Pray out the gay!
June 10, 2005 12:25 PM   Subscribe

"If I do come out straight I'll be so mentally unstable and depressed it wont matter.. I'll be back in therapy again. This is not good--" Teenage boy comes out to parents, sent to straight camp. Refuge, located in Memphis, TN, is a division of Love in Action, Intl, a program created to treat "addictions" like homosexuality. Run by John Smid, parents can ship their kids there in hopes that particular brand of Jesus will cure The Gay. The program's rules are . . . interesting. Kids may be placed in virtual isolation at any time (not allowed to communicate with others except in writing, and only when "absolutely necessary"), must be accompanied by a parent at all times when off-campus (even to the restroom), and undergo a "False Image" search every morning to ensure they are not carrying any articles that may interfere with their "affirmed gender identity". Not that we're supposed to know any of this--the rules are sent to the parents with the note to keep them from the child.

The boy is inside the program now. A protest is being held outside the facility--Cherry Blossom Special covers it here.
posted by schroedinger (194 comments total)

 
Wow.
Those rules are just.... wow. The attire section sounds like what the christian conservative movement would want everyone to look like, if they had their way.

2. Attire: General
Modesty is expected. No tight, provocative, or suggestive clothing or spandex may be worn. No provocative or
suggestive mannerisms are permitted. Fresh undergarments are to be worn at all times. Boxer shorts of any kind are
considered underwear and are not to be worn as outer clothing. All clients must be dressed appropriately in clean,
unwrinkled clothes when leaving the house for the day. Men may not wear any jewelry (other than a watch and a wedding band) unless approved through a C.O.C. In addition to a watch and wedding band, women may also wear a pair of simple earrings (one earring per ear.) The clients may not wear Abercrombie and Fitch or Calvin Klein brand clothing, undergarments, or accessories.
Men: Shirts are to be worn at all times, even while sleeping. T-shirts without sleeves are not permitted at any time,
whether worn as an outer garment or an undergarment. This includes ³muscle shirts² or other tank-tops. Bikini-style underwear is prohibited.
Women: Bras must be worn at all times, except while sleeping. Thong-style underwear is prohibited.

Attire: LIA Campus
In addition to the General Attire above, the following items apply. No torn, ragged, or stained clothing is to be worn at
any time while on campus. Monday through Thursday, clients must wear pants, a clean shirt, and shoes or sandals with
socks. Jeans and a nice t-shirt are acceptable. On Friday, clients may wear clean, knee-length khaki or denim-style shorts.
No athletic or excessively baggy shorts may be worn on campus at any time. No hats, jackets, or overcoats are to be
worn on campus
Women: In addition to these guidelines, women may also wear skirts which fall at or below the knee. Women may wear
tank-tops only if they are worn with an over-blouse. Women may wear open-toed shoes or women¹s dress sandals
without socks. Bras must be worn at all times, except while sleeping. Sports bras may only be worn while working out.
No sleeveless blouses may be worn. All blouses and t-shirts must fit modestly (not extremely tight).

3. No cologne, perfume, or use of other highly scented hygiene products.

posted by Espoo2 at 12:47 PM on June 10, 2005


I hope this kid eventually gets to a point where he can forgive his parents for sending him to a re-education camp because they couldn't deal with who he is.
posted by alumshubby at 12:58 PM on June 10, 2005


I hope this kid eventually gets to a point where he can sue his parents and the camp for emotional distress.
posted by kenko at 1:05 PM on June 10, 2005


I hope this kid sues the fuck out of his parents and the fascist thugs who run this operation.
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:05 PM on June 10, 2005


Is this not criminal? I cannot believe such a place is legally allowed to exist.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2005


These things don't work at all, and it teaches the kid that there is something wrong with him--the parents should be ashamed of themselves. I'd like to see the suicide stats for the kids put thru this kind of "help".
posted by amberglow at 1:08 PM on June 10, 2005


There's a very biting, funny movie about these kinds of camps--But I'm a Cheerleader
posted by amberglow at 1:10 PM on June 10, 2005


yeah, those rules blew me away too - women must shave their legs at least twice a week and must always wear a bra, but cannot wear sports bras... and no touching or physical contact of any kind except occasional 'quick handshakes' - just incredible. Touching other human beings non-sexually is a really useful part of feeling comfortable, actually. My family was never very affectionate, but I've come to appreciate the reassurance of touch through things like doing martial arts, and begin involved in theatre (obviously can be abused or complicated, but that's why it's nice that in certain things there's a natural context.)

Anyway. One positive thing is that the kid lives in a time when he can reassure himself that it's his parents and the people who run this camp that are fucked up, not him. Yay internets.
posted by mdn at 1:11 PM on June 10, 2005


Just miserable, sickening stuff. If there's a Hell, I don't think the kid is the one that's headed there.
posted by ScottMorris at 1:13 PM on June 10, 2005


You can pray for lies to become the truth, but no matter how hard you pray they will never be true.
--so true--from the "h" in here link above. The ACLU is on it, so maybe that'll help (for this kid at least).
posted by amberglow at 1:14 PM on June 10, 2005


What do you expect? The "A Safe Place" website can't even spell promiscuity right, and they're going to treat people for it? Let alone that no medical text exists that can find a scientific link between homosexuality and addictive behavior.
posted by mystyk at 1:19 PM on June 10, 2005


It is, by the way, Gay Pride Month.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:20 PM on June 10, 2005


I got it! this is simply Re-Ned-ucation. (Shameless Simpsons reference)

Anyone who wields the bible like that doesn't really understand it. You're supposed to preach, and let them come to you, not indoctrinate so your numbers look better.
posted by mystyk at 1:22 PM on June 10, 2005


The US Attorney should be looking into this place.
posted by mlis at 1:27 PM on June 10, 2005


You people are too modest. I think this kid dishing out some high-caliber vengence would be the best thing for all involved.
posted by Floach at 1:28 PM on June 10, 2005


I'm not convinced anybody's born gay, or straight for that matter, but that "choice" comes into it somehow; that said, if it is a choice it's one anybody is fully entitled to make -- and nobody has the right to try to force you to change it. So from my left-libertarian perspective I'm with AlexReynolds on this one.

Oh, and eustacescrubb, under the laws of most US states such places are perfectly legal. "Minors" under 18 ain't really people under the law, however much anti-choicers carry on about the personhood of the "preborn". Maybe it's that a fetus is a person, but once one is born one stops being a person for 18 solar orbits.

Oh and mystyk, all sex is "addictive". It's also possible to live without it, or to not even want it.

And Floach, right on.
posted by davy at 1:29 PM on June 10, 2005


This piece of shit should be arrested: "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery." --The Final Indoctrination from John Smid, Director, Love In Action (LIA)-- from here
posted by amberglow at 1:29 PM on June 10, 2005


Sadly, this is not uncommon:

Bob Jones University Student Expectations, Dress Code, and Residence Rules (filtered net access).

There are some real gems here, but this really sums it up:

Loyalty to Christ results in separated living. Dishonesty, lewdness, sensual behavior, adultery, homosexuality, sexual perversion of any kind, pornography, illegal use of drugs, and drunkenness all are clearly condemned by God's Word and prohibited here. Further, we believe that biblical principles preclude gambling, dancing, and the beverage use of alcohol.

Oh man, I'm like, 10 for 12! I almost feel ashamed my rate isn't higher.

This is totally awesome:

Abercrombie & Fitch and its subsidiary Hollister have shown an unusual degree of antagonism to the name of Christ and an unusual display of wickedness in their promotions. In protest, we will not allow articles displaying their logos to be worn, carried, or displayed (even if covered or masked in some way).

This shit would be hilarious if it didn't make me physically ill or bring tears to my eyes. At least BJU (snicker) is voluntary, except for the 18 years of brainwashing leading up to it. But the rules at Refuge are very similar, if not in letter then in spirit.

I'd heard of Bob Jones but I had no idea something like Refuge even existed.
posted by tweak at 1:31 PM on June 10, 2005


As Zach said, he should have waited two years. :-(
posted by deborah at 1:37 PM on June 10, 2005


the clients may not wear Abercrombie and Fitch or Calvin Klein

Mwhahahha. At last, the truth is revealed. Brand names lead to teh gay.
posted by Sparx at 1:37 PM on June 10, 2005


Holy shit! This place is 2.4 miles from my house! I had no idea it was there. The kid is from the same suburb of Memphis where I went to high school (about another 2.5 miles west of where he is being held). If he went to the same high school I did and things were anything like they were when I was there this place, sadly, won't be that much worse. Poor kid.
posted by Carbolic at 1:38 PM on June 10, 2005


Homosexuality is an affront to god, which is why I encourage and support it at every opportunity.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:40 PM on June 10, 2005


And for the last time, no buttless chaps on campus! You guys are not pulling that one on me again.
posted by palinode at 1:41 PM on June 10, 2005


This is EXACTLY why I never told my parents that I'm bisexual.
posted by ackeber at 1:41 PM on June 10, 2005


You know, when a movement starts operating re-education camps, it's a pretty sure sign that something's gone off the rails.

Also, telling people to kill themselves before they transgress. That'd be another sign.

This shit makes me sick to my stomach.
posted by felix betachat at 1:42 PM on June 10, 2005


Carbolic, they're having daily protests--they could use support if you have any time.
posted by amberglow at 1:42 PM on June 10, 2005


Great, another kid who tried to be honest with his family about who he was and they treat him like he's mentally ill.

I can't wait for the ABC after school special on this one.

And then the long drawn out lawsuit he brings against the camp and his parents on Court TV.

People are truly shockingly absurd in their belief systems.
posted by fenriq at 1:45 PM on June 10, 2005


davy: Yes, sex is addictive, as are all activities that produce adrenaline and/or endorphine rushes. That does not, however, mean that the desire for your partner to be of the same gender is also an addiction. The former is a case of chemical dependency, while the latter is significantly more complex (I won't go into the whole biology-vs-choice debate). Who you're aroused by is not equivalent to the nature of the arousal itself. This is why no credible medical texts exist that can find a link between homosexuality specifically and addiction, as opposed to sexuality in general and addiction.
posted by mystyk at 1:45 PM on June 10, 2005


No television viewing, going to movies, or reading/watching/listening to secular media of any kind, anywhere within the client¹s and the parent¹s/guardian¹s control. This includes listening to classical or instrumental music that is not expressly Christian (Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian). The only exception to the media policy is the weekly movie.

Classical music that is not expressly christian? I mean as if the rest of that long list is not shockingly stupid enough... no non-christian classical music.

Speechless

*Turns on Bach*
posted by Duncan at 1:47 PM on June 10, 2005


3. No talking behind another person's back (TBB).
I'd like to nominate this for dumbest acronym ever.

Group Norms
1. Be honest, authentic, and real.

Isn't that exactly what the kids shipped off to straight camp in the first place?

And according to this article from their website you're a lesbian because you didn't receive "that much coveted security, love and affirmation from [your] mothers."
And now you have to assess the situation:

Assessment always precedes action. How do you see your mother? Does she have a “doormat” mentality which allows everyone to walk all over her? Do you respect her, or is your desire to be as different to her as possible? Have you rejected all that she stands for? Or does your mother come from a more dominant school of life? Is she the one who wears the pants in the house? In turn, have you embraced a scornful attitude towards men, emasculating them in their very sense of being? Perhaps you see your mother as a conniving manipulator. Have you felt exploited emotionally, physically or mentally in your relationship with your mother? Is fear of disclosure part of your life, anxious in case any information may be used against you?

That paragraph is fucking insane. "emasculating them in their very sense of being"? That's nuts. How can these people be so wacked out. I can't understand the mindset that would allow anyone to even entertain the above paragraph let alone actually believe it.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:47 PM on June 10, 2005


A friend of my daughter went through a similar experience. She has a lot of gay male friends, and she introduced two of them, thinking they'd make a good couple, and one boy's father overheard him on the phone with the other boy. The parents hired a private detective to figure out who the other kid was, took away their son's cell phone and all his privileges, tried to have him exorcised, and put him into therapy. The boy began to cut himself because he was so depressed. The therapist told him that since he identified as bisexual, the best course of action was to pretend that he's only interested in girls until he's out of the house, and then he can do what he wants.

