It is my pleasure to invite you to Soulforce'seducational symposium"The Truth about Faith, Science, Love and Reparative Therapy" that will be held in Philadelphia, PA on November 5-7th, 2010.
I am Jason Conner, Director of Programs for Soulforce and 2010 Equality Rider. This Symposium holds a very special place in my understanding as a gay person. I grew up in a very conservative Christian home. I was raised Mormon, and I served a two year mission for the church where I preached 'the gospel'. I share an all too common story. I was raised in an environment where people in the LGBTQ community were referred to as freaks, deviants, and sinners. Simply put, I was taught to fear LGBTQ people. I absorbed these lessons, all while realizing I was one of these 'wicked' people who was considered so despicable. My inner turmoil escalated to a turning point while serving my mission. I was trying to serve God to the best of my ability, and yet these seemingly "perverse" thoughts and feeling just wouldn't go away. I confessed my feelings to my mission president, someone I considered to be a man of God, and one of the best individuals I had ever met. I explained to him that I was so conflicted and grief-filled that I had contemplated suicide. I felt so hopeless and alone. He responded by reading me a scripture, Romans 7:24, which reads:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Here I was, more vulnerable and broken than I had ever felt, looking for Christian love and support from this man that I so admired, and I was greeted with confirmation of my worst fears, that I was undesirable in the eyes of God. Immediately after reading me this scripture and telling me that I could overcome these "same sex attraction" afflictions, I was ushered into therapy. I had never heard the words "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapy. All I knew was that if I didn't comply with this therapy program, I would be sent home from my mission, to face the shame and disgrace of my family, church, and friends. I spent nearly a year being told that no one in the "homosexual lifestyle" could ever be truly happy, and that "those people" were incapable of healthy relationships with others. After leaving the mission I found a young woman to whom I was eventually engaged, but by the grace of God, I was able to see the tragedy that heterosexual marriage would mean to me. I ended this engagement, and through participating in the Soulforce 2010 Equality Ride, I come out of the closet and accepted myself as the beautiful creature God has created me to be.
I share my story with you to illustrate several important things. I am not angry with the mission president who read me that scripture. I'm also not angry with the therapist employed by the church to "fix" me. These individuals were victims of misinformation, perpetuated by large and well funded organizations. Most of us are familiar with organizations like Focus on the Family, NARTH, and Exodus Ministries. These organizations teach a message that is clearly harmful to LGBTQ people and pose a great danger to our society. They promote views that LGBTQ individuals are sick and should and can be fixed or changed. They cite false science and statistics that they themselves fund and compile. What are we to do with all of this false information flooding the media, the pulpit, and even the floors of the Senate and House? Thankfully, we have Soulforce, an organization that continues to "stand in the gap" for oppressed people. We are delighted to offer this newest educational symposium which we believe will dispel untruths about LGBTQ identities and reparative therapy:
A Soulforce Symposium Philadelphia, PA November 5-7, 2010 The Truth about Faith, Science, Love and Reparative Therapy
We are bringing together some of the most knowledgeable individuals from around the globe to teach us how to confront the false science and news out there about LGBTQ individuals. We will also look closer at reparative therapy, and how to cope as a survivor. This symposium is perfect for all LGBTQ individuals and allies. Preregister now and be the first to receive updates about presenters, locations, and special hotel deals.Click here to preregister!
Even if you can not attend, please donate to Soulforce so that we can continue fighting spiritual and political violence against LGBTQ individuals.Click here to donate now!
I look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia this November. Great change comes from great action. Great action is perpetuated by knowledge. It is my hope that the knowledge we gain at this symposium will lead us to stand up against corrupt individuals and organizations, letting them know that we are people who are whole, and just as deserving of love and equality as anyone else. See you soon!
'Efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful
and involve some risk of harm."
So says a new American Psychological
Association report affirmed by its governing body in a 125-to-4 vote.
No surprise there, given the past advice of the APA—and of other
mental-health associations—against sexual-reorientation therapies.
What has raised some eyebrows was the
APA's olive branch to religious conservatives. Reaffirming
"individuals' right to their own religious beliefs," the report
provides guidance to counselors whose religious clients feel distressed
about their same-sex attractions. It encourages them to remind their
clients that gay people can live happy lives and that there is no
evidence to support the belief that sexual orientation can change. But
if clients reject a gay identity anyway, declared the APA, then it
would be ethical to help them reconcile their religious and sexual
identities and to assist them in managing their behavior, including
refraining from sexual activity.
Applause for the APA's sensitivity to
religious diversity has come from previously opposing sides within
evangelicalism. Psychotherapist Ralph Blair, the founder of
Evangelicals Concerned, the gay-supporting "national network of gay and
lesbian evangelical Christians and friends," welcomes APA's "clear
rejection of 'reparative therapy.' " But he also welcomes its openness
to supporting homosexual people "who nonetheless think that it's wrong
for them to act on their same-sex desires." Grove City College
psychologist-blogger Warren Throckmorton, who supports those who want
to control same-sex attractions and reject a gay identity, sees hope
for "a larger middle and smaller numbers of people at the opinion
extremes. People on both sides, he says, "can agree that erotic
responsiveness is extremely durable."
