Toronto
3 min

Recruiting our kids

Sicko straights go after young queers

The fundies are at it again – luring the little tykes into a life of shame, depravity and stifling conformity. Unable to accept their own Inner Homo, they seem determined to root it out of everyone else.



An “ex-gay” outfit called New Direction In Life Ministries-Toronto, Inc, has set up a web site that aims to help gay kids go straight. Yes, I know, you thought that was impossible. (Not to mention undesirable.) You and everyone else, including the American Psychological Association, which believes that the “scientific evidence does not show that conversion therapy works and that it can do more harm than good.” But not the anonymous folks at Free To Be Me (www.freetobeme.com).



You’d think a group of closeted Christians (they call themselves “faith neutral”) would accept God’s gifts, especially a big one like gayness, but no, they seem determined to change what can’t be changed. The site is filled with whoppers but the biggest lie of all is the idea that “People can choose what they want their life to be like in the areas of behaviour, fantasy, identity, and attraction.”



Perhaps sensing that the political winds have shifted, they try to keep their bigotry in check. They insist that they respect men and women who “choose” to be gay or lesbian. They advise their correspondents not to call queers names. They insist they are not homophobic. “We neither fear nor hate homosexual people. We believe that every person has the freedom to live their lives according to their understanding. We respect that.”



The opening page even sports a logo against gaybashing.



But it quickly gets down to basics – trashing queerness.



Working from the proposition that gay is wrong and anyone in their right mind would change if they could, it works backwards to some very odd causes and cures.



First off, it wants you to know that you’re probably not gay even if you think you are. Even if you get a boner for the boy next door. That doesn’t mean a thing. It was news to me, but apparently, “Your body itself doesn’t know whether a guy or a girl is touching it. It just responds to pleasurable feelings. Anybody can start a car if they have a key. The car doesn’t know whether it is the owner or a thief – it just starts!”



Not this car. It likes a very specific sort of key.



Still think you might be gay or lesbian? Well, you can’t be. You’re either confused or going through a phase or trying to fill a hole in your emotional life or you failed to bond with the parent of the same sex or you were abused. To “leave” homosexuality, you just have to work through the emotional issues that caused it.



Completely ignored is the idea that most gay men and lesbians have a sense early on that we are different, often long before we’ve had any sexual experience. Identity precedes experience.



Also ignored is the exact process by which one “changes” from gay to straight. Rather than admit that it just doesn’t happen (or as Sallie Tisdale suggested last year in Salon magazine, it happens only to people who are bisexual to start with), they fudge the facts by suggesting that it’s more of a long-term shift than an immediately attainable metamorphosis.



“Imagine wanting a vegetable garden. You could pray for years that vegetables would grow in your backyard…. However, the reality is that we must prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water and weed, and do other work. This gives the best chance that there will be an abundance of vegetables to harvest.”



But what if all you want is fruit?



If it weren’t so noxious, this stew of ancient canards and false empathy would be funny. But it takes advantage of one of the most vulnerable groups in our society, gay kids. Once you’re out, the advantages of being gay are obvious. But not when you’re struggling with your identity. At that stage of your life, fear and confusion reign supreme.



Free To Be Me takes advantage of that confusion to plant the seeds of doubt and self-hatred. Like all effective lies, it sticks close to the truth, mimicking the non-judgmental language of therapy. But its poison seeps through, like snakes slipping from the grass.



Don’t listen to anyone who advocates gay sex, it says. They’re “not someone who has your best interests at heart.” And for god sake’s avoid gay sex. You’d be selling “your soul for a moment of closeness with someone who is not there for you.”



Despite its bland tone, Free To Be Me is a hate site. It offers no links to gay media, counsellors or organizations like Lesbian, Gay And Bisexual Youth that might help kids come to terms with their sexuality. Instead, it refers kids to such noxious ex-gay groups as Exodus International and the National Association For Research And Therapy Of Homosexuality.



And the worst of it is, you’re funding it. Contributions to this spigot of hate are tax deductible.