ISSUE 4, VOLUME 1 SEPTEMBER 2012 Published quarterly by the Pink Triangle Trust – a registered UK charity
How an American fast-food chain found itself at the centre of a huge row over same-sex marriage – see page 8 Also in this issue: No Mincing Words, p2 •Growing religious intolerance in Russia, p3 • French Catholics appalled at planned gay marriage plans, p6 •
No Mincing Words! pinkhumanist editor BARRY DUKE
f I’ve been looking a tad smug over the last few weeks, it’s because I have managed to clear a hurdle no one else in my neck of the woods has, to my knowledge, ever accomplished: getting a weekly column, written from a gay man’s point of view, published in the region’s biggest weekly newspaper, the Costa Blanca News. Of course, it’s quite possible that no-one had ever before tried to have LGBT issues aired in mainstream English publications in the area. But the fact is that, when I settled here two years ago, gay people – who make up a pretty big section of the ex-pat population on the Costa Blanca – simply did not exist as far as local English media were concerned, and contemporary issues rhat should at least have merited a mention never saw the light of day. Then along came a British entrepreneur who spotted a niche in the broadcasting market and launched Hot FM. From the start, the dance music station let it be known that, while it wasn’t gay per se, it would have entertaining gay content. Sammy Kruz’s three-hour Camp Show, a lively mix of music, gossip and gay news broadcast every afternoon, five days a week, showed how committed Hot FM was to reach out to lesbian and gay listeners. When I learned of the impending launch of Hot FM, I approached the company and asked whether they could use my services as a journalist and professional communicator. Shortly after, I was appointed Hot FM’s Press and Publicity Director. Hot FM then approached Costa Blanca News, and floated the idea that I, as its rep, should write a weekly column that would address gay issues in an entertaining manner that would appeal to all the paper’s readers. CBN liked the concept, and my inaugural column was published in July, 2012. By way of introducing myself, I wrote: “To be honest, I have no idea whether my attempts at giving a gay man’s perspective of the world will have the desired effect: that of fostering greater understanding and tolerance of a section of the population which, sadly, in many countries, is still bullied, demonised, discriminated against, assaulted and even killed, but I promise to give
thepinkhumanist it my best shot.” Since then, I have tackled subjects ranging from the benefits of keeping fit to the horrors of ageism, and at the end of August I did a piece about Benidorm’s second Pride event, which is being organised this year by a Spanish organisation, the ALGTB (Associaion of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals) which was established on International Pride Day on June 28, 2010 to promote the interests of the LGBT community in the area. On learning that Pride 2012 would be celebrated for three days from September 14, Hot FM immediately became a key supporter of the event. It offered the services of two DJs to be on the main stage, and I, as the station’s PR guru, was co-opted onto the ALGTB committee to help co-ordinate the Pride programme, as well as to generate publicity material, liaise with
city hall officials, have planning discussions in multi-lingual forums, and generally chase about like an absolute lunatic in the insanely high temperatures we have here in August. “And what for?”, I hear you ask. Well, this is what I wrote in Costa Blanca News: “For me, the answer is simple: celebrations such as these serve to raise the profile of a sizeable section of the population which, for decades, have
been forced to live in the shadows as a result of inhumane legislation, mainly orchestrated by reactionary religious forces. “The very first Pride events in the US and Europe were primarily organised to change public opinion and drive forward law reform. Those rallies, dating from the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, served to bring about a huge change. Think civil partnerships, think gay marriage, think about President Obama signalling that people serving in the US military need no longer keep their sexual orientation a secret. “Thanks to those early Pride events, LGBT communities today are confidently able to enjoy open, fear-free lives that previous generations of lesbians and gays could only dream of. “But not everywhere. Unfortunately, in far too many parts of the world – in Africa and the Islamic countries in particular – gay people are ruthlessly persecuted, and in some places, like Iran, homosexuals are actually being executed. “But the Internet has turned the world into a global village, and I like to think that images of gay people, together with family and friends, celebrating Pride on the streets of Benidorm as well as in other progressive towns and cities, will help give courage to their brothers and sisters in countries where oppression still thrives. “In time, these people too will be able to demonstrate that being lesbian or gay is nothing to be ashamed of, and they will courageously stage rallies of their own, not only to help boost the confidence of gay comrades, but to help foster a greater respect for human rights overall among everyone in their communities. “This is not mere wishful thinking. In my own lifetime I have seen enormous social changes accomplished by fellow gay activists on the US and many parts of Europe, and I may yet live long enough to see similar radical social changes occur in parts of the world where repression still rules, and human rights are an alien concept.”
PTT Contact details Pink Triangle Trust Secretary and Editorial Consultant is George Broadhead, who can be contacted on: +44 (0) 1926 858450 (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Proofreading by Andy Armitage. Contact The Pink Humanist Magazine by emailing either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Views expressed in The Pink Humanist are not necessarily those of the publishers.
Russia is fast becoming a barbarous basketcase Recent events there point to a country that has replaced communist totalitarianism with religious tyranny
ne of the enduring myths of the 20th century was that the USSR was not only determined to eliminate religion, but had largely succeeded in doing so. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is an undeniable fact that Soviet policy toward religion was based on an ideology that correctly identified religious institutions as “organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class”, Soviet law and administrative practice through most of the 1920s extended some tolerance to religion and forbade the arbitrary closing or destruction of some functioning churches. And each successive Soviet constitution granted freedom of belief. So, at worst, the churches were simply kept firmly in their place. This changed radically after the collapse of communism 20 years ago. The Russian Orthodox Church immediately seized the opportunity to begin asserting itself in social and political spheres, and in doing so raised levels of intolerance towards those of others faiths in general, and towards the LGBT communities in particular. Speaking at a symposium – Religious Freedom in the Former USSR – hosted in April by the Columbus School of Law, Professor Karla Simon, who also serves as co-director of the Center for International Social Development, charted the rise in religious belief among Russians, pointing out that today “more than 60 percent of its citizens profess to believe in God”. “It becomes clear that atheism was not as ingrained as we thought,” said Christopher Marsh Director of the J M Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. Marsh noted that as open belief in religion has risen, so has intolerance along with it. He said that, according to recent polls, selfidentified followers of the Russian Orthodox Church show high levels of suspicion of people from other faiths and cultures.
