Remember the great march of ex-gays on Washington in Summer of 2013? Yeah, neither does anyone else. There was one, but it was a disaster. Here is what happened, and advice from a gay dad and his boys on how to do it better next time.
This is a tale of two parties. Like the Dickens book, one personified the best of times, and one . . . well, one was a disaster without historic precedent. No, it was not the French Revolution, it was the big “Ex-gay Lobby Day,” which was being held 3,000 miles away from the other big event of the week, my son Jason’s “I am 11” birthday party.
The organizers of the “Ex-gay Lobby Day” had promised that their event would be attended by “thousands.” We were shooting for no more than 20 at the bounce-house party venue with whom we contracted. The “ex-gay” event pulled in about 10 people, and ours is on its way to a whopping 30.
How is it that we were so successful in triple-lapping them?
One of our family practices is to sit down after we throw a party and debrief. I guess I get that from my years in the corporate world. We figure out what went wrong, what went right, what we want to do again, and what we definitely do not want to repeat.
Since the poor ex-gays were mind-numbingly humiliated beyond all possible belief on a very public epic fail, my sons and I decided to sit down and write them a letter with some helpful suggestions.
I need to emphasize that this exercise was in no way an excuse to gloat (okay, well, for me, it might have been . . . a little . . .), my sons earnestly tried to come up with ways to help this pathetically abandoned group of strangers. Here is our family note of condolence and helpful hints:
Dear Ex-Gay Pride Month Event Organizers,
We are sorry you had a bad time the other day. We cannot really imagine how embarrassing that was. We invited 50 people to our party on Sunday and if only 10 of them show up, well, we would be a little sad. If we had invited thousands and only 10 showed up, well, we would be really really sad. We don’t like it when people are sad [even if their motives were basically horrible. Dad edit].
We don’t want to pretend we know better, but here are ideas we used that are making our party great, and we thought you might like to use them for next time. [Please, don’t feel there needs to be a “next time.” Dad edit.]
- Have it in a fun place. We are having ours in a place with a bunch of bounce houses. You had yours on the steps of a court, umm, yuck. Ours is fun. Yours was to complain about other people having their civil rights reinforced. Fun versus complaining. Fun wins.
- Advertise your event in an exciting way. We did “Jason Turns 11. Come Celebrate!” That sounds happy, and implies that everyone will get cake. We saw your invitation. It essentially says, “Come complain about how other people might be happy living their lives [while we suppressed all our own natural instincts and are living with a sense of damaged self-sacrifice.” Dad edit]. Not even a taste of cake.
- We are awesome, and nice, and honest. Our friends really like us, and when we throw a party, they want to show up. No offense, but you are kind of mean, and basically come off as crybabies. You are not ranking very high on the awesome meter. People don’t want to show up for that.
- Don’t be boring. You are trying to copy Gay Pride. Gay Pride is a celebration to keep gay families’ spirits high. It does not celebrate that people are gay; it celebrates that they don’t have to apologize for it. Gay pride has color, music, joy, and passion. Your event looked like our faces when presented with a bowl full of Brussels sprouts. Who the heck wants to show up for that?
- And last, but definitely not least, invite real people. Of the 50 people we invited, all of them are real, actual people [okay, one is marginal. Dad edit] Of 10,000 closeted civil-rights-deprived ex-gay people . . . not one of them is real. None, zilch, zero. [Ironically, that is the same number of intact gay dad couples who were interviewed in thedishonest Regnerus study—zero. Dad edit. ] Even if you allow for the possibility that some of your target list are people whose orientations are suppressed, or in your words, “changed,” they are not discriminated against for their newly embraced “heterosexuality.” [“Hey, everyone, I am marrying a woman!” “Hey, you’re fired, you are supposed to be gay!” said no one, ever. Dad edit.] They are not under threat of losing employment, housing, or financial support. They can freely marry of their own [misguided Dad edit] choosing. [Let’s face it, most public “ex-gays,” claim simply to have “slipped up” with real gay people. In the age of Twitter and the Internet, being in public carries the likelihood that they will be recognized and exposed by forbidden sex partners. Dad edit.]
Anyway. We are sorry you were disappointed that your event went so badly. [Not really.Dad edit.] We have an idea. Why don’t you gather up the 10 people who did show up and fly them out to California to join us at our bounce house party? They will all have fun, and they will like you more. You can see what a real gay family is, and how much we love one another. You can see that our having rights won’t be anything bad for you.
You will also see that all we really have to fear is homophobia, and that if homophobia did not exist, everyone would be just fine. And people might even come to your parties.
Respectfully, Jason and Jesse Watson (and Dad)
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Photo: Flickr/Matt Worthington