Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Author Wayne Besen (Me) weighed in on the debate over a naughty spoof of The Last Supper that is being exploited by right wingers.
It is amazing, as Dan Savage pointed out in The Stranger, that social conservatives remained silent on countless spoofs
of the same picture. But, when the gay people at the Folsom Street Fair spoofed the Last Supper, they went crazy. What a cheap and transparent double standard! Especially when one considers that Leonardo Di Vinci, who pained the original picture, was gay.
Unlicensed Psychologist Shows Insensitivity To Gay Victims of Shock Treatment and Mocks Teens Who Commit Suicide
NEW YORK - Truth Wins Out discovered a deeply troubling paper
today written by Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a professor at Grove City College, that minimizes the risk of gay teen suicide and mocked the victims of ex-gay therapy, including those who suffered electroshock therapy. The revelation of this paper comes as Throckmorton has emerged as a leading critic of an American Psychological Association task force that is reviewing guidelines on sexual orientation. Throckmorton is also a defender of a new Pat Robertson University sham study that claims some gay people can go straight through prayer.
"Dr. Warren Throckmorton has worked hard to portray himself as mainstream, but his views are quite extreme and show an alarming lack of sensitivity to the victims of ex-gay therapy," said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. "He owes an apology to those who were harmed by ex-gay therapy. His divisive views are polarizing and not helpful for those who want to have a reasoned scientific debate on sexual orientation."
In his paper, titled, "Is Sexual Re-orientation Possible?", Throckmorton dismissively brushes off the pain experienced by those who have been through electroshock therapy by saying, "I have never found evidence of electroshock treatment being used anyway."
Sadly, Throckmorton also seemed to minimize the experiences of GLBT people who have committed suicide or tried to take their own lives because they could not change.
"The last issue that has been advanced to prove conversion therapy is harmful is the supposed link between youth suicide and conversion therapy," Throckmorton wrote. "Let me say this clearly: there are no data supporting any such link."
In a similar manner, Throckmorton mocked the claims of former ex-gays who say they were hurt by ex-gay therapy. "Where's the evidence for the contention of harm?" he wrote with a hint of disdain.
"I would be more than happy to introduce Throckmorton to victims of ex-gay ministry and electroshock therapy," said Besen. "Poking a finger in the eye of people who have been damaged by ex-gay ministries is abusive and has no place within civilized medicine."
This is not the first time Throckmorton has shown callousness towards ex-gay survivors. In 2003, Michael Johnston stepped down after it was discovered the HIV+ ex-gay leader was having unsafe sex with multiple partners he met on the Internet. Instead of having sympathy for his victims, Throckmorton blamed gay activists for revealing Johnston's behavior.
In response to Johnston's demise, Throckmorton wrote an op-ed in American Daily on August 7, 2003 that said, "These gentlemen (activists) wanted to make sure the world knew about the private pain of Mr. Johnston and those touched by his failings."
Indeed, Throckmorton seems to think that the stories of victims should be contrasted with a defense by the offending therapists, as if a doctor would be likely to admit he or she hurt a client. "I submit that there are reasons to be cautious about client reports of dissatisfaction with psychotherapy that are not counterbalanced with reports of the therapists involved," Throckmorton wrote, further rubbing the wounds of victims with salt.
The doctor also compared homosexuality to unhealthy habits, such as smoking. "Most people who stop smoking report cravings but don't give into them," Throckmorton wrote in his controversial paper. "Does this minimize their status as former smokers?"
"Personally, I resent my love being compared to smoking," said TWO's Besen. "I can't think of a more noxious and offensive comparison. Throckmorton's hostility towards the GLBT community is alarming."
Surreally, Throckmorton claimed that he "healed" a gay client after teaching him "self-understanding and assertiveness." Even more bizarre, Throckmorton backed his case that gay people could go straight by suggesting that homosexuals could be "cured" by taking anti-anxiety drugs.
