Once again, a gay man trying to go from gay to straight was sexually abused under the auspices of "touch therapy." Such therapy is not only ineffective, but a gateway for conflicted therapists to sexually victimize their clients. This latest example occurred in Winnipeg, where a minister and former Christian college instructor was found guilty of sexually assaulting a young man who sought ex-gay counseling. A jury returned with the guilty verdict early last night after only a few hours of deliberations. The therapist, Terrance Lewis, 60, will be sentenced at a later date.
Lewis' erotic therapy sessions included kissing, fondling and engaging in sexual role-playing. Many of these touch therapy sessions took place inside the therapists car. "He said I was to tell no one about it because no one would understand," the victim testified.
"The use of so-called 'touch therapy' creates an ideal situation for abuse to occur, because you have sexually repressed therapists who can take advantage of vulnerable clients," said TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen. "We call on all 'ex-gay' therapists to repudiate and abandon this bizarre practice before more victims are damaged."
Fundamentalists in the American military are persecuting other soldiers who will not convert to their twisted form of spirituality. Air Force lawyer Mikey Weinstein, said he has documented 6,800 testimonies by military personnel -- nearly all of them Christians -- of sometimes punitive or humiliating attempts to make them accept a fundamentalist evangelical interpretation of Christianity.
The truth is, there should not even be one such instance where our men and women in uniform act as Christian versions of Al Qaeda - forcing their religion on "infidels". It appears the culprit of such zealotry is the the Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF), which represents 15,000 US military personnel around the world. OCF's aim, as stated on its website, is to achieve "a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit."
It is clear that this group needs to be disbanded immediately because it is a threat to national security. It is difficult to tell the difference in mission between OCF and our enemies in the Middle East. Both are fighting for a warped view of religion and are actively working to impose it through force on dissenters. The U.S. military should be purged of such fanatics who don't seem to get the concept of the Constitution and freedom.
I have no problem if a group's goal is to transform individuals. But, when the goal is to "transform" an institution that is designed to protect all Americans, a bright red line has been crossed. If these zealots want to serve God, I suggest they turn in their stripes and become televangelists. However, if they are paid to serve this secular nation, they have no business acting as preachers. It is time for OCF to be put out of business, so they no longer serve as a genuine and immediate threat to America.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn was part of a group of men shouting insults at gay passers-by outside a Columbus bar early on New Year's Day, according to a 9-1-1 call made to police.
I went to my first Creating Change conference in Detroit last week - where the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force brought together nearly 2,000 GLBT activists from across the nation. While I was looking forward to catching up with friends, I was not sure what to expect. My past experience with left-leaning gatherings was that they often devolved into bitter hairsplitting arguments over maddening minutiae.
Often, these functions were retreats for the dysfunctional, which turned ordinary meetings into impromptu therapy sessions. The people were angry, frustrated and more interested in self-defeating arguments than defeating our right wing opponents.
The other major problem was a dearth of optimism. The left would repeat that until everyone was free no one was free - or several variations of this theme. While this goal is laudable, it is depressing. Essentially telling gay and lesbian people that they can't smile or laugh until every last baby has a bottle is a recipe for Prozac or burnout. The world will never be perfect and calling on activists to sacrifice their happiness until utopia occurs, is a way to shrink - not grow - a movement.
Granted, there were many reasons for people to be infuriated when I started my activism career in the late 80's. At the time, AIDS was taking a horrific toll while the government remained indifferent. The wounds from institutional sexism and racism were raw. Men still controlled much of the GLBT movement. Transgender Americans were expected to work hard, but know their place. So, while much of the unpleasantness was understandable, it was still unattractive.
The internal divisions were greatly exacerbated by the rise of the Religious Right, which was determined to roll back what little progress Americans had made on a number of social issues. So, there was a legitimate feeling of besiegement. Indeed, the right succeeded in turning "liberal" into a dirty word -- as politicians ran away from the "epithet" for nearly two decades.
So, I walked into Creating Change not knowing what to expect. I was delighted to find that the GLBT left had transformed into a much more optimistic movement. While many of the goals were the same, people had realized that it is okay to have fun on the journey to utopia. The event's host, comedian Kate Clinton, perhaps the most hilarious of all the acclaimed lesbian comedians, personified this sunny outlook.
At Creating Change, people were laughing and hopeful about the future. This helped account for a large turnout of youth activists who were attracted to the Task Force's uplifting vision for the future.
There was also a feeling of vindication on the gay left. The right wing juggernaut of the 90's has hit a wall. The seemingly unstoppable movement elected the most incompetent president in American history and its policies are sinking America on every level. Suddenly, conservative has become the dirty word and people are looking for a change.
The long-term struggle for justice has also brought us to the point where the first woman or African American will lead the Democratic presidential ticket. This historic event has empowered the left who can see tangible results and a more inclusive vision of American coming to fruition.
Within the movement, the anger over sexism was lessened by the enormously successful tenures of female leaders such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's Joan Garry, the Human Rights Campaign's Elizabeth Birch and the Task Force's Urvashi Vaid and Lori Jean.
