Through counseling at the Albuquerque Vet Center and the Albuquerque VA hospital I have come to understand why I remained in the exgay movement for so long. I can’t write about what happened yet but I was discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and during my discharge experienced Military Sexual Trauma and (I just tried to write about what happened but can’t).
The VA has shown me that I have remained in the exgay movement as a way to isolate myself from others and live in a very controlled and safe environment. It’s been a tough few months and I am on a Safety Plan from the VA. They have made it very clear that if I don’t comply with this plan I will end up in the dreaded Ward 7 (psych unit).
It has been a rough road, I no longer identify as Christian or exgay. I went to the VA thinking I would get a couple of counseling sessions for my MST and that would be it. But my experience at the VA was a lot like my experience in the military-living through all of that again. Fortunately I found some good folks at the VA who really challenged me on my beliefs.
My Vet Center counselor is a straight Purple-Heart combat vet that really showed me that what I went through was Hell. He had to convince me that it wasn’t my fault. The MST coordinator at the VA Hospital has been tough making me confront the false beliefs I have been living under.
It is amazing to realize that for years I have been living a life based on fear and hate. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and that is tough as well. My initial experience at the VA was not very good, but that was partially because of my own self-sabotage, and because the VA has so many misunderstandings about MST, especially when it comes to men dealing with MST.
Trusting people is not easy for me, but some people at the VA have earned my trust and respect. I don’t know what is next, I don’t know where my faith will be, I don’t know what my sexual identity will be. It’s a scary time.
Gay equality is inevitable! Or so they say. I don’t believe it for a second. Anyone who has seen the documentary Paragraph 175 will understand why. In 1930 one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world was Berlin, Germany. Gay bars, gay bookstores, and a research center advocating for gay rights were all found in the German capital. Citizens were openly gay with their straight neighbors and gays felt comfortable walking the streets. By 1935 Berlin was no longer one of the safest places in the world to be gay.
But that was Nazi Germany people know better now. Really? The American economy is fragile, our status as a global superpower is under threat. Many people believe that the American economy could collapse in the coming years. What happens when economies and nations collapse? Some group usually gets the blame. The lightning fast advance of LGBTQ rights in the past few years has been stunning , social commentators are shocked at how fast gay rights have advanced in the last ten years.
If the economy does collapse in the next few years a despotic charismatic leader may very well blame the crisis on the weakening of America’s resolve and adoption of a decadent lifestyle that has weakened the family unit. Feminism and the LGBTQ community will be natural targets for this despotic, authoritarian regime. A return to patriarchy and masculine leadership will be insisted on. Repression of women’s and gay rights will be demanded.
Hatred and oppression are still a part of the human psyche and American’s are not immune from the violence and hatred that comes with a group think mentality. Is this inevitable? No, but I absolutely believe this is a real possibility.
Evangelicals declared war against gay people in the 1970’s. After it was no longer fashionable for conservative Christians to say that they loved black folks but supported “Biblical” segregation the Pharisees needed a new group to attack and bully. Homosexuals fit that bill precisely. With the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the APA removing homosexuality from the DSM as a mental disorder in 1971, those that hate in the name of Christ found a new group to target. Anita Bryant led the charge.
They fought against the repeal of sodomy laws, against gays being allowed to work as teachers or be around children, against gay studies in universities, on and on. The exgay movement was around through all of this, but never really acknowledged by the Religious Right. Only when gays began to gain a few small gains in gay rights in the late 1990’s did the Religious Right begin to use us as a political tool. The cynical use of the exgay movement to maintain gay oppression backfired big time. The exposing of the exgay movement as a group of self hating straight male worshippers became a farce.
The truth is that Evangelicals opposition to homosexuality was never based on Christian values, it was based on the darkest depths of the human ego, the desire to oppress and exclude the “other.” People respond to hate for a time, like the passing of the referendum in Colorado in 1992 that limited gay rights, or the Karl Rove orchestrated flurry of anti-gay marriage referendums in 2004. But normal people may be motivated by hate for a season, but then they feel dirty and ashamed of being associated with this kind of bigotry.
Evangelicals have all but lost the war against gays, but they will find someone new to hate in the name of Christ. Now I am a celibate gay Christian still, but I have found the fear and hatred Evangelicals have for me to be astounding and psychologically and spiritually crippling. If good Christians had responded to the gay rights movement with Christian love in the early 1970’s instead of with hatred and revulsion maybe the “Culture War” would have turned out differently. We will never know. Welcome Tashlan.
The most gay accepting place in the world in 1930 was Berlin, Germany. There were many gay bars, several gay bookstores, even a research center that promoted gay rights. Gay people were openly gay and their neighbors accepted or at least tolerated them.
By 1935 Berlin was no longer the most gay accepting place in the world. The straight neighbors that accepted there gay neighbors a few years earlier now turned them in to the Gestapo and there neighbors were shipped off to concentration camps and killed. One interesting historical note is that American and Allied troops that liberated concentration camps turned homosexuals over to police authorities so they could continue their incarceration.
The hatred of homosexuals is nothing new, it is deeply rooted in our history and culture, and I would say in our DNA. The three basic functions of the human ego are Aggression, Pleasure, and Mastery all three of which are tied into the oppression of those that identify as LGBTQ. The hatred and oppression of the weak and the other is a part of human nature. Todays acceptance of gays and the advancement of gay rights may be a temporary cultural phenomenon. Camille Paglia writes that many societies will go through temporary periods of acceptance of sexual minorities, but these periods are always temporary and end with a revival of persecution.
It may be said that being an exgay or celibate gay would protect you from socieities contempt and hatred, but as someone who was discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell even though I was a virgin and committed Christian I beg to differ. Hated of homosexuals is rarely simply based in religious beliefs; religious beliefs are a cover to hide the contempt and hatred people have for those that are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. An example of this is the treatment of Jews that converted to Christianity in Nazi Germany. What happened to Jews that converted to Christianity in Nazi Germany? They were thrown into concentration camps, the same is true for exgays/celibate gays. The Boy Scouts of America’s new more “enlightened” policy on homosexuality still excludes exgays and celibate gays from adult membership in the Boy Scouts. I am banned from membership in the Boy Scouts because I am not “morally straight” even though I have been celibate for over 10 years and believe that homosexual behavior is a sin.
Sources for this include the documentary Paragraph 54 and Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae.
The gay and exgay communities are a lot alike. In a gay bar once you turn 30 and don’t have a partner you are more than welcome, as long as you slide down to the end of the bar. In an exgay ministry if you turn 30 and still aren’t married you are more than welcome to come to the group, as long as you sit in the back of the room.