What makes this record so alarming is that Throckmorton is attacking the American Psychological Association and trying to force the organization to accept his methods, which he calls, Sexual Identity Therapy (SIT). The doctor also is a primary defender of a new study sponsored by Pat Robertson University that suggests some gay people can go straight.
"This study is a groundbreaking classic-scientifically erudite and clearly presented," he explained on the book jacket of the study. "It shares irrefutable data gained over time that serve to explode arguments based on ideology and anecdotes. Its irenic and thoughtful discussion invite an open forum where scientific evidence and rational thinking are allowed to dominate discussion on the subject."
Although an outspoken proponent of ex-therapy, Throckmorton is relatively unaccomplished. He has not written a book, nor has he conducted any major studies. He does claim to have counseled 250 patients, but he is unable to bring any success cases forward.
Throckmorton also produced a defamatory ex-gay video entitled, "I Do Exist." The movie's opening scene was a wide shot of the 8th Avenue New York porn palaces that supposedly represent gay life. His film featured Joanne Highley, a known exorcist, who in a previous video that appeared on PBS (One Nation Under God) discussed how she extracted the demon of homosexuality from the orifices of gay men.
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.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Tonight I was on FOX's Hannity and Colmes. This issue was the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. The promotional material included a sexually charged depiction
of the Last Supper
painting. On the opposing side was Matt Barber from Concerned Women for America. There was not much time, but the points I tried to make were:Free Speech:
If people are offended by the leather fair - don't go. This is still America where we have freedom of speech (whatever Bush has not stripped). Personally, this event is not my cup of tea and the only thing leather I own are a pair of shoes. That is why I am not going - and the people of Concerned Women can make the same choice as I did and stay home.The Event:
This event is an adult themed costume party which the right is blowing out of proportion. Most of the people are going to have a good time. A few will get out of control. This is what happens at parades.Double Standard:
Groups like Concerned Women just love attacking gay events, but do not hold straight events to the same standard. Where are the moralist scolds and busy bodies when people at Mardi Gras are flashing private parts for beads? Why doesn't this represent the "heterosexual lifestyle"? Where are the moralists when it comes to Hooters, Spring Break and Wet-T-shirt contests? If it is not an opportunity to demean gay people, they just don't seem to care.The Offending Poster
: It is not an "attack" on religion, but a spoof. If the right did not want Christianity mocked, they would yank Rev. Pat Robertson or Ann Coulter off the air. They do 1,000 times more damage by making Christians appear mean-spirited, narrow-minded and intolerant. I can see why people might be offended, but I think the intention was to be funny and drum up attention for the event.Smoke Screen:
The right's indignation is a smoke screen. Conservatives are focusing on this issue because they are tired of America seeing positive images of gay and lesbian people. Our three biggest goals are to serve in the military, get married and be included in churches. Given this reality, it is no wonder the right wants to change the subject and talk about this controversial event.
Monday, September 24, 2007
"In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country, we don't have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon; I don't know who's told you we have this."
-- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia University
in New York, Sept. 24.
I suppose the non-existent homosexuals can now join the holocaust victims that do not exist in the deranged mind of this ignoramus. If it were not for the fact that most people in Iran think he is an idiot and hate the ruling clerics, I'd say bomb Iran. But the idea of a nuclear Iran? No dice. We can't let that happen. This guy is insane.
In the New York Times, columnist Adam Cohen discussed the double standard used by conservatives - who bash liberalism, until they personally want the law to treat them fairly. According to the article:
Mr. Craig, who is asking the court to take the extraordinarily pro-defendant step of undoing his guilty plea, has been a rubber stamp for the Bush administration's drive to stock the courts with judges who have utter contempt for civil liberties - and for claims like his own.
After his arrest, Mr. Craig was called hypocritical for his longstanding opposition to gay rights in Congress. His legal defense, though, presents a different inconsistency. He joins a long list of conservatives who believe in a fair legal system only for themselves.
