Love in Action shut down
September 20, 2005 4:20 PM   Subscribe

Tennessee: 'Close Down Your Ex-Gay Ministry!' --remember Zach, the 16-year-old sent to Love in Action so that he could be cured of being gay? The state has finally ordered the places shut down. Original post on him here: Pray out the Gay!
Unfortunately, this is the state's reasoning: ... The state inspected two facilities in Memphis on Aug. 19 and determined Love In Action International Inc. was providing housing, meals and personal care for mentally ill patients without a license, according to a subsequent letter to the organization from the Department of Mental Health. ... (and more at Cherryblossom)
posted by amberglow (65 comments total)

 
oh, Wayne Besen (first link is to his site) is the author of Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth
posted by amberglow at 4:27 PM on September 20, 2005


I guess this state's too poor to buy a copy of a DSM past 1986. Actually strike that, the DSM you can buy today still says transvestites and sufferers of "gender identity disorder" are mentally ill. Psychiatry wins again!
posted by Rothko at 4:28 PM on September 20, 2005


for mentally ill patients without a license, that may sound "anti-gay" on the surface, but those truly crazy christian fanatics will never be able to get a license to "cure" homosexuality. So good! I'm glad they've finally been shut down!
posted by snsranch at 4:31 PM on September 20, 2005


"Love in Action" is a really, really creepy name for a brainwashing anti-gay camp. I'm glad they've been shut down, now if we could only get them to shut up, we'd be making real progress.
posted by fenriq at 4:34 PM on September 20, 2005


If that's Love in Action, I propose re-naming homeland security, and specifically Gitmo the Ministry of Love.
posted by pieisexactlythree at 4:40 PM on September 20, 2005


says transvestites and sufferers of "gender identity disorder" are mentally ill.

Why shouldn't the DSM? Mentally ill - doesn't that just mean outside a certain norm to the point of social dysfunction and functional problems. Many of these "gender identity" folks do often need counseling and therapeutic help, right? Besides those things don't have much to do with homosexuality anyway.
posted by tkchrist at 4:42 PM on September 20, 2005


Hey, whatever happened to Zach anyway?
posted by kaemaril at 4:45 PM on September 20, 2005


Update on Zach.
posted by ericb at 4:47 PM on September 20, 2005


The fact that the King James Bible, which advocates punishment of sodomy, was commissioned by King James I, who was a big fan of sodomy (and also the punishment of said activity), is particularly ironic. We should all remember this whenever the Bible is cited.

Personally, I hope that the community can respond with a shelter for the children of same-sex parents who are concerned that their children may become straight.
posted by mullingitover at 4:49 PM on September 20, 2005


...I suggest Trent Lott's property for any such shelter.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:54 PM on September 20, 2005


Many of these "gender identity" folks do often need counseling and therapeutic help, right?

I'd ask if those therapies are needed because of how societal gender norms place relentless mental stress on human beings. Where does the cause of the illness lie: the patient or the society surrounding the patient? Is it really an illness if it is society's problem?

Besides those things don't have much to do with homosexuality anyway.

Their rhetoric defines the argument. Certainly I think it is useful to put homosexuality, transgenderism and queer identity into the same category, with respect to discussing legal rights (as is the case here). And from a purely moral or Judeo-Christian standpoint, anything that doesn't conform to the heterosexual, procreative norm is often considered "bad", "wrong", or "diseased".
posted by Rothko at 4:54 PM on September 20, 2005


It's entirely possible that truly crazy people might have been in there, or that "Love in Action" might drive people insane.
posted by delmoi at 5:05 PM on September 20, 2005


Why is it unfortunate reasoning that they were closed down for treating mentally ill patients without a license?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:07 PM on September 20, 2005


It's more like a cult taking in the mentally ill for brainwashing.
posted by Balisong at 5:21 PM on September 20, 2005


uncanny, they weren't treating mentally ill patients--they were "treating" gay and lesbian teens and trying to make them straight.
posted by amberglow at 5:23 PM on September 20, 2005


Where does the cause of the illness lie: the patient or the society surrounding the patient? Is it really an illness if it is society's problem?