It's a very sad situation, but I think the necessary lesson for gay and bi kids who have intolerant parents to learn is to lie and lead a double life. Those parents don't deserve to be a part of their children's lives, so the kids may as well go behind their backs.
posted by anapestic at 1:54 PM on June 10, 2005


What made my blood run cold (besides, of course, the entire program and camp itself):

Safekeeping Rules

1. All new Refuge clients will be placed into Safekeeping for the initial two to three days of their program. A client on safekeeping may not communicate verbally, or by using hand gestures or eye contact, with any other clients, staff members, or his/her parents or guardians. In case of a practical need, Safekeeping clients may write down their question or request and show it to another client, staff member, or their parent or guardian. Writing may only be used when absolutely necessary. Parents and guardians must enforce their child¹s safekeeping status at home or in their temporary lodging.

2. Refuge clients may C.O.C. to be removed from Safekeeping status. Safekeeping clients will be removed from Safekeeping at their staffworker¹s discretion.

3. Any client may be placed into Safekeeping at any time, at a staffworker¹s discretion.

4. Safekeeping clients are permitted to say ³hello² and to communicate enough information to be courteous in public interaction (mostly in the clients¹ church setting).

5. Safekeeping clients are required to spend a minimum of two hours (in one sitting) a day alone in their room (note: by ³alone² it is understood that parents or guardians can be in the room but are not to interact or disrupt the alone time of the safekeeping client). During the alone time Safekeeping clients may work on their treatment plans, read program materials or the Bible, pray, or work on other assignments from their staffworkers.
posted by ShawnStruck at 1:56 PM on June 10, 2005


This includes listening to classical or instrumental music that is not expressly Christian (Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian).

Not many people know that Bach's St. Matthew Passion was inspired by Hinduism.
posted by kenko at 1:57 PM on June 10, 2005


"classical or instrumental music that is not expressly Christian (Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian)"

You can't get much more expressly Christian than Handel's Messiah or Bach's St. Matthew Passion.

These people are not only cruel, they're really really stupid.
posted by GrammarMoses at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2005


(Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian)

What kind of a dumbass wouldn't consider Bach a "Christian" composer? The St. Matthew Passion isn't Christian? How about Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring? (Or is that too suggestive?)

On preview, jinx.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2005


Heh, kenko. I stand corrected.
posted by GrammarMoses at 1:59 PM on June 10, 2005


A couple of years ago, when a friend of mine came out to his parents as transgendered, his mother ordered videos, etc. from this place. Shudder. Fortunately, he got to go off to a happy, hippy college instead.

Oh, and Tweak? BJU is just incredible. A friend of mine lives near it, so I've been to the campus. They teach preschool through postgraduate students, and there are people living on campus who were born to BJU professors, grew up and got Ph.Ds there, and had kids of their own, never ever leaving the BJU millieu. It's creepy, creepy. Also, they have an internationally known collection of Renaissance devotional art, and the upper-level art students paint drapery over the naughty bits.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:59 PM on June 10, 2005


(Or is that too suggestive?)

You certainly can't listen to Air on the G String.
posted by kenko at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2005


Seriously fucked up.

Another day, another ruined life. hooray for America!
posted by delmoi at 2:11 PM on June 10, 2005


amberglow - I'm definitely going to check it out on the way home and tommorrow morning.

I don't know that it would be prudent for me to participate. I'd probably end up wanting to strangle everyone. The crackpot fundamentalist hate mongers running the hell hole and all the hippy liberal types protesting. I would certainly strangle the hate mongers first. (Truthfully, the hippy liberals only irritate me because I agree with them in a measure equal to when I disagree with them - sort like why Fox irritates me.)
posted by Carbolic at 2:13 PM on June 10, 2005


Well, at least this can only last untill he is no longer a teenager, in which case he can tell his parents to fuck off. Unlike the dude in texas who's going to be spending his entire life behind bars since he helped his GF have a misscarage since they couldn't get an abortion.
posted by delmoi at 2:13 PM on June 10, 2005


Trying to straighten out a kid by sending them to a camp full of other kids who are also borderline homosexuals? Great idea.

Yeah, I'm going to start a weight-loss camp at a fucking Ben and Jerry's.
posted by ColdChef at 2:13 PM on June 10, 2005


It would be just terrible if some amateur internet detective(s) found out his parents phone number or even where they work. If someone did do that and post it on a site like this other people might want to call them and in some light way give them a dose of their own medicine. Someone might even print it out and hand it out on little cards to pass out at all the gay pride events going on this month. Just terrible... I REALLY HOPE NO ONE DOES THIS.
posted by jasenlee at 2:14 PM on June 10, 2005


Because that would change their minds about the evil nature of homosexuals?
posted by ColdChef at 2:24 PM on June 10, 2005


What happens if you break the rules? Do you get kicked out? There's this:

No physical violence or physically threatening dialogue. Violation of this rule warrants immediate dismissal from the program.

Looks like an easy ticket out of there, if you can figure out what "physically threatening dialogue" means. A conversation between two "clients" that includes physical threats? Simultaneous physical threats by two clients towards a third?

Anyway, it seems like it would be relatively easy for an enterprising teenager to get himself kicked the fuck out of there....
posted by mr_roboto at 2:25 PM on June 10, 2005


I mean, don't get me wrong...Fuck them...fuck their twisted black hearts. But being shitty to them won't change their minds, it will only strengthen their resolve and give them ammunition. "See? See what these people are like?"
posted by ColdChef at 2:27 PM on June 10, 2005


That's pretty childish, jasenlee. I hope nobody does that, for real.

If I lived in Memphis, I'd be out there with signs every morning. I'd be calling my elected representatives at every level of government, and encouraging all my friends to do the same.

But prank calling this boy's parents is not going to make the situation better, since they'd be getting angry and probably abusive calls from random strangers who identify with, live or support GLBT issues. This will just firm their resolution that they're trying to do the best thing for their son.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 2:28 PM on June 10, 2005


I'll bet some of these kids forever hate their parents.
Just think of the tertiary money bs therapy like this generates in the future. I mean, it is the psychotherapy version of a bad mechanic... the more you try to 'fix' something, the more you have to get it 'fixed'.
This camp is headshakingly sick. I can't believe it really exists. Thought all this garbage was left in the 50s.
I wonder if they have an outreach program for lparents of keft handed children? What an absolutely bizarre program.

I'll bet some of these parents miss their kids in the future.
posted by buzzman at 2:30 PM on June 10, 2005


Oh god. As the mother of an 18 year old bisexual son, this makes my stomach turn. I wish I could somehow rescue the poor kid.... and I hope he survives this, that his parents don't forbid him from attending college, that he can grow up and live his life. Argh.
posted by jokeefe at 2:33 PM on June 10, 2005


Trying to straighten out a kid by sending them to a camp full of other kids who are also borderline homosexuals? Great idea.

That's why they're not allowed to talk to anyone else.

Also, have you seen Saved!? A guy in that movie gets shipped off to Gay Camp and... meets another boy. It was cute. Fortunately their Gay Camp wasn't nearly as evil as this one. This truly makes me sick.
posted by salad spork at 2:34 PM on June 10, 2005


Well - I do note that Refuge has a "contact us" webpage. Off to send them some of my thoughts regarding their program. And sending an e-mail message to Love In Action.
posted by ericb at 2:36 PM on June 10, 2005


Meh. Slow fingers + pontification == beaten to the punch.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 2:38 PM on June 10, 2005


*too angry to post*
posted by schyler523 at 2:40 PM on June 10, 2005


Due to the nature of many gender identity struggles, issues of enmeshment and emotional dependency can develop not only with same sex, but sometimes even more easily with the opposite sex. Because healthy and appropriate same and opposite-sex relationships are encouraged, dating and exclusive relationships of any kind are prohibited while in the program.

"Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." - Genesis 2:24

Uh-oh, sounds an awful lot like "enmeshment" to me...

LIA wants to encourage each client, male and female, by affirming his/her gender identity."...which we do by forcing you to accept the gender identity we assign you.

"These hindrances are called False Images (FI¹s). FI behavior may include hyper-masculinity, [...] mascoting, and "campy" or gay/lesbian behavior and talk."

Would someone like to fill me in on "mascoting"? And if they're trying to make people "affirm their gender identity" why is hyper-masculinity bad (I would think they would be trying to avoid "femininity")? And "campy" talk?! That's far from a homosexual-only occurrence, but then again, I guess sideburns past the top of the ear are, too. Do you think they forbid lisping? If so, do they have speach therapists or do they just beat the enunciation into them?

This is all just very very sad. And how must the counselors/owners/* feel if this is their idea of an "appropriate" world? Not that I'm concerned, just...flabbergasted. I mean, honestly...I can't even comprehend what their worldview must be like.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:40 PM on June 10, 2005


Anyway, it seems like it would be relatively easy for an enterprising teenager to get himself kicked the fuck out of there...

Yes, but then do what, mr. roboto? He's only 16. Where else can he go but home, where things are only going be worse now that's he flunked out of re-education camp?

Seriously getting upset here. I can understand that parents have a hard time dealing with the fact that children inevitably defy their expectations and become people that the parents have to learn to accept. Had my son decided to idolize Ayn Rand, take her as his role model for life, and then become a born-again fratboy bound for business school, I'd be working to understand his world view. But work at it I would.
posted by jokeefe at 2:45 PM on June 10, 2005


No ABBA, Erasure or show tunes. And you will not be watching those Tony awards either. Wait, does Godspell count? What about Jesus Christ Superstar? Oh, god, I'm so confused. I need to take a break from writing these rules. Put some Queen on the Walkman and take a nice leisurely stroll on Mapplethorpe St.

Look at all those fine young men in their leatherworking shop. Why, young Timothy there seems especially keen on metallurgy! Or was it guns? He kept asking about "gagues." Might need to get him up to speed on Jesus' Hunting Plan. I think that's in Luke. Or is it Corinthians? Damn it, I forget. "She's a killer - QUEEEEEEN..." No, wait, what Bible book was it? Damnit, I can't remember. I'm just going to sit right here in this shaded, secluded wooded knoll where no one can see me and just relax...God, I could reall use a bath...

posted by solistrato at 2:45 PM on June 10, 2005


Wow. I mean, just... wow.

If you have to be cruel to be kind, this Refuge has got to be the kindest place in the world.

posted by Mr Pointy at 2:47 PM on June 10, 2005


wow this is ridiculous. while it is absolutely absurd that this guy would get sent to such a place for nothing, the rest of you people getting your panties in knots about the draconian rules of the camp have obviously never been in any given mental institution"treatment facility."

it's not a christian-exclusive thing. this is how "treatment facilities" are run. it sucks.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2005


davy : I'm not convinced anybody's born gay, or straight for that matter, but that "choice" comes into it somehow;

It's attitudes like that, davy, which allow repugnant places like this to flourish. The idea that we choose a life of discrimination is not only laughable, it betrays an unconscious idea--I hope it's unconscious, anyway--that somehow gay people deserve the shit that gets piled on us, because after all, we chose to be that way. Seriously, did you wake up one day and decide you're attracted to women? Of course you didn't. I am sick and fucking tired of hearing mealymouthed people say "well maybe it's a choice." It is not. It categorically is not. Until you understand that, you are just as bad as the people who run these camps. < /derail>



This makes me sick. I would give this kid a home here, if I could get him across the border.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:50 PM on June 10, 2005


At least they don't take away the kids' Macs...

I keed, I keed
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:54 PM on June 10, 2005


Not many people know that Bach's St. Matthew Passion was inspired by Hinduism

Likewise, it's little-known out in the world that Michael Praetorius was Zoroastrian, or that the "Messiah" in Handel's work was actually Yog-Sothoth come to eat us all.

