Truth Wins Out (TWO) today called on Colorado officials to investigate New Life Church, after the Associated Press revealed that New Life paid money to keep a male volunteer from publicly disclosing a romantic affair with the church's former minister Ted Haggard.
According to the AP, New Life's current Senior Pastor, Brady Boyd, said that the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the relationship publicly.
Until conservative churches stop shaming gay people and learn to accept them, we will see more tawdry scandals. These calamities are a direct result of the closet.
Rev. Boyd denied that New Life paid hush money and said, "Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance -- certainly not hush money."
Authorities should investigate to ensure that this volunteer was not manipulated or coerced into silence. The leadership of New Life has little credibility and should not simply be taken at their word. At a minimum, Boyd should resign for using his position of power to pressure a vulnerable member of his congregation into silence.
In 2006, Denver escort Mike Jones disclosed that he and Haggard had a three-year relationship where money was exchanged for sex. Shortly after, Haggard stepped down from New Life. Next week, HBO will air a documentary on the rise and fall of Haggard. The disgraced minister will be promoting the show in media appearances throughout the week.
There is speculation that the HBO special spurred the volunteer to contact a Colorado Springs television station to discuss the situation.
In 1995 an incredibly powerful book was published by Harper Collins. This book called "Prayers for Bobby" by Leroy Aarons completely turned me inside and out when I finally read it years after it was published after making my way through the minefield that is the "ex-gay" movement.
"Prayers for Bobby" completely captured the internal battle of the mind that ensued when I, a gay man tried to change my sexual orientation based on religious proselytizing and indoctrination by others.
The novel recounts the incredible mental torment and anguish that 20 year old Bobby Griffith was living with until the day he decided to end his personal hell by committing suicide by throwing himself off of a highway overpass and into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer.
Bobby had been continually forced to hear anti-gay Bible verses drilled into him daily by his mother Mary Griffith who felt that she had all life's answers taken care of in the pages of her well worn and weathered "Holy Bible".
The book makes painfully clear the result of Mary's complete and unquestioning belief in her Bible. There are numerous entries from Bobby's personal diary throughout the book where we see the horrid battle that was going on inside of his mind as revealed in phrases like: " I must deserve everything that happens to me." "The funny thing is that I didn't realize until now how bad a person I must really be". His personal hell got much worse: "I want to take a fuckin ice pick to my face and stab it till there's nothin left."
Bobby killed himself on Aug 27th, 1983 That same year I was 15 and had just entered Crosier Seminary Catholic High School: my own start on a long journey of religious misinformation telling me I could not be a GLBT person. Eventually, through much research, I found my way out of self hatred and to complete self acceptance and self-esteem and love as a gay man. Bobby never had that chance.
Lifetime Television will present the world premiere of the movie adaptation of "Prayers for Bobby" on Saturday, January 24th. For more information, please go to: www.prayersforbobby.com
Los Angeles Affiliate KABC-TV Refuses to Air Ad With Gay Families During Inauguration: 'Too Controversial, Families Will Be Watching.'
Non-profit organization GetToKnowUsFirst.org produced five 30-second commercials featuring gay and lesbian families, with the message "Marriage promotes families. Support marriage equality." The ads, while not tied to any current election, are the result of California's passage of Proposition 8 in November. The group aired the spots in 42 of the states' 58 counties -- everywhere the initiative passed by 50% or more -- during Tuesday's coverage of the Presidential Inauguration. KABC is the only station that refused to sell the ad space.
The rejected ad profiles two African American men raising five children ages 6 through 25. Ironically, the family lives in Los Angeles.
The media buy was attempted by the organization's ad agency, New and Improved Media. Its CEO, Keith Fisher, was surprised that KABC rejected the group's money. Fisher said, "We usually only see this with risque content, as in a trailer for a movie." He added, "If KABC thinks they have to protect the public from this family, something's obviously very wrong over there."
