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Religion and homosexuality

Part 2: 1999: "Ex-gay" advertisements (Cont'd).
Reactions to the ads by LGBT groups.

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This essay is a continuation from the previous essay

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1999-MAY TV ads (continued):

At no point do the advertisements specifically claim that anyone has actually changed their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. The phrases used are ambiguous:

bullet The intent of the messages appears to be that persons with a gay or lesbian sexual orientation can, by being saved, convert to a heterosexual orientation through prayer and reparative therapy. This belief is supported by a very small professional mental-health association, NARTH. But all of the large professional associations, like the American Psychiatric Association, and American Psychological Association, have condemned reparative therapy; they consider it ineffective and potentially dangerous. It can trigger severe depression and even suicide.

bulletThe actual wording of the ads can be interpreted to refer to:
bullet bisexuals who had been actively engaged in homosexual behavior but who have decided to restrict their sexual behavior to members of the opposite gender, or to
bullet persons with a homosexual orientation who decide to become celibate for the future.

At no point do the ads talk about orientation; they only discuss behavior. Bisexuals can, by an act of will, decide to "change," and to "walk away" from homosexual behavior while still remaining bisexual. Persons with a homosexual orientation can, through celibacy, also change and walk away. 

The TV ads do not answer the question that the vast majority of friends and relatives of persons with a homosexual orientation have: whether their friend or family member can actually change their orientation. They may seem to answer the question, but it is all sleight-of-hand. 

A spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said:

"They are trying to put forward a kinder, gentler kind of prejudice; but it won't work."

The major television networks refused to run these ads. Bob Davies, the executive director of Exodus International at the time, claimed this is because leaders of homosexual-rights groups pressured the networks. An alternative explanation is that networks are concerned about indirectly being responsible for needless deaths due to suicide. The American Psychological Association and American Psychological Association have warned that reparative therapy is ineffective, since sexual orientation cannot be changed. It is well known that the guilt, depression and sense of personal failure following  unsuccessful reparative therapy can trigger some clients of that therapy to commit suicide.

Davies said that:

"The gay community wants to silence us...In spite of what they say, they are not interested in tolerance. ... The persecution and hostility we are receiving now is beginning to happen to the church [at large]. Looking five years ahead, I am starting to see where all this is headed. Christians are becoming the bad guys. Christians create the problems in the country, according to non-Christians...[The church is] being assaulted from without and within...The authority of Scripture is being eroded daily. Eventually it seems our whole foundation may crumble. It has been happening for many years. The body of Christ is in danger of being compromised." 1

Concerned Women for America had two TV ads available on their web site. 2 Their site also include the text content from the ads.

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Reactions by gay, lesbian and bisexual groups:

bullet

Human Rights Campaign Foundation: HRC  produced a advertisement to counter the religiously based ad. It was sponsored by a coalition of gay and lesbian groups, including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund Foundation, Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, The Gill Foundation, Human Rights Campaign Foundation, An Uncommon Legacy Foundation, National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Gay & Lesbian Task force, National Latina/o LGBT Organization, National Youth Advocacy Coalition, and Parents Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays.

It featured topics like:

  • Our lesbian daughter is the apple of our eye;

  • Minnesota is in the heart of America;

  • Gay people and their families are people of faith;

  • Our church, Your church;

  • All leading medical experts agree;

  • Equal rights, not special rights;

  • Help us support our daughter. 3

bullet

Demonstration: On 1998-AUG-22, hundreds of gays and lesbians protested in front of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL. They waved signs; one read  "Don't crucify us with hate." D. James Kennedy, who heads Coral Ridge Ministries commented:

"This ad campaign is not about hate. It's about hope. Hope for change...People need to know this [homosexuality] is not a lifetime sentence. No one has been saying that. Change is possible."

Some people who claim to have been healed of their homosexuality were present at the Ministries' news conference. 4


bullet Bisexual groups' response: The bisexual and transgender communities were outraged at the anti-LGBT ads. Some were also not particularly enamored  at the the response ads by lesgay groups which had ignored bisexuals and transsexuals. The bisexual and transgender groups responded with a response ad of their own. 5 It used the same slogan as the religious right: "If you really love someone, you'll tell them the truth." They then point out that:

bulletMany people are bisexual.

bulletMany "ex-gays" who were "cured" by reparative therapy are undoubtedly bisexual persons.

bulletLove is about honor and respect for yourself and others.

bulletLove makes a family.

bulletAll of us - bisexual, lesbian, gay, transgender, heterosexual - deserve their right to love whom we choose. 

The ad states, in part:

"Bisexual people have the capacity for emotional, romantic, loving and/or physical attraction to more than one gender. Some of these so-called ex-gays are undoubtedly bisexual. Bisexuals can choose to be open to the full range of possibilities, but our bisexuality is the potential, not the requirement, for involvement with more than one gender. Some bisexual people choose to be in committed monogamous relationships; some choose other forms of relationships and commitments. Heterosexual and homosexual people also make these choices."

The response ad was sponsored by: Anything That Moves Magazine; BiNetUSA; Bisexual Resource Center; Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE); FTM, International*; Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Veterans of America; Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund*; Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; GenderPAC 6; International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission; Intersexed Society of North America; LLEG: The Nat'l Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Organization*; Nat'l Center for Lesbian Rights*; Nat'l Black Lesbian & Gay Leadership Forum *; National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; Nat'l Youth Advocacy Coalition*; Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays, and other groups.

Copies of the response ad were available in various formats for local use, royalty free.

* Email address.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Gay activists suppress television ads," at: http://www.religiontoday.com/Archive/FeatureStory/
  2. "The television ads," Concerned Women for America, at: http://www.cwfa.org/library/family/truthinlove/
  3. "Toward hope and healing for America," a lesgay positive ad, at: http://www.hrc.org/feature1/hrcad1.html (Link no longer functioning)
  4. Religion Today news summary for 1998-AUG-25 at: http://www.religiontoday.com/Archive/NewsSummary/
  5. "Toward a new national discussion of sexual orientation," at: http://www.anythingthatmoves.com/reaction/advert.html 
  6. GenderPAC (a.k.a. Gender Public Adcocacy Coalition) was formed from a group of transgender organizations in the District of Columbia during 1995. It promoted safe schools, workplaces and communities for LGBT persons. They ceased operation in 2009.

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Copyright © 1998 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update and review: 2013-JUN-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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