7.3.14 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshot_137x185I’m gay, and I was never abused—sexually or physically—by any member of my family or any adult in a position of power.

There was never a little league coach or official who touched me inappropriately and the leaders of my church always let me keep my clothes on!

I never had massive disagreements with my ever-present father. And my mother, while a loving woman, never shielded me from the realities of the world. She protected me, yes, but she never lied to me or hovered too much to make me a “mama’s boy.”

It’s true that my coming out to them was difficult and put a big strain on our relationship for a few years. But today, we’re closer than ever, despite our opposing views on sexual orientation. It’s a topic we simply don’t discuss for the sake of our relationship.

So when I read about the June 30 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to not hear a case challenging California’s ban on ex-gay therapy for minors, I was thrilled, but not surprised by the reaction of the religious right.

What that decision means is, the ban stays in place and minors are shielded from the inhumane “guilt therapy” that so many in our community have experienced over the years.

I read a lot of blogs and websites that are on the socially conservative side of the spectrum and subscribe to a few e-newsmagazines that are so far removed from reality that they enact my involuntary eye-roll the minute the land in my inbox. But it’s a “know thy enemy” mentality.

So I wasn’t surprised that Mat Staver of the Liberty Council said he was “deeply saddened” for the children who will be denied treatment. “Many of whom,” he said, “developed these unwanted attractions because of abuse of a pedophile.”

Wait, what?

Science can be so inconsiderate of some people’s illusions! Let’s not forget that the American Psychological Association found in 2007 that ex-gay therapy—or conversion therapy, as some call it—is ineffective.
Why? Because sexual orientation cannot be manipulated!

Have people wanted to change their sexual orientation? Definitely! But not because they wanted to casually “try the other team.” But because they were terrified. Before I came out, I wanted desperately to be attracted to women in the same way I was attracted to men.

Like so many others, my hopes for conversion were rooted in guilt and the anticipation of the disapproving opinions of those close to me who had “wished for so much more.”

Last fall I had the opportunity to interview several survivors of conversion therapy, and the mental anguish they experienced sounds worse than almost any horror movie. To put it simply, shame is not therapy.

Surprisingly, Staver’s case that pedophiles recruit gays is so crazy that even the nut jobs at Focus on the Family have distanced themselves from his statement. You know you’ve driven your crazy bus off the sanity cliff when your thinking is too far right for Focus on the Family.

But expressing anger, rather than facts, is the way religious people try to make their points.

Okay, so maybe not all religious types. But the ones who cry for attention certainly don’t seem to be the kind of folks you’d want to invite over for a barbecue or bring with you on a casual night out at the movies.

That thought came to me after St. Pete Pride. The festival had a “free speech zone” of hate where a small contingent of self-righteous Christians spewed angry messages through a bullhorn in hilariously stereotypical Southern Baptist accents.

“You have to repent-ah,” I heard a male voice shout at one point. “For to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven-ah, a man must not lie with another man-ah.”

I later heard a woman’s voice quoting verses from the Old Testament. Ironically, she skipped any mention of the passages in that same book preventing women from preaching.

Arguments like the ones made by Staver are loud, but that doesn’t make them strong. And as the country continues to embrace equality, it’s becoming more obvious that those loud arguments are simply death wails of an outdated way of thinking.

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