This emerging professional
consensus—that one's sexual orientation is a natural, enduring
disposition—has gained strength from scientists who have, in recent
years, discovered gay-straight differences in brain centers,
fingerprint patterns and, it appears, the womb: The more biological
older brothers a man has, the greater the likelihood of same-sex
Even conservative Focus on the Family
now agrees with the APA on this much: "We do not believe anyone chooses
his or her same-sex attractions." Focus adds that, for men and women
who struggle with the issue, the aim is "to steward their impulses in a
way that aligns with their faith convictions." Focus on the Family has
not reversed its encouragement of sexual-reorientation efforts, but it
is passing off sponsorship of its money-losing "Love Won Out" seminars
on "leaving homosexuality."
Some of the conflict about same-sex
attractions stems from disagreements about biblical texts. On one side
are those who assume the literal meaning of seven proscriptive
passages, especially in Leviticus and Romans. On the other are those
who say that these few texts are slim pickings among the Bible's 31,103
verses and that such texts usually also condemn other actions (such as
child exploitation, promiscuity or idolatry) and never a natural
orientation. But biblical scholars are working to resolve the
differences, as they did with earlier debates over slavery, race and
Anecdotes of ex-gays continue to be
heard, but they are offset by a growing list of ex-ex-gays, including
more than a dozen former ex-gay group leaders. The British evangelical
organization Courage once aimed to assist those struggling with "the
clear biblical prohibition of homosexual practice." But no longer.
Acknowledging the harm done by its fruitless sexual-reorientation
efforts, Courage has become a place for "gay and lesbian Christians who
are seeking a safe place of friendship in which to reconcile their
faith and sexuality."
Perhaps one day we will see traditionalists asking themselves whether the world would be a happier and healthier place if, for all
people, love, sex and, yes, marriage went together. In the meantime,
the increasing common ground between social scientists and religious
conservatives is a small miracle in itself.
I don’t know how many of you have been following all the to-do
about a researcher in Oregon investigating the physiological aspects of sheep sexuality, but I have been. In the first reports to come out of Dr.
Roselli’s research, I was among the many queers who were very frightened about
prospects of research into hormonal “cures” of homosexuality. Now, as Dr. Roselli tries to distance himself
and his research from these notions, I remain worried and skeptical.
While I have avoided posting on this subject because I feel
there is not enough solid information available, I was reminded of Dr.
Roselli’s work and investigations into the causes of homosexuality by an interview
I read today on Salon titled God and Gorillas. This interview is just one example of
scientific investigation into the origin of religion. I find both the investigation into the causes
of homosexuality and the evolutionary origins of religion to be similarly
worrying on a gut level, even though I support them on
an intellectual level.
Like many queers, I feel threatened by research into the
specific causes of homosexuality because I worry that if a gene, hormone,
hormone balance, etc., were found that directly caused homosexuality, some
might be tempted to develop a “cure” for homosexuality (or alternatively,
mothers might be tempted to abort babies simply to avoid having a gay child). While those of us who are out and proud and
our allies recognize that such a “cure” is nonsense, it would likely appeal
very strongly to those struggling with their sexuality, parents of those
struggling, and homophobic policy makers and lobbyists.
In Oslo, the gay animal museum is attracting lots of attention. Thanks, AmericaBlog for the link.
The Oslo Natural History Museum opened the show last week and says it has been well attended, not least by families. Organisers reported early criticism of the project, and being told by one opponent they would "burn in hell". But there has been strong interest in an aspect of animal behaviour the museum says is quite common. It says homosexuality has been observed among 1,500 species, and that in 500 of those it is well documented.
Snark of the day: When told that homosexuality is observed among 1,500 animal species, religious commentators reporting exlucisvely to the Gay Spirituality & Culture blog explained that these animals are all "contrary to nature." When asked to point to a natural hierarchy of creatures that exhibit no homosexual behavior, they pointed to the religious hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and the organizational structures of evangelical Protestant churches such as Ted Haggard's New Life Ministry. ;-)
A new weblog examines the science of homophobia. Beyond Homophobia looks at sexual orientation, prejudice, science, and policy from the perspective of Gregory Herek, a Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Davis.
An article by Jim Ritter called "Is there a gay gene?" (actually about a brothers study) contains this estimate of the factors involved in homosexuality:
Scientists have rejected earlier notions that homosexuality is a mental illness. The thinking now is that sexual orientation is determined by roughly 40 percent genetic factors and 60 percent environmental factors.
Simon LeVay, the best-known scientific researcher into the origin and nature of homosexuality, has an Internet home page. It includes a piece on "The Biology of Sexual Orientation" which examines a variety of non-biological theories of homosexuality including psychoanalytic theories, behaviorism/socialization, the effect of sexual experiences, and social Social constructionism. LeVay's look at biological theories includes genes, hormones, anatomy, brain studies, cognitive research, and birth order studies.