Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

"Reparative" therapy says I'm a dirty, dirty girl

My first introduction to the whole "ex-gay" movement was the film But I'm a Cheerleader, wherein the main character gets sent to a "straight camp" (and subsequently falls in love with Clea DuVall, which is a damn better ending than most real straight camps get). I've been interested (read: trainwreck-disgusted) in the ex-gay movement ever since.

Via Ex-Gay Watch: Salon.com is posting a fascinating series on this topic, of which the second one in particular ("My Gay Therapy Session") just sort of twists my insides. The reporter, Mark Benjamin, enters into a session with Christian councelor Barry Levy as a "possible homosexual," and sees what goes on during one of those sessions first hand. Which is, as it turns out, not a whole hell of a lot.

The words are gentle, helping, informative -- for some values of information -- and Levy himself has the language of a therapist. He even says things that, I admit, make sense:

Levy informs me that homosexuality is difficult to treat because it is about more than sexuality -- it is about a way of life. "I want to make a distinction between same-sex attraction and being gay," he says. "That is a whole ideology. It is a lifestyle. It becomes the locus, or organizing principle, of the identity of the human personality."

Well, yeah. For me, anyway, I'd say this is pretty correct. I'm not just a lesbian -- I'm also part of the queer community. The fact that I work on this blog at all pretty much confirms my desire to be part of this "way of life." The big difference, I suppose, is that I'm totally uninteresed in this whole treatment thing.

But others... damn. This has the hallmarks of a decent therapy session underneath the really corrosive message, such that a person in this treatment may actually find help in other areas of their life and attribute it all to the Gay Eradication. "Look, I don't stress about my life as much -- I must have been stressing because I was gay. Bad gay, bad!"

I hate a lot of things about the ex-gay movement, but this... this helping to hurt is insidious and manipulative and-- words fail me. Yeah.

(Link) (Oh, hey, and fellow contributors, I'd love to see your reactions to the third article and Reverend J. Grace Harley. Extra points go to whoever can write up a good comparison between her story and Joss Moody's.)

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