10 October 2010

"Ex-Gay" Naïveté

The Advocate's staff
will make you gag
They showcase fools
named Sissyfag!
And Colbert's such a media whore,
He's gonna make a scene for sure!
What do you wanna bet?

They're so stupid!
Incredibly stupid!
What buffoons!
Just like a Mad Tea Party,
Lamebrains as crazy as loons.

Now Benny and Chaim
call their therapist rude
For asking they meet with him
in the nude!
And Tristan's lying up a storm:
She claims all Lesbians
watch Gay porn!
What a space cadet!

They're so stupid!
Unabashedly stupid
all the time!
Buffoonery that never stops,
We've gotta give these clowns their props,
So we'll do it now.
When it comes to acting dumb
They'll show you just how!

Muchas gracias to Big Buffy Chingas and Mariachi Lowrider for that rousing opening number. ¡Arriba! This Fifth Dumb Dora Awards ceremony promises to make the previous four look like ice cream socials! Believe me, mud will be flung tonight! But before we get down to business, I have an important announcement to make.

In the interest of truth in advertising, I've stopped referring to myself as a Gay activist. Gay activism is clearly the wrong description for what I do.

Gay activists crave the chance to be talking heads on Liberal-leaning webcasts, TV and radio shows. I couldn't care less about that kind of thing. Gay activists think farcical and pornographic imagery constitutes serious activism. I think exactly the opposite. Gay activists love to throw terms like "LGBTQ community" and "queer Americans" around. I despise those terms with a passion.

Gay activists love to snipe at one another over which of them has "done more for the Gay community", and has the most political savvy. I think that's juvenile behavior. Gay activists believe the political arena, not the courts, is the proper place to wage an equality struggle. I think that's a tragically misguided notion. Gay activists believe direct actions and civil disobedience should target politicians instead of organized religion. I'm convinced they're barking up the wrong tree.

Gay activists refuse to effectively confront their biggest enemy, the religious Right Wing. I'm fed up with their cowardice. Gay activists refuse to consider the equality struggle a moral crusade. I know that it is. Gay activists never want to examine how ignorance and internalized shame sabotages their efforts. Lately, that's the only thing I want to do!

So I'm washing my hands of Gay activism: From this point forward, I call myself a Consciousness Activist. I've charged myself with the task of conscientizing Gay people (thanks, Winnie Mandela). I hope to raise consciousness about the true nature of LGBT status; about the shame issues LGBT folk must contend with; about the lack of dignity in our public presentation; and about the pressing need for us to simultaneously respect ourselves and demand respect from the heterosexual/binary gender world. I may erect a humorous veneer around the Dumb Dora Awards, but make no mistake: That kind of serious work is what these ceremonies are really all about.

Members of the Sacred Sisterhood of the Horse's Ass have now taken their places behind the Imbecile's Podium. Without further ado, let the shaming begin!

The Dumb Dora Award for "Ex-Gay" Naïveté Goes To
Ben Unger, Chaim Levin
and "Journey Into Manhood" Dupes


Alan Downing is a “Life Coach”. He specializes in wresting men from the depraved clutches of homosexuality! Dude’s credentials are dubious at best, but the International Healing Foundation and other “ex-Gay” ministries have given his work glowing reviews. Downing bills himself as a "former" Gay man, yet admits to still being attracted to other men. As you'll learn presently, he has recently been accused of (homo)sexual impropriety. Those nagging inconveniences haven't diverted Downing from his chosen career path, though. Oh, no . . . he's dedicated his life to leading other Gay men down the road to heterosexual bliss. In other words, he's going to show them the way to somewhere he’s never been!

Don't expect me to explain his reasoning. I can't begin to fathom the bizarre logic that "ex-Gay" folk operate under! Just take my word that a significant number of people believe Downing’s claim that he’s a "reparative therapist". They don’t crack up when he tells them he can “unblock” latent heterosexuality in his patients. Some are so convinced of his legitimacy, in fact, they actually engage his questionable services.

Nobody who beds down with the Devil should be surprised if he ends up getting screwed without lubricant! I'd say that's what happened to two of Alan Downing's clients. Not literally, of course; but who knows what might've happened if the activities described here had continued indefinitely:

Truth Wins Out (TWO) released an exclusive video statement today from two former clients of “ex-Gay” life coach Alan Downing. The clients, Ben Unger and Chaim Levin, alleged that during individual therapy sessions, Downing . . . made them undress in front of a mirror and touch their bodies while the significantly older therapist watched. Unger and Levin call the sessions a “psychological striptease” and believe they were harmed by what they consider unprofessional behavior and sexual misconduct. Downing . . . is the lead therapist for Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) and is . . . a “Senior Trainer” for Journey into Manhood, which is a controversial “ex-Gay” backwoods retreat designed to supposedly make Gay men more masculine.

