Quick recap for those just tuning in: Earlier this week, the story of the gruesome murder of young teen Raymond Buys in South Africa started making the rounds. The leader of the camp, Alex de Koker, is on trial for murder for the events that transpired at his Echo Wild Game Rangers camp, which promises to make “men out of boys.” A few news outlets jumped the gun and labeled Buys and other victims as “gay teens,” and suggested that the facility is a “gay cure” camp. We were much more thorough in our reporting, discussing the wider right wing culture that spawned this camp, and the fact that there is an inherent strain of anti-gay ideology running through the entire culture, and that this camp is a place where parents send their “wayward boys” for all sorts of reasons, among them being perceived as effeminate or gay (“moffies”). In the conservative, Calvinist Afrikaner culture, being labeled a “moffie” is a bad thing, indeed, and the M.O. of this camp seems to be that, come hell or high water, they will “make you a man” even if that means torturing the “moffie” out of you. Of course, this does not work.
We also pointed out that, while there doesn’t seem to be a direct connection between the American ex-gay/industrial complex and the South African situation, there are parallels in their beliefs. Indeed, much of the American “ex-gay” industry is predicated on the notion that homosexuality is a symptom of a person disconnected with his own manhood, and that by “becoming more of a man,” the gay can be prayed away. Despite the fact that we were very responsible with our reporting of this story, some of the professional “ex-gays” at the center of the American situation got their backs up at the suggestion that their ideology was in any way similar to that which led to the South Africa murders. Preposterously, they suggested that the South Africa situation has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation. We explained in a follow-up:
To be clear, calling boys “sissies” and “moffies” does have an undertone about sexual orientation, but Bekker is deflecting attention from the real issue by saying that “turning boys into men” is not the same thing as changing homosexuals into heterosexuals. Indeed, on a surface level that’s true. Moreover, no one is claiming that the crimes were committed because the boys were gay, but rather were part of a hyper-masculine environment committed to the idea that these boys wouldn’t be “moffies.” At the root of all such rhetoric is the idea that to be perceived as effeminate, to be perceived as gay, is something to be avoided at all costs, regardless of the actual sexuality of the person in question. The fact that a few writers completely jumped the gun and started calling it a “gay conversion” camp is unfortunate, because it’s giving Christopher Doyle and Richard Cohen a chance to flail their arms and whine, but they can do that all they want, and it won’t change the fact that there is a story here, and it does have parallels to their movement.
Pretty simple. But this is still apparently touching a nerve with Christopher Doyle of the International Healing Foundation, which is perhaps the most ridiculous of all the “ex-gay” outfits. His boss Richard Cohen, after all, can be seen just to your right in a YouTube video beating a pillow with a tennis racket and calling it “Mommy,” and lounging around cuddling with men in order to make them feel safe with “Daddy.” In their world, this is called therapy. In the real world, it’s called WTF?!
So Christopher, the Uncle Fester of the “ex-gay” industry, had a little meltdown on his blog last night, attacking Wayne Besen for writing all of these terrible mean things. He really put a lot of words in Wayne’s mouth, since anyone with the ability to read a simple byline can see that all the Truth Wins Out reporting on this story has been done by yours truly, and not Wayne.
Let’s grab a cup of coffee and take a ride on Uncle Fester’s WAAAAAAAHmbulance:
Not even twenty-four hours after VOV called TWO, The Huffington Post, and GayStarNews out after suggesting that South African youth were tortured and killed by a militaristic-style camp with “reparative therapy elements,” Besen has doubled-down on his discredited conspiracy theory…
Discredited by whom, please? Link? Of course, we have already several times addressed the fact that the reporting by GayStarNews and HuffPo was irresponsible, but here at Truth Wins Out, we have been telling the real story. And yes, when you take the time to understand the hyper-masculine, anti-gay culture that birthed this camp, you understand that there is indeed a “gay conversion” element going on.
He then quotes what I quoted above, but cuts it off just before the sentence that starts, “The root of such rhetoric…” This is convenient for him, because he next says this:
Really? No suggestions of gay to straight themes in the camp? Then why didn’t Besen just condemn this horrific tragedy instead of suggesting that the attitudes of these brutal criminals were similar to the disposition of professional therapists in the USA?
You, Christopher Doyle, are not a “professional therapist.” You have a degree from a clown college in a field that does not exist. But I didn’t say that the attitudes were “similar to the disposition” of hacks in the United States. I said there were parallels to their movement, in the area of their focus on turning boys into men, which is a hallmark feature of the American “Pray Away The Gay” industry. It’s right up there, in bold print.
