Virginia’s leading ex-gay advocacy group, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), has had trouble recruiting ex-gays to its cause. In a PFOX blog post published on Tuesday, the group attempts to explain why.
Quoting liberally from Neil Whitehead‘s book, “My Genes Made Me Do It!,” PFOX argues that there are plenty of “ex-gays” living outwardly as homosexuals that don’t want to identify as ex-gay—-because they just want to be straight. Writes Whitehead:
At this point the natural question arises – if there are so many “ex-gays” in the population, where are they? Most readers will never have met any. It is no wonder the GLB community is very skeptical about whether real change occurs, though the best estimate of the researchers involved is that it does, and spontaneously, without clinical intervention, just in the normal course of life.
According to Whitehead, many “ex-gays” choose not to live openly as “ex-gay” because they “have some shame about their previous life,” because the identity “may be destructive of a present relationship,” or because “they will be relentlessly and openly attacked and crossexamined by activist members of the SSA community.”
So, ex-gays don’t want to identify as “ex-gay” for the same reason they want to become “ex-gay” in the first place: because people don’t like gay people. For ex-gays, the solution to people not liking gay people is to (a) will their way to heterosexuality; (b) pray for divine intervention into their sex life; or (c) stop having sex entirely.
The problem of people-who-don’t-like-gay-people plagues both gays and “ex-gays,” of course. Gay activists have come up with a pretty good solution for this: they work to eliminate the stigma against homosexuality instead of never having good sex ever again. “Ex-gay” activist groups, like PFOX, actually work to promote “ex-gay” stigma: They encourage people to not like gay people, and to become not-gay people, which in turn makes people not like “ex-gay” people, because they used to be gay.
PFOX can’t find more ex-gays because of PFOX. Since the group represents a minority of people who are driven to silence by the shame over their homosexuality and, uh, political differences with the gay community, PFOX is in the privileged position of providing a voice to the voiceless. While the gay community works to eliminate shaming its members’ sexuality, the stigma against “ex-gays” actually benefits the “ex-gay” activists. When “ex-gays” aren’t talking, PFOX gets to say whatever happens to serve their own interests.
Of course, PFOX’s self-interest doesn’t explain why individuals would choose to leave a life of shame and good sex for a life of shame and bad sex. I have to think that’s another reason why I can’t find any ex-gays around here.