Chris Yokogawa, the ad agency's media buyer, worked with the station, attempting to ease any concerns they might have. He said, "We went back and forth a couple of times. I explained that this family is far from controversial. They were firm in their rejection. They said it was too controversial to air during the Inauguration, since 'many families will be watching.'"
The ad aired across California on Tuesday -- before, during and after the Presidential Inauguration on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Despierta America (Univision) and Levantate (Telemundo) broadcasts, as well as on a wide range of regional news stations, CNN and FoxNews during evening coverage of the day's events.
Project Coordinator John Ireland expressed astonishment at KABC's rejection. He said, "This ad is about families. I challenge anyone to watch the commercials at www.GetToKnowUsFirst.org and articulate what is inappropriate about airing it at any time of day."
One week prior, at attorney Gloria Allred's urging, Rev. Rick Warren indicated he would be willing to show the ads to his congregation at Saddleback Church in Orange County. Days before the Presidential Inauguration, he changed his mind, dropping the offer.
Tonight, I will be featured in the controversial documentary, Chasing the Devil. New York documentary filmmakers Bill Hussung and Mishara Canino-Hussung spent four years winning the trust of so-called "ex-gays" who claim to have prayed away the gay. The screening, is the culmination of this pain-staking work.
"Chasing the Devil: Inside the Ex-Gay Movement" offers a rare glimpse inside the world of New York area anti-gay activists who claim homosexuality is an illness that can be healed. One New York City ministry featured in the film promotes the belief that homosexuality is caused by demons in the rectums of gay men. Members of L.I.F.E Ministry believe exorcisms can remove the demons and "cure" homosexuals.
The screening at Anthology Film Archives will be followed by a question and answer session featuring three men profiled in the documentary. Self-described ex-gay success story John Sterback will take questions, along with me and Peterson Toscano.
TONIGHT: Chasing the Devil: Inside the Ex-Gay Movement screening, at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue at 2nd street. January 21st 6pm Tickets $5.) www.newfilmmakers.com
UPDATE: It appears that the Team Obama has responded. Gene Robinson's website said that, "One addendum to yesterday's posting: I have been invited to be on the President's Platform for the inauguration/swearing in. An astounding honor!"
UPDATE: This is the official statement from Team Obama:
"We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson's invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday's program. We regret the error in executing this plan -- but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event," said PIC communications director Josh Earnest.
TWO's Response: "We appreciate the explanation," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. "However, it seems that Team Obama should make up for its error by having the courtesy to invite Bishop Robinson to address the nation on national television. He is a major national figure, and more historically prominent than Rick Warren, who will give the invocation. He deserves a 'Do-Over'."
Warren Gets Prime Time, Robinson Gets No Time, Says TWO
Truth Wins Out today urged the Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC) to explain why openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson was excluded from a Home Box Office airing of inauguration festivities. He gave his sermon on Sunday, but HBO did not air it, leaving America wondering why he was bumped from the broadcast. Additionally, Robinson's microphone wasn't turned on until his prayer was nearly over, so the crowd was also unable to hear him.
Robinson's remarks were newsworthy and much anticipated because they were viewed as an attempt to mend fences with the gay community, after Obama chose anti-gay evangelical pastor Rick Warren to give the main invocation.
"We strongly urge Team Obama to get to the bottom of this because people are perplexed and looking for a reasonable explanation," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. "As it stands, Rick Warren gets prime time and Gene Robinson gets no time. We would like the Inauguration Committee to strongly consider offering Robinson a new chance to deliver his remarks on national television."
The website AfterElton.com contacted HBO on Sunday and the premium channel replied with an e-mail: "The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show."
"Like all Americans, we just want to enjoy the inauguration of our new president," said Besen. "We will feel much better about the event, once this situation is resolved."
Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that defends the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community against anti-gay lies. TWO also counters the so-called "ex-gay" industry and educates America about the lives of GLBT people.