These parents will have some fun when their kids get to pick what homes to dump them into.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:55 PM on June 10, 2005


They've created the new American version of Moloch, and ancient Caananite idol to whom the Phonecians and others sacrificed their children:

Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved. - Rabbi Rashi.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:00 PM on June 10, 2005


:: prepares to smite "Christian" conversion therapists ::
posted by God Almighty at 3:02 PM on June 10, 2005


Hmm. Would a jury convict if, say, one were to decide to get evicted by kneeing anyone within striking distance in the nads? 'cos, I can't help feeling that would be strangely appropriate.

"Oh, I'm sorry, it hurts? Well, good! Those are sinful bits of flesh anyway! You should thank me!"

... maybe not.
posted by kaemaril at 3:05 PM on June 10, 2005


These parents will have some fun when their kids get to pick what homes to dump them into.

Revenge served coldest...hope these fuckers die of bedsores...slowly, in much pain...
posted by schyler523 at 3:07 PM on June 10, 2005


davy: did you choose to be sexually attracted to women? Did you look around you and make a conscious choice to be sexually attracted to the female of the species? Or are you, simply, undeniably, sexually attracted to women, period?

Imagine - that's *just what it's like* for gays, too.

On preview: Dammit, dirtynumbangelboy beat me to it. But hey, it's worth saying twice; maybe davy and those like him will think about it a little more.
posted by tzikeh at 3:08 PM on June 10, 2005


*shrugs*

You know, it's not like you ever see gay parents getting pissed that their kids went straight.

(Mind you, straight here.)
posted by effugas at 3:14 PM on June 10, 2005


From the insights gleaned from the Minnesota Twins study to the recent scientific study in which the switching of one single gene in a female fruit fly turned her gay, I believe that there is a biological cause for homosexuality. I knew from my childhood that I was gay. And what dirtynumbangelboy and tzikeh said.
posted by ericb at 3:17 PM on June 10, 2005


This thing has me spitting piss and vinegar - if it was in the UK, I'd be on a train down there tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, not having a voice with which to shout at the local representatives and not being able to contribute to the protests, I feel completely useless when it comes to getting places like this noticed and (hopefully) shut down. I just hope there' somewhere for him to go when he gets out of the re-education camp - I know very well that being dependent upon anti-homo parents is a dreadful situation to be in.
posted by terpsichoria at 3:18 PM on June 10, 2005


Want Your Kid to Disappear?

For $1,800, former Atlanta police officer Rick Strawn will make that problem child someone else's problem. He even makes house calls.
posted by mlis at 3:24 PM on June 10, 2005


"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or another."

-- President Bush, 2003
posted by digaman at 3:27 PM on June 10, 2005


I have a child who is gay, and perfect, and whom I love deeply and support with all my heart. A lot of other wonderful things also.

And I am with Davy. . I do not know if it is a choice or inherent. . .my guess would be that it is some of both.

Please do not paint Davy and I and people who think that way with the brush of homophobia. I read his post and I see nothing hateful or mean about it. Just someone with an open mind who has an opinion.

My take on it, is that it is nobody's business how one arrives at one's sexual preference(s), and saying "oh we can't help it" should not be necessary. It comes off as "we'd be staight if we could," or at least that is how *I* hear it.

My wife and I have a lot of lively discussions about this.
posted by Danf at 3:28 PM on June 10, 2005


Danf, did you wake up one morning and decide you were attracted to women?

Of course you didn't. Kindly stop being such a twit. Of all people, you should know better. You have a gay child. D'you think your kid just woke up one day and went "Gee, I have too easy a life. I'm going to decide to like [boys|girls], and embark on a life of being discriminated against, risk physical violence, lose some of my friends..."

Obviously not. Don't be so disingenuous. The only choice in the matter is whether we act on our desires or not.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:33 PM on June 10, 2005


All of us are brought up to be straight, and some of us turn out not to be, and we do think that when we're younger, Danf--"we'd be straight if we could" is very common, considering that the whole world is straight--especially for teens.

I'm beginning to think that all the kids coming out earlier (still in h.s.) is not such a good idea, esp. if they're legal minors.
posted by amberglow at 3:40 PM on June 10, 2005


Kindly stop being such a twit.

I see that this can't be a respectful conversation. Which is a shame. . .I have had this dialogue with gay friends and it always leads to unexpected places.

But I will not countenance being called names. . .
posted by Danf at 3:42 PM on June 10, 2005


wow this is ridiculous. while it is absolutely absurd that this guy would get sent to such a place for nothing, the rest of you people getting your panties in knots about the draconian rules of the camp have obviously never been in any given mental institution"treatment facility."

Not necessarily. If the kid were suicidal, delusional, or somehow a danger to himself or others, I don't think people would be complaining about the draconian rules of his treatment facility. Or maybe they would, I don't know. But I think the point here is the fact that he's being sent to a treatment facility for being gay. That seems to be the fundamental objection here.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:43 PM on June 10, 2005


schroedinger: Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

So, so sad. Where is the outrage?

This reminded me of a series in the Oregonian in 2003 (Lost in the Music) about a child prodigy (a cellist) whose parents drug him and have sent off to a Seventh Day Adventist indoctrination camp.
posted by mlis at 3:59 PM on June 10, 2005


Dirtynumb: Jesus, I realize that being gay has probably been pretty hard on you, you twit, but can you understand that sexual orientation isn't a simple genetic toggle? If it were, the Yanamamo, the Athenians and Spartans, the various Amazonian tribes that all have culturally sanctioned homosexuality wouldn't exist. And bisexuals wouldn't exist. As far as I can tell, based on the research that I've seen, human sexuality is incredibly complex and most people live on a continuum between the twin poles of homosexuality and heterosexuality.
So hey, I know that you may not have felt like you got a choice in the matter, and you may even feel like you got a raw deal, what with only being able to get off fucking men and all, but just like you castigated Dan, you should realize that your experience is not the mold from which all homosexual encounters are struck.
posted by klangklangston at 4:00 PM on June 10, 2005


He's not just as bad as the people who run those camps. He's not going out and inflicting his views on people via what looks for all the world like documented and verified psychological torture. (Well, at least we don't know that he is).

I don't think it is a choice to be homosexual or not, but I'm pretty sure it is a choice to claim to be. And you're right, why would anybody choose a life like that, it doesn't make much sense. But I've not ever heard of people making sense before, so I don't think it will start now.

I don't blame you for blowing up when the word choice appeared in here but, well, I don't like this factioning.

The thing that always drove me crazy was, why isn't it ok not to be sure? I really don't think people make a choice, a single choice or even a choice by degrees, of their sexual preference. But I also doubt that it is that case that every person who claims to have a any orientation actually even is correct. They are eventually going to have to make a choice about whether or not to talk about how they feel, or

People that come out put a mark on themselves that doesn't come off. And the horrible stigma is what really has to change. We can't have this perverted obsession with the sexuality of others, that's the disgusting thing here that needs to be purged. But I don't see it happening right now, and so I have to wonder what the best path to take is if for a person who is not sure. Is it going to be ok, in a few years, for that person to say, "Oh, wait, I was wrong, I'm straight after all!" I wonder what will happen if they ever try to run for public office.

This isn't all that I wanted to say on the subject, and I'm sure this isn't well thought out enough, and that I'm going to be pretty flamed. It just always seemed to me that neither group has room for actual, fallible, human beings.

(Also, apparently "factioning" isn't a word, but you can guess what I meant).
posted by SomeOneElse at 4:01 PM on June 10, 2005


This is just sick. The worst part is that it really comes out of love, at least in many cases. These parents actually think they are doing the right thing for their kids, yet they are harming them beyond almost any harm society could dole out. How tragic.
posted by caddis at 4:06 PM on June 10, 2005


If the kid were suicidal, delusional, or a danger to himself or others I don't think emotional manipulation and isolation would be the way to help him.

I think I understand where Danf and Davy are coming from--even if, for whatever highly, highly unlikely reason it turns out there is some choice to homosexuality, it doesn't matter because what two consenting adults do with each other is their business and no one else's. So believing homosexuality is a choice is not necessarily homophobic if you think people should be able to live their lives how they please if it isn't harmful to others or themselves.

Hopefully this kid's parents don't decide to stick him in the six-week program.

People like this, it's infuriating. They shouldn't be parents.
posted by schroedinger at 4:08 PM on June 10, 2005


The irony is, there is no god.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:13 PM on June 10, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "At least they don't take away the kids' Macs..."

Haven't you heard, it has been all over the place. Jobs have just decided to straighten the Macs up.
posted by nkyad at 4:17 PM on June 10, 2005


My blood is boiling. I spent ten minutes trying to compose a letter at the above "contact" link... and gave up when I edited out the profanity and realized I didn't have anything else in there.

Can we put together a posse and rescue these kids?
posted by cmyk at 4:26 PM on June 10, 2005


Utterly heartbreaking. I wonder if he can't, at age 16, be legally emancipated from his hateful parents? Or if there isn't a Covenant House type shelter he can escape to? (I know I should RTFA but I hate to cry at work)
posted by Space Kitty at 4:28 PM on June 10, 2005


I think, for people who live at either of the extreme ends of the Kinsey scale, dirtynumbangelboy is absolutely right-- sexual preference is not a choice. For those of us closer to the middle (me for instance) there's definitely an element of choice. I didn't choose to be bisexual, obviously, but I do chose who I'm with on a day-to-day basis, and I -could- choose to be exclusively with people of one gender, if I wanted to. (In fact, since I'm monogamously married, I suppose I pretty much have.)

I believe it's important that we not predicate the fight for recognition and rights on the idea that sexual preference and sexual identity are engraved, at birth, in stone. That seems to lead the icky people to believe that, but for (what they percieve as) our inborn defects, we'd happily fall into step with the mainstream. And that, in turn, opens the door for icky people like Love In Action to look for ways to "cure" us.

Better, I think, to say that whether it's innate, whether it's learned, our whether it's a combination of the two, it's not wrong, it doesn't lessen our goodness, our competence, or our humanity, and that we deserve the same rights and the same level of dignity that anyone else has.

And, FYI to dirtynumbangelboy-- insulting allies is a sucky thing to do, even if you don't agree with them. It's possible to educate without making ad hominem attacks. Kindly stop being such a twit your own darn self.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:39 PM on June 10, 2005


The worst part is that it really comes out of love, at least in many cases. These parents actually think they are doing the right thing for their kids, yet they are harming them beyond almost any harm society could dole out. How tragic.

"Mercy House doesn’t exist for the people who are sent there, it exists for the people doing the sending."
--Saved!
posted by idontlikewords at 4:41 PM on June 10, 2005


The worst part is that it really comes out of love, at least in many cases.

That's what they'd like you (and themselves) to think, but it just ain't true, at least according to their own sacred text:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. - 1 John 4:18-19

The kid's parents are acting out of fear, not love.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:44 PM on June 10, 2005


Strikes me that an argument could be made for child abuse. Might be a weak argument, but it might potentially get you to the court house ... where you can make a break for it, to be hidden by the secret gay network that's destroying America...

Or, you know, not. But seriously, speaking as a UK-ite, this does sound like abuse. Would a court countenance a kid being, for the sake of argument, abducted by a cult and subjected to this sort of environment? I thought the standard was "in the best interest of the child", so why should it be any less damaging to the child just because it's been arranged by the parents?
posted by kaemaril at 4:45 PM on June 10, 2005


And you missed the point entirely. You don't choose your desire. You choose the mode of expression thereof.

For the record, I don't feel I got a raw deal. I'm quite happy being who I am. But I didn't choose to be, any more than I chose to have brown hair. What I did choose was whether or not to act on my desires, whether or not to be open about it, and so forth. Y'all are mistaking behaviour (which is chosen) for drive (which is not).

