Wednesday, July 04, 2007
(Focus on the Family's Ex-Gay Leader Melissa Fryrear)Focus Reports On Attendance Figures A Day Before Conference Begins, Says TWOMIAMI BEACH -
In an example of yellow journalism that sets a new low for Focus on the Family, the organization "reported" on attendance figures for an ex-gay survivors conference more than 24 hours before
the event actually occurred. An entire day before attendees boarded planes for the Irvine symposium, sponsored by SoulForce and Beyond Ex-Gay, Focus editor Jennifer Mesko wrote that "across town [from the Exodus 'ex-gay' conference] a counter-conference drew about 100 people."Jim Burroway
and Ex-Gay Watch
reported on the deliberate effort by Focus to lowball the attendance figures by inventing the numbers out of thin air. In response
, Focus on the Family disingenuously pointed to a picture of conferees to show that less than 100 people were in attendance. However, they failed to point out that many people chose not to be photographed and others had already left the premises. For example, Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen elected not to appear in the photo, but watched the photographer snap the picture.
"The fact that I was not in the photo does not mean I was not there," said TWO's Besen.
In any case, it still does not explain why Focus on the Family filed its report a day before the event began. This shows, yet again, that Focus on the Family lacks integrity and is unscrupulous in its efforts to distort gay life, says Truth Wins Out.
"We are used to Focus on the Family fudging the facts, but to report concrete attendance figures on a conference that had yet to take place is a new low," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "This was an outright lie made worse when you consider Focus on the Family was mocking the pain and suffering of the survivors attending this conference."
The actual attendance was between 150-250 people, depending on the time of day and programming. For example, at a Saturday evening concert and movie screening, there appeared to be well over 200 people seated in a theatre.
"Focus on the Family might consider hiring real reporters instead of relying on clairvoyants to inaccurately report on the future," said Besen. "I understand, on some level, it must be difficult for Focus on the Family to face their victims. But bearing false witness will not make the witnesses to the manifold abuses of ex-gay ministries disappear. They are beginning to speak out and they are here to stay."
Truth Wins OUT is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit www.TruthWinsOut.org.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
-- Glatze (Rt.) at Harvard in 2005 with Judy Shepard--
Charlene Cothran (Venus magazine) and Michael Glatze (Young Gay America magazine editor) were gay niche publishers
who discovered that peddling fiction is much juicer (and potentially more profitable) than selling straight news on gay life. The newly minted "ex-gay" stars tell us they have seen the light - unfortunately, it appears to be the spotlight - as they now parade themselves in the Christian media, pawning their terrific tales of transformation. Cothran and Glatze explain that they are simply offering a small snapshot of their new lives, but it sure seems like a full-blown photo shoot.
Interestingly, both Cothran and Glatze found God and renounced homosexuality shortly after they split up from what they once considered their spouses. In a sense, it seems like these break-ups caused nervous breakdowns where the embittered party tried to punish an "ex" by becoming ex-gay.
Cothran's conversion occurred after she split up with her life-partner of ten years. The divorce hurt so badly that Cothran remained celibate for three years - hoping that they would eventually reconcile. When the relationship was finally on its deathbed, the former Venus publisher became born again. How convenient.
Meanwhile, Glatze moved from San Francisco to Halifax, Canada in 2004 with his partner to start a family, according to "Weird Nut Daily
," a right wing publication. His conversion happened after a pro-gay speech he delivered at Harvard in 2005 - meaning that that he and his husband likely split within months of his miraculous makeover.
Instead of checking out potential new dates, Cothran and Glatze
simply checked out, found Jesus, and blamed their personal failures on homosexuality. Whereas most people handle getting dumped by drinking at the bar, those susceptible to the ex-gay myth simply drink the right wing Kool-Aid. They drown their pain in prayer and their sorrow in Scripture, while rationalizing that if they quit love, they will never hurt so badly again.
Unfortunately, the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality for ex-gays - it is a lifetime of loneliness, despair and celibacy.
"I am physically attracted to the spirit of Christ right now," Cothran said in an interview with the online website Clay Cane
. "I would say after 29 years of walking in the sin of lesbianism that if the devil were going to try and tempt me that he's probably not going to send a football player, if you will, because that didn't do it for me. You follow me?"
Yeah, we do follow you - you are a re-closeted lesbian who has given up sex, hardly an accomplishment or meriting a toxic appearance
on Rev. Pat Robertson's 700 Club.
Likewise, Glatze suggests that he isn't having any luck with the opposite sex either. "Healing from the Sins of the world will not happen in an instant, but, it will happen," he proclaimed.
Actually, if ex-gay history is any indication, it won't happen, and Glatze will be quite disillusioned when the promises of "healing" turn out to be an illusion.
