Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Overloaded Accusation

The National Republican Convention stocked up at the anti-gay pronouncments store before the convention. Aside from the Republican party platform piece on same-sex marriage, which would prefer to deny all gay families, with children or otherwise, any of the civil protections that other families have, they also invited gospel vocalist Pastor Donnie McClurkin to sing. While he had the mike he gave the delegates his perspective on how to best minister to gay folk.

From Richard Leiby at the Washington Post:

"Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who has detailed his struggle with gay tendencies and vowed to battle "the curse of homosexuality," said yesterday he'll perform as scheduled at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, despite controversy over his view that sexuality can be changed by religious intervention.

"I can't let off. I didn't call myself -- God called me to do what I do," McClurkin told The Post's Hamil R. Harris. The Grammy winner declared, "If this is a war, we are willing to fight. Not a war of violence, but a war of purpose."

Despite McClurkin's braveheart-ish language, I think he is probably a loving person. The poor man was raped! Twice!! That is enough to traumatize anyone. What makes me angry is that his generalization that all gay people can trace their homosexuality back to some traumatic experience in their past is a myth that frankly I'd rather the currently rabid right wing of the Republican party not trip over themselves to glom on to.

I am gay. I was not raped. My relationship with my folks is fine, though I must admit my dad and I have had our share of arguments over the years. My partner was not raped. He has lunch with his dad and fixes his computer on a weekly basis. They go on fishing trips to Canada! And everything is fine in the mom department, too. Once I got out of ex-gay ministry and started attending a gay-supportive Methodist church, I started to meet lots of gay folks with similar family relationships and with backgrounds lacking in abuse (unless you count homophobic bullies, which does seem to be a recurring theme).

I support people's freedom to attempt to change their sexual orientation. I can't recommend it if your desire is to get rid or your attraction to members of your sex, but knock yourself out. Some people say they are less attracted to the same sex after they under go "reparative therapy." Didn't work for me. But I'm not one of those people who bash ex-gays marrying other ex-gays of the opposite sex or anyone else they choose as long as people know what's what before the vows are taken.

But if therapy might help anyone, it is someone whose identity was formed amidst rape and seductive meetings with older, more powerful men (I'm speaking with regard to children here-