For those of you who do think it's a choice (99.9999% of whom, in my experience, are straight) I would like you, please, to explain to me exactly how you decided to be attracted to the opposite gender. Not how you decided to act on it; how you decided that the opposite gender gets you hard or wet, depending. How you chose to have heterosexual desires.+
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:46 PM on June 10, 2005


What I find surreal about the whole thing is their grooming standards. It seems strange that the mark of the godly is for men to be clean shaven and for women to shave their armpits. Does it never occur to them that it might be more more godly to appear as god made you?

And this confused me:
Men may not wear any jewelry (other than a watch and a wedding band) unless approved through a C.O.C. In addition to a watch and wedding band, women may also wear a pair of simple earrings

What's all this wedding band stuff? Is this dress code enforced on the parents and the staff as well as the kids? Or are there a lot of wives and husbands sent by their spouses to be reeducated?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:47 PM on June 10, 2005


And while I agree that TBB for Talking Behind Back is a totally dumb acronym, I wonder about the logic of continually referring to Chain of Command as "C.O.C" at an anti-gay camp. I'm sure they pronounce it "See Oh See" but it's still kind of amusing to see it in all the rules. Much like when my former boss handed out a list of work rules in which he had hastily Find & Replaced all instances of Manager with "Member" (since it was an LLC or something like that) So you'd be reading through and it would say, "All visitors to the office must check with The Member before entering. Consult with The Member if any unforseen circumstances should arise." In retrospect, I suppose that second one is pretty good advice. =)
posted by idontlikewords at 4:54 PM on June 10, 2005


I hope this kid is okay.

I was surprised when I read this, not so much because of teh Gay angle (which is awful, but not surprising these days) but because a girl I knew when I was fourteen got sent to a place just like this to "cure" her depression, and they had very similar rules. You know, there's nothing quite like isolation and not being allowed to talk to make kids feel less depressed.

Sigh.

I -really- hope the kid is okay.
posted by davejay at 5:05 PM on June 10, 2005


dirtynumbangelboy, you're wasting your time.
posted by AlexReynolds at 5:17 PM on June 10, 2005


I think the word 'choice' is a bad, er, choice concerning this debate. I think perhaps the debate is more of the old classic 'nature vs. nurture' variety (unless the aforementioned posters really do mean a clear, direct and conscious choice in which case nevermind =P). And in this vein I'm not so sure the answer is clear. I mean, dirtynumbangelboy, do you know WHY you act like you do? I'm not talking about sexual orientation. I mean your personality and personal tastes and whatnot. Are you convinced that those things are completely determined by genes?

This is a sincere question. Because I'm not convinced, and, thus, the I have to wonder if sexual preference is not also affected (perhaps only slightly) by outside factors (not genes). We already know that sexual preference isn't black and white, but really on more of a spectrum for a lot of people (as another poster already mentioned). It wouldn't surprise me if the origins of sexual preference were also muddled. In any case, I think there is still a lot of room for debate here and it's not that clearcut.

Disclaimer: I also would like to note that no matter the basis for sexual orientation it SHOULD NOT matter on a social level. Homosexual, heterosexual, we're all human beings just trying to find some happiness.
posted by Stauf at 5:39 PM on June 10, 2005


dirtynumgangleboy: Unless I completely misread his post, palmcorder_yajna is saying that his basic desire is bisexual, and research like the Kinsey scale supports the assertion that a broad spectrum of basic sexual desires exists. So, yeah, you don't choose your desire, but your desire isn't necessarily strictly heterosexual or homosexual. You really seem to be saying that it has to be one or the other. Byrne Fone's book Homophobia: A History argues that the strict delineation of sexuality into homosexuality and heterosexuality is relatively new, a product of the 19th century. From the little history and anthropology I've had, I know that in civilizations like ancient Greece homosexuality was widely practiced in conjunction with heterosexuality by the male population , and that there are still tribal societies in Africa that use homosexuality as a bonding tool among adolescents warriors and their older counterparts. I don't buy the 1/0 binary view of sexuality.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 5:43 PM on June 10, 2005


Where on earth did you get the idea that I was saying bisexuality doesn't exist? All I said was that we don't choose or desires. For simplicity's sake, I framed in gay/straight terms, since bisexuality is included there by implication.

I'm still waiting for someone to explain how they chose to be attracted to whatever they're attracted to.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:59 PM on June 10, 2005


The irony is, there is no god.

:: smites Pretty_Generic ::
posted by God Almighty at 6:25 PM on June 10, 2005


it's not a christian-exclusive thing. this is how "treatment facilities" are run.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 2:48 PM PST on June 10

I guess the irony of this issue, from a Christian perspective, is that so-called Christians profess themselves to be loving, caring individuals, when the hypocrites themselves are running "re-education" or "treatment" centers.

I'm not about to invoke Godwin here, but to see the need for euphemisms in something the "Christians" are doing, is, well... unnerving.
posted by Tlahtolli at 6:34 PM on June 10, 2005


I just realized something...

What is "Christians," as I used it in my post, a euphemism for?
posted by Tlahtolli at 6:36 PM on June 10, 2005


MLIS writes "The US Attorney should be looking into this place."


I'm sure they are -- to make sure they get a generous dollop of "Faith-based Initiatives" funding.
posted by orthogonality at 6:40 PM on June 10, 2005


My boyfriend, who is straight, always says that people who claim there is a choice to be gay or not must themselves all be at least slightly bisexual, because he certainly had no choice about finding women attractive and men really not so.

As someone attracted at times to both genders, I guess I have had a choice, but I never really felt like I chose to occasionally find women attractive (though not all). It was like liking chocolate, but not like pistachio. It just is. I'm just so very lucky that no one seemed to mind that I liked chocolate and vanilla and chunky monkey. But not pistachio - I hate that icecream. Other people are free to eat pistachio, so long as they don't make me.

Back to the link at hand - the rules are somewhat crazy. What's wrong with sports bras? They are extremely comfortable, especially for women who may not have so much to hold up; you might not own any other kinds. And shaving your legs is so not godly. Really religious people shouldn't pay attention to such meaningless corporeal things, and wear sackcloth and let all their hair grow. Maybe live off locusts and honey or something.

But not while listening to that godless classical music... half of which was written for church services. Maybe they are just still upset at the death of polyphony, or the setting of psalms to secular tunes.
posted by jb at 6:43 PM on June 10, 2005


Jb, I think everything will fall into its place once you let go of your assumption that these people are sane.
posted by c13 at 7:00 PM on June 10, 2005


Carbolic writes "Holy shit! This place is 2.4 miles from my house! "

Maybe we could send you some cash, and you could buy bus tickets for San Francisco and cache them with some trail mix, a couple of twenties, and a change of clothes outside the camp.


Duncan writes "(Beethoven, Bach, etc. are not considered Christian)"

The B Minor Mass and the St. John's Passion aren't Christian? Lovely, they've covered all the Jesus-era bases: the Christian Zealots are Philistines.


As far as whether sexual orientation is chosen -- my suspicion is that it's not, except in special cases of scarcity (sailing ships, prisons) -- but whether or not it is, I don't think it matters, or should matter, when the issue is how people are treated.

Homosexuality may be natural (and again, I think the preponderance of the evidence shows that it is). But rape is -- apparently -- natural too, as are infanticide, cannibalism, and biological differences between the sexes. Being natural doesn't make something good, or bad, it just makes it what is.

Certain things -- such as sexual orientation, religious belief (or lack thereof), political belief -- these should be considered basic human rights, so basic that in an ideal society, we wouldn't let even parents dictate them. These things should be basic rights not because they are natural, but because they are the core of individuality and human dignity, because no man should be allowed to dictate another man's innermost beliefs and conscience.
posted by orthogonality at 7:06 PM on June 10, 2005


Orthogonality, but what if your religious belief includes subverting others to your point of view? Because, you know, that's basically the problem we're talking about in this, and other, threads...
posted by c13 at 7:22 PM on June 10, 2005


c13: This isn't really to your point, but I just want to say I'm a Christian and people calling themselves Christian are using my belief system to do un-Christian-like things. I'm going to have to start calling myself something else, I think, because if those Philistines, like orthogonality calls them, call themselves Christian, I sure don't want to be lumped in with them. I like Chopin, for pete's sake. Don't tell me that's the devil's music now. I'm just gonna say I believe in Jesus, that's all.
posted by Tlahtolli at 8:17 PM on June 10, 2005


Harry Morgan: Agreed. There is a big difference between fundie wackos and mainline Protestants. It would be nice to see the local Episcopalian church get involved in the protests (maybe they are, I don't know).
posted by mlis at 8:32 PM on June 10, 2005


My god, this story makes me want to start an underground railroad for these kids to get them some place safe.
posted by dejah420 at 8:39 PM on June 10, 2005


The US Attorney should be looking into this place.

what, his kid is gay too?!?!?!
posted by quonsar at 8:41 PM on June 10, 2005


This is why no credible medical texts exist that can find a link between homosexuality specifically and addiction, as opposed to sexuality in general and addiction.

I never said there was or that I thought there would be. Not even for those who wank to New Age poetry in med school libraries.

By the way, I got a much better reaction when I told my parents I was bisexual: Mom started started going on about "I didn't raise you to be gay! I tried to be a GOOD mother! This is Christian home!" (etc. etc.), Dad told her to hush and think things over before saying any more; then Dad asked me how I knew, I said from desire and experience, he established that no old men had been "corrupting" me unfairly, then he told me I'm still his son, that I don't have to fear any "punishment" from him, that he'll stay out of my sex life as long as it seems like I have some idea what I'm doing, and he hopes I'll be happy. (Of course this conversation took nearly an hour, it's not like he'd prepared an "I love my live gay son!" speech just in case.) I think I was pretty lucky for a 13 year old son of a Methodist lay preacher. (And MLS, I thought my folks were fundy wackos back in the '70s -- till I met real fanatics to compare them to.)

And I wish I could have been as cogent as orthogonality about the human rights involved. Gender-specificity in the last paragraph aside, that is.

And c13, don't all ideologies like that -- religion, politics, whatever -- include "subverting others to your point of view" one way or another? I myself have been advised to consider the impact of any revolution on those who are not suited to its mindset. I draw the line at punishing people for "thought crime", which seems to be the problem at "Refuge".

To dirtynumbangelboy's "I'm still waiting for someone to explain how they chose to be attracted to whatever they're attracted to", all I can say is "that's a 'mystery' that we don't need to 'solve". What would be the likely outcome of such an answer anyway except more effort to "de-gay" people? I myself don't think it's (usually) a conscious thought-out kind of choice, though I hesitate to use the words "unconscious" or "subconscious" because of the Freudian baggage involved; some parts of some people's "sexual identities" do seem fully conscious though, like it seems some people think "I like other guys therefore I must like disco music".
posted by davy at 8:48 PM on June 10, 2005


With all due respect, Harry Morgan, and I do mean it, Christianity has existed for much longer than you have, so it is somewhat inappropriate to call it *your* belief system. And people have been using it to do pretty terrible things all along.
But then, of course, Jesus himself said not to "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you". If it was only possible to separate him from the rest of the Bible...

On preview: davy, yes, all ideologies *like that* probably do.
And to add to your reply to dirtynumbangelboy, why do these things have to be explained to begin with? Specifically, why does one have to explaing and justify to others what he or she is attracted to and why?
posted by c13 at 8:58 PM on June 10, 2005


What would be the likely outcome of such an answer anyway except more effort to "de-gay" people?
It's exactly because we don't choose who makes our hearts beat faster that this punishment is happening to this kid, and has been happening for decades (it used to be electroshock treatment in the 50s and 60s and then it was therapy....). It's not about choice because that's already been established--no hetero person chose to be excited when Janie was around--it just was.

If it was a choice there wouldn't be places like where they sent that kid. If it was a choice there wouldn't have been any stigma or laws or attempts to change the Constitution. If it was a choice there wouldn't be any attempts at all to fight it--from books in school libraries to what the Texas Gov. just said. If it really was choice you wouldn't find Mary Cheney or Candice Gingrich or Phyllis Schafly or Allan Keyes' kids coming out. It's not choice--the fundies and the right wing understand that it's not choice. It's sad that other people don't.
posted by amberglow at 9:05 PM on June 10, 2005


It's easy for bisexuals to say it's choice. It's delusional for heterosexuals and homosexuals to say it's choice. Either some people cause a physical response or they don't.

