For too long, the gay movement has operated under the backward assumption that we could pass legislation without simultaneously educating Americans. This failed strategy wrongly dismissed all Americans who were not on our side as rabid rubes.
In reality, many of our "opponents" are not discriminatory dogmatists. They have simply gotten false information or they do not have fully formed opinions because they don't know anyone who is openly gay. This allows the opportunistic right wing to fill the vacuum and portray homosexuality as a breezy lifestyle choice. Since we have clearly failed to define ourselves, the extremists have done it for us.
The answer to such ignorance is clearly education. When mainstream Americans are introduced to the GLBT community, attitudes inevitably change and passing pro-gay legislation is made easier.
Finally, there is a smart effort to inform the public about homosexuality. The Born Different advertising campaign is a $900,000 effort funded by the Denver-based Gill Foundation. The ad campaign features a super-cute pooch named Norman who "moos" on theaters, billboards, buses and street lamps. The cuddly canine also stars in radio and television commercials. The message: People are born gay. It's exclusively running in Colorado Springs, a bastion of right wing hate groups, including Focus on the Family.
The subtext of the message aims right at the heart of Focus on the Family's anti-gay conversion therapy program, Love Won Out. It suggests that asking gay people to go straight is as ridiculous as suggesting a dog act like a cow. The power of this campaign is that it skillfully uses a puppy to take the politics out of this emotional issue.
In 1970, 73.6% of women ages 25-29 had at least one minor child at home; 30 years later, 48.7% did.
In 1990, the most common household type was married couples with children. Now, single, childless households are the most prevalent.
Today, more women in their 40s are childless, the report says. One in 10 were childless in 1976; in 2004, it was about one of five.
Well, it seems while Focus on the Family was obsessed with gay unions, traditional families became a lot less traditional. Maybe they should try minding their own business for a change? It is important to note that major family changes have occurred at the same time "pro-family" groups have proliferated. But we all know that when the right says "pro-family" it simply means anti-gay.
Porno Peter LaBarbera is up to his old tricks. The head of the Illinois Family Institute (IFI) will unveil his aptly named "Love and Truth Offensive" on July 15 to insult and harass participants in Chicago's Gay Games.
However, it is clear that Porno Pete is the one playing the gay games, as he once again finds himself in a homosexual den of iniquity. This anti-gay leader has regularly gone "undercover" at S&M leather balls, circuit parties and porn palaces. Now, he plans to conduct what he calls "informational outreach" in front of a Chicago gay bathhouse. The rest of us call what he is doing twisted voyeurism.
IFI kicks off its truly offensive "love and truth" campaign with a press conference on Saturday at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago, featuring a former lesbian, Linda Jernigan, and Greg Quinlan, a re-closeted homosexual who claims that he was once a "homosexual activist" with the Human Rights Campaign.
Interestingly, I worked at HRC for five years and nobody had ever heard of Mr. Quinlan - either at the national office or in Ohio. It appears that he is either falsifying his credentials or his role with HRC was so inconsequential that it left no identifiable footprint. I would urge Mr. Quinlan to either stop identifying himself as a former HRC official or prove that he was once part of the group. (Licking stamps once as a volunteer 20 years ago doesn't count and certainly doesn't justify making it into the bio)
According to Porno Pete, he is protesting outside the Steamworks, "where men go for anonymous sex with other men," because they are an official sponsor of the Gay Games. Yet, there are dozens of other sponsors - and Porno Pete decides he MUST picket the tubs. It seems he has an unhealthy fascination with the Steamwork's. He claims that protesting is crucial because "we care about gay men, we will be in front of Steamworks urging them not to engage in destructive and highly dangerous behavior." I don't suppose he will be handing out condoms.
There is no doubt Porno Pete cares about gay men. A few weeks ago, he was at Chicago's Gay Pride Parade. Someone ought to do this man a favor when he staning outside the Steamworks and buy him a membership card so he can join the fun instead of just watching. But, who knows, that might be superfluous, as he probably already has a platinum membership. For the purpose of observing "undercover," of course.
-- The Revs. Alonzo Neal, left, and O'Neal Dozier, right --
In an effort to ban same-sex marriage, white evangelical leaders have entered into a sordid marriage of convenience with a few likeminded black preachers. This unholy alliance is not a beacon of true diversity, but rather a diversity of ways to attack people who are different or hold divergent beliefs. In a perverse way, these ministers have advanced equality in that they have proven, if nothing else, that hate can be colorblind.