Members of Russian profascist organisation ‘Rus’ (Russia) demonstrate against a gay pride march in Moscow. Photograph: Alexey Sazonov/AFP/Getty The most recent example of the Church sticking its oar in where it didn’t belong was its orchestration of the now-infamous Pussy Riot trial, which saw three members of the punk band each being jailed for two years last month for an anti-government protest they carried out in a Moscow cathedral. In reaction to the world-wide condemnation of the trial and the harsh sentences that followed it, the Church did some furious back-pedalling, and appealed for clemency for the three defendants. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were arrested in March after dancing and high-kicking in the cathedral as they called on the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin, who was elected to a third term as Russia’s president two weeks later. The case, according to an Associated Press report, “became an emblem of Russia’s intolerance of dissent and was widely seen as a warning that authorities will tolerate opposition only under tightly controlled conditions.” Archpriest Maxim Kozlov supported calls
for mercy for the young women, but he also said on state TV that his Church hoped that they and their supporters would change their ways. He added: “We are simply praying and hoping that these young women and all these people shouting in front of the court building, committing sacrilegious acts not only in Russia but in other countries, realise that their acts are awful.” The Pussy Riot case underlined the vast influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although church and state are formally separate, critics say its strength and symbolism in the country effectively makes it a quasi-state entity. The Church has a history of cracking down on its critics in post-Soviet Russia: Gleb Yakunin, a priest and former lawmaker was defrocked and excommunicated after discovering in the early 1990s that church leaders had been enlisted as KGB agents. The current head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, has made no secret of his strong support for Putin, praising his leadership as
(Continued on p4)
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Pussy Riot trial and a 100-yearlong ban on Pride events point to Russia’s growing intolerance “God’s miracle,” and has described the punk performance as part of an assault by “enemy forces” on the Church. The Church has ardently backed the Kremlin, consecrating new nuclear missiles as “Russia’s guardian angels” and urged young Russians to volunteer for military service in Chechnya. In a statement issued after the sentences were handed down, the Orthodox Church called the band’s stunt a “sacrilege” and a “reflection of rude animosity toward millions of people and their feelings”. Further evidence of the Church intrusion into state affairs was contained in a Global Post report of 2010 entitled “The Russian Orthodox Church’s Growing Power” It pointed out that, “lacking a state ideology, the Kremlin has had a heavy hand in pushing for the Church’s prominence. President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are regularly shown on staterun television attending services. Medvedev’s wife is particularly active in Orthodox circles. The Church, a wealthy institution revelling in its newfound power following the statemandated atheist years of the Soviet Union, asks its followers to hold not just society, but government, to its standards.” For lesbians and gays, those “standards” are having chilling consequences. Last month, for example, the BBC reported that Moscow’s top court had upheld a ban on gay pride marches in the Russian capital for the next 100 years! Earlier Russia’s best-known gay rights campaigner, Nikolai Alexeyev, had gone to court hoping to overturn the city council’s ban on gay parades. He had asked for the right to stage such parades for the next century. Alexeyev said he plans to pressure the European Court in Strasbourg to push for a recognition that Moscow’s ban on gay pride marches – past, present and future – was unjust. The Moscow city government argues that the gay parade would risk causing public disorder and that most Muscovites would not support such an event. Earlier, according to an Interfax report in 2011, Irina Muravyova, head of the Moscow
Nikolai Alexeyev was arrested in 2007 after spoiling a Russian ballot paper by writing ‘No homophobes’ on it.
Photo courtesy GayRussia
Registry Office, said that attempts by samesex couples to marry both in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia are doomed to fail. “We live in a civil society, we are guided by the federal law, by the Constitution that clearly says marriage in Russia is between a man and a woman,” Muravyova told a press conference. “There are isolated cases when same-sex couples come to a registry office in order to apply for marriage, but that is pure self-promotion. Normally, they arrive with the press already behind their shoulders,” she said, and likened same-sex unions to marriages that some people have with “pets, Christmas trees and other animate and inanimate objects”, and said they and would never be tolerated. However, “small cats and dogs in tuxedos, bow-ties, with a crown on the head” are free to attend normal heterosexual weddings. Later in 2011 St Petersburg shocked the world when the legislative assembly approved, in its first reading, a bill which outlawed the promotion of homosexuality, transsexuality and paedophilia to minors. Writing in the Guardian (November 26, 2011) Nikolai Alexeyev, reported that the passage of the bill provoked a quick reaction from local LGBT activists, who organised several protests against the initiative. It also mobilised the international community. The bill was condemned by MEPs, the US State Department and thousands of people from around the world, who signed an online peti-
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tion against its implementation. “St Petersburg, which is deemed the cultural capital of Russia, the place where many famous gay people created our artistic heritage, entered into the 21st century’s hall of shame by drifting into medieval barbarity,” he wrote. “The bill that was proposed in St Petersburg sets administrative fines for the propaganda of homosexuality, transsexuality and paedophilia but it does not explain what ‘propaganda’ actually means. For what is the difference between the public expression of someone’s loving feelings and the promotion of a lifestyle? Can a work of art be considered propaganda? Can a protest for human rights be considered as imposing one’s personal characteristics on others? “The St Petersburg bill does not answer these questions. In fact, it not only equates homosexuality to paedophilia but also separates homosexuality and heterosexuality, as the latter, in the MPs’ view, can be promoted.” He added: “The city – where the famous Russian gay composer Peter Tchaikovsky lived, worked and died just days after conducting his Sixth symphony, Pathétique, where the gay writer Nikolay Gogol wrote many of his classical works, and where a gay ballet dancer in the form of Rudolf Nureyev gracefully flew over the stage of the Mariinskiy Theatre – turned out to be in the hands of uneducated clericals. Will they ever be well known by the world, except for their anti-gay hatred?” He added that “gay people are being used as scapegoats in Russian politics, where society is still largely homophobic. The St Petersburg initiative, coming just before the parliamentary elections on December 4, is possibly just aiming to increase the vote for the ailing ruling United Russia party of Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev, but it also creates an atmosphere of hatred in society. “This atmosphere is made clear when the governor of Tambov called for gays to be torn into pieces and thrown in the wind, or when former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov called us alternatively ‘satanic’, ‘faggots’, ‘Western weapons of mass destruction’ and made us responsible for the spread of HIV.”
