For at least a decade, the antigay political organizations Focus on the Family and Exodus International have promoted the myth that their opposition believes sexual orientation is determined by a single “gay gene.”
This claim has never been true of most researchers nor of most equality advocates, but that lie — a strawman argument — is useful to ex-gay scam artists because it distracts potential supporters of the ex-gay movement from three unpleasant facts:
- No reputable scientific survey has found sexual orientation to be either chosen or changeable in most persons
- Most persons who claim to be ex-gay later admit they were always attracted to the same sex and had never “left homosexuality.”
- Ex-gay programs injure their participants, give false hope to spouses, poison parental relations, and divide families.
On Top magazine touches on the ex-gay strawman argument about a “gay gene” in an article that spotlights Truth Wins Out’s role in weekend protests against an ex-gay roadshow in Anchorage, Alaska.
The big story this week is the Love Won Out ex-gay conference taking place today in Anchorage, Alaska, sponsored by James Dobson’s Christian fundamentalist group Focus on the Family, where participants are exposed to a number of deceptions about being gay — primarily that it is “curable” and a choice.
Sexuality, certainly, is a complicated puzzle. There is no single switch that controls it. But it simply goes against common sense to believe that people would choose being gay when the world continues to be littered with hateful, and often demeaning, anti-gay messages.
And perhaps the organizers of such events don’t really — believe that is. More likely, they use the poor unsuspecting mugs of their skulduggery as props in their continuing gay-Christian fundamentalist culture war.
In an earlier interview, Truth Wins Out executive director told On Top how his disagreement with Focus on the Family began:
I have a deep disdain for Focus on the Family because this group is uniquely truth challenged. They are the captains of an industry that causes a great deal of pain and suffering for GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] people. They are responsible for much of the hate against gay and lesbian people in America, because they pump out huge amounts of anti-gay propaganda, that demeans our lives and devalues our families. What makes them a dangerous group, is that they dehumanize us in the name of “love” and “family values.” What they do is Orwellian.
Focus on the Family began to target me for smear campaigns after I photographed their “ex-gay” poster boy, John Paulk, who founded their Love Won Out program, in a gay bar in Washington. Since this time, they have tried to tar me with whisper campaigns that absurdly call me “the Fred Phelps of the gay community.” I guess when a massive anti-gay organization that rakes in more than $150 million a year targets me and my small organization, Truth Wins Out, we are doing something right.
Our feud was taken to a whole new level when I founded, RespectMyResearch.org last year. Basically, when Focus on the Family distorts research, we go right to the scientists whose work has been manipulated. We videotape them demanding that Focus immediately stop lying about their research. Our program has been quite devastating to the credibility of Focus on the Family, so they have upped their attacks on TWO and their efforts to tar me personally. I could not be more pleased. The day Focus on the Family likes me, is the day I have stopped doing my job.
Besen also told On Top:
I really do wish that people at Focus on the Family would stop attacking our families and start helping all families. They can have a positive impact on society — but they need to get out of attack mode. By going after us, they are accomplishing nothing in the long run. What have they really accomplished, other than causing some gay people to be rejected by their families or creating marriages that end in divorce, or scandal like Ted Haggard? Their “solutions” are really the problem and they need to take a hard, long look in the mirror and ask themselves tough questions about the results of their war on gays. At the end of the day, they will lose credibility and will end up apologizing — as past religious bigots did on slavery, the rights of women, the treatment of Jews, etc.