“He was encouraging me: ‘It’s okay Ben, you can take your shirt off . . . here was a man that was much older than me, and I was around 20,” said Ben Unger, a former client of Alan Downing. “At that point, I was just staring at a mirror with my shirt off and he was right behind me staring at the mirror with me at my body. Then telling me to look at my body and feel my body. It was weird.”

I wouldn't call it "weird". I'd call it "frustrated libido leading to inappropriate conduct"! Did Unger submit to this perverted ritual more than once? Now, that would strike me as odd.

“While I was standing there without my clothes on, he asked me to touch my genitals,” says former Downing client Chaim Levin. “Once again, I communicated that I was not comfortable with it. And he was like, you know, ‘just feel yourself. Just feel it for a second. So you can grasp your masculinity physically.’”

What Chaim Levin really needed to grasp was his sanity. He seems to have temporarily become separated from same! What was it about depraved voyeurism that failed to sound major alarm bells for him? Did he shed rational thought along with his jockey shorts?

These incredible accounts come from a press release distributed by Truth Won Out, an "ex-Gay" watchdog organization. Wayne Besen, one of my previous Dumb Dora Award recipients, is the founder of TWO. Sometimes, Wayne's personal flaws impact negatively on his Gay activism; dude can be mean, arrogant, reactionary and shockingly blind to important matters like the toxicity of hate speech. That said, nobody has done more research into the dubious activities of "therapists" like Alan Downing. Wayne has made a career out of exposing them, and he does an excellent job of it. Here's another juicy tidbit from his press release:

Journey into Manhood, where Downing is a counselor, exhibits similar eyebrow-raising techniques. Writer Ted Cox infiltrated this peculiar program and was surprised to find what he called “homoerotic exercises” and a cabin that he called “The Cuddle Room” because it was a space where supposedly “ex-Gay” men gave each other inappropriate massages. “Apparently some of the guys in one cabin threw their mattresses into the middle of the room and had an all-night holding session,” said one of the men attending the Journey into Manhood session, according to Cox’s article.

Holding sessions?

Even most "Ex-Gay" group leaders would decry such bizarre methodology. Who do these jokers think they're fooling? I know what they were holding in those cabins, and I bet you do, too! Are these allegedly therapeutic retreats just elaborate fronts for orgies? I can't believe that men desperate to become Straight would let themselves be drawn into such sexually-charged all-male activities. They must be incredibly dumb not to know what's really going down (and what's being gone down on)! If it's true that "ex-Gay" therapists are misleading their clients, it's also true that some of those clients seem only too willing to be misled.

No reputable psychotherapist would ever ask a client to disrobe in the office! Nor would he ever direct a client to get "massage therapy" from other clients! Who doesn't know that? I can't decide what's more pathetic here: Sex-starved Gay quacks ogling nude men under the pretense of mental health counseling, or idiotic Gay men buying into the absurd premise that homoerotic "exercises" will curb their same-gender desire. At least the quacks get paid for their foolishness!

Granted, self-hatred can leave Gay men vulnerable to brainwashing. I know about that, but I also know vulnerability and stupidity are two different things! Now, I'm not suggesting that the Alan Downings of the world shouldn't be punished. "Ex-Gay" scam artists deserve severe punishment in the form of professional censure, aggressive fraud prosecutions, and personal injury lawsuits. However, if you're a man who drops your drawers on cue and/or tries to cuddle his sex drive away with other men, there's a point at which "look what he made me do" accusations sound a wee bit disingenuous!

Both Ben Unger and Chaim Levin were adults when Alan Downing "counseled" them. Every adult must take responsibility for his own actions.  In my opinion, all three men should examine the extent to which internalized shame and suppressed sexuality got them into trouble.

Some may find my assessment of Unger and Levin's conduct rather harsh. An attorney would probably see their situation differently than I do (and frankly, I hope one does); but I think God gave us all common sense for a reason!  If a grown man can't recognize sexual harassment until after he's followed instructions to strip naked and fondle himself, then I ask you: what can anybody really do for him?

Just feel it for a second . . . just touch it one time.  Oh, brother!  The war against "ex-Gay" quackery (which has yet to be fully engaged) is just like the war on illicit drugs: It's doomed to fail so long as there's a steady stream of eager customers. The only way we'll diminish that customer base is by working much harder to de-stigmatize LGBT identity.  I believe we can eventually conquer prejudice and shame.  However, there isn't a damn thing we can do about stupidity!

Next: The Dumb Dora Award for Fake Feminist Fagsploitation