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Every summer,the Arlington County fair serves up pony rides, minor reality television stars, and if you’re lucky, a good old dust-up involving members of the local ex-gay lobby.
In 2007, Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) volunteer David Elliott claimed that he was assaulted at the fair’s ex-gay booth by an unidentified gay man. For this year’s requisite PFOX confrontation, Elliott cornered Jay Fisette, an openly gay member of the Arlington County board. The confrontation had all the elements of a classic PFOX press release: Several ex-gay volunteers, one prominent gay man, and plenty of allegations of anti-ex-gay discrimination.
According to a piece he wrote in the Christian News Wire, Elliott approached Fisette to rehash the details of the 2007 incident. “I wanted to let you know that I was hit when I was working at this booth in a previous year,” he wrote. Fisette allegedly replied, “What happened to you wasn’t good, but neither is your message.”
Elliott pressed Fisette. “Everyone has their own opinion,” he said. To which Fisette allegedly replied: “No.”
Then, Fisette realized that he was surrounded by the alternate opinion. “Fisette then looked at us and inquired, ‘Are you guys ex-gays?'” Elliott wrote. “Both myself and the other PFOX volunteer affirmed that yes, we are ex-gays. Fisette shook his head and hurriedly walked away.”
The incident with Fisette raised a few questions for Elliott:
“When Jay Fisette, an elected government official, says ‘No,’ does he mean that I do not have a right to my own opinion of not accepting the ‘gay’ label for myself?
“Or does he mean that he refuses to dialogue on the ex-gay issue?”
“Does Mr. Fisette also believe that gay groups do not have a right to their own opinion?”
“Or is the right of self-determination permitted only to gays like him?”
“Does Fisette agree that his county’s sexual orientation law also protects ex-gays?”
I have a call out to Fisette’s office, in the hopes of finally getting some answers to PFOX’s rhetorical line of questioning concerning a largely hypothetical sexual orientation. I’ll update when I hear back.