It has to be explained, c13, because heterosexuals don't even ever ever have to think about it--the whole society is set up to cater to them. It's when your desires and your heart and body don't match that of the larger society that you finally realize that choice has nothing to do with it, or we'd all be straight.
posted by amberglow at 9:09 PM on June 10, 2005


Well I'm waiting for you to explain why simply holding a bad or scientifically inaccurate opinion is as bad as running re-education camps to force that opinion on others. That is the problem most cogent people have with what you said.
posted by SomeOneElse at 9:18 PM on June 10, 2005


Can I take a time out from the pointless "choice/no choice" debate to point out: what about the "counselors"? Grown men and women, spending weeks locked up with underage gay children, whose responsibilities include full body searches and underwear inspection?
posted by signal at 9:20 PM on June 10, 2005


Sunlight is the best disinfectant. This place needs an investigation. What do the former "residents" have to say? What's backround investigation on all staff, management and financial partners turn up?

What's the financial history of the property? Have there been lawsuits? You get the drill...

These guys sound perfectly ripe for being opened up so they look like a big red canoe.

I highly reccommend the IRE Handbook.
posted by warbaby at 9:25 PM on June 10, 2005


Amberglow, of course the whole society is set up to cater to heterosexuals. We as species can only increase in numbers (or maintain any given one) due to them, not homosexuals or celibate. It is not surprising then that we as a society should want to "encourage" heterosexuality. What I wonder, though, is how do you go from such a population biology level, so to speak, to interactions between individuals. Presumably, I, as a heterosexual, should be totally fine with homosexual males or priests, as it would decrease the amount of people I have to compete with for the attentions of some hot chick.
posted by c13 at 9:48 PM on June 10, 2005


Boxer shorts of any kind are considered underwear and are not to be worn as outer clothing.

At least they got that one right.
posted by sour cream at 10:23 PM on June 10, 2005


c13 writes "We as species can only increase in numbers (or maintain any given one) due to them, not homosexuals or celibate."

Not necessarily: there's some evidence that genes that lead to homosexuality in men lead to earlier and increased fertility in women. Hypothetically, a gene that increased fertility in younger women and kept their older brothers gay and progeny-free might out-produce an alternative allele of the gene that "caused" both men and women to be heterosexual, but less fertile.
posted by orthogonality at 10:24 PM on June 10, 2005


And what about the genes that lead to homosexuality in women?
posted by c13 at 10:34 PM on June 10, 2005


Hopefully something legal can be done about the specific tactics of this sort of place. Unfortunately, things being what they are, I don't think you can do anything about parents having the right to try and "cure" their children of being gay. I frankly think the quote Amberglow pointed out where the director stated he would rather these children commit suicide than leave the program intending to retain their true identities should be legally actionable.

Sadly the best advice that can probably be given to children of parents with these predjudices and false beliefs is to not take the chance and just not come out to their parents. Any child unfortunate enough to fall afoul of this sort of program would probably do best to fake it, get out, and keep their heads down until they turn 18. It makes me feel sick to say that but I think it is likely their best bet for remaining free of this kind of sick ideological abuse by adults until the law frees them to be their own people. If I were one of these kids I would never speak to my parents again.

You wonder how many kids run away from home and into God knows what because this kind of oppression at home. Unto one of the least of my brethern indeed.
posted by nanojath at 10:35 PM on June 10, 2005


c13 writes "And what about the genes that lead to homosexuality in women?"

Useful, and thus conserved, in situations of poverty or famine where children are more likely to survive to maturity with a childless gay aunt providing extra food and care.

If a women needs two copies of this hypothetical "gay gene" to become gay, given that her sisters on average share one-half of her genes, one-quarter of her nieces will, like their mothers, carry a single copy of the "gay gene". If the nieces mate with a male carriers, one-quarter oftheir, the nieces' children, will have two copies of the gay gene and be gay.
posted by orthogonality at 10:51 PM on June 10, 2005


Incidentally, all the talk about how the "gay gene" perpetuates itself in society is speculative nonsense with no basis in evolutionary science. This kind of thing is radically complicated and we don't even begin to understand it.
posted by nanojath at 10:56 PM on June 10, 2005


Other than the fact that it gives some people a justification for engaging in the kind of "treatment" being forced upon this young man why does it matter whether it is a choice or not?

Even if it is a choice why should anyone be able to dictate the choice an individual makes or discriminate against them based upon that choice?
posted by Carbolic at 11:04 PM on June 10, 2005


With two assumptions, of course. The first being that a childless aunt will care enough to expend her limited supply of food and care on someone else' child. And the second being that homosexuality is determined by a single recessive allele.

Nanojath, just because you haven't begun to understand it, doesn't mean that noone else hasn't made any progress. While I agree with you in that we know very little, I think your argument would be stronger if you produced some kind of reasons why you think that the literature on the subject is just "speculative nonsense".

Even if it is a choice why should anyone be able to dictate the choice an individual makes or discriminate against them based upon that choice?

They want grandkids?
posted by c13 at 11:10 PM on June 10, 2005


So, has anyone else been scanning this thread to find the point where the real fundie trolls turn up?

Shit I miss 111.

posted by Jimbob at 11:28 PM on June 10, 2005


Not necessarily. If the kid were suicidal, delusional, or somehow a danger to himself or others, I don't think people would be complaining about the draconian rules of his treatment facility. Or maybe they would, I don't know. But I think the point here is the fact that he's being sent to a treatment facility for being gay. That seems to be the fundamental objection here.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:43 PM PST on June 10 [!]



right, that was my point--it's ridiculous to send this kid to the facility simply because he is gay.

but as for my second point concerning the rules of the camp, while i was an inpatient at a similar treatment facility on two occasions, i bunked with
- psychotic cocaine/crank addicts in withdrawal,
- suicidal homosexuals,
- runaways,
- kids who assaulted parents and police officers alike,
- a kid with cerebral palsy who tried to kill himself by driving his electric wheelchair onto the freeway,
- kids who mutilated themselves,
- a 12-year old nymphomaniac,
- and so forth.

i suspect this camp is composed of a similar mixture of misfits. the same ridiculous set of rules applied to all of us, such as the "no talking" rule. no communication unless an "MHT" (mental health technician?) was present. the reason for being was that (a) they feared we would plan a revolt and try to escape, (b) they didn't want us telling drug stories or talking about suicide plans for fear of spreading ideas or encouraging negative behavior, (c) they didn't want us sharing contact information for meetups outside the facility.

the "no hugging/physical contact" rule was in place to be mindful of victims of sex abuse who may react negatively to acts of intimacy. furthermore it could be considered a sexually charged act, which, in the case of the aforementioned nymphomaniac could have negative behavioral effects.

there were a bunch of other rules too, but it's been forever since i've had to worry about them, so i forget most of them.

what was amusing was that we were provided felt-tip pens for all writing purposes, but me and the cerebral palsy kid kept eating the ink from the pens to find out if they were really non-toxic, which is what the counselors claimed. the ink tasted like sugar water, but the only side effect i experienced was blue diarrhea.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 11:43 PM on June 10, 2005


A kid in the USA is being sent to a privately-run re-education camp by his parents? Holy fucking crap. I never knew there were places you could pay to ship your kid off to, where he'd be treated like a prisoner of war (pre-Rumsfeld, mind you). No eye contact? No outside communication? No touching other human beings? This all sounds like so much brainwashing technique. Break the spirit, instill suspicion, create fear of everybody who is not an authority figure within the cult/prison/camp. This is terrifying stuff to me. The idea of a private company who will "break" your kid to your will (for a fee)... that's gotta be the most disgusting form of outsourcing I've ever heard of.
posted by BoringPostcards at 11:51 PM on June 10, 2005


For those interested in looking at the legal implications of these kind of "reparative" camps, I came across these articles on Lexis. Sorry, not sure whether they're available freely:

Karolyn Ann Hicks, COMMENT: "REPARATIVE" THERAPY: WHETHER PARENTAL ATTEMPTS TO CHANGE A CHILD'S SEXUAL ORIENTATION CAN LEGALLY CONSTITUTE CHILD ABUSE, 49 Am. U.L. Rev. 505 (1999).

John Alan Cohan, Parental Duties and the Right of Homosexual Minors to Refuse "Reparative" Therapy, 11 Buff. Women's L.J. 67 (2002).

I'm interested to see what the ACLU does with this, in addition to the child abuse claims, some of the rules for this organization seem to amount to a kind of imprisonment. I doubt you could get a court ruling outlawing these facilities, but I think you could probably go after some of these particular policies.

Sad sad stuff - hope the kid is okay.
posted by buddha9090 at 11:57 PM on June 10, 2005


Here is a LiveJournal with pictures from Day 2 of the ongoing protest outside Refuge in Memphis by area high school kids supporting the detainee. Some great shots of sensible kids, some of whom I know, who have never been particularly political, but to whom the situation was polarizing enough that they felt they had no choice but to take their concerns to the streets.
posted by paulsc at 11:58 PM on June 10, 2005


ziggy zaga: i suspect this camp is composed of a similar mixture of misfits.


Uh, no. The 'misfits' of which you speak were mentally ill people who needed help. The kids at these 're-education' camps are gay. Some of them may need mental help of one sort or another... and I'd be willing to wager that the majority of those who do need it to deal with issues from their bigoted parents.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:15 AM on June 11, 2005


in all seriousness, these rules would be acceptable to bin laden's theology
posted by quarsan at 12:51 AM on June 11, 2005


dirtynumb: The center advertises itself as treating all manner of addictions. It isn't homosexual to hetero only. Seems to equate homosexuality with drug. sex, pornography addiction.

I drove by this evening and it doesn't appear to be residential. Last time I noticed (years ago) it was an Episcopal Church. Even if their theories are correct I wonder how they can expect their treatment to work if they don't have 24 hr. control over their subjects.
posted by Carbolic at 12:52 AM on June 11, 2005


Just to be clear. I don't think their theories are correct.
posted by Carbolic at 1:24 AM on June 11, 2005


I'd like to share a more humorous story of fundy repsonse to "teh gay." I've been out as "queer" (if you want to get reeaaallllyyyy technical, I'm bisexual as I'm married to man. However, until I met my current husband, I was primarily attracted to women - I've been scored as a 4.8 out of 6 on the Kinsey scale. I still have plenty of crushes on ladies.) since I was 14. My mother has never had a problem with this - her brother is gay and she's always been very supportive. Her response when I "came out" to her at age 16 - "At least you're not a Republican."

My father, on the other hand, is a mental case. He's a fundamentalist wacko Christian, but I really believe that in his case, it's a cover for mental illness. I told him at least fourteen bazillion times during high school that I was queer, but I guess he ignored that. One day when I was home on break from college, he took me out to dinner for the purposes of staging an intervention on the grounds that God had called him on the phone to tell him that I was gay.

Apparently, my wacko hippie college was to blame for the problem and the solution clearly would be for me to transfer to an all-girls' school. Not just any all-girls' school, but one that was only fifteen minutes away from my girlfriend at the time. I never understood how this was supposed to work out.

Lucky for my father, I ended up married to a guy, so he can think I'm straight all he likes and does not have to explode thinking about me being possessed by the devil.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:42 AM on June 11, 2005


grapefruitmoon - "At least you're not a Republican."

And, of course, if you were your parents would be legally entitled to ship you off to a democrat re-education centre... :)
posted by kaemaril at 4:55 AM on June 11, 2005


With two assumptions, of course. The first being that a childless aunt will care enough to expend her limited supply of food and care on someone else' child.