Ironically, the new spokespeople can't even agree on the nature of homosexuality. Glatze glibly dismisses the love of countless people as "lust-based." Cothran, on the other hand, diverges from this viewpoint by saying that, "it's not all about sex. I say that in every interview heterosexuals have this view that it's all about sex, no, it's not." (However, she does believe being gay is the work of the Devil)Equally vacuous
is the reason Glatze offers for his homosexuality - suggesting he was gay because his parents died before he was 20. I happened to have had lunch with my parents this afternoon. Guess what, I’m still gay and so are many other people who grew up in traditional settings.
Glatze also condemns his life as a gay man because of "the darkest days of late-night parties, substance abuse."
And, I suppose, gay people built all those meth labs dotting the Midwest. Part of right wing dogma holds that when a straight person snorts a line it is a personal sin. However, when a gay person does the exact same thing, it is a communal sin and part of a "lifestyle."
Meanwhile, Cothran does not confine her newfound intolerance to the GLBT community.
"I know many Muslims, who were firm out what they believe, but got sick and was given six months...but faced death's door and suddenly they pushed that Muslim stuff to the side and said - what must I do to be saved!"
Yeah, right. We all know "many" Muslims facing mortality who turn to Jesus at the last moment. Where does Cothran hangout, the Muslim hospice? What is it about so-called ex-gays that when they find the Father, they lose the facts?
While Cothran and Glatze claim to be washing away their sins, it seems more like brainwashing or a deliberate attempt to strike out at those who hurt them. Whatever their true reasons - judging by the number of cameras following them around, I suspect that both already feel like they are in heaven.
The past few weeks my work has taken me to Chicago and New York and I'm leaving for Los Angles tomorrow. I was very fortunate to be asked to speak at the Center on Halstead, a spectacular new GLBT community center that is a national treasure. The $20 million gem has a basketball court, a computer lab, a technology center, an organic grocery store, a cafe, a magnificent theater, and a number of other fantastic gathering venues. Plus, views of Chicago's legendary skyline make The Center a tribute to how far the gay community has come.
Of course, it did not take long for Focus on the Family to exploit the price tag of the Center in their on-going effort to smear gay life. Caleb Price, a Focus "research" flunky, said the center illustrates the "deception of homosexual activists" who regularly present themselves as a "disadvantaged community."
"However, with this new $20 million gay community center in Chicago we see more evidence that, in fact, the homosexual community is one of the wealthiest, most privileged and powerfully influential groups in the country," Price said. "Yet they continue to demand special rights and recognition from society at large - all based on their self-identification with sexual behavioral preferences."
You have got to be kidding me.
Focus on the Family is the bitchiest, whiniest pack of victim-mongering babies on the planet. If a fundamentalist so much as stubs his toe, they are kvetching and ready to call their army of lawyers. This behemoth unceasingly portrays itself as a "disadvantaged community" that is surrounded by radical homosexuals, secular humanists and the ACLU. Yet, they have a cavernous Colorado Springs kingdom that consists of five massive buildings with 1,350 employees and runs on an annual budget of $150 million a year.
Nonetheless, they have the gall to pick on Chicago's center - a building that would likely fit in James Dobson's basement. It is amazing that an organization made of fine crystal castles should balk at the supposed extravagance of a glass house.
What Focus on the Family also failed to point out is that many of the people who visit the center each day are truly disadvantaged and use the site as a lifeline. Focus on the Family consistently makes sweeping generalizations about issues and people, without doing their homework to see if what they are actually spewing is true. When is the last time you have been asked a question by a Focus on the Family "researcher"? If they don't go into the communities they are "reporting" on, what do they actually spend their time researching?
Next, I was in New York at the Gay Pride Parade. While I had a great time and met some fascinating people, I have to admit, it wasn't as wild as I remember in the past. The weekend ended with a frustrated news photographer who was distressed because there were not enough bizarre people to photograph. Sure, this is progress, but watching marchers in polo shirts is kind of boring.
Next stop, LA!
Once on the West Coast, I will be part of a conference sponsored by SoulForce and BeyondExgay.com that will highlight the stories of ex-gay ministry victims. It will be a time of healing for those abused by these groups, as well as a stage to showcase the message that ex-gay groups ruin lives. Christine Bakke and Peterson Toscano, co-founders of Beyond Ex-Gay, have invited the ex-gay leaders of Exodus International to a private dinner June 29.
I suggest Bakke and Toscano take antacid before they sit down so they can stomach the ex-gay leaders pretending that they actually enjoy sexless existences. If you thought your last date was awkward, imagine the conversation at this meal!
Fortunately, Toscano is a comedian, so if it gets too stressful he can deliver a one-liner and ease the tension. I hope he prepares a good monologue, just in case the ex-gays start trying to cast out demons before dessert. I'll be sure to remind our contingent not to order Devil Food cake, just in case.