I think transgender peoples difficulty certianly IS an organic thing - not clearly societal at all. These folks are plagued with all sorts of issues that often resolve themselves AFTER they get sexual reassignment and hormone treatments, etc. IE Studies showing boys who had circumcision errors as infants being surgically altered and raised as girls with awful mental problems, etc. Right mind, wrong body. So I would classify that as seperate from sexual preference.

But I agree that the extreme religious amoung us have a too narrow view of both and little compassion for reality.
posted by tkchrist at 5:25 PM on September 20, 2005


Personally, I'd say those people were mentally ill.
Not for their sexuality, but for wanting to use Christianity to "cleanse" themselves of it.
posted by nightchrome at 5:26 PM on September 20, 2005


From cherry blos: I have learned today that Love In Action has been dispensing medication to people with mental illnesses, and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities is none too happy about this.

It sounds to me like they're not talking about teh gay.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 5:27 PM on September 20, 2005


Why is it unfortunate reasoning that they were closed down for treating mentally ill patients without a license?

Because many of us don't see homosexuality as a mental illness, and if the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness changes (which certainly seems possible), then these folks could reopen. Am I missing something? Article didn't have much info ...
posted by mrgrimm at 5:30 PM on September 20, 2005


It was their parents who sent all the kids to those places, not the kids themselves. It was not the kids that were wanting to change, but their parents wanting to change them.
posted by amberglow at 5:39 PM on September 20, 2005


Plus, can't pretty much anyone be diagnosed as having some kind of 'personality disorder'?
posted by delmoi at 5:41 PM on September 20, 2005


I think transgender peoples difficulty certianly IS an organic thing - not clearly societal at all. These folks are plagued with all sorts of issues that often resolve themselves AFTER they get sexual reassignment and hormone treatments, etc.

I'm not aware that artificial hormone levels are generally accepted as a prerequisite for mental illness. Otherwise, one can say that a good portion of baseball and football players are mentally disturbed on a daily basis.

The only reasonable conclusion I can reach from this is that the behavior that results from one group people with hormone imbalances is considered mental illness because those folks don't dress up in the right clothing, while the other group is normal because they play all-American sports.

IE Studies showing boys who had circumcision errors as infants being surgically altered and raised as girls with awful mental problems, etc. Right mind, wrong body. So I would classify that as seperate from sexual preference.

There was a NYT article some months back on a doctor in California who was lauded for revamping neonatal procedures for gender assignment. A rational evaluation of mental health starts with identifying responsibility with the people who make these kinds of decisions, from birth onwards. I wish I could find this article.

For better or worse, sexual preference and sexual identity are often wrapped together in discussions about law and morality. It behooves us to figure out why we attribute labels of mental illness to people who genuinely do not deserve them.

Is it necessary to label people as mentally ill in order to begin to treat them like human beings? What does this say about our society and our laws?
posted by Rothko at 5:43 PM on September 20, 2005


Because many of us don't see homosexuality as a mental illness...

I seem to have missed the bit in the article where it says that the mental illness the people refered to were suffering from was homosexuality. In fact, my initial assumption was that the mental illnesses were most likely caused by other peoples' (such as the parents) reactions to the "patients'" homosexuality.
posted by rjt at 5:46 PM on September 20, 2005


amberglow, you can't say that with 100% certainty. However, you are probably mostly right, in which case the parents should be in there instead.
posted by nightchrome at 6:03 PM on September 20, 2005


The reasoning makes sense to me in a way. These places were basically functioning as psychological treatment centres, and you can't do that without a license.

It also occurs to me that it might be a case of authorities using whatever existing laws they have at their disposal to shut down facilities they know are essentially heinous.
posted by orange swan at 6:17 PM on September 20, 2005


I honestly cannot understand why Christian nutbags hate gays so badly.