Well, but if she has no child of her own, then her neice/nephew would be carrying 25% of the same genes as she on average, and that would be motivation to care for the child (in an evolutionary sense). My son's aunts dote on him, even the ones with children of their own.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:13 AM on June 11, 2005


I guess I'm strange for not having any particular problems with that dress code. It's more lenient than what we have at work.
posted by sachinag at 5:34 AM on June 11, 2005


davy: some parts of some people's "sexual identities" do seem fully conscious though, like it seems some people think "I like other guys therefore I must like disco music".

I think you are mixing up sexual orientation (generally the preferred term) with gay culture and your argument falls flat on it's face here. I know years of culturally stereotyping have probably drilled this into you, but it is possible to be gay and not like disco.

You also note that the "choice" in this case might no be concious, in which case I would argue that a choice can only be made conciously.

I do agree that research in this area does not uncover anything meaningful but I do not necessarily believe the research is fruitless.

I also noticed you side-stepped the question on whether you chose to be straight: do you believe you choose to be a heterosexual?
posted by axon at 6:08 AM on June 11, 2005


I think the "choice" issue is getting a bit confused here. No one claims that sexual orientation is a choice in the sense of 'should I have eggs or pancakes for breakfast' - if that were the claim of these folks, they wouldn't need reeducation centers. Their position is that sexual orientation can be changed, that it's affected by lifestyle, behavior, attitude, environment, blah dee blah. Their position is seriously undermined by the phenomenally low success rates of programs like this.

However, that doesn't mean that the position that sexual orientation can sometimes be malleable is evil. For some people it almost certainly is affected by factors other than dna. As others have pointed out, in many cultures homosexual 'play' is part of male bonding. Do they just have a higher rate of bisexual genes? Or are the cultures structured to encourage variant interpretations & responses to certain impulses?

Some people have more absolute sexual identities than others, but living in a culture that expects absolute sexual identities probably strengthens this tendency to start with. if you lived in a culture where you were expected to have a wife and family, and also a beautiful boy as a lover /student, you might just categorize things differently.
posted by mdn at 6:33 AM on June 11, 2005


As terrifying as Refuge is, the institution that "accredited" them (Can you get accreditation for hate?) is even more frightening. They are well-organized and active. No surprise that they're connected to Focus on the Family.
posted by papercake at 6:47 AM on June 11, 2005


Avatars have to be the stupidest thing on the net.
posted by mischief at 6:49 AM on June 11, 2005


My heart goes out to Zach. I too was rejected by my family when I was in high school and they (correctly) suspected that I was gay. It made me stronger, it made it much easier for me to appreciate the freedom to work and live on my own. I found that there are many people who will love you for who you are. In my case my parents and sister eventually came to accept me which is amazing and wonderful - but they had to, because I would have been fine with never seeing them again. I hope Zach stays resolute, and strong and finds the support and love he needs. It is tragic his parents think he is broken and needs fixed.
posted by Cincinnati_Craig at 7:12 AM on June 11, 2005


mdn: I think the "choice" issue is getting a bit confused here. No one claims that sexual orientation is a choice in the sense of 'should I have eggs or pancakes for breakfast

It depends on how you define "choice" - most people (myself included) would read choice as "concious choice" which is where the problem starts. I'm not sure you can really call an unconcious choice a "choice" - I can't really help my unconcious "decisions".

I also dispute that "No one claims that sexual orientation is a choice" - there are a few people out there who do sincerely believe this and it's not a strawman to claim so.

However, that doesn't mean that the position that sexual orientation can sometimes be malleable is evil.

I don' think the position is "evil" - my main problem is that it is wrong and there is no evidence to back it up.
posted by axon at 7:24 AM on June 11, 2005


That dress code is so weird. Why do girls have to shave their armpits if they can't wear sleeveless tops? Is there some overseer whose job it is to be the armpit police?

Man, I would NOT want that job.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:50 AM on June 11, 2005


Has anyone thought about opening their own reeducation camp ostensibly dedicated to straightening out only the most intractable, defiant gay teens? I'm thinking that you could charge the parents thousands of dollars for a 12-week inpatient program. You could then actually run the thing as a series of seminars on how to fake out their nazi parents until they're 18 and staying sane in the mean time. It could also be a dating service. The whole thing would be under therapist-patient confidentiality anyway, so you'd be good. You'd be rich and doing a service.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:59 AM on June 11, 2005


LittleMissCranky : I think, technically, if so much as one patient blabbed you're looking at fraud since you're supposed to be "straightening out" ... however, if you were to word it carefully - maybe omething along the lines of "centre dedicated to guiding troubled teens who think they're gay into making the right choices in life" you'd probably be golden. Warning: IANAL (how appropriate is that acronym to this thread...?)

:)
posted by kaemaril at 8:29 AM on June 11, 2005


d'oh. omething=something.
posted by kaemaril at 8:30 AM on June 11, 2005


Are the kids in this internment camp held under lock-and-key? Can the guards physically restrain (legally) a kid who tried to leave? If not, someone should setup a loud-speaker outside the camp and yell, "You can leave...they can't stop you!"

There might be a problem of where to go once you escape, but the kid in this case would be able to stay with those who are protesting his imprisonment.

All because of a religious delusion, these parents have destroyed their relationship with their child. How utterly pointless...
posted by jsonic at 8:45 AM on June 11, 2005


I'm a bit confused as to why the choice or no choice debate somehow hinges on the existence of genetic factors, when there's fairly good evidence that prenatal factors such as hormone levels can affect sexual orientation. I also don't really see the point of worrying about rather or not it's an adaptive trait, it's one that's obviously real and stable.

As for these camps, I really want to know the "success" rate. I wonder how many kids lie to their parents and the school about being cured, and how many actually believe it. To tell the truth, the kids who end up in these things are probably a bit too naive for their own good, for the world is obviously not ready for who they are. Maybe its time to start sending out little packets to explaining how to successfully stay in the closet temporarily without hating yourself? I know a few my friends could have used some advice on living dual lives back when they were in high school. Some sort of secret gayness organization would be helpful for this, if one existed like the fundies seem to think it did.

Here's a tip, if you're a homosexual child of crazy fundie parents, sign an abstinence pledge. That will very clearly show your devotion to all things jesus, and makes an excellent excuse for not engaging romantically with the opposite sex. As for sex drive, well, if internet porn was good enough for me until college it will be for you too. High schools is meant to be the crappiest time in your life, stop trying to get ahead of things and make it honest and good. Or maybe I'm just a bit cynical :)
posted by JZig at 9:27 AM on June 11, 2005


buddha9090, thanks for the citations.

"Reparative" Therapy: whether parental attempts to change a child's sexual orientation can legally constitute child abuse (Link to full text PDF)

John Alan Cohan, Parental Duties and the Right of Homosexual Minors to Refuse "Reparative" Therapy, 11 Buff. Women's L.J. 67 (2002). (Available only via Lexis or Westlaw it appears. Many academic libraries, including undergraduate, provide access to Lexis. Maybe a Mefite with access could obtain a copy and make it available to fellow Mefites via email?)
posted by mlis at 10:24 AM on June 11, 2005


“Reparative” Therapy: whether parental attempts to change a child's sexual orientation can legally constitute child abuse
posted by mlis at 10:26 AM on June 11, 2005


Axon: No evidence to back up the argument that sexuality is malleable? Wow, you've never heard a joke about prison, have you?

And for all of those who are worrying about what the opponents of gay rights will do if sexuality is malleable, your "worst cases" are pretty Scylia and Charybdis: If sexuality is malleable, then you have the well-voiced fear here that there be re-education camps. But if it is not, then the antagonistic argument lays with eugenics, and gays being held as less than human. Or at very least, that they shouldn't be allowed to breed.
Further, one shouldn't base their theories about something based on what their enemies might do. It might be tactically better to argue that no one has control over their sexuality and that it's all genetic, but since that is at best a gross over-simplification, it gains you no traction in truth. And, no matter what the origin of any individual's homosexuality, the proper answer is that the origin makes absolutely no difference in the rights that they should expect. Whether my preference for one thing over another comes from biology, from environment, or from whimsy, it is my preference. Critique me on the quality of my partners, possibly, but not on their gender.
posted by klangklangston at 10:32 AM on June 11, 2005


A brief clip or two from MLIS's pdf:
Those who have gone through “reparative” therapy and have been involved in “ex-gay” ministries speak of the medically unsound methods employed by these therapists and organizations, such as behavioral therapy, electrical shock therapy, chemical aversive therapy, drug and hormone therapy, surgery, and psychotherapy.

Other accounts are similar and include homophobic counseling, religious propaganda, isolation, unnecessary medication (including hormone treatment), subliminal therapies designed to inculcate “feminine” or “masculine” behavior, and “covert desensitization” therapies that teach a young person to associate homosexual feelings with disgusting images. These forms of “treatment” frequently result in nervous breakdowns and feelings of guilt; some patients have witnessed others in their programs commit suicide and mutilate their genitals. Many “reparative” therapy tactics are likely to cause mental breakdowns in otherwise healthy gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Similarly, members of some groups have gone to gay and lesbian bars to “recruit” unsuspecting victims. Members of Exodus, one of the largest “ex-gay” groups, have led victims to believe that they were developing relationships while attempting, by use of emotional abuse and “ministering,” to convince the victim that he or she should become heterosexual. These tactics have left victims feeling paranoid and unable to trust anyone.

Some of the most subtle and almost comical tactics these groups employ include having the men play basketball and football, and having the women learn how to manicure their fingernails and wear makeup. One of the most interesting tactics involves placing the two genders together in a “misogyny training course” and having the women apologize to the men for the feminist movement because it has “created so many unattractive women that, of course, gay men would turn away from them.

Holy shit ...
posted by kaemaril at 10:46 AM on June 11, 2005


also from MLIS's pdf, page 24: ...All parents must ensure a healthy domestic setting. 129 For a parent of a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender child this may involve supporting the child’s sexual identity, promoting his or her healthy well-being, helping to educate the public about the facts on homosexuality and bisexuality, and advocating an end to discrimination. 130 If a parent believes that placing his or her child in “reparative” therapy is an appropriate way of supporting his or her child, the court can, and indeed must, still find abuse or neglect if the child suffers as a result, because the parent’s motives, no matter how genuine, are irrelevant. 131...

Whether my preference for one thing over another comes from biology, from environment, or from whimsy, it is my preference. Critique me on the quality of my partners, possibly, but not on their gender.
I prefer salt and vinegar potato chips to bbq--it's absurd to use "preference" for sexual orientation. The very fact that the words "choice" and "preference" are used by those who would intern us, or change us, or worse is why the "Choice" question must always be discussed until people realize that it's not one, nor is it a preference, like your choice of potato chips or dishwashing detergent.
posted by amberglow at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2005


If anyone wants the journal article noted above:

"John Alan Cohan, Parental Duties and the Right of Homosexual Minors to Refuse "Reparative" Therapy, 11 Buff. Women's L.J. 67 (2002)."

Send me an email (in profile).

Drove by the treatment center on the way to the store about an hour ago and it's as dead as a tomb. Apparently it's a Mon - Fri operation. So much for intensive therapy.
posted by Carbolic at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2005


I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.
So let me get this straight, these "christians" believe in child sacrifice? Or am I reading this the wrong way?
posted by Good Brain at 12:17 PM on June 11, 2005


posted by jb at 6:43 PM PST on June 10 [!]

It was like liking chocolate, but not like pistachio. It just is. I'm just so very lucky that no one seemed to mind that I liked chocolate and vanilla and chunky monkey. But not pistachio - I hate that icecream. Other people are free to eat pistachio, so long as they don't make me.


or put their children into pistachio-eater reeducation camps wherein they are not allowed to wear any nut-related clothing, or even clothing made in factories that process nuts. All in the name of their ice cream flavor, the one and only ice cream flavor, (although other countries have and enjoy a range of other ice cream flavors)...VNLH.
posted by Miles Long at 12:56 PM on June 11, 2005


Schroedinger's statement bears repeating:
I think I understand where Danf and Davy are coming from--even if, for whatever highly, highly unlikely reason it turns out there is some choice to homosexuality, it doesn't matter because what two consenting adults do with each other is their business and no one else's. So believing homosexuality is a choice is not necessarily homophobic if you think people should be able to live their lives how they please if it isn't harmful to others or themselves.
I think the discussion of whether sexuality is a choice or not is a red herring at best. It shouldn't matter what sexuality a person is, so whether or not it's a choice is a non-issue.