Just last week, for example, a leading anti-gay black preacher and ally of Jeb Bush, Rev. O'Neal Dozier, spewed bigoted remarks about Muslims on a right wing radio show. He explained that he was leading the charge to block an Islamic Center from being built in a Fort Lauderdale suburb because "Islam is a dangerous religion."
Instead of apologizing for his remarks, Dozier threw gasoline on the fire in an interview with The Miami Herald. The preacher explained in no uncertain terms that Islam was a synonym for Osama.
"We don't want our area to be a breeding ground for terrorists," Dozier said.
Dozier sounds an awful lot like former segregationist Rev. Jerry Falwell, who in 2002 told 60 Minutes, "I think Muhammad was a terrorist."
This week, Dozier will be leading a protest at a Pompano Beach Commission meeting to lobby against plans to build the new mosque. He has assembled a number of conservative preachers who seemingly believe that only their brand of Christianity should be allowed a home in South Florida.
Of course, these preachers won't flat out say they are against constitutionally protected freedom of religion, expression, association and speech. So, Dozier's partner in crime, Rev. Alonzo C. Neal of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, explained that Muslims were not the problem - it was their behavior.
"It's not their religion," said Neal, "it's their track record."
Is it just me or is this language eerily similar to the "love the sinner, hate the sin" rhetoric used against gays?
Funny, but I don't remember mainstream Muslims causing mayhem in Florida. However, I do remember busybody fundamentalist Christians harassing women outside the state's abortion clinics. I do seem to recall neo-Puritans terrorizing judges and family members during the disgraceful Terri Schiavo debacle. It seems these preachers should worry about the track records of their evangelical friends before they point the finger at Muslims.
Furthermore, it is amusing to see the contorted attempts at tolerance by these "men of God." Dozier and Neal have unending love for gays that don't act gay and Muslims that don't act Muslim. It is remarkably generous of them to love and accept all who act and believe exactly as they do.
The Dozier incident is reminiscent of 1998 when the extreme right teamed up with the late football star and preacher Reggie White to bash gays. In a speech to the Wisconsin State Legislature, White proclaimed that Asians can turn a TV into a watch, blacks excel at celebration and dance, Latinos can fit 20 or 30 people into one house, and whites are great with money.
And more recently, one of the nation's leading African American "ex-gay" preachers, D.L. Foster, disgraced himself by attacking me for my Jewish faith and drove home his point by drawing a Hitler mustache on my picture.
It is worth noting that there is a rift in the GLBT community on how to handle attacks by African American preachers working in cahoots with the religious right. One side of the argument, articulated by writer Chelsea Jennings in The Washington Blade, says that it is counterproductive to compare ourselves to the civil rights movement. The polar opposite view comes from the group Faith in America, which claims that today's "religion based-bigotry" against gay people is a direct descendent from the civil rights era and should be confronted head-on.
I happen to agree with Faith in America. It is no coincidence that racists of yesteryear, such as Falwell, are today's leading anti-gay opponents. They are eager to gain black support to justify their latest pet prejudice. And, no one has convinced me that there is a marked difference between racism, religious persecution, sexism and homophobia. While each has its unique characteristics, they are all equally unjust.
The unholy alliance is having a measure of success. When the New York Court of Appeals ruled against same-sex marriage last week, Judge Robert S. Smith said comparing racism to homophobia was a false analogy.
Thankfully, preachers such as Dozier, Neal and Foster are making it easy to connect the dots and show that haters rarely confine their prejudices to one group. Instead of giving cover, this new marriage of malignance is uncovering the right wing's true narrow minded agenda - in black and white.
Today, disgraced "counselor" Richard Cohen has once again gone off the deep end with insane attacks against me. My crime - informing America on the bizarre methods this witchdoctor uses on clients. With such loony and unprofessional rantings, is it any wonder he was kicked out of the American Counseling Association?
Recently, Cohen has graced CNN and Jimmy Kimmel Live, making a buffoon of himself by slamming a tennis racquet into a chair to unleash rage and supposedly become straight.