eports of rampant homophobia in Africa emerge with depressing regularity. Last month, for example, a “Gay Hate Day” was organised in Cameroon, followed by the news that police in Harare have pressed charges against Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and closed down their office. After the “Gay Hate Day”was announced, Alice N’Kom, a Cameroonian attorney renowned for her support of the LGBT community, said: “These anti-gay proponents say they are protecting our ‘traditional values.’ But we want to tell them that hate and homophobia are not African values. She is, of course, absolutely right. The flames of hatred in Africa are being stoked by foreign Christian fundamentalists, mainly from the United States, who, in recent years have dramatically increased their efforts to spread homophobia in various parts of the continent. The most recent report of anti-gay evangelical activity in Africa is contained in a report entitled Colonizing African Values: How the US Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa, released by Political Research Associates. This documents the US Christian Right’s attempts to push an ideology hostile to reproductive and LGBT rights on subSaharan African countries. Malika Redmond, lead gender justice researcher at Political Research Associates, wrote that, in one notorious example in Tanzania in 2008, billboards depicted a “Faithful Condom User” as a skeleton – a blatant
attempt to discourage condom use as an effective HIV prevention method. Blazoned in clear letters underneath was the billboard’s sponsor: Human Life International (HLI), a group based in the United States. She said of this latest study, authored by Rev Dr Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest originally from Zambia: “This timely report explores how HLI – and other U.S. based Christian Right actors – try to position themselves as key moral leaders shaping African political, public health, and social agendas.” She pointed out that HLI, a Roman Catholic organisation, “is staunchly opposed to contraception, abortion (with zero exceptions), stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, sex education, and homosexuality”. HLI, she said, is by no means the only US Christian Right group “peddling corrosive reproductive politics in Africa. Sharon Slater, head of Family Watch International, a small Arizona-based group, wins a platform with mainstream Christian leaders for her message
condemning the United Nations’ efforts to support family planning services and reproductive health options for women. “In addition to opposing contraception use, Slater and HLI air conspiracy theories that exploit and exacerbate otherwise healthy concerns about the ethics of Western public health interventions. One such theory charges that vaccine distribution is really a secret sterilization program designed to destroy the African family.” The report also investigates the Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice, the Mormon-led Family Watch International and a network of Christian dominionists known as the Transformation Movement or New Apostolic Reformation. The report details ACLJ’s efforts to influence the constitution-writing process in Zimbabwe and Kenya, and the anti-LGBT and anti-reproductive justice activities of the other groups in such countries as Uganda, Malawi and Zambia. It points out that, although anti-abortion and anti-LGBT legislation was established in a number of African counties by British colonial governments, US Christian Right groups label human rights supporters as “neocolonialists” imposing liberal sexual mores on Africa. Hiding behind African staff, these groups have established local offices and befriended key African political and religious leaders. The charismatic beliefs shared by many African Christians and American religious conservatives have also created an opening for the US right-wing to exploit. The result of on-the-ground research in four African countries, this report exposes the underlying goals of these organisations and points to who the true neocolonialists are. You can download a copy of Colonising African Values by visiting www.publiceye.org/Reports/Colonizing_African_ Values/Colonizing_African_Values.html
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Desperate Catholics turn back the clock in a bid to impede French social justice French lesbians and gays were outraged by the Catholic Church’s ‘Prayer for France’. Photo: Gwenaël Piaser
espite a heartfelt collective plea sciousness of public opinion about grave sodied out after WWII. It included a plea by to the Almighty – in the form cial choices”. Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, the Catholic of a revived “Prayer for France” In France, there is a long running tradition, Archbishop of Paris, who asked the faithful on August 15 – French Catholics embodied in the French constitution since to pray that France’s newly elected officials were dealt a severe blow when it was an1905, separating the powers of Church and put their “sense of common good over the nounced ten days later that, if all goes acState. pressure to meet special demands”. cording to plan, France could become the In addition to opposing gay marriage, the The “Prayer for France” was a centuriesninth European country to legalise gay marPrayer also makes clear the Catholic Church’s old custom that originated in the 17th centuriage by 2013. resistance to adoption by gay couples. In the ry when King Louis XIII of France decreed French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault issued text of the Prayer, the Cardinal asked that all churches would pray on August 15 for confirmed in an address to Socialist Party congregations to pray that “children cease the good of the country. members that lawmakers plan to introduce to be objects of the desires and conflicts of A spokesman for the Catholic Church, national legislation in October that would aladults and fully benefit from the love of a Monsignor Bernard Podvin said the revival low same-sex couples marry. father and a mother”. of the prayer was intended to “raise the con“In October, we will send a Nicolas Gougain of the gay bill to the National Assembly rights group, Inter LGBT, was and the Senate to allow sameparticularly incensed by this sex couples to marry,” Ayrault section of the Prayer, saying: is quoted as saying. “It would He [the Cardinal] is implying also allow them to form famithat it is dangerous for a child lies and adopt children.” to be brought up by same-sex Not only do numerous polls parents. The text of the prayer indicate that French citizens is homophobic. support gay marriage, but “The church’s definition of President François Hollande family is far from the reality of declared his support for both the diverse families we see tomarriage equality and adoption day – same-sex, mixed or single rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual parents. We are asking that all and transgender (LGBT) coudifferent types of families are ples during his campaign. recognised, in the interests of French Catholics, deeply disboth child and parent.” tressed at the pace of social Speaking to France 24, Gouchange in their country, degain said President François cided the answer was to turn Hollande “was committed to back the clock by dusting off these reforms and they have Nicolas Gougain of the French gay rights group, Inter LGBT a “Prayer for France”, which been reaffirmed by his govern-
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ment. We can count on getting a majority in parliament and no prayer will be able to block this necessary legislation. Religion has no place in politics”. And Elisabeth Saint-Guily of Gay Christian group David and Jonathan said: “Most of our members are really upset by this terrible Prayer, which reinforces the fears certain Catholics have towards homosexuals.” She continued: “France’s bishops, and above them the Vatican, are using homophobic language. The Bible says, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself ’. We would like the bishops to apply this maxim. They should love all their neighbours, including homosexuals.” The opposition of France’s Catholic Church to an expansion of gay rights in the area of matrimonial and family law echoes a similar campaign by the Catholic Church in Scotland in reaction to plans by the Scottish government to legalise gay marriage. There, the Catholic Church had called upon the Scottish government to hold a referendum on proposed legislative changes. The Irish Times referred to Pope Benedict saying last January that same-sex marriage threatened “the future of humanity itself,” and reports one of France’s other leading Cardinals, Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, speaking to Europe 1 Radio, as saying that marriage was defined at the very start of the Bible as created by God to join man and woman. “Nobody should be surprised that we Catholics think the first page of the Bible is right, even more so than a parliament.” The anti-gay marriage brigade were dealt another blow when it was reported that New Zealand too plans to approve gay marriage. If New Zealand passes the measure into law, it would become the 12th country in the world since 2001 to recognise same-sex marriage. Some states in the US also recognise such marriages, but the federal government
A sign seen at an anti-gay marriage rally organised by the US-based Christian hate group, the National Organization for Marriage. Photo: Alice Hoenigman for Bilerico.com does not. Recent polls indicate that about two-thirds of New Zealanders support gay marriage. It also has the support of most of the country’s political leaders, although a number of lawmakers have said they’ll vote against it. New Zealand already has in place same-sex civil union laws that confer many legal rights on gay couples, although activists argue they
Lousia Wall, of New Zealand’s opposition Labour Party
don’t give them the same social status. One important change under the proposed legislation, however, is that same-sex married couples could jointly adopt a child, something they can’t do under current laws. The proposed changes here can be directly traced back to Obama’s May declaration in support of gay marriage. That prompted centre-right Prime Minister John Key to break his long silence on the issue by saying he was “not personally opposed” to the idea. Then lawmaker Louisa Wall, from the opposition Labour Party, put forward a bill she had previously drafted. Wall, 40, is openly gay. She represented the country in both netball and rugby before turning to politics, a background she said helps give her focus. She said she’s had thousands of emails both supporting and opposing her stance on gay marriage, including her fair share of hate mail. Last month, opponents of the bill presented a petition to lawmakers signed by 50,000 people. Bob McCoskrie, founder of the conservative lobby group Family First, which helped organise the petition, said “civil unions go far enough in providing legal rights to same-sex couples and there’s no need to redefine marriage”.
