Church, Missouri) Synod direct the appropriate boards and commissions to develop a plan for ministry usable by congregations, campus ministries, institutions, and agencies in the Synod, for the purpose of providing biblical and Gospel-oriented ministry to persons troubled by being homophile in their sexual orientations and to their families; and be it finally
Resolved, That the goals to be pursued by such a plan for ministry be
- to offer to our world biblically alternative models of sexual celibacy outside of a committed, permanent heterosexual marriage and same-gender social, but not genitally sexual, deep friendships;
- to confront the individual with his/her sinfulness, and call him/her to repentance;
- to help the individual recognize that God can rescue individuals from homosexual orientation and practice;
- to assure him/her of forgiveness in Christ, contingent upon sincere repentance and faith in Christ, and to assure him/her of the love and acceptance of the church;
- to assist the individual to rely on Christ’s love and strength to abstain from homophile behavior;
- to help the individual to bear his/her burden without fear of recrimination and rejections by his/her sisters and brothers in Christ;
- to find ways of ministering to families which include persons of homophile orientation;
- to do all this patiently, persistently, and compassionately in the love and Spirit of Christ, who says, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
“There can be no love for the homosexual apart from the love that the Law of God requires and demands from him when it tells him to stop being a homosexual. It is this law that Christ fulfilled, a real law that made demands of Christ which he met. When people complain about people like me not being loving, or being pretentious, or being self-righteous, it is because they are being judged. A person who tells another he has done wrong automatically places himself in a position as judge.”
—The Brothers of John the Steadfast Blog
“God says that the sin of homosexuality is worse than the sin of adultery. He burned Sodom and Gomorrah for this sin. He calls this sin in particular an abomination to be compared with infanticide, idolatry, and bestiality (See Leviticus 18:21-23). This is the Law that he reveals in Scripture, and it is confirmed in nature. We dare not ignore it. Teaching the distinction between Law and Gospel is of the utmost importance, but let’s get it right! We cannot speak the Law in such a way that it will do anything but require real works of us. If we are speaking the Law so that it does not condemn homosexuality for what it is and require the homosexual not to be a homosexual, then we are treating sin the abstract.” —Rev. Mark Preus, The Brothers of John the Steadfast Blog