Posted tagged ‘Love Won Out’

Baby Ben’s Gifts

November 4, 2007

Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out” conference was Saturday. My earlier thoughts are here. But if I needed another reason to be annoyed, Paula over at Whtz On My Mind has one:

Tickets to this seminar were $50-$60. They estimate attendance at 1,000. One day. $50,000.00. For what? To convince some poor soul’s loved ones that if they just work harder, pray harder, be harder, that loved one will be “saved” from “the gay”.

50K to have a one-day seminar? Really?

I was glad to hear that PFLAG sponsored a quiet protest. I would have gone, but our neighbors down the street needed us to babysit their one-year old, Ben, while they did some running around.

Ben has stayed with us before, once for the weekend when his parents went to their 20th class reunion. We always have a good time with him. So when it came down to making the choice between protesting or taking care of a kid who laughs at my jokes and happily listens and claps along to the Mighty Clouds of Joy with us, well, you do the math.

We were a little surprised that out of all of the young families in our neighborhood, Ben’s folks asked us to keep him. We kind of assume that because we are gay that the locals think we are either swingers or pedophiles, since that’s the rhetoric we hear from the right wing when the topic of John and I marrying comes up.

We heard from a neighbor once that the swinger assumption was an actual conversation a couple of years back at a neighborhood weekly moms’ group meeting. I don’t know where they were going to meet their sample group, but “swinger” doesn’t exactly describe the folks we know.

Anyway, I know Ben’s mom was at that meeting and that they go to a church that sponsors an ex-gay group. Plus Ben has Downs Syndrome and has had some special health issues, so taken all together, one would assume that people already raising children would be asked first.

But we didn’t bring any of that up. We were just happy to be asked and to get the chance to hang out with Ben, who is the perfect baby because like I said, he laughs at my jokes.

We love Ben. For me he is a reminder of the many forms God’s gifts can take. A few years back, Laura Schlesinger (aka Dr. Laura) on her national radio talk show referred to gay people as “biological errors.” There was a time when I was so full of fear and self-hate that I actually agreed with her. I know better now what an insult that is to God.

I may be a biological variation, but I’m hardly an error. Not to sound all Marlo Thomas Free to Be You and Me or anything, but I have unique gifts to offer to the world because of who I am. Ben does too. Ben and I share the trait of being biological variations, and all of the gifts that come with it. He has mad skills. I see how full of joy and love he is, and how he imparts all of that to others.

Ben is God’s gift to us, the world, and not just his parents and siblings. I think his parents realize this, and that may be why they ask us to keep him from time to time. Or it could be because we live two doors down. Who cares? We’re thankful for the gift.

James Dobson and My Ex-Ex-Gay Life

October 31, 2007

Focus on the Family will be in Indianapolis this weekend at Traders Point Christian Church putting on one of its ex-gay 101 conferences, ironically titled “Love Won Out” (I guess to them gay people are just a bunch of pathetic, loveless losers). The time will be spent telling folks that people can change their sexuality. Having spent years in such ministries myself, thinking about it brings up a lot of pain for me. Still, when PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, asked me for a few media quotes about my experience with “ex-gay” ministries to counter the views that will be presented by FOTF (an organization that spends much time working to legislate against families like mine), I thought I would try to help. Below are the thoughts I provided:

“After eleven years of struggling unsuccessfully to reorient my sexuality, I finally realized that my true struggle had been to fit into a religious community that only accepted me fully when I pretended to be someone I was not.

I was told by my ex-gay leaders that healthy same-sex couples were a myth, that they did not exist, and that any long-term gay couples were surely debauched in some way. To increase my odds of changing my same-sex attractions I chose to believe these statements as fact until I finally put myself in a position to learn otherwise. When I did actually look closely at the same-sex couples I met, in my case, at the Methodist church I attend, I found remarkable examples of commitment, fidelity, and unconditional love. Though legally still vulnerable these relationships thrive, often in the midst of great adversity and a striking lack of family support.

Being gay for me is like being right-handed. It is neither good nor bad. It just is. My family and my partner’s family see us as we see ourselves – as a mutually committed couple working hard to keep our family strong. And like any good family, our parents brothers and sisters all work along side us so that we might someday have the same opportunities to protect our family that they all have.

Keeping families strong is a full time job. It is sad that organizations like Focus on the Family work to make things even harder for families like ours by spending considerable time and money to keep them disadvantaged. It is especially hurtful that they do this under the guise of love and in the name of God.

Even though I now disagree with the assumptions that ground Love Won Out’s philosophy, it isn’t the presentation of an ex-gay point of view that concerns me. What is worrisome is the attachment of that point of view, at least in this case, to Focus on the Family, a powerful and well-funded political organization that prides itself on its efforts to further disadvantage the families of gay people.”