Why is it such a fucking problem?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:18 PM on September 20, 2005


if the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness changes - mrgrimm

Um, it has changed! DSM no longer describes homosexuality as a mental disorder (as amberglow said, and rothko implied). The competent authorities agree with you already, mrgrimm.

Seems to me that the facility was closed down because the state of Tennessee took on LIA/R on their own terms: if they said it was a treatment facility, then they needed a licence. Why would they not have one?

It gets worse: John Smid, the guy in charge at LIA/R, claims to be a minister in a church, but has never studied Divinity, nor anything past high school.
Gerard Wellman, business administrator for Love in Action, and a former Love in Action client, said Sept. 13 that the organization has been in contact with the state but would not comment further.

As a church, we operate under a different set of rules,” Wellman said.
A church whose minister never studied to receive any college level diploma? So on what basis does he claim to have authority to interpret scripture?

On what authority does he reject the American Psychiatric Association's compassionate response to homosexuality?

As an appointed minister in the Church of Elvis the Divine (Presleyterian), I say: Get thee behind me, Satan!
posted by dash_slot- at 6:47 PM on September 20, 2005


From here and here.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:50 PM on September 20, 2005


They claimed to be treating a mental illness.

The did not have the license required to treat mental illness.

The state shut them down for not having the license required to do what they claimed to be doing.

The state did not say that being a homosexual was a mental illness.
posted by Carbolic at 7:00 PM on September 20, 2005


Is it possible that was the loophole the state used to close something that they would otherwise have no jurisdiction over? I'm not saying that is or is not what happened, but perhaps that was the only way they could legally do it? Think about it this way, if the group tries to get it re-opened by arguing that "gayness" isn't a mental illness, then you have a lot of room for the public to ask, then WTF are you trying to treat it?

Of course, I may just be to much of an optimist.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:04 PM on September 20, 2005


I'd say most likely the mental illnesses suffered by the teens in question were severe depression, paranoia, trust issues, and PTSD.

All of which you can expect a (probably already ostracized) teen to suffer when their parents abandon them to such a brainwashing center, don't you think?
posted by zoogleplex at 7:07 PM on September 20, 2005


"uncanny, they weren't treating mentally ill patients--they were "treating" gay and lesbian teens and trying to make them straight."
So... You'd have prefered them to stay open until the law in Tennessee changed to make this anti-gay brainwashing illegal on its face?

Carbolic is on the money. Be happy that the state found a technicality to shut these guys down with instead of just going with the parental perogative.
posted by klangklangston at 7:15 PM on September 20, 2005


Actually, i don't think they ever used the term "mental illness" at all.

take a look if you can stomach it.
posted by amberglow at 7:17 PM on September 20, 2005


Yeah I think Carbolic has it...makes good sense to me, although I'm surprised Tennessee went to the trouble to shut the centre down.
posted by Jimbob at 7:20 PM on September 20, 2005


I guess this state's too poor to buy a copy of a DSM past 1986. Actually strike that, the DSM you can buy today still says transvestites and sufferers of "gender identity disorder" are mentally ill. Psychiatry wins again!

Politics win again. The writing of the DSM (which is being revised this year, BTW) is a fascinating process. Just like everything else in science (and life, it seems), people are pushing their pet projects just as much as the competent research.
posted by somethingotherthan at 7:38 PM on September 20, 2005


What's considered illness and what isn't is merely a reflection of what the society/researchers consider undesirable. Exhibit A: the ever-changing DSM-- "advancement" is not the proper word to describe subsequent editions, unless one means in the moral sense of more accurately reflecting a society's arbitrary & ephemeral Mental Ideal. There's no such thing as one mental illness being "realer" than another.