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Chick-fil-A and the Chri Right’s war against gay marriage in the United BARRY DUKE examines the backlash that followed a fast-food chain’s condemnation of same-sex unions
ourting the “Pink Pound” or “Dorothy Dollar” as it’s called in the US, has become one of the fastestgrowing commercial trends of the last few years, with companies ranging from Ikea to Cadillac cars; from Avis to Coors beer vying with each other to attract gay clients. And, in the process these progressive and canny enterprises have produced many eye-catching, amusing and sometimes challenging and controversial ads. But what happens when you decide not only to buck this trend, but actively discourage gay support? This is what a fastfood chain in America chose to do this summer, and it immediately found itself at the centre of a fire-storm of biblical proportions. Chick-fil-A’s Chief Executive Officer Dan Cathy slammed same-sex marriage, saying that he thought that those in favour of it were inviting God’s wrath. “I think we are inviting God’s judgement on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’, and I pray for God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.” It wasn’t God’s wrath that followed this drivel, but outrage expressed by battalions of Internet bloggers and media commentators, who homed in on the fact that the company had spent millions supporting anti-gay-marriage initiatives masterminded by homophobic hate groups. Then came a series of protests. LGBT groups in centres where Chick-fil-A outlets were based organised demonstrations and
kiss-ins, and a restaurant in Torrance, California, was targeted by graffiti artist Manny Castro, a self-proclaimed “Robin Hood of street art”. Castro, who’s gay, said he wanted to find a way to protest Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay-marriage stance. He defended his vandalism by saying “It’s paint on a wall. It got removed in less than an hour. It’s not that much of a crime – it’s a protest.” More telling were the unwritten protests of thousands of Americans, not all of them gay, who found Cathy’s bigotry so unpalatable that they began taking their business elsewhere. According to the market research firm YouGov, since Cathy made the remark on July 19, “perception of the brand has dropped from 19 points above average to to 4 points below – a 23 point plunge”. To my mind, the most interesting piece written at the height of the controversy that raged for weeks came from a Chickfil-A employee who was confronted by hordes of Bible-belters who flocked to her branch on August 1 in support of the company’s stance. “Customers sang ‘God Bless America’ in the dining room. They vocalised their support for ‘family values’ in a way that made me want to vomit. We had two protestors outside, and I took five minutes to run out, hug them, and tell them: ‘If I weren’t working here now, I’d be out here with you.’ “They said, ‘It’s okay, we know what it’s like to have to work for a paycheck.’ “I can’t tell you much more about the customers, because of my limited contact with them. I work in the kitchen, so I don’t see much of the clientele. What made the
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day so difficult – more difficult than always being behind on food, running out of one thing or another, needing to be in two places at once, etc – was the attitudes of the other employees . . . The people I work alongside kept going on and on about how powerful it was to be part of such a righteous movement, and how encouraged they were to know that there were so many people who agree with Dan Cathy. They went on at great length about how it was wrong not just for gays to marry, but to exist. One kid, age 19, said ‘I hope the gays go hungry.’ “I nearly walked out then and there. That epitomizes the characteristics of these evangelical ‘Christians’ who are so vocally opposed to equal rights. Attitudes like that are the opposite of Christ-like.” She also expressed disgust that those who orchestrated the Christian turn-out – local preachers – did not bother to alert the branch, which meant that there were barely enough supplies to feed them. “The ministers, and through them the congregants, didn’t think about the consequences of their actions, or who it might screw over. And it ended up screwing us rather thoroughly.” She added: “The evangelicals are on a quest to take over America, one law at a time, without thinking of who their actions may be harming. Because they disagree with something, it means everyone should disagree with it, and that’s a good enough reason to make it illegal. That’s not the way it works, folks. Disagree with equal marriage rights? Then don’t marry someone of the same sex, and you’re fine.” Conversely, one of the most bigoted and
istian States stupid reactions to the row came from a self-professed British atheist called Alexander Baron. Baron, in a Digital Journal oped entitled “Chick-fil-A supporters resist homophile tyranny” – asked: “Curious is it not how quickly supposedly persecuted minorities are transformed into persecutors, bullies or even thugs as soon as they are enfranchised?” He added: “Not everyone is prepared to take this kind of intimidation and blackmail lying down though, and recently Chic-fil-A has picked up some powerful support, including from Project 21 and Americans For Truth. “Project 21 is a leading Black Conservative organisation; in a press release dated July 29, Stacy Washington of its National Advisory Council said: ‘While screaming for tolerance, the left displays the ultimate example of intolerance by calling for boycotts and other acts meant to hurt Chickfil-A’s ability to do business. This includes liberal mayors and city councilmen willing to declare their cities off limits to Chickfil-A franchises. They are essentially turning down job creation because Chick-fil-A provides free boxed lunches to Christian conferences that help traditionally-married couples strengthen their marriages and raise healthy families. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Chick-fil-A’s corporate philosophy is a personal matter. Refusing to permit a business to operate is another quite un-American matter altogether.’ “Americans For Truth went even further. Its long title is Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, and it is a single issue campaigning group that gives the other side of
the story, the one the Organised Homosexual Movement doesn’t want Americans or anyone else to hear. “Although Americans For Truth is a Christian organisation, it lists a large number of resources for combatting (sic) the militant homosexual agenda, including a number that reach out to homosexuals of all faiths and none.” Not suprising;y, this rancid ignoramus’s piece attracted a great deal of flak among the comments under his article. This from San Franciscan Brett Wilkins: “You, Mr Baron, are at least ignorant. Chick-fil-A’s CEO, Dan Cathy, has donated millions of dollars to groups that seek to criminalize homosexuality and have sent missionaries to African countries like Uganda to try and pass legislation that would punish homosexuality with DEATH. Even though the bill failed to pass, homosexuality is still punishable by 14 years in prison in Uganda, and by funding groups that support this, Chick-fil-A is indirectly responsible for the unconscionable deprivation of liberty of LGBT Ugandans. This is NOT a matter of free speech (or an attempt by ‘homophiles’ to stifle it), it is a matter of LIFE and DEATH for millions of LGBT people.” To which Baron replied: “I’m not in favour of the death penalty for homosexuality, but the lifestyle is an almost certain guarantee of an early death. “Since uhuru, most African nations have made a pig’s ear of their economies, but give them their due, they’ve got the right attitude to homosexuality. The vast majority of American blacks feel the same way; it’s only the braindead white liberals who
got their heads shoved up their asses regarding this menace to civilisation. “By the way, how do you feel about the likes of Peter Tatchell blaming AIDS on blacks instead of on who is really responsible?” Wilkins shot back: “I am an American black and I can assure you that among the African-American community attitudes are steadily evolving towards accepting that gay rights are civil rights, as reflected in both President Obama’s and the NAACP’s [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] recent endorsements of marriage equality. Hell, even rappers are falling over themselves to voice their support for gay marriage. It would be the utmost hypocrisy for a people who fought so valiantly to attain equality to support the denial of said equality to others who have no more choice in their sexuality than blacks do in their skin color. “Also, your assertion that homosexuality leads to an early death is scientifically meritless, at least in developed countries. “Menace to civilization? You, sir, are the menace to civilization. And you must surely know that within a short period of time, views like yours will be considered the most vile and disgusting bigotry that can be espoused. See what happens if you come and spew that filth here in San Francisco, where the ‘brain dead’ fag-loving liberals are the most highly-educated, high-income earning and highly tolerant in the nation. We, sir, are the future. You are a dinosaur. We all know what happened to them.” Game, set and match to Wilkins, I would say – with considerable satisfaction!