Cohen has also fondled men on TV and had the nerve to call it therapy. This nuttiness has even alarmed fellow conversion therapist Warren Thorckmorton who disingenuously feigned revulsion over Cohen's antics. (Throckmorton was well aware of Cohen's "therapy" for years and only stabbed Cohen in the back when the lunacy found its way onto CNN.) Still, Throckmorton was wise to distance himself from Cohen after America witnessed his tomfoolery.
The following is Cohen's newsletter and my comments are in red.
WAYNE BESEN IS ABOUT HATRED & FAILURE
We live in the information age of technology where news is heard around the world in a matter of minutes. Therefore, I want to clarify misinformation and slander that has been propagated by one of the most broken and bitter men I have ever met. (No evidence of slander is provided, which is borderline libelous on the part of Cohen. As far as bitter - he's confusing me with my ex-boyfriend.)
This person, Wayne Besen, is a gay activist who unconsciously plays out his unresolved childhood trauma in public forums, i.e. Internet, radio, TV. (And all this time, I thought I was just flaking for the gay agenda! Who knew?)
In Wayne's world, he obtains energy by denigrating and demeaning anyone who does not agree with his perspective. (Actually, the real secret is a power bar before I head to the gym in the morning.)
His modus operandi is name calling, slander and character assassination. (Notice, once again, Cohen provides no evidence which is the hallmark of one who engages in name-calling, slander and character assassination.)
It is evident that Wayne was deeply abused as a child, and instead of taking responsibility to heal and grow, he retaliates by abusing others who threaten his life paradigm. His issue is not homosexuality (although that is the pretense and mask he wears), it is all about a wounded soul crying out for recognition. (A therapist is not supposed to diagnose a person who is not a client. The reason is simple: You might get a wrong diagnosis. Case in point, I was never abused and had a quite wonderful childhood.What Cohen did was highly unethical and the type of quackery that likely cost Cohen his license.)
Wayne lacks creativity. His book, Anything But Straight, is remarkably similar to my title, Coming Out Straight. (I didn't know that Cohen had a patent of the word "straight.")
In his book, he spins a web of lies and deceit, taking granules of fact, then fabricates stories to confuse his readers. (Again, no evidence is provided. Cohen mocks the intelligence of his readers by offering gossipy innuendo - which is a sin - with no supporting evidence)
He uses slander, innuendoes, and cheap gossip with little resemblance to truth. (Hmm, and just a moment ago he said I lacked creativity. Once again, Cohen offers no evidence to back his wildly irresponsible assertions)
Wayne also sucks power from failure. Over and over again he states, 'I traveled the country listening to stories of people hurt by conversion therapies and ministries.' Wayne is a collector of people's failures and feeds off their negative energy. (A collecter of failed experiences is what one does who monitors the world of re-closeted homosexuals. There simply are no success stories to report.)
"Conversion therapy" is a derogatory term he and other gay activist use to denigrate our work. Now, Wayne has created a new group called Truth Wins Out. Sound familiar? Similar to Focus on the Family's excellent Love Won Out conference. (Yes, my group is a direct challenge to Focus on the Family and so far, we are doing quite well.)
At his recent press conference to launch this new and bitter effort, he presented a cast of wounded and angry souls who failed to change. Can you imagine a similar conference, where Wayne gathered alcoholics who dropped out of 12-step groups and therapy, and then returned to drinking? (Let me get this straight. Cohen wants respect for ex-gays, yet denigrates the experience of those who call conversion therapy damaging. It seems respect for Cohen is a one way street and he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. Additionally, homosexuality is not an addiction. The scientific literature says as much, but maybe Cohen did not read it. Perhaps, this is why he was booted from the ACA....did I mention that?)
We just want to say that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. No one can change. You're born this way, and that's it. We denounce any efforts to change, as we were badly abused by these ineffective therapists and silly ministries trying to help people go straight."(The AA success rate is much higher than the ex-gay ministries - although we will never know the real numbers because ex-gay groups refuse to keep statistics. Further, we all have met former alcoholics who are not on the payroll of right wing groups. Can we say the same about so-called former homosexuals? The only ones I have met are like Cohen - people who make their living by exploiting the desperate and the vulnerable. Finally, if the "ex-gays" really want to make the AA comparison, go for it. The saying goes that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. If the same is true for ex-gays, then they have not been cured. They are merely repressing their feelings through willpower. This is hardly impressive, as gay men have been escaping persecution in this manner for centuries. So, much for the term ex-gay, when what they offer is a Closet Assistance Program.)
