April 16, 2011

Queer Issue: Pfox and the Ex-Gay Movement.

Recently I became aware of an organization called Pfox (Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays) that claims to support the rights of ex-Gays and gys. The basic premise of the group is that there is extreme prejudice towards ex-gays and that this prejudice is greater than that faced by the queer community in general.

The cursory examination of the articles and literature that I've read all have Pfox presenting itself as an organization that promotes tolerance towards all. However, a deeper look reveals that the group actively promotes extreme homophobia and transphobia.

Throughout their website and statements Pfox either directly labels or suggests that gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals are confused about their identities. Furthermore, Pfox goes out of their way to present gay men as predatory sex addicts and spares no effort in describing the dangers of the "homosexual lifestyle". There is no affirmation or support shown for gays, lesbians or transgendered individuals and while my research of the website was not exhaustive, there appears to be no indication of the existence of bi, pan, or omnisexuals. This is obviously done as bi, pan, and omnisexuality does in fact undermine so many of the arguments and studies that PFox uses to support it's rhetoric.

Furthermore, I admit to having a minor issue with the term "ex-gay" as it identifies an individual negatively based upon what they used to be, not as what they are. In the grand scheme of things, most people who go from having romantic or sexual relationships with someone of the same sex to someone of the opposite sex would probably identify themselves as bi, pan or omnisexual. I myself have a little a secret that I wish to share with you all. I am an ex-straight as I dated a girl back when I was in seventh grade. I am also an ex-college student and ex child. All I ask from the straight community is that I not be judged or discriminated against for being ex-straight, and that I not be judged for my choice to reject the straight lifestyle.

Something I found interesting that Pfox advocates for on a couple of their pages is that "homosexuals" be counseled on alternatives to homosexuality. Really? The implications of this are interesting as it appears Pfox is saying that heterosexuals are such a repressed minority that people have to be educated before they can become aware of even the possibility of heterosexual identity.

Actually what Pfox is really advocating is much more dangerous. There's an ugly truth about the ex-gay movement that Pfox deliberately ignores and covers up. This little secret is that the ex-gay movements tactics are far more extreme than anything suggested in Pfox's literature.

It is also worth noting, that in spite of homosexuality no longer being classified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association, the ex-gay movement is entirely founded on the notion that gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals are mentally ill.

The publication "Youth in the Crosshairs, The Third Wave of Ex-Gay Activism" by Jason Cianciotto and Sean Cahil makes for a good read on this topic and the tactics used by the ex-gay movement.

What I want to point out is this. It is within the ex-gay movement that the hypocrisy of the homophobic and transphobic movements within our society is revealed in all its ugly glory. We do not need to recruit, indoctrinate, or brainwash anyone in order for more queers to be brought into the world, as sexual orientation and gender identity are fundamentally innate characteristics. However, in order for ex-gays and ex-trans individuals to exist, there must be also be an ex-gay movement to create them.

If someone wishes to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, that is fine, no one should be judged for changing even something of that nature. Change, I will admit, is always possible, for obvious reasons. However, the ex-gay movement does not encourage self determination, rather it forces conformity to a straight identity. Within ex-gay camps, people are routinely brainwashed into believing the ideology of "straight is the only possible good".

In closing, I will say this. People should be allowed the basic dignity of self determination regarding their own identity. There should be no need to counsel people into choosing a particular identity. Unfortunately, the ex-gay, ex-trans movements, while trying to present an image that they do not indoctrinate or coerce gay, lesbians, and trans individuals into becoming straight, their actions are actually quite different.

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