Well, that about sums it up. Modern conservatism may wrap itself in morality, but its overarching value is "ME" first selfishness.
- Iowa's Gay Marriage, left -
Inside the trenches of culture war combat, it is often difficult to see who is winning the conflict. The recurring recriminations, stale rhetoric and finger pointing proclamations often leave one feeling as if we are in a perpetual stalemate. But in the past couple of weeks, dare I say, strong evidence has emerged that suggests the gay and lesbian community has won the war. Not winning, but won. There have been victories, dramatic and mundane, that show the world has changed and will never be the same.
The most extraordinary development happened in San Diego, where Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders switched his position on same-sex marriage, while revealing that his daughter is a lesbian. In a tearful address,
he signed a City Council resolution adding San Diego to a friend-of-the-court brief that urges the California Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage. I am not sure what was more remarkable, watching this cultural touchstone or witnessing a politician do what is in his heart.
"Two years ago, I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative," Sanders said. "Those beliefs, in my case, have changed. The concept of a 'separate but equal' institution is not something I can support...In the end, I couldn't look any of them [family and friends] in the face and tell them that their relationship -- their very lives -- were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana."
Sanders displayed the moral courage to do precisely what former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and Vice President Dick Cheney failed to do for their daughters. This dramatically changes the political equation, in that the right wing no longer monopolizes the language of values. Finally, we have a model of morality, where a politician argues for GLBT equality in terms of heartfelt beliefs and convictions. While the floodgates will not open tomorrow, this is the crack in the dam that will lead to the deluge. Most liberals, and even many conservatives, believe in the freedom to marry. However, fear has kept them from doing what is right. Mayor Sanders has shown them the way.
Less theatrical, yet also an important mark of change, NBC commentator Chris Matthews congratulated gay pundit Andrew Sullivan for his recent marriage on Matthews' Sunday morning political talk show. A photograph of Sullivan embracing Aaron, his new husband, accompanied the celebratory note. The nonchalance of this announcement - to an audience that is split between liberals and conservatives - shows how irrational fear of gay marriage is quickly receding.
Of course, there was also the recent court ruling in Iowa
that led to the state's one and only gay marriage, before the judge who issued the edict put a stay on further ceremonies. Still, this event highlights how no region is immune from grappling with this issue.
Meanwhile, the California legislature has again passed a marriage bill that would become law if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would not terminate it with his veto pen. Sure, the issue remains contentious, but the thought of gay people marrying in California is hardly a novel idea anymore. (On a down note, the Maryland Court of Appeals rejected same-sex marriage by a 4-3 vote)
As the cultural winds have shifted in favor of equality, the religious right
suffered twin setbacks in Florida, a key swing state. The first disaster was the "Values Voter Presidential Debate," where none of the major candidates appeared, treating the Religious Right as if it were just another minority group to ignore with "scheduling conflicts." The truth is, the "scheduling conflicts" had to do with the fact the debate questioners, a who's who of fringe ideologues, looked like they were all on Schedule 1 medications.
Later in the week, major right wing leaders descended upon Tampa for the "Family Impact Summit."
I was down in the Sunshine State, taking part in a counter press conference
hosted by the GLBT group Equality Florida. Inside the event, right wing leaders were openly whining about how attendance has fallen at right wing conferences in recent years. While much of the right still loves its red meat issues, gratuitous gay baiting is a harder sell than it used to be.
There are simply too many serious issues - from Iraq to healthcare to the housing bust to global warming - for today's mainstream conservatives to obsess about homosexuality. And, while many on the right would still prefer gay people to retreat into the closet, they now know that there is little room inside, as it is packed like a gay bar at midnight with Republicans such as Mark Foley and Larry Craig.
Sure, the ugliness of the culture war will rage for fifteen to twenty more years, as our opponents get more desperate and shrill. But, like the "Family Impact Summit," each year it will be embraced by less families and have a diminishing impact.
Sunday, September 23, 2007