Even the oft-combustible transgender activists were sedate. While they lost this year's battle over inclusion in a federal bill that would protect gay and lesbian people from getting fired, they did win the larger public relations war. And, the fact that major institutions, such as the Task Force, unabashedly fought for their inclusion showed that they had real political allies.
Outgoing Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman, who did an outstanding job framing the issues and improving the organization's infrastructure, also bolstered the gay left's prospects.
The confluence of these events and larger social trends made for a Detroit love-in. A lesson learned from Creating Change is that the GLBT left has a bright future. Instead of getting mired in past grievances and pet disputes, it focused on building a powerful movement. The people in attendance were clearly more interested in practical solutions than dogmatism. This bodes well for a movement that has often served as its greatest foe.
Leaving behind rancor and recriminations to fight for real progress and ending discrimination should be the continued focus of the GLBT left. As the right continues to implode, there is a real void to fill and a need to create lasting change including everything from gay rights to healthcare. Let's hope the left remains a force up to the important task of transforming America into a more fair and equitable nation.
It would be time to count Clinton out - if she were not a Clinton - a family that seems to win under pressure. However, in Obama's latest victory, he cut directly into her base. Exit surveys conducted for The Associated Press on Tuesday show she can't rely on white people and women in large enough numbers to ensure victory.
The two candidates split the white vote in Virginia evenly, while Clinton won with that group in Maryland by 10 percentage points. Before Tuesday, Clinton had clearly defeated Obama among whites in all but three states with Democratic primaries, and had a 14 percentage point advantage with white voters in those prior contests combined.
She can't object to the process being a caucus instead of a more representative primary. All three contests were primaries, and he won all three by more than 20 percentage points.
Obama won all income groups in both states and all age categories in Virginia, while Clinton ran even with him among those 60 and older in Maryland. While the Obama campaign boasted that they won the Latino vote in Virginia, the number of Hispanics participating in the poll was too low to draw any broad conclusions.
Clinton still wins women, the core of her support, but Obama cut into her lead. In Virginia, Clinton won among white females by just 9 percentage points. Her margin was twice that in Maryland, but still below the even bigger advantage she is accustomed to from that group.
The Clinton campaign is depending on victories in Texas and Ohio - calling it a firewall. However, mayor Rudy was the last candidate to erect a firewall (Florida) and his house burned down. Clinton may yet pull it out - but Obama's momentum makes him the candidate to beat.
Democrat Barack Obama would narrowly defeat Republican John McCain if they were matched today in the presidential election, while McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton are running about even, according to new general-election sentiment since the Super Tuesday contests.
Latest Videos Feature Sexual Orientation Expert Andrea Macari and 'Ex-Gay' Survivors Scott Melendez and Brian Nesbitt
NEW YORK - TruthWinsOut.org (TWO) introduced three new Internet videos today featuring clinical psychologist Andrea Macari and ex-gay survivors Scott Melendez and Brian Nesbitt. Each week leading up to the March 3 launch of TruthWinsOut.org's updated website, the organization will release new educational videos addressing the "ex-gay" myth from unique angles. Last week, we unveiled an ad featuring former pro baseball player Billy Bean, who challenged the ex-gay industry's bizarre notion that playing sports will help make one go straight.
In today's first video, New York therapist Andrea Macari answers your questions about the harm of 'ex-gay' therapy and addresses the sensitive topic matter than you always wanted to ask. Dr. Macari also offers practical advice on coming out and finding a good therapist.
Dr. Macari is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology and Masters of Arts in Psychology with distinction from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. She also graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology where she was the recipient of many awards.
Dr. Macari is a nationally known expert and media personality. She frequently serves as a contributor to some of the nation's most popular programs, including The O'Reilly Factor, Nancy Grace, Montel, and The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. With over 100 television and radio appearances, Dr. Macari is recognized as one of the leading disseminators of psychological information. Her website is www.drmacari.com.
In TWO's second video, Scott Melendez discusses how he escaped the ex-gay trap after seven years of hell. This video details the harm of 'ex-gay' ministries and highlights how they are ineffective and even dangerous.
Our third person featured is Brian Nesbitt, who grew up in a religious household and went to NARTH-affiliated therapist Dr. Chris Austin (later convicted of sexually abusing clients). When Brian couldn't change, Dr. Austin introduced him to "rubber band therapy." After this failed, Dr. Austin tried aversion therapy, using ammonia. Brian escaped the "ex-gay" horrors and has gone on to live as an out gay man.
"TruthWinsOut.org's website will be America's finest resource countering the 'ex-gay' myth," said Besen. "The videos we will introduce over the next month are a snapshot of the depth and expertise we bring to this topic. For decades, 'ex-gay' organizations had a huge advantage because they effectively disseminated their false messages. Our unique videos and website closes this gap by serving as a powerful educational tool that addresses the 'ex-gay' issue from every conceivable angle."
TruthWinsOut.org is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life.