That being said, my own value system finds it abhorrent and sad that Christian homosexuals are being flogged out of their harmless desires.
posted by mowglisambo at 8:15 PM on September 20, 2005


http://www.asafeplace.org/

This is bad.
posted by Dean Keaton at 8:27 PM on September 20, 2005


to those who say the state needed a reason: why isn't dispensing medicine without a license to do so enough? why isn't saying you're an ordained minister when you're not enough? ...
posted by amberglow at 8:29 PM on September 20, 2005


Why shouldn't the DSM [classify transvestites as mentally ill]?

Because they're not.

But that's just for starters. How about this for a reason? Mentally ill people can, in some situations, be treated against their will. So you could have a guy getting electo shock therapy or thorazine simply because he likes to wear skirts.

But those would be extreme cases. Usually you have to show that someone is a danger to themselves or others before they'll force treatment on them. Alright... try this: custody battles. Suppose there's a custody battle between a transvestite and a non-trans heterosexual. If the latter can prove that the former is mentally ill, s/he could end up with sole custody. Oh, and what about jobs and housing. Oh, and health insurance. When you sign up for health insurance, you have to reveal any existing medical conditions, don't you? No problem, we'll just make sure that all the crossdressers out there write this information on their forms. Of course, if they're caught lying about it, they'll lose their coverage.

But the final reason that we shouldn't classify transvestites (or transsexuals or what have you) as mentally ill is that it's a huge slap in the face to them and they never did anything to you so, you know, cut em some fucking slack.
posted by Clay201 at 8:32 PM on September 20, 2005


As MeFi's (only?) resident transgender*, I feel the need to speak up.

"Gender Identity Disorder" is one of the only "disorders" where the cure is considered to be a cosmetic procedure by the vast majority of private insurers and by every state insurance in the country. The cure, aka "the surgery", can only be obtained after seeking medical and psychological help for months or years, and then passing the "Real Life Test," where you must "live life in the social role of the perfered gender." Then, if you ask nicely and have a boat-load of cash, you can receive approval for "the surgery."

As if anyone would have this done if there was any other way of being happy. Sheesh. "Elective." Sheesh.

I wish that GID was more-fully classified as a mental health disorder, such that when transgender people are discriminated against** they'd have some recourse (in the form of the American's With Disabilities Act.)

* You could replace the word "transgender" with "transsexual" and/or "transgendered person", if you like.

** Not that I'd have any first-hand knowledge of such, mind you.
posted by andreaazure at 9:22 PM on September 20, 2005


A church whose minister never studied to receive any college level diploma?

That doesn't mean he's not a minister. If he's ministering to a congregation of believers, however badly and however misplaced their beliefs, he's a minister. Just an uneducated one. If a gathering of believers points to someone and says, "He's our pastor" or "He is one of our ministers," their saying so makes it so, even if it might also mean that they're fools for saying so. If Germantown Baptist Church sees fit to hand him the title "minister," he has it.

So on what basis does he claim to have authority to interpret scripture?

Same as any other believer does. There was a movement called "protestantism" that was keen on the idea, and some scuffles over the topic that killed half of Germany.

Really, the list of "requirements" that a_musing lists is protesting too much to me. If you looked around, I just bet you'd find plenty of ministers, pastors, and preachers who don't have an MDiv, never took a counseling or theology course, and never set foot in a seminary, especially among small charismatic churches that aren't formally affiliated with any denomination.

There are so many real and true nasty things to say about LIA that there's really no need to harp on the grounds by which he calls himself a minister. Unless he's claimed to have been formally ordained by some specific denomination, and wasn't.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:49 PM on September 20, 2005


From what I understand, they were dispensing medication without a license. Anybody who does that without a damn good reason (eg sharing athsma medication that is known to work in the middle of an attack) should have their clinic shut down.
posted by Hactar at 10:21 PM on September 20, 2005


andreaazure, you're not the only TG person here. I am, and I'm pretty sure there are other TG folks here, too.