He then quotes these words of mine:
While no specific ties appear to exist at this point between American “reparative therapy” programs and this gruesome camp, the notable parallel is that groups like NARTH and Journey Into Manhood, as well as “therapists” like George Rekers have long been focused both on “preventing” homosexuality by teaching boys to be as masculine as possible, and on “curing” homosexuality in teens and adults by teaching them how to Be Men. Of course, it doesn’t work, as sexuality has nothing to do with either effeminacy or masculinity, but that’s the idea.
And replies thus:
Here we go again, an activist-blogger trying to play therapist. I won’t even give him the decency of responding to his uneducated opinions on sexual orientation change effort therapy.
“Sexual orientation change effort therapy” is not a field recognized by anyone in the scientific or psychological community. Indeed, there is no respected professional association that remotely recognizes Christopher Doyle’s “job” as being valid. Show me the actual university (Liberty is not a real school, Uncle Fester) that offers a degree program in “sexual orientation change effort therapy.” I will take a sip of my coffee and wait.
But what I will address is his obvious exploitation of a tragedy to make subtle associations, wherever he can, with certain groups and therapists who disagree with his uninformed opinions.
Actually, we’re not being subtle about it at all. The American “ex-gay” industry has a lot of blood on its hands, in the form of destroyed lives, destroyed families, LGBT people who have sunk into depression and even committed suicide because of the harm caused by these charlatans. And we’ve been very clear about what is similar and what isn’t. No one is claiming that Uncle Fester or Richard Cohen is going to tie up a kid and starve him to death. Richard is more likely to take them to a quiet room and stroke their bodies (see again: the video at right) while cooing Daddy noises in their ears, and Uncle Fester’s history with young children doesn’t involve boys.
By connecting professional therapists to brutal criminals, Besen uses a psychological technique called “jamming” (not that Besen would be educated enough to know this) where a respected person is compared to a non-respected person in order to make people believe they are similar, even unconsciously. Besen is notorious for doing this when he routinely compares PhD-level psychotherapists to ex-gay religious ministry leaders, many of whom have no formal psychological education or training. Not that there is anything wrong with persons of faith who minister to homosexuals, but it’s like comparing apples to oranges. All educated therapists know that relying on simple behavioral therapeutic techniques, such as celibacy, do not help persons resolve unwanted same-sex attractions.
IT’S NOT A REAL FIELD! Referring to people who claim to change people’s sexual orientations as “educated therapists” is just silly. You might as well call yourselves Cowboy Ninja Fairy Princess Unicorns, because they’re about as real as “sexual reorientation therapists.” When no professional psychological or medical association will endorse your work, you really can’t be said to be working in that field. The fact that there is a degree from, again, a clown college (no offense to actual, working clowns, performing clowning based on the guidelines of their professional organizations), on your wall is absolutely irrelevant.
The truth is, Besen and his goons at TWO are so desperate to bring down highly educated mental health professionals who help persons with unwanted same-sex attractions, that they’ll do and say just about anything, even lie, to achieve their objectives.
God, Fester, do you think that if you keep saying “highly educated,” it’ll somehow become true and that you’ll suddenly have legitimacy in the eyes of the medical and mental health community? Not gonna happen.
In fact, here is a picture we found of Wayne and his good friend Matt Barber, after Barber called him out at the 2010 Awakening Conference at Liberty University. Besen tried (but failed) to pass as a college student in an undercover ploy to dig up dirt. To his surprise, the Christians at Liberty welcomed Besen with open arms, not that he would know how to accept such compassion.
This proves that reporters sometimes go undercover and sometimes their covers are blown. Why is this relevant?
Uncle Fester attempts to tie things up with a bow by saying that we’re liars, even though he hasn’t proven anything of the sort. All we can see is that, for whatever reason, these South African murders really are getting under the professional ex-gays’ skin, and they’re just flailing wildly, trying to make sure that everybody knows that, though the harm they cause in the United States is well-documented, they’re not monsters like Alex de Koker. Well, newsflash: we know that. Everybody knows that.
One could argue that they’re simply a different sort of monster, in that they try to pass their unscientific abuse off as real therapy from real therapists, all under the guise of Christian Love. And perhaps, that is more dangerous. Alex de Koker will hopefully rot in jail for his crimes, but until bans on “sexual reorientation change effort ninja crawfish fairy princess Bible Time” therapy (or whatever their fake industry is calling itself these days) for minors are passed, the American “ex-gay” conglomerates will continue to destroy LGBT people and their families, and Truth Wins Out will continue to have to clean up after them, tell their stories, direct their families to real therapists who can help them heal, and educate people on what our “ex-gay” industry is really all about. And the parallel that does exist, that of “turning boys into men,” is very, very real, and it is at the very heart of the American “ex-gay” industry.
But again — Doyle’s organization and other affiliated quacks aren’t just like what happened in South Africa and we never said they were. But maaaaaaaaaan, they’re having a temper tantrum about it.