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The Royal Society: the brainchild of some smart 17th-century gays In the centenary year of the birth of Alan Turing, who became Fellow of the Royal Society in 1951, but was so viciously punished with chemical castration in 1952, now is surely the time to acknowledge, recognise and finally celebrate the vast contribution made to science by gay men, says MARK GOVIER
lmost everyone has heard of the Royal Society, perhaps the most famous organisation in the history of science. It was founded in 1660, has had gay Sir Isaac Newton as President, and continues on to this very day. The initials FRS, meaning Fellow of the Royal Society, are very much a part of British history, with the Royal coming directly from the patronage of the Royal Family. The monarchy has – generally, but not always – been happy to do this. Current Royal Fellows include Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, and Prince William. However, as will be revealed in this article, the Royal Society is actually the brainchild and creation of some very clever and forward thinking 17th century gays. It will disclose that its very philosophy and concept, its execution and delivery, were made by men who, with little dispute, were gay. Unsurprisingly, some at the Royal Society do not think this is a suitable matter to be brought up. It’s own historical journal recently stated the “proposed topic is unlikely to make an appropriate subject . . .” But, as will be shown, without the input of gays, it is highly unlikely there would have been such a thing as the Royal Society. The gay inspirer: Sir Francis Bacon Our story begins with Sir Francis Bacon, a.k.a. Lord Verulam. As is well known, Bacon was a gay government man, from a wealthy background, who rose to the high position of Lord Chancellor, before falling from grace – after being convicted for accepting bribes. This was in the first quarter of the 17th century, when James I/VI was King of England, and Scotland. As historian Randolph Trumbach states in his arti-
cle Renaissance Sodomy, James treated his favourites – such as the Duke of Buckingham and Earl of Somerset – “like ladies”. All of which is to say that the King was gay, along with others at Court. There were drastic penalties for sodomy at the time, but these were very, very seldom enacted, especially at this level of society. Bacon, despite being a government man, had also become a profound philosopher of science, spending much time composing revolutionary texts such as The Advancement of Learning, Novum Organon (New Logic) and Instauratio Magna (Great Restoration). Bacon attacked the old Greek and medieval forms of science and logic taught at the two English universities. Instead, he argued for a new system of “natural philosophy”, one based on inductive logic, experiment, and having direct practical benefits for people. In his later days, he composed A New Atlantis, a utopian novella portraying an idealised society with a huge, government-funded academy of science at its centre. There is but an extremely short mention of no gay love, and one must assume this was perhaps for practical reasons, perhaps to cover himself. He died in 1626. Such was the power of Bacon’s philosophical writings they became the spirit and inspiration behind the formation of the Royal Society. This is borne out in a number of ways. Firstly, the Society, in its own 20th century publication Record of the Royal Society (1912) states its formation is “one of the earliest practical fruits of the philosophical labours of Francis Bacon . . .” The requiem goes on for a number of pages, with statements such as “Novum Organon led men to pry with eager enthusiasm into every department of Nature”, and Bacon’s “great
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aim was to enforce the patient investigation of Nature . . .” Then there is The History of the Royal Society, composed by Thomas Sprat in 1667, under the tutelage of gay priest John Wilkins, of which more will be said. The cover contains an image of Royal patron Charles II. He is sitting between the Society’s then President, and Francis Bacon, who is pointing the way forwards. There is no doubt that the Royal Society – despite the organisation’s current reluctance – has a deep historical connection with this gay philosopher. Had there been no Francis Bacon, composing his works of scientific inspiration, pointing the way forwards, it is questionable whether there would have been a Royal Society. Dr John Wilkins “By the middle of the 17th century there were a number of learned men to whom the new or experimental philosophy appealed strongly, and Bacon in his writings had set before them in an attractive and convincing form the possibilities which it offered . . .” This is a quote from the Royal Society’s own historian, Sir Henry Lyons FRS, in 1944. We now move to the period before the triumphant return of Charles II to England in 1660. Here we encounter Dr John Wilkins, a gay preacher and man of science. Born in 1614, Wilkins founded an important scientific club in London in the mid 1640s. It sometimes met in Gresham College, which later became the home of the Royal Society. “Our business,” says John Wallis, a member, “was to discourse and consider of philosophical enquiries and such as a related thereunto: physick, anatomy, geometry, astronomy, navigation, staticks, magneticks, mechanicks, and natural experiments . . .”
Francis Bacon, right, depicted in this 17th-century engraving on the cover of a book published by the Royal Society Wilkins moved to Oxford in 1648 to take up his position as warden of Wadham College, and so the London meetings lapsed. Being ever active, he started a new scientific club, the Philosophical Society of Oxford. Of special mention here is Christopher Wren, later FRS and architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, whom Wilkins took under his wing. Robert Boyle, of whom much has yet to be said, called it “the invisible college”. Wilkins’s Society performed a pivotal role during the dark period between the execution of Charles I and the return of Charles II. Though not a great scientist himself, Wilkins was a great organiser and inspirer of science, continuing the project of Bacon during these difficult times. The Oxford Society acted as the scientific heart of England, and Wilkins introduced and mentored a host of talented young men, some of whom became some of the leading lights of the new experimental science. In 1656, aged 42, he married the 62-yearold sister of Oliver Cromwell. This was for reasons that had nothing to do with either
love or sex, but a great deal to do with politics. In fact, one historian clocks Wilkins departing immediately his wedding was over, to visit some men. When Charles II returned, Wilkins and many others were ejected from clerical and university positions. He returned to London and continued his preaching. He was present – along with others from the Oxford Society – at the famous meeting at Gresham College on November 28, 1660, which saw the beginnings of the Royal Society. Though unconnected to the King, Wilkins played a vital role in the organisation’s formation. He acted as temporary president, sat on its governing council, acted as a secretary, raised money, and attended meetings frequently. He was appointed Bishop of Chester in 1668, but continued aiding the Society. Wilkins died in 1672. Had there been no John Wilkins, it is highly unlikely there would have been something like the Oxford Philosophical Society, let alone a Royal Society. The matter of his gay sexuality was raised with a noted expert,
