Fridae.com reporter Nigel Collett reports on Steve and Jose's seminar on the fallacies of the evangelical "ex-gay" movement held Saturday, July 17, 2010, at the Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship, Hong Kong
The following is an excerpt from the article Is there such a thing as an ex-gay? by Nigel Collett who is Fridae.com's Hong Kong correspondent. Nigel Collett attended the seminar Rev. Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz presented here in Hong Kong on the fallecies of the 'ex-gay' movement . The following is his summary of the material they gave. The seminar was hosted by the Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship of Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon, July 17, 2010. You can read Nigel Collett's complete article by clicking here.
The full paper Steve and Jose presented can be linked to from their Other Sheep website by going to this webpage. You can also link to the paper "Is There Such a Thing as 'Ex-gay'" by going to the Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship website. The paper is in English and Chinese.
8 problems at the core of the 'ex-gay' movement (excerpt from Nigel Collett's article)
They [Rev. Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz] see eight problems at the core of the ‘ex-gay’ movement. Number one: it is a movement rooted in traditional cultural norms and not in good religious interpretation (biblical exegesis) or modern science. It arose in 1975 as a reaction to the growth of gay and other liberation in the USA in the late sixties and early seventies and has its origins in the evangelical culture of religion, country and flag. The tying of religion – and religion of an evangelical hue – to patriotism makes for a particularly heady brew and accounts for a lot of the vitriol of the opposition to gay liberation. This leads the movement to try to justify its tenets in mis-interpreted religious ‘clobber texts’, which are used out of context to beat the believer. Number two: the movement’s use of psychology is out of date and highly selective. Its science is spurious and discredited in the mainstream, and its practitioners are held in little respect in their profession. Ideas of smothering mothers, distant fathers and childhood abuse litter their literature. Number three: whilst the movement promises ‘change’, it can only deliver behavioural modification, something its leaders admit (though usually only in the small print). It is inevitable that it will disappoint ‘those who want to arrive at a destination but find themselves alone on the train not knowing where they are going’, as Steve puts it.
Number four: the movement attempts to alter behaviour into stereotypical male and female gender roles, ignoring the reality of diversity and the cultural base for these stereotypes. By behaving like a man, by playing ball, by dressing conservatively, by avoiding anything effeminate, it says, you will be ‘healed’; an idea, of course, which would be ludicrous if it were not so sad, but an attractive one to those who have been damaged by the ostracism that their differences have attracted all their lives. Number five: the movement is riven by dishonesty. Personal failings have to be glossed over in order to conform to a God-ordained success, so the inevitable failures are brushed under the carpet. The enthusiasm of new adherents is touted as success while the failure of older members is ignored; the movement’s poster boy or girl is always the new face.
Number six: the claims of success used in the movement’s propaganda are not substantiated. No statistics are kept and wild statements are made. There is never any attempt to follow up on people who exit the movement. Number seven: the movement is tied to certain types of religious experience and sees being ‘ex-gay’ as a walk with a personal Jesus who will be with you in ‘an unending process of overcoming’ in the service of God. Not much help, here, for the skeptic, the Buddhist, the Hindu, the agnostic or atheist or even the middle of the road Anglican. Number eight: the movement views non-sexual close male relationships as essential for ‘healing’, a claim as unsubstantiated and dubiously based as it is positively inimical to resisting temptation (as Steve and Jose so luckily found!).
Why, then, does this movement persist? Steve and José believe that it will not do so in the long term, as it is based upon a negativity which will destroy it, but in the mean time it survives because of the sincere enthusiasm of many of those within it and the never-ending succession of young men and women it attracts as they come to adulthood and who wish to follow the religion in which they have been brought up. Though many of the movement’s leading practitioners seem to be unscrupulous, the mass of its membership consists of deeply troubled men and women who are seeking help or trying to give help to others. Those who undergo the experience of ‘reparative therapy’ therefore often have nothing but affection for those who mislead them through the process. I found this phenomenon amongst the audience at the talk and it is something noted by many researchers (see, for instance, Tanya Erzen’s 2006 account, Straight to Jesus). That is at least one reason why it is so difficult to find people prepared to speak out.
Speak out they must, though, if the continuing psychological damage endured by those seeking to be ‘ex-gay’ is to be stopped. The Hong Kong medical establishment has yet to have the courage to stand up for the truth and to make any statement about ‘reparative therapy’ and its dangers. Eventually, they will have to be pushed into doing so. Steve Parelli and José Ortiz have left Hong Kong now, but they have planted a seed here which the LGBT movement in Hong Kong should tend to full growth.