In fact, I think that arguing for sexuality as a choice can be counter-productive. Saying "I'm transgender, but it's not my fault" ultimately means that being transgender is a bad thing. If it's not your fault, then perhaps it's the fault of nature, or God, or whatever -- and if there's fault, something must be wrong.

Even if you distinguish between there being something wrong with the specific person who's GLBTIwhatever, and there being something wrong with the society that discriminates against them (as my mom did when I came out to her), it's still saying there's something wrong with the sexuality, and still gives parents an excuse to send their kids to gulags like this.

Instead of saying "I didn't have a choice in this", I think we should be saying "It doesn't matter if I had a choice in this -- I'm trying to be a good person, and my sexuality doesn't change that one way or the other."
posted by jiawen at 1:10 PM on June 11, 2005


...and I of course meant "arguing against sexuality as a choice". Arg. Posted once and lost the post, then had to recompose from scratch. Major brain fart.
posted by jiawen at 1:13 PM on June 11, 2005


No, jiawen, you're missing the point. It's not about saying "I'm [gay|bi|lesbian|trans|intersexed], but it's not my fault." It's about saying "I'm [g|l|b|t|i], and that's simply how I was born. Just like you have red hair."
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:23 PM on June 11, 2005


I think jiawen makes an excellent point. Nature/nurture is an issue, sure, but what's most important is affirming that gay people are good, productive members of society.

Using this "You don't understand, I was born this way!" argument is really a moot point. How you came to be gay shouldn't be an issue and arguing in this way seems to me to be alienating allies more than convincing anyone that genetics trump environment. Why do you want to distance people who wish to further gay rights over something that can't be proven and is completely trivial to the issue at hand?

What matters is that sexuality is about exactly as important as any other potentially genetic feature - that is to say, no one should be discriminated against for being gay just like no one should be discriminated against for having brown eyes.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:42 PM on June 11, 2005


dirtynumbangelboy writes " No, jiawen, you're missing the point. It's not about saying 'I'm [gay|bi|lesbian|trans|intersexed], but it's not my fault.' It's about saying 'I'm [g|l|b|t|i], and that's simply how I was born. Just like you have red hair.'"

But some people might interpret it the first way, regardless of whether you're intending the second interpretation or not. jiawen is trying to say that there shouldn't be room for people to say "Being gay is wrong!" and then you saying "But I was born that way!" and then them replying "Well, in THAT case it's okay. So long as you can't help it." It should be okay regardless, just like it should be okay to have red hair whether it's natural or dyed. If we decided to outlaw red hair and your argument was "but I'm Irish!" instead of "but red hair is great!", well... I'm sure you understand where I'm going with this.

Also, if at some point in the future, evidence arises that this is a joint issue between nature and nurture (and why not, given evidence from cultures with an expectation that homosexual acts will occur), you don't want there to be a backlash of people saying that it was okay when it was hardwired, but if you have a choice then it's wrong. It's sort of like the alcoholism issue (bear with me) -- we used to talk about alcoholism as a sin, and now we talk about it as a disease. Before, alcoholics were viewed as evil people, now they are viewed as sick people, and treatment strategies have changed because of that. What jiawen and others are trying to say is that it shouldn't be like the alcoholism issue at all -- it shouldn't be a vice or a birth defect, it should just be okay.
posted by heatherann at 1:48 PM on June 11, 2005


"I just hope there' somewhere for him to go when he gets out of the re-education camp - I know very well that being dependent upon anti-homo parents is a dreadful situation to be in."
I have an uncle who is gay, and is married to a man, whom I consider to also be my uncle -- in fact, both served as my best man men at my wedding. In response to situations just like the one we have been discussing, they created and run The Point Foundation, which provides academic scholarships for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students. A very worthwhile cause, and it is always good to see that there are answers from the left to these fundies' hate-camps.
posted by nlindstrom at 1:49 PM on June 11, 2005


What matters is that sexuality is about exactly as important as any other potentially genetic feature - that is to say, no one should be discriminated against for being gay just like no one should be discriminated against for having brown eyes.
But that statement is assuming in itself that it's nature, not nuture, and thus unacceptable to many haters. And people with darker skin are discriminated against in our society, even tho everyone has accepted that that's natural and genetic in origin. It's not so much whether someone believes that it's genetic or a choice--it's the horrific uses (like re-education camps and "reparative therapy", etc) they put their beliefs to. You have to stop them from harming others because of, and based on, their beliefs.
posted by amberglow at 2:31 PM on June 11, 2005


grapefruitmoon writes "Nature/nurture is an issue, sure, but what's most important is affirming that gay people are good, productive members of society. "

I think more important is affirming that good or productive or not, what somebody does in his bedroom isn't our business to judge.
posted by orthogonality at 3:36 PM on June 11, 2005


davy: did you choose to be sexually attracted to women? Did you look around you and make a conscious choice to be sexually attracted to the female of the species? Or are you, simply, undeniably, sexually attracted to women, period?

Or is it possible there are choices that indirectly affect later orientation? There's a lot of things that happen in my body that influence how I think and feel that I don't *decide* about, but are consequences of earlier choices that I may not have been aware had any effect when I was making them.

I honestly don't think that's the only issue. I think there are probably some genetic-related biological issues. I think there may be environmental/nurture related triggers (I mean, seriously, what makes more sense -- that these things have *no* effect?). But choice may be an element, if not a direct one, and perhaps not the largest one.

And no, I don't think that means it's OK to treat gay people like crapola. Sorry some people do, and sorry some of you have been. But I don't think that's an argument against the idea that your choices influence aspects of your biology and consequently, your sexuality.

Or hell, maybe we're all automatons living under the illusion of free will and none of this matters.
posted by namespan at 4:19 PM on June 11, 2005


well, the only time choice enters into physiognomic responses (is that the right word?) is whether to act on it or not, afaik.
posted by amberglow at 4:53 PM on June 11, 2005


amberglow : I wasn't addressing the "horrific" ends of discrimination, what I was trying to address was a tendency in this thread to alienate those who support gay rights and make the tactical error of implying that there may be an element of "choice" involved in sexuality.

And what I say still stands - people shouldn't be discriminated against on a genetic basis and the fact that they are shouldn't be encouraged.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:54 PM on June 11, 2005


amberglow said somewhere up high up there that it is easy for bisexuals to argue in favor of some element of choice. it's not easy.

at least it is not for me. but it is necessary.

unless we argue until the cows come home on behalf of the argument that individual dignity, freedom of conscience, and the consentual choices of adults really do matter and really do have to be respected, then bisexual people like myself will always feel socially forced to "be" and act "straight".

back in high school, when my parents were too frightened of their baldheaded daughter (me) to actually have a direct conversation, they would sigh in relief every time I'd so much as mention anyone with a male name, let alone talk on the phone with a guy or bring one home.

but the worst of it was that they would drop hints about the difference between all the people they knew who knew that they were gay from a young age and about other people "just going through phases". they were trying and they succeeded in intimidating me.

what they were codedly telling me was this: "some people don't have a choice and it is a shame that they are discriminated against, oh gosh how horrible! but you, you are clearly also attracted to guys, so shape up and get with the program. if you don't you'll always be so sad and your life will be horrible and we'll be embarassed and ashamed and treat you differently than we used to. so don't be selfish and try to have your cake and it eat too. some people have real problems and face real discrimination, but not you, you'll find some wonderful guy, eventually."

I'm now 23, I've long since grown my hair out and dated a series of lovely delightful men they've liked to some extent. I don't have the guts to stand up to them and tell them who I really am and I don't have the guts to pursue any of the crushes I have on women. But I know who I am, and I know that as long as I have a "choice" to conform to a society that not only doesn't respect a non-conformist choice, but actively punishes it, I'll probably end up hiding a lot of myself out of fear.

it's not the same thing as being abandoned by your family or physically threatened or socially ostracized.

but it still sucks.

so yeah, bisexuals sure have it easy, what with all the overall social pressure to only have straight relationships, and certain aspects of the gay community either feeling betrayed when we do have straight relationships, or, by arguing so vehemently on against the "lifestyle choice" rhetoric of fanatics, actually making it scarier and harder for us to try to demand respect for our real choices.

man I am so happy right now! it's so easy!

ps: amberglow, you have been one of my metafilter heroes over the years, I can't believe I am doing this...
posted by jann at 5:05 PM on June 11, 2005


... do you believe you choose to be a heterosexual?

I vividly recall the day I chose to be heterosexual. I was five years old. My mother was very mad when the preschool expelled me.
posted by rcade at 6:07 PM on June 11, 2005


Young and Gay in Real America is a 2004 series from the Washington Post and worth reading.

In the Bible Belt, Acceptance Is Hard-Won - I

A Slow Journey From Isolation - II

Braving the Streets Her Way - III

Using Her Voice to Rise Above - IV
posted by mlis at 7:57 PM on June 11, 2005


palmcorder_yajna said it very well.
posted by squirrel at 12:30 AM on June 12, 2005


What a shame!
I came.
So late
to this game.

Mind boggling. I first read the thread on the banning of spanking. Then I came here and found that abuse is fine, so long as its to 'cure' sexual identify.

Polite protests outside seem so unbalanced while spiritual torture takes place within.

But, but...but.. What WOULD Jesus do???

I think He would braid a whip from cords, or maybe go down to the local gun dealer and buy some hardware. Or perhaps just call up His army of angels. And kick some ass!

Or perhaps much worse, and more appropriate: Expose these parents to the emotional life of their kids. But maybe not that, maybe that would be too brutal for something Jesus would do. I don't know. But gee, maybe He would.

Of course, you have to understand the BIBLE SAYS we're adults when we hit puberty. Of course, Good Christians (TM) pay no attention to such technical details that fail to fit their schemes.

In the words of my favorite radio host: "Jesus is going to pinch off their heads and toss them into hell, for the demons to play soccer" (Mike Malloy, speaking about Republicans in general, and Good Christians (TM) especially). Mr. Malloy is an avowed atheist.

I really don't know. I think I had it worse when I was locked up in juvie, for being gay, at age 13. But that's just what I think. But at least then, I wasn't allowed to know it was my father behind it 'til I turned 18 and asked questions.
posted by Goofyy at 6:27 AM on June 12, 2005


...so yeah, bisexuals sure have it easy, what with all the overall social pressure to only have straight relationships, and certain aspects of the gay community either feeling betrayed when we do have straight relationships, or, by arguing so vehemently on against the "lifestyle choice" rhetoric of fanatics, actually making it scarier and harder for us to try to demand respect for our real choices.
jann, it may be necessary for you to speak of sexuality and orientation as a choice, but it's absolutely not a choice for those of us who aren't bisexual. This kid is going thru hell because too many people believe it's a "lifestyle choice" and that he can just get with the hetero program if he wanted, or if he only prays enough, or whatever. It's not a statement about you or against you--bisexuality is about choice, and about a wider range of people as potential mates and partners and sex objects.

We know you're not fanatics and we know that your lives are different from ours, and from heterosexuals. What some of us don't get is why every single discussion of matters like what's happening to this kid has to include this defense of "choice" from bisexuals. If this kid had self-identified as a bisexual i'd get it. As it stands, i don't.