who confirmed the view expressed here. Sir Robert Moray Gay Scotsman Sir Robert Moray is considered the man, above any other, most responsible for creating the Royal Society. In fact, the Society’s Anniversary Meeting, where its presidents and officers are elected, has always been held on St Andrew’s Day, November 30, as a mark of respect for Moray. Though not strictly a man of science, being far more a man of the world with a serious interest, he knew its value and did whatever he could to promote it. Moray was born in 1608 of a wealthy family in Perthshire. He was for many years a soldier, and a suspected spy, for the French. The Dictionary of National Biography suggests he may have even attended some of the scientific meetings in London organised by Wilkins. Moray led what can only be described as an interesting life. He is recorded trying to persuade Charles I to dress in women’s clothes, to assist the King’s escape. This was ignored, and the king was eventually beheaded. By 1650, and somewhat tired of war, Moray returned to Scotland, and became embroiled in politics. He was briefly married, but when his wife soon died, he did not repeat the matter. It is a fact, even in our own times, that some gay men – especially in politics – marry to assist their careers. Moray is recorded by one source as being “a single man, an abhorrer of women ...” Moray spent time with the exiled Charles II on the Continent. A positive relationship developed, and it is this that eventually led to the creation of the Royal Society. He also practiced chemistry and alchemy while there. On his return to London in late 1660, Moray linked up with the men of science at Gresham. He was present at the famous November 28 meeting, and it was he who took the proposal to establish what became the Royal Society before the King. Charles II quickly agreed. Moray had a wide correspondence, and was at the front of negotiations that led to the Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1662, Royal patronage, and the second Charter in 1663. He was very heavily involved in the running of the Society. As Lyons says, “Moray was one of the earliest and most active members of the Royal Society which . . . benefitted greatly by the free access to the king . . .” The great Dutch scientist Christian Huygens went so far as to describe this gay courtier, and former soldier, as the “soul” of the Royal Society. Moray died in 1673. The Honourable Robert Boyle Unlike Moray and Wilkins, Robert Boyle was not an instigator of the creation of the
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The Royal Society’s gays
From left, Dr John Wilkins, the Honourable Robert Boyle and Sir Isaac Newton Royal Society, but at the start, he was the best of its scientists, and the most obvious gay. Born into great wealth in Ireland in 1627, he went to Eton aged eight, and later studied and toured the Continent. Around the age of 14, based on Boyle’s own recollections, he was seduced by adult males in Florence. As Brett Kahr suggests in his 1999 article for the British Journal for the History of Science, the experience drove Boyle back into himself, to the life of a recluse obsessed with religion, science and alchemy. Despite the fact that Boyle’s homosexuality is well known amongst academics, nothing is said about this in the long piece in the Dictionary of National Biography. The matter of Boyle’s sexuality was raised with a noted expert, who again confirmed the view expressed here: he was gay. In this matter, Boyle pre-dates, and indeed anticipates to some extent, Sir Isaac Newton, the Royal Society’s greatest ever Fellow, and its President from 1703 to 1727. Like Boyle, Newton was gay, though it is doubtful if he actually consummated this with anyone. Unlike Boyle, Newton was not born into great wealth, was treated somewhat harshly by his mother who sent him to Trinity College at Cambridge as a lowly “sizar”, that is someone who had to perform menial services for other students. His patron there was Sir Isaac Barrow, FRS, a single mathematician and preacher, who may himself have been gay. Newton ended up spending some 20 years as an academic, sharing a room with another man, and – like Boyle – practising science, alchemy and religion. Following the success of his master work Principia Mathematica he came to live in London. His 1693 mental breakdown has often been attribut-
ed to the break up with a young Swiss mathematician, with whom he had formed a gay, though probably platonic, relationship. Some historians may argue that Newton was not gay, that he was one of the many single heterosexual men at the time. However, this is most likely a reflection of their own inclinations, and possibly – in some cases – prejudices. As it now stands, Newton was perhaps the only single gay man to have ever held the position of President of the Royal Society. Interestingly, the monarchy declined to act as patrons to the Society until Newton died. This was because he omitted to take the two Anglican religious oaths imposed on Society presidents and vice-presidents since 1669. Boyle moved to Oxford in the mid 1650s to be with John Wilkins, and the Philosophical Society, and his scientific prowess grew remarkably. When Wilkins went to Cambridge in 1659, Philosophical Society meetings moved to Boyle’s house. At Restoration he was able to take his place at the new Royal Society, as one of its leading men. He even gave the Society his talented assistant, the great scientist Robert Hooke, who himself was not gay. Boyle performed a great many experiments, and wrote a number of highly influential books on the results of his own experimental science. He also wrote books on religion, and – like Newton – was perhaps more interested in this at times than in science. Boyle lived in Oxford until 1668, then moved to London to live with his sister, Lady Ranelagh, on a permanent basis. He regularly attended Society meetings, tendered experiments, and inspired many with his writings and words. He had a stroke in 1670, and from that time on lived a more
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sheltered and private life. In 1680 he was elected Society President, but opted out saying he did not agree with taking the two religious oaths, again rather like Newton. With further health problems, Boyle further retreated, and when his sister died in 1691, Boyle died but a week later. Conclusion As has been shown, the most notable scientific organisation in Britain’s history was formed by gay men. At the start, there was Francis Bacon, whose philosophy acted as the inspiration for men of science. Next, Dr John Wilkins, who practised experimental science, followed Bacon’s lead, and cultivated the scientific talents of many young men. With the aid of Sir Robert Moray, the Scottish courtier and soldier, a loose group of scientifically inclined men was transformed into the highly organised Royal Society, with Robert Boyle leading the way in its first decade. The Society soon became internationally esteemed, due to Sir Isaac Newton, and his long presidency. To argue, as the Royal Society does, that its own gay roots are not an “appropriate subject” for historical research is nonsense. The gay connection goes back to the beginnings of the 17th century. In the centenary year of the birth of Alan Turing, the man who became Fellow of the Royal Society in 1951, but was so viciously punished with chemical castration in 1952, surely it is about time that the vast contribution to science by gays started to be acknowledged, recognised, and finally celebrated. Sources include: Archives of the Royal Society; Record of the Royal Society; Dictionary of National Biography; Henry Lyons, History of the Royal Society; Matt Cook (Ed) A Gay History of Britain and John Gribbin, The Fellowship.
Scene from Across the Pond
Photo credit: WWARBY ALAN CUMMING, from July 6th through the 14th, played the title role in Macbeth at Lincoln Center’s Festival, at 60th Street just off Broadway in Manhattan. Cumming was a solitary patient in a psychiatric unit who channels the story in which his diseased and disintegrating mind is exposed, all in an authentic Scottish accent. As if he is Lady Macbeth, in one scene he goes into a bathtub, lies naked, and puts his legs over the sides. Cumming naked off-Broadway! Prior to the New York show, he debuted at the National Theatre of Scotland. Earlier this year, Cumming and commercial illustrator Grant Shaffer were married in Manhattan, having been wed in January 2007 in a London ceremony.
By Warren Allen Smith MAGIC MIKE, the current Steven Soderbergh-directed movie, took in an estimated $72.8-million up to July 9, compared with The Amazing Spider-Man’s $140-million.