And for the rest of y'all, andrea hits the nail pretty much on the head. A lot of TG people want GID written out of the DSM, because they feel we get discriminated against for having an "illness". On the other hand, as Andrea noted, we can't get access to the help we need unless the doctors get to define us as "ill". Bleah.
posted by jiawen at 12:27 AM on September 21, 2005


Why shouldn't the DSM? Mentally ill - doesn't that just mean outside a certain norm to the point of social dysfunction and functional problems.

I think this isn't true. "Illness" as a term is loaded. It's doesn't really mean outside the norm enough to cause problems, it means not healthy, in plain english. In the case of gender conditions and homosexuality, that judgement of "not healthy" is not really a clinical judgement. It's a perjorative.

This is only because this is in the realm of mental health ... imagine if science tried to call an albino person, or a little person, or an intersexed person "physically ill": after all, it's outside the norms, can cause some social issues and functional problems. But we don't call these people ill, for the obvious reason that these people are healthy. Different, but not sick.

This is roughly the argument that got homosexuality taken out of the DSM. Why is gender identity still in there, unless it's to call TG people sick?
posted by adzuki at 4:36 AM on September 21, 2005


"why isn't saying you're an ordained minister when you're not enough?"
Because it's not illegal unless you're engaged in fraud, and that's a harder case to prove?
posted by klangklangston at 5:33 AM on September 21, 2005


Adzuki: Actually, albinism is classified as an illness (albeit not a mental one) because while it's genetic, it does have serious health implications. And dwarfism does too. I won't speak to being intersexed, as I don't know enough about it.
But if being transsexual or gender dysmorphic requires surgery to feel "cured" for a large number of the people who have it, that would indicate to me that they feel ill. You're free to debate whether that makes them more or less ill than people who want breast implants.
posted by klangklangston at 5:40 AM on September 21, 2005


I honestly cannot understand why Christian nutbags hate gays so badly.

Because god cares deeply about what consenting adults do in their private bedrooms.

why isn't saying you're an ordained minister when you're not enough?

Because he probably is an ordained minister. Becoming an ordained minister isn't hard. Heck, I'm an ordained minister.
You can be an ordained minister too.
posted by spazzm at 5:55 AM on September 21, 2005


If that's Love in Action, I propose re-naming homeland security, and specifically Gitmo the Ministry of Love.

Sorry to further derail here, but did realize that DHS does not run Gitmo, that would be Defense. The guys held without charges in Norfolk, that would be the Department of Justice. Thanks, just wanted to clear that up.

Is it just me but I read Love in Action as Love inAction.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:59 AM on September 21, 2005


Hm, maybe my link need a bit more...zest:
You can be an ordained minister for free in less than 3 minutes. Make weddings, funerals, baptisms, house blessings, etc. your business. Instant online credentials.

By the way, everyones sins (past, future and present) are forgiven after reading this sentence. Because I'm a minister, baby.
posted by spazzm at 6:07 AM on September 21, 2005


People need to get over their ridicolous respect of clergy.

Now, where's that altar boy?
posted by spazzm at 6:08 AM on September 21, 2005


People need to get over their ridiculous respect of clergy.

Maybe we shouldn't call them Reverend then. After witnessing my father, still in his collar mind you, leaving the bathroom door open for all those years, I can tell you for certain that people should have no irrational fear or respect for these people. Many are intelligent, educated and help people, and for that they deserve some kudos, but they are certainly just human beings.

I suppose it does take a certain set of brass balls to go into a holy order as a monk, (celibate) priest or nun and stick to your vows for a lifetime. That is a heck of a commitment.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:31 AM on September 21, 2005


I honestly cannot understand why Christian nutbags hate gays so badly.

I think you answered your query. They're nutbags. However, they are NOT Christian, they just pretend to be.