It was my senior year of high school and my friend Alex's father was out of town. While gone, he placed Alex in charge of his clothing shop, which was in a small hotel mini-mall. I swung by one evening to keep him company. Business was slow and we were looking for creative ways to pass the time.
Finally, one of us had the harebrained idea to replace the female mannequins stiffly posing in the large plate glass window -- with ourselves. Dressed in women's clothes, we stood completely still and patiently waited for unsuspecting customers. When they unassumingly meandered in front of us -- we came alive, startling these poor window shoppers.
This evening of adolescent mischief was the extent of my dabbling in the world of the opposite sex. Although this path was not my destiny, I never found drag queens at gay bars or transgender people weird or threatening. To anyone paying attention, it is clear that we live in a world of infinite and wondrous natural diversity. There is an obvious spectrum of human possibility that is in front of our eyes. Yet, supposedly educated people still act surprised and unnerved that transgender Americans exist. The truth is, it would be far more shocking to not have such people, considering the literally billions of prospective combinations and potential outcomes for each individual.
I'm confused as to why people are still "confused" about transgender Americans. For years, they have said that the birth sex on the outside does not match the opposite sex they believe is on the inside. Modern science confirms that sexuality has as much to do with what is inside our heads as what is between our legs. This concept is not rocket science, nor is it difficult to understand. There is nothing homogeneous about our species, and this includes sexuality and gender.
Unfortunately, talk show hosts are still using this issue for cheap laughs or to boost ratings. The latest example is the annoying and supremely talentless Dr. Phil. The talking (very large) head had an opportunity to educate the public by presenting the latest science. Instead, he shamefully chose sensationalism over professionalism by offering a platform to notorious anti-gay activists who used his show to promote quack theories with no scientific standing. Dr. Phil actually had the nerve to refer to Glenn Stanton, who is affiliated with Focus on the Family, and the laughable Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, as "experts" on gender and homosexuality.
Dr. Nicolosi is the same "expert" who believes gay men can become more masculine by drinking Gatorade and calling friends "dude." Stanton is tied to Focus on the Family, an organization that has been accused by scientists throughout the world of distorting their work.
Of course, none of this mattered to Dr. Phil. Instead of exploring this issue in-depth, "the mouth of the south" sunk to new depths. On the show, he exploited Toni, a loving mother of a transgender child, by ambushing her with the aforementioned disreputable hacks.
Toni explained how she and her husband reluctantly decided to let her son transition into a girl after unsuccessfully forcing strict gender roles on the child. Such efforts backfired and her son tried to jump out of a window. Even after hearing such a real life story, Nicolosi and Stanton argued that Toni should have continued a "treatment" that nearly lead her child to suicide.
Dr. Nicolosi tried to humiliate Toni on national television, blaming her parenting skills for causing her child to be transgender. Nicolosi said that her child was transgender because the father was detached and Toni was overly "enmeshed." But, Toni's response undermined Nicolosi's unproven and dubious hypothesis.
"Dad wasn't there after the transition...my son, I wasn't close to at all," Toni replied. "I wasn't enmeshed with him, so I think your theory sucks."
Having their bizarre and outdated ideas effectively rebutted, Stanton chimed in to save face, glibly stating, "No human being is cookie cutter."
The truth is, the entire program of Nicolosi and Stanton is predicated on baseless cookie cutter ideas that support their extreme beliefs. It is disingenuous to say otherwise when the very heart of their work is confusing stereotypes with science.
I question why Dr. Phil offered a platform to men so at odds with every respected medical and mental health association in the country? And why didn't Dr. Phil inform viewers that these men were considered fringe religious figures with peculiar views on sexuality?
It really isn't hard to "get" the transgender issue. But, for your average American, it can be difficult to get accurate information, when real experts are juxtaposed with jokers who offer rubbish as genuine research. I suggest Dr. Phil dress up as a female mannequin if his goal is shock value. He'd hurt less people and would not come across as Jerry Springer when he sprung nasty surprises on innocent guests.