In a particualrly disgusting personal attack, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) may have sunk to a despicable new low. They ran a huge headline on their blog that proclaimed, “Anti-Ex-Gay Activist Wayne Besen May Be Responsible For Countless HIV Infections.”
Clearly, this inflammatory headline, written by PFOX Board member, Christopher Doyle, makes it appear that I am HIV+ and having unprotected sex with as many partners as possible, with the sinister goal of deliberately infecting these men. In reality, I am HIV-negative, married, and in my dating career consistently used prophylactics. Thus, the number of people that I have infected with HIV is obviously ZERO.
Of course, reality isn’t the strong suit of people like Christopher Doyle. Just last month, for example, he promoted the world’s first “Ex-Gay Pride,” which drew a total of ten participants — the majority of whom were “ex-gay” for pay. Doyle is obviously bitter that Truth Wins Out highlighted his huge professional failure, and it likely motivated his latest below the belt smear campaign.
If one can stomach reading the “substance” of Doyle’s screed, what he was really doing is accusing me of offering poor advice on safer sex practices on The O’Reilly Factor in 2009. He thinks that my talking about comprehensive sex education would lead to the death of LGBT people because condoms don’t always work. This is because in Doyle’s world, ignorance is preferable to education, and abstinence fantasies trump facts on human sexuality.
The important point I made on the show is that if you don’t know the HIV status of your sexual partner, the wisest course of action is to always use a condom. Doyle misrepresented my position by claiming that I am opposed to abstinence. In reality, I support abstinence for those who choose this path. However, I am adamantly opposed to “abstinence-only” education, which deprives students of critical information they may need to protect themselves from unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. I also believe it is unreasonable to expect adults to wait for marriage before having intercourse at a time when people are postponing marriage until their late 20’s and early 30’s.
Doyle also points out that condoms break, so they are not 100-percent effective. While this is true, a higher percentage of marriages break than condoms, and often due to adultery. So, even marriage does not make one immune from STD’s or unwanted pregnancies, so married people should also be educated on how to protect themselves. Furthermore, if one is trained on how to use a condom, the breakage rate significantly drops. I can assume much of the breakage comes from fundamentalist teenagers who are ignorant about condom usage and used them incorrectly.
Indeed, Doyle’s personal behavior Exhibit A on why all people need to learn about safer sex. In a testimony for PFOX, Doyle wrote:
“I tried to have sex with the little girls that my mother watched in her daycare, and eventually, one of the girls told her parents what I was doing. The shame that was placed on me by my parents was more than I could bear. Rather than rescue me, teach me, and put me in counseling, the ‘bad boy’ was left alone to deal with all of this shame.”
If Mr. Doyle penetrated those little girls, they may have been too young to get pregnant, but they could have caught STDs. We can only hope that Doyle used protection during these shocking and sickening encounters.
Furthermore, his boss at The International Healing Foundation, Richard Cohen (pictured), admitted in his book, Coming Out Straight, that he had sex with men while married to his wife:
“It was a very bizarre time. It was a most painful and lonely time for Jae Sook and our first son, Jarish. I was out running around New York City with my boyfriend, and she was at home alone taking care of our son, knowing her husband was out with a man.” (p. 9)
During his tawdry affair(s), did Cohen use a condom or did he screw bareback, thus putting his Moonie wife at risk for STD’s? It has to be one or the other. Either he was a hypocrite on abstinence or he potentially put Jae Sook in danger.
Finally, is the truth about the Doyle and Cohen’s abstinence fantasy:
* * A January 2009 study reported in Pediatrics, shows that such programs are a fraud, with teenagers who pledged to avoid sex until marriage as likely to have sex as other students. The teens that took virginity pledges were also less likely to use birth control pills or condoms than those making no promise. (Janet Rosenbaum, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of population, family and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.)
** Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a report in 2004 that found 11 out of 13 curriculums that preached “abstinence only” were rampant with scientific errors. In another study, researchers found that those who took so-called “virginity pledges” refrained from sex merely eighteen months longer than those who had not made such a pledge. However, the pledge-takers were six times more likely to engage in oral sex. “The Values Virgins” were also much less likely to engage in protected sex when they finally broke their pledge or to be tested for an STD. Disease rates between the two groups were similar.
While Doyle’s personal attacks are noxious, they are not nearly as offensive as his misinformation on safer sex education.