Amberglow, after all this time I find out that you have a serious recognized mental disorder. And I considered you to be a healthy and well adjusted person. I am shocked! Shocked, I say! You think you know someone and then BAM! :-)
posted by nofundy at 6:34 AM on September 21, 2005


Speaking of celibacy among priests etc., now THAT's a sexual disorder and a mental health issue.
posted by nofundy at 6:36 AM on September 21, 2005


"I suppose it does take a certain set of brass balls to go into a holy order as a monk, (celibate) priest or nun [...]"

Actually, I think one of the requirements for becoming a nun is that you have no balls whatsoever.
posted by spazzm at 6:41 AM on September 21, 2005


Yes, and balls made of brass would actually be quite unusual too. I'm rolling my eyes here.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:09 AM on September 21, 2005


Metaphors be with you!
posted by alumshubby at 7:14 AM on September 21, 2005


Now hang on. Love in Action's site has been updated with loads of "not JUST about teh gay" stuff, and Refuge has started (?) in its place?

WTF?
posted by paperpete at 8:22 AM on September 21, 2005


Actually, albinism is classified as an illness (albeit not a mental one) [...] I won't speak to being intersexed, as I don't know enough about it.
But if being transsexual or gender dysmorphic requires surgery to feel "cured" for a large number of the people who have it, that would indicate to me that they feel ill. You're free to debate whether that makes them more or less ill than people who want breast implants


But you hit the nail on the head. The point is that albinism isn't in the DSM. It's a physical condition. Intersex isn't in the DSM, as it's also considered a physical condition--but a great deal of unhappiness will result from forcing the wrong sex on your intersex infant.

Transsexuals don't feel any more ill than you would were you forced to live in the wrong gender. I think most would welcome transsexualism being removed from the DSM and reconsidered as a physical condition (except, of course, some don't opt for surgery.)

But to some extent, that's already come to pass. The diagnostic category for this class of disorders contains the requirement that "The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning" which is pretty much how homosexuality was treated in DSM-II & III: "persistent and marked distress about sexual orientation" before it was removed entirely. The basic point being that if you can function with it, you're not mentally ill.

Here's an nice discussion of the disparate classification of orientation and identity.

Sexual (and identity) preferences need to be removed from the DSM. People aren't mentally ill because they prefer blonds, asians, shoes, men, or women. These diagnostic categories are nothing more than prejudice--someone else's morality masquerading as illness. Is there any possible better example of this than "Love In Action"?

(I might draw the line at marrying the shoe, though.)
posted by cytherea at 9:26 AM on September 21, 2005


However, they are NOT Christian, they just pretend to be.

Sez you. They claim otherwise. How am I supposed to tell which of you is right?
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:17 AM on September 21, 2005


If they seem like they try to act like Jesus apparently did, then they are Christians. If they seem like they couldn't care less about Jesus, except as a brand name, then they're not.

You will know them by their fruits.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:23 AM on September 21, 2005


Heh heh. "Fruits."
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:23 AM on September 21, 2005


Is it necessary to label people as mentally ill in order to begin to treat them like human beings?

I dunno. It only matters if you stigmatize "Mental Illness" as something evil or bad. I mean we don't do that for cancer. I simply view mental illness as another illness that can/should be treated and is not a character issue.
posted by tkchrist at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2005


"If they seem like they try to act like Jesus apparently did, then they are Christians. If they seem like they couldn't care less about Jesus, except as a brand name, then they're not."

Then I guess I've never met a christian in my life.
posted by spazzm at 3:00 PM on September 21, 2005


It only matters if you stigmatize "Mental Illness" as something evil or bad.

Well, society does stigmatize mental illness and the mentally ill, which is ironic given the majority of people that make up that society are the cause of the problem.
posted by Rothko at 3:44 PM on September 21, 2005


Alex: Are you high again? Spare us the three-line Foucalt. I get enough about the subaltern in my theory classes.
"But society... society is really what's insane, man. Dude... Have you ever really looked at your hands, man? I mean, really looked at your hands?"
posted by klangklangston at 9:18 PM on September 21, 2005


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