I don't have the guts to stand up to them and tell them who I really am and I don't have the guts to pursue any of the crushes I have on women. But I know who I am, and I know that as long as I have a "choice" to conform to a society that not only doesn't respect a non-conformist choice, but actively punishes it, I'll probably end up hiding a lot of myself out of fear.
You should never conform to any outside dictates or influences--you have to live your life in the ways that make you happy (and hopefully doesn't hurt others). That's what life is. The world believing that all sexual orientations are choices won't affect that, when it comes down to it. And we're all brought up to be straight, and pressured to be so. Most of humanity isn't as fluid, and never has been (publicly--while privately they always have been). I sincerely hope you come to realize that your life is yours, and you have the strength and power to be who you are in all its fullness. It takes all of us different amounts of time and growth to be able to live our lives in ways that are right for us, and you're young yet. Society right now is actively punishing this kid, and what this kid needs is not a defense of choice, but help and the knowledge that he's not someone who needs to be confined in some "program", but an okay person. And read Goofyy's comment above.
posted by amberglow at 12:21 PM on June 12, 2005


And i have to add that i am simply in awe of this kid--i didn't have the courage to come out like he did at 16, and that's why this kills me so much more. (and then i wonder if i was right, and that it's not safe to come out too early...)
posted by amberglow at 12:27 PM on June 12, 2005


Amberglow: Once again, you're defining your argument based on what your opponent's harm is. It simply does not follow that because there are people who will try to force gay kids to "get with the program" that because of that it cannot be choice.
And once again, you are defining your argument from a sample size of one. Regardless of whether or not you felt like it was a choice, many people do.
AND IT DOESN'T MATTER.
Let me repeat that as you seem to miss the point: It does not matter that these people view homosexuality as a choice. Just as it does not matter if a girl was dressed in a provactive way before she was raped. The offending act is the parents' and the camps' abuses, not whether or not the child had a choice.
I realize that often you are willing to attack others when they do not hold the same adherence to doctrine that you do, but you have to realize that your tendency to do so means that you will alienate allies, appear as inflexible and intolerant, and ultimately sacrifice the goals that you wish to achieve by maintaining an operational purity that is unnecessary and foolish.
Also remember that the arguments that you are making, that biology is destiny, do not exempt you from from the clutches of homophobes. If homosexuality was to be entirely genetic, which I think is a stupid premise, then what? Wouldn't the answer be to medicate against it? To return it to the DSM, along with schizophrenia (which also has strong markers of genetics)? In all, wouldn't a doctrine of holding homosexuality as protected choice be better? Wouldn't a doctrine where the origins were totally immaterial be better yet? If someone wants to have a gay lover, shouldn't they be able to do that whether they are born gay or have decided to go gay for a weekend?
In an enlightened society, it should make no difference at all. And all of your squawlling does is keep us further from that society, no matter how well-intentioned you are.
posted by klangklangston at 1:08 PM on June 12, 2005


If homosexuality was to be entirely genetic, which I think is a stupid premise, then what? Wouldn't the answer be to medicate against it? To return it to the DSM, along with schizophrenia (which also has strong markers of genetics)? In all, wouldn't a doctrine of holding homosexuality as protected choice be better? Wouldn't a doctrine where the origins were totally immaterial be better yet? If someone wants to have a gay lover, shouldn't they be able to do that whether they are born gay or have decided to go gay for a weekend?
In an enlightened society, it should make no difference at all. And all of your squawlling does is keep us further from that society, no matter how well-intentioned you are.

We don't live in an enlightened society, and have to deal with the one we have--one in which kids and adults continue to be harmed by people believing that it is "choice" and that if they would just choose otherwise everything would be ok.
Disagreeing with me on whether it's choice or genetics won't help that kid. It does however, help those who also see it as choice, and thus create "reparative therapy" and programs like where that kid is.

I'm not attacking anyone, except for those who would hurt this kid and others. It does matter whether people believe it's a choice or not--we're seeing why it matters in this kid's life, and in the actions his parents took, and in the director's belief that he'd rather see those kids dead.
posted by amberglow at 1:30 PM on June 12, 2005


Maybe you should enlighten the American Psychological Association--they're holding us all back too: Is Sexual Orientation a Choice?
No, human beings can not choose to be either gay or straight. Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.
Can Therapy Change Sexual Orientation?
No. Even though most homosexuals live successful, happy lives, some homosexual or bisexual people may seek to change their sexual orientation through therapy, sometimes pressured by the influence of family members or religious groups to try and do so. The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable....

posted by amberglow at 1:40 PM on June 12, 2005


If there's a sexual abuse scandal coming out of this place (or a place like it) years down the line, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

And non-homophobic christian people need to object to this at the top of their lungs. One, simply because it's terribly wrong , and two, because it's a degradation of your faith.

If Jesus saves, then he better save himself, from the gory glory seekers who use his name in death...

Also, I've always hated the term "sexual preference." Prefence is what you have for flavors of ice cream. This is a basic human drive. To the doubting heteros: you didn't just decide to be straight. When your hormones starting surging, you began noticing the girlsin the neighborhood and having all kinds of new thoughts around them. It wasn't something you plotted out like a career, it just was. It's the same for gay people, except it's for their own sex. And for many of us, it's much more fluid at that point, just purely sexual. I had numerous same-sex experiences growing up, it was part of discovering who I was. Thank god, I don't have the type of parents (whatever their other faults) who would send me to someplace like this that would've warped me forever.
posted by jonmc at 2:31 PM on June 12, 2005


I have to say, my saving grace was the WONDERFUL BRAVE QUEERS who, in 1969, marched in New York City. As soon as I knew the word "homosexual" to describe my feelings, I researched it. And then I found the articles in news magazines, showing the protests.

Having grown up during the civil rights movement, and being taught accordingly, I immediately understood I was a member of another minority being put down by bigots. That knowledge gave me a strong defense. No one could EVER convince me I was 'wrong' for being gay.

Next time you're wondering whether it makes any sense to participate in a gay-positive demonstration, just think of what it means to kids like this when they see it in the news. Demonstrate for them.
posted by Goofyy at 10:34 PM on June 12, 2005


Funny thing is, these parents are going to wonder why their kid hates them so much and won't come visit them in their old age. They'll be completely confused about it.

Btw, in case you don't feel like reading the whole thread:

A: Homosexuality is a choice.

B: No it isn't. Did you choose to be heterosexual?

A: ...

A: Whether it's a choice or not doesn't matter.

B: Thought not.
posted by Poagao at 1:47 AM on June 13, 2005


Sorry - I didn't mean to compare sexual orientation to ice-cream preference, as important as ice-cream is. I was just trying to express the ineffableness of it, that it just was, with no rhyme or reason.
posted by jb at 6:41 AM on June 13, 2005


that wasn't directed at you, jb, just the term in general. It's misleading, and more than a little precious, IMO.

Next time you're wondering whether it makes any sense to participate in a gay-positive demonstration, just think of what it means to kids like this when they see it in the news. Demonstrate for them.

Yes, but (and hear me out here), what if all that kid sees on the news is guys in leather diapers and drag queens. He may think "well, I'm not that."

This is partially due to the media zeroing in on the weirdest members of any culture (mainly because it makes for good copy) and to a degree, the LGBTG community for allowing them to become the focus of such demonstrations. I'm all in favor of anyone being whatever they want, but think about it: did you ever see a black civil rights demo where people dressed up in raggedy overalls and ate watermelon? But the gay community parades the sterotypes in demonstrations that they're trying to cast off in society-at-large. That's a massively mixed message to this observer.
posted by jonmc at 1:26 PM on June 13, 2005


they're not the focus of any parade--the entirety of our diverse communities is always the focus, and we're not responsible for (and have strenuously fought) the media's stereotyping. We've been successful--only wingnuts and fundies use them to characterize all of us.

Try watching an entire pride parade and you'll see 95% regular people--young, old, all colors, all shapes and sizes, all professions, athletes, lawyers, students, church people, etc...
posted by amberglow at 8:39 PM on June 13, 2005


I'm with jonmc! Why don't those homos straighten up? Won't someone think of the (10% of the) children (who will become gay adults)?!

;^>
posted by squirrel at 9:59 PM on June 13, 2005


Try watching an entire pride parade and you'll see 95% regular people--young, old, all colors, all shapes and sizes, all professions, athletes, lawyers, students, church people, etc...

I know that, amber, and anyone who's lived in a gay-freindly city for any legnth of time, usually figures it out, at least somewhat. But, to a lot of people, their impressions are formed by what they see on the evening news (for better or worse) and if what they see of gayfolk is leather freaks, drag queens and the like, well...just something to think about. I realize that stuff like that is basically fodder the far right uses to foment outrage, but I see no reason why we should hand fodder to them on a silver platter.
posted by jonmc at 8:50 AM on June 14, 2005


Poagao, it's not that simple. A better summary might be:

A: Homosexuality is a choice.
B: No, it isn't. Did you choose to be heterosexual?
C: It doesn't matter.
A: ...
B: See, it's not a choice.
C: It doesn't matter.
B: Yes, it does, because if it's not our choice, then it's not our fault.
C: But if it's a "fault", then it's something wrong. It's better to argue that it's not wrong at all.

..and things get more complex from there.

Simplifying things like that, reducing groups of people with very differing views to a single category ("A", here) -- that's really not fair, in my eyes. Please don't lump me in with people who say that sexuality is a choice. I'm personally not sure, but as I said, I think the question itself is misleading.

Sorry if this is thread necromancy.
posted by jiawen at 4:31 AM on June 15, 2005


I realize that stuff like that is basically fodder the far right uses to foment outrage, but I see no reason why we should hand fodder to them on a silver platter.

Okay, jonmc, I put it more plainly: what would you have the GLTB community do? Should they listen to your logic and tone it down a few notches? What are you calling for? I think that if you could have an electronic town hall meeting with all the folks that let their freak flag fly on pride week, you would find that few of them are concerned with being mispercieved by FoxNews. This is the one week a year that they are permitted to go balls-out, and they're going to take it, and make of it what they want to, not what might be best for their image in the red states. The queers I've known have been very pro fuck conformity, this is my life thank you very much kind of folks. Maybe their lobby would indeed advance a few squares if they stopped making such a gratuitous display of their fetishes, but for one week a year, it's the gay individual's time. and you and I can go fuck ourselves with our straight best intentions. Pride week is a time when breeders don't call the shots. Asking them to tone it down is disingenuous, and disrespects the bullshit they deal with the other 51 weeks of the year.
posted by squirrel at 6:17 AM on June 15, 2005


Update - I swung by the "compound" this morning on the way to work. There is still a group of 5 - 10 people outside with a rainbow flag, an American flag and some signs indicating their support.
posted by Carbolic at 8:33 AM on June 15, 2005


I think that if you could have an electronic town hall meeting with all the folks that let their freak flag fly on pride week, you would find that few of them are concerned with being mispercieved by FoxNews.

Even if that flag-flying helps defeat the very real struggle for civil rights their fighting? Again, I'm only theorizing here, so I'm a little miffed at the implication of disingenousness.

I'm all for freakery and I think people should go balls-out 365, as long as they let me do the same. But flagwaving of any kind is about self-satisfaction, and sometimes that has to take a back seat to actually getting shit done, and nobody said politics was pretty. But, hey, just my opinion.
posted by jonmc at 3:48 PM on June 15, 2005


I'm very pro-get-shit-done, jonmc. I think that the shit you and I want to get done are different in this case. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you appear to want the flamboyant homosexuals to tone it down toward the goal of getting accepted by the mainstream. I, on the other hand, want the mainstream to broaden its definition of how it's okay to be.

And I'm sorry I took so long to reply, but I've been traveling--these S.E. Asian web cafes are hit and miss
posted by squirrel at 10:02 PM on June 27, 2005


Correct me if I'm wrong, but you appear to want the flamboyant homosexuals to tone it down toward the goal of getting accepted by the mainstream. I, on the other hand, want the mainstream to broaden its definition of how it's okay to be.

I want to use the former as a means to the latter. Our goals are the same, our tactics different is all.
posted by jonmc at 3:36 PM on July 4, 2005


They tried that in the early 60s, and marched in front of the White House in suits and tasteful dresses--it didn't do anything. It took a riot of flamboyant, completely unacceptable fags and drag queens to make change happen, jon--it wasn't a tea party or cotillion.

That's what we celebrate on Pride, and too bad if it gives "the wrong image".
posted by amberglow at 8:00 AM on July 5, 2005


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