The New York Times called the Warner Brothers film, a dramatic comedy set in the world of male strippers, a “big draw for gay men”, although it is about straight strippers who perform for wildly enthusiastic females who stick dollars in their shorts. Almost as soon as the lights go down, the straight Channing Tatum gets naked. Matthew Bomer is the star who figures
prominently in the plot, and females who try to find him will learn that he has been with publicist Simon Halls since 2009 and that they have three sons via surrogacy, including a set of twins. ERNEST BORGNINE, the actor who died of renal failure on July 8 at the age of 95, was famous at Tortilla Flats, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, because one section is like a shrine, his pictures mounted on the wall and hand-painted portraits tacked to the ceiling. Look-alike contests occur, and Borgnine by telephone was asked when he was 92 if he had any advice for female look-alikes. “Good God,” he said. “Good luck.” As to which god, Borgnine was a Freemason.
World loses ‘an unflinching voice for homosexuality’ ONE of the world’s foremost writers and social commentators, Gore Vidal, died at the end of July at the age of 86 at his Hollywood Hills Home. Renowned for his towering intellect and his utter disdain for religion, Vidal was Honorary President of the American Humanist Association. Vidal was considered a giant of American intellectual life in the second half of the 20th century. The acclaimed author wrote 25 novels, including scandalous best-sellers like Myra Breckinridge and scholarly, historical works such as Burr and Lincoln. Vidal also wrote more than 200 essays, seven plays and numerous TV and movie scripts, including an uncredited rewrite on the 1959 classic Ben-Hur. A strong and vocal critic of the Religious Right, Vidal will also be remembered for for his position in history as “an unflinch-
ing voice for homosexuality”. He left mainstream critics reeling with his novel The City and The Pillar in 1948, which centred on a young man coming to terms with his homosexuality. Vidal’s portrayal of a gay protagonist who was well adjusted and not presented as the typical symbolic warning about the defiance of social norms, was a boundarybreaking statement. The book caused a scandal, as critics railed against Vidal’s decision to present a balanced view of a lifestyle viewed as immoral and unnatural during the period. Instead of shrinking from the critical venom, Vidal thrived on it, claiming that he aimed to shock. Nonetheless, for the best part of the next decade he was forced to write under pseudonyms, as he found himself blacklisted by publishers. Eventually his popularity saw him writing under his own
name again. He also wrote screenplays, including Last Summer, Is Paris Burning and Suddenly. But throughout his career, Vidal sought to incorporate gay themes. He revealed, while being interviewed as part of the documentary The Celluloid Closet, that he worked a gay subtext into the theatrically masculine screenplay for Ben-Hur, starring the icon of traditional masculinity, Charlton Heston. Vidal described his style as: “Knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
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There ain’t no cure for love ... nor homosexuality For over 30 years a fundamentalist Christian outfit called Exodus International has been peddling the lie that homosexuality is a curable condition. But earlier this year it had second thoughts ... and sent the whole ‘gay cure’ movement into a tailspin.
f all those on the conservative Christian right who reacted with disbelief and horror to the news that Exodus International had abandoned its attempts at turning gay people straight, the one who appeared most devastated was the loathsome Peter LaBarbera, of a deplorable hate-mongering organisation called Americans for Truth about Homosexuality. At the end of August this year, he said Exodus International had “lost the trust of many pro-family advocates and Christian leaders due to the perceived unbiblical and erroneous statements by Exodus leader Alan Chambers”. In a series of public statements and a speech at Exodus’s AGM this summer Chambers, 40, renounced some of the movement’s core beliefs, declared that there was no cure for homosexuality and that “reparative therapy” offered false hopes to gays and could even be harmful. Cries of “heresy” immediately followed, and cracks developed in the network of quack, faith-based “gay cure” organisations. Right-wing Christian leaders, who took their inspiration from Exodus, fell over themselves to denounce Chambers. LaBarbera – who earned the nickname “Porno Pete” for his obsession with videoing bare male flesh at gay gatherings and in clubs and saunas – was probably the most critical of Exodus’s decision. But Andrew Comiskey, founder and director of Desert Stream Ministries, based in Kansas City, came a close second. He rushed to tell the New York Times that, “for the last 37 years, Exodus has been a bright light, arguably the brightest one for those with same-sex attraction seeking an authentically Christian hope”. Desert Steam then officially disassociated itself from Exodus, along with ten other ministries. He said his outfit’s defec-
Alan Chambers tion was “due to leader Alan Chambers’s appeasement of practicing homosexuals who claim to be Christian” as well as his questioning of the reality of “sexual orientation change”. In a phone interview with the New York Times from Orlando, Florida, where Exodus has its headquarters, Chambers expanded on his views, saying that virtually every “exgay” he has ever met still harbours homosexual cravings, himself included. Chambers, who left the gay life to marry and have two children, said that gay Christians like himself faced a lifelong spiritual struggle to avoid sin and should not be afraid to admit it. He added that Exodus could no longer condone reparative therapy, which blames homosexuality on emotional scars in childhood and claims to reshape the psyche. And in a theological departure that infuriated conservative pastors, Chambers said he believed that those who persist in homosexual behaviour could still be saved by Christ and go to heaven. Robert Gagnon, an associate professor at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of books on homosexuality and the
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Bible, issued a public call for Chambers to resign. “My greatest concern has to do with Alan’s repeated assurances to homosexually active ‘gay Christians’ that they will be with him in heaven”. Only a few years ago, Chambers was featured in advertisements along with his wife, Leslie, saying, “Change is possible.” But now, he said in the New York Times interview, “Exodus needs to move beyond that slogan”. “I believe that any sexual expression outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage is sinful according to the Bible,” he emphasised. “But we’ve been asking people with same-sex attractions to overcome something in a way that we don’t ask of anyone else,” he said, noting that Christians with other sins, whether heterosexual lust, pornography, pride or gluttony, do not receive the same blanket condemnations. Chambers’s comments came at a time of widening acceptance of homosexuality and denunciation of reparative therapy by professional bodies that say it is based on pseudo-science and thus potentially harmful. A bill to outlaw “conversion therapy” for minors has passed the California Senate and is now before the State Assembly. Earlier this year, a prominent psychiatrist, Dr Robert L Spitzer, apologised for publishing what he now calls an invalid study, which said many patients had largely or totally switched their sexual orientation. But defenders of the therapy say that it can bring deep changes in sexual orientation and that the attacks are politically motivated. David H Pickup, a therapist in Glendale, California, who specialises in reparative therapy, said restricting it would harm people who are unhappy with their homosexuality by “making them feel that no change is possible at all”. Pickup, an officer of the National Associ-
THE young man in the photograph is Zach Stark, the subject of a powerful, awardwinning documentary – This is What Love in Action Looks Like – released earlier this year. When, at the age of 16, the Tennessee teenager told his parents he was gay, they reacted by sending him, against his will, to Christian-run programme operated by an organisation called Love in Action, part of Exodus International. The “boot camp”, named Refuge, was established to “cure” teenagers of their “gay addiction”. His plight became known when Zach posted a cry for help on the social networking site, MySpace. This sparked a wave of anger among both gay and straight people, who began protesting outside Love in Action’s campus. The anger they felt quickly spread nationwide and prompted Morgan Jon Fox, acclaimed director of Blue Citrus Hearts, to make a documentary about both Zach and John Smid (inset), the married “ex-gay” conservative Christian who was Executive Director of Love in Action. In 2008 Smid ditched Love in Action and actually issued a public apology to anyone who may have been harmed by the programming at the facility. In 2011, on his website, Smid stated that homosexuality is an intrinsic part of one’s being, and that “change, repentance, reorientation and such” cannot occur. He noted that he had “never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual”. In March 2012, Love In Action changed its name to Restoration Path. Zach, by all accounts is now “doing just fine” as a young gay adult.
