In case you missed it, check out some of the interesting stories worth reading, or re-reading, from 2014.
It’s been an honor to write for the Good Men Project this year. Of course, I’m not only a writer, but also a fan. Stories in the magazine have challenged my way of thinking and offered fodder for discussions with family and friends. Likewise, it’s been an privilege to interview people and tell of their sometimes unusual and provocative experiences. As we end 2014, I wanted to recap the stories I’ve written about over the past four months, just in case some might have missed it.
A Drag Queen for Jesus
I met Jason DeShazo through social media and was immediately captivated by the juxtaposition of his personal faith and life’s
mission in the article A Drag Queen for Jesus. Jason has a heart as big as the character he portrays, reaching out to the LGBT Community with a message we seldom hear from the Christian Church: You are Loved, you are accepted, and you are wanted. Jason is a humble man who understands what it’s like to grow up gay in the fundamentalist faith. Instead of allowing his negative experiences to turn him bitter, however, he decided to reach out to people, like him, who need the positive truth behind his Christian message.
When Parents are Forced to Choose Between Their LGBT Child and Their Church
Last September, I was invited to participate as a guest “speaker” in a mom’s online discussion group. These are Christian women of gay children. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I had to contribute as a gay dad of two straight, teenage daughters. But I was so moved by their commitment to their children I felt their stories needed to be told.
I’m an active member of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and I constantly hear the anguish in parents’ voices as they talk about the struggle between their faith and their children. These women, however, had no problem choosing their children over their churches. Their stories of abandonment by their churches after long-standing relationships and years of commitment were heartbreaking and even difficult to read. We still hear so much about parents and families who toss their LGBT children to the street, but these women rose up with the instincts of a momma bear protecting her cubs and family. Their stories provided examples of genuine love and human inspiration.
This is the Lady Your Pastor Warned You About
Kathy Baldock has become an incredible friend over the last few months. I met her last summer after hearing her speak at a seminar on how homosexuality and the church came to be at odds. I was impressed with her depth of knowledge, impeccable delivery, and sense of humor (the number one trait I look for in friends). Her compassionate heart made her that much more compelling.
Kathy’s book, “Walking the Bridgeless Canyon,” is a first of it’s kind, ground-breaking body of work that pulls together the social, historical, religious, political, and psychological pieces of homosexuality, culminating into the culture war we experience today in the United States. I’ve made no secret of making it the resource for my upcoming book, “Ex-gay 25 Years later.” If you missed the article, check it out!
Behind the Closed Doors of Conversion Therapy
In 1990 I entered Love in Action, the premier conversion therapy program in America. Little did I know, back then, the impact it would have on my life, or the battle between the religious and political right and the LGBT community. John Smid, the director, eventually became my boss as I went to work for the organization.
Fast-forward nearly 25 years later. John Smid and I are still in the discussion on homosexuality and Christianity, but on the other side. This article was the first time I’d formerly interviewed my friend and we delved into the mindset of those still proliferating conversion therapy, as well as the inner-workings of Love in Action, once the plumb line for “successful” reparative therapy ministries.
And speaking of reparative therapy…
Many of the articles I wrote this year focused on addressing this outdated and debunked practice. I shared my own story in I’m a Gay Man Who Married a Straight Woman, and told of the struggle trying to come to grips with faith and sexuality following conversion therapy. My ex-wife graciously told her side of the story in I’m a Straight Woman Who Married a Gay Man. I hear from men all over the world on a regular basis who have been caught in the struggle between their faith and their sexuality. Many have been through reparative therapy, others have contemplated it, or been told by well-meaning pastors and family that it’s something they need to do.
Last summer I was privileged to sign my name, along with nine other former ex-gay leaders and founders, to help stop reparative therapy for minors. Through the #BornPerfect Campaign, working with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), we have seen two states, California and New Jersey, as well as Washington D.C., enact laws that ban the practice of conversion therapy for minors.
Reverend Russell Moore, the director of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission denounced reparative therapy, as I called out in the article, Are Christians Ready to Let Go of the Idea of Ex-gay? He is one of a growing number of evangelicals who recognize that more damage is caused than people are helped. The trend toward acknowledging people’s sexual orientation as unchangeable is a step in the right direction on the part of the religious right.
In the article, Why are We Still Trying to “Fix” Gays? I noted Dr. Douglas Haldeman’s decades of work that show lack of any empirical evidence of orientation change. More recent work has been produced by Dr. Lisa Diamond and a 2014 study, the largest of it’s kind so far, shows further damage in attempting to change sexual orientation, particularly through religious methods.
The closer we get to the 2016 presidential elections, the more there will be to talk about regarding reparative therapy, gay rights, and how to navigate the chaos between the religious right, political pundits and LGBT issues. I look forward to sharing more stories and more thoughts in the future. For now, I wish many blessings to you and your family over the coming year.