I put forth that Wayne is a frightened and insecure little boy, attacking his opponents, unable to embrace differences with respect and dignity. (Did I mention how unethical it is to diagnose a person in a different state? Cohen is just upset that I mentioned during our last radio debate that he once stranded his Moonie wife - from an arranged marriage - at home with the kids for two years while he had a boyfriend in New York City. I'd be upset too, if such facts were made public. Especially, if I made my living telling people I was heterosexual. Notice, when I discuss Cohen, I provide the facts. See the difference between us?)
I have debated countless gay activists, and we agree to disagree, respecting our differences. (I have difficulty respecting a person that willfully ignores modern science and falsely claims that all gay people suffer from abuse and dysfunction. I respect Cohen about as much as the American Counseling Association respects Cohen, which is to say not at all.)
Wayne is incapable of such mature discourse. (I have had many pleasant debates with conservatives ranging from Sean Hannity, Cal Thomas and Pat Buchanan. However, Cohen's deliberate falsification of the facts and unethical conduct must be refuted. What he finds so distressing is that I follow his work and provide viewers with the facts. Facts, are Cohen's real enemy - not me.)
I am not against him or his right to live a homosexual life. I am for equality, for the right of each man, woman and adolescent to have the right of self determination-to live a homosexual life, or to choose to change and come out straight. This freedom to choose creates anxiety and fear in Wayne. (This is not true. Cohen lobbies for the passage of discriminatory laws. His message: Change or I will make your life miserable as a gay person. Therefore, he is not about conversion, but coercion. One more Cohen lie exposed.)
I could introduce hundreds of men and women who have changed and come out straight, and he would still attack and deny their existence. (Hundreds? That's odd, for I read his book and NONE of the people had gone from gay to straight. They were all seemingly basket cases who were on a "journey" with no finish line in the foreseeable future. It is time Richard provides evidence of these cured clients, because the word of a disbarred therapist does not hold much currency in his profession.)
If Wayne, and others like him, were secure in their homosexuality, they would not have a need to vilify those who chose to change and leave the homosexual life behind. (This newsletter makes Cohen seem like the very epitome of wisdom and maturity. Can we say the man appears to be "unraveling" in plain view?)
We must therefore show Wayne great love and compassion. (I can see by this newsletter Cohen's boundless capacity for compassion. It was dripping with love. I'm truly moved.)
- END -
Cohen gets away with his therapy scheme by artfully dodging the law. He recently told The Washington Post that he is not licensed as a therapist because he "didn't want to jump through the hoops and deal with the heterophobia and anti-ex-gay attitudes." He circumvents the licensing requirement by asking for donations to his foundation. "I am not doing therapy per se," he said. "I'm coaching."
If you have been "coached" by Mr. Cohen and found it to he a harmful experience, please share your story with my organization, Truth Wins Out. By doing so, you may help a lot of people escape the ex-gay trap and live rich and fulfilling lives as openly gay men and women.
A mob of gunmen went on a brazen daytime rampage through a predominantly Sunni Arab district of western Baghdad on Sunday, pulling people from their cars and homes and killing them in what officials and residents called a spasm of revenge by Shiite militias for the bombing of a Shiite mosque on Saturday. Hours later, two car bombs exploded beside a Shiite mosque in another Baghdad neighborhood in a deadly act of what appeared to be retaliation.
Good to see that Bush finally has things under control in Iraq. I'm sure that he will blame the media, particularly the New York Times, for reporting only "bad news." However, there seems to be no shortage of depressing reports coming out of Iraq.
The answer to this Bush-inspired mess is to break Iraq into three separate regions: 1) Northern Republic 2) Middle Republic and 3) Southern Republic. Notice, I did not divide these regions by religion or ethnicity, although each region would have obvious majorities. However, by calling the Southern Republic, Shiastan, for example, it implies that there is no freedom of religion for individuals. And, if this is the case, there is no liberty - the very reason Bush sold us on his military excursion. The key to making this arrangement work is fairly dividing oil revenues and having U.S. troops positioned nearby - preferably on an aircraft carrier that is safely out of harms way.
Iraq is unraveling. How many U.S. soldiers are going to have to die before we admit the obvious?