ation for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, composed of like-minded charlatans, said reparative therapy had achieved profound changes for thousands of people, including himself. The therapy, he said, had helped him confront emotional wounds and “my homosexual feelings began to dissipate and attractions for women grew”. Gregg Quinlan, a conservative lobbyist in New Jersey and President of a support group called Parents and Friends of ExGays & Gays, suggested that Chambers “is tired of his own personal struggles, so he’s making excuses for them by making sweeping generalisations about others”. Exodus International, with a budget of $1.5 million provided by donors and member churches, is on a stable footing, Chambers said. He said the shifts in theology had the support of the Exodus board and had been welcomed by many of the 150 churches that are members in North Amer-
ica, which increasingly have homosexuals in their congregations. In another sign of change, the vice chairman of the Exodus board, Dennis Jernigan, was forced to resign in June after he supported anti-sodomy laws in Jamaica. The board pledged to fight efforts anywhere to criminalise sexual acts between consenting adults. Gay rights advocates said they were encouraged by Chambers’s recent turn but remained wary of Exodus, which they feel has caused enormous harm. “Exodus International played the key role in planting the message that people can go from gay to straight through religion and therapy,” said Wayne Besen, Director of Truth Wins Out, a group that aims to refute what it considers misinformation about gays and lesbians. He added: “The notion that one can change is the centrepiece of the religious
right’s argument for denying us rights.” And David Roberts, editor of the website Ex-Gay Watch, pointed out that many of the local ministries in Exodus continue to attack gays and lesbians, and they often have close ties with reparative therapists. He speculated that Chambers was trying to steer the group in a moderate direction because “they were becoming pariahs” in a society that is more accepting of gay people. Chambers said he was simply trying to restore Exodus to its original purpose when it was founded in 1976: that of providing spiritual support for Christians who are struggling with homosexual attraction. He said that he was happy in his marriage, with a “love and devotion much deeper than anything I experienced in gay life,” but that he knew this was not feasible for everyone. Many Christians with homosexual urges may have to strive for lives of celibacy. But those who fail should not be severely judged, he said, adding, “We all struggle or fall in some way.” When news broke in late August that another “gay cure” organisation – the Restored Hope Network – had been formed to take Exodus’s place, LaBarbera was cocka-hoop, saying that RHN had been established “by leaders from throughout North America who seek to minister to homosexuals and other sexually broken individuals according to the historic doctrines of the Christian faith. “We seek to be honest about the need for repentance in the life of believer and nonbeliever alike and we seek to communicate the many ways that God brings about real and lasting change in the life of anyone who turns to Him and allows Him to take them through a life-transforming process.” One of RHN’s founding leaders is Frank Worthen, who was the key figure in the founding of Exodus International in 1973. Of this new network, Worthen wrote: “I am feeling inexpressible joy that the Lord has brought together a group of people who will not allow the message of hope and change to die in a sea of misguided social/cultural relevance. Restored Hope Network will now carry the torch of freedom from the sin and degradation of homosexuality and the transforming power of Jesus Christ.” Restored Hope Network states that it is “a membership governed network dedicated to restoring hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin, especially those impacted by homosexuality. We proclaim that Jesus Christ has life-changing power for all who submit to Christ as Lord; we also seek to equip His church to impart that transformation.”
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‘A letter to my dear, hypothetical gay son’ JOHN Kinnear is a father and part-time “daddy blogger” in Sandy, Utah. During the day he works in online marketing, and in the evening he blogs, changes nappies, and dances with his wife and two-year-old daughter. His first son will be arriving in November. A while back, he was heartbroken when he stumbled across a letter, reproduced on the right, from a father disowning his gay son that went viral on the Internet. This prompted Kinnear to write on his blog: “It’s not the first time that I’ve seen something like this; here in Utah it’s a pretty common story. In fact, I had friends in high school who experienced it firsthand. But this was the first time I’d run across such a story since becoming a dad. “My son is living in his mom’s belly right now, so obviously we don’t know his sexual orientation. Still, the letter I read made me wonder what my letter would say if the news that my son was gay ended up being a surprise. “So here it is: Dear hypothetically gay son, you’re gay. Obviously you already know that, because you told us at the dinner table last night. I apologize for the awkward silence afterwards, but I was chewing. It was like when we’re at a restaurant and the waiter comes up mid-bite and asks how the meal is, only in this metaphor you are the waiter, and instead of asking me about my meal, you said you were gay. I don’t know why I needed to explain that. I think I needed to find a funny way to repeat the fact that you’re gay . . . because that is what it sounds like in my head right now: ‘My son is gay. My son is gay. My son is gay’. “Let me be perfectly clear: I love you. I will always love you. Since being gay is part of who you are, I love that
you’re gay. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the idea. If you sensed any sadness in my silence last night, it was because I was surprised that I was surprised. Ideally, I would have already known. Since you were an embryo, my intent has always been to really know you for who you are and not who I expect you to be. And yet, I was taken by surprise at last night’s dinner. Have I said ‘surprise’ enough in this paragraph? One more time: Surprise! “OK. Let’s get a few things straight about how things are going to be. 1. Our home is a place of safety and love. The world has dealt you a difficult card. While LGBT people are becoming more accepted, it is still a difficult path to walk. You’re going to experience hate and anger and misunderstandings about who you are out in the world. That will not happen here. You need to know with
every fiber of who you are that when you walk in the front door of your home, you are safe, and you are loved. Your mother is in complete agreement with me on this. 2. I am still, as always, your biggest defender. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re any less capable of taking care of and defending yourself. That said, if you need me to stand next to you or in front of you, write letters, sign petitions, advocate, or anything else, I am here. I would go to war for you. 3. If you’re going to have boys over, you now need to leave your bedroom door open. Sorry, kiddo. Them’s the breaks. I couldn’t have girls in my room with the door shut, so you don’t get to have boys. 4. You and I are going to revisit that talk we had about safe sex. I know it’s going to be awkward for both of us, but it is important. I need to do some research first, so let’s give it a few weeks. If you have questions or concerns before then, let me know. “That’s enough for now. Feel free to view this letter as a contract. If I ever fail to meet any of the commitments made herein, pull it out and hold me to account. “I’ll end with this: You are not broken. You are whole, and beautiful. You are capable and compassionate. You and your sister are the best things I have ever done with my life, and I couldn’t be prouder of the people you’ve become. Love, Dad.” “PS: Thanks to a few key Supreme Court decisions and the Marriage Equality Act of 2020, you’re legally able to get married. When I was your age, that was just an idea. Pretty cool, huh?”
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