Antigay activist Jeff Konrad wrote “You Don’t Have to Be Gay” in 1987.
Allow me to say that again: 1987.
And I was finishing college, studying archaeology among other subjects. Who could have known then, that an ex-gay ministry would someday dig up this ancient year, dust it off, and sell it as something fresh and cutting-edge?
Exodus Youth has done just that: It has posted a fresh book review about this old dinosaur of a book, bringing to mind a certain story about new wine being poured into old wineskins. (But I’m sure Exodus has never read that book.)
Does Exodus hope to fool a new generation with ancient literature? Or is the organization perhaps trying to clear its warehouse amid a serious financial crisis? You can buy it for $14.99 from Exodus, by the way — or for 50 cents from my attic.*
Little surprises me about the ex-gay movement, but even I was a bit surprised at how little Exodus has evolved or learned in the past 23 years. Amid discussions between Konrad and future Focus on the Family activist Mike Haley, the book features all-too-familiar self-pitying rubbish that insults both parents and real-world gay men, whose masculinity in the armed services strikes fear in the hearts of today’s insecure male homophobes:
“Homosexuals detach from their fathers to prevent further hurt and/or not to identify with them. For some this may have been an unconscious, subtle detachment. But for others, it was an overt vow not to be anything like their father” (p.46)
“Behind these homosexual temptations…behind these homosexual ‘orientations’…is a root problem of envy…Men who are unaffirmed in their masculinity often don’t see their own masculine traits. They see only their undesirable traits, or they’re so consumed with what they want that they don’t recognize what they have” (p.81 & 82).
This sort of unfounded nonsense set off red flags for me in college when I was evaluating my future in religion, and thus it spared me a journey through the hell that other people have endured in the movement.
A quarter-century later, an unreformed Exodus is still wigging people out with the exact same bizarre and ultimately unsuccessful message.
A Flock of Seagulls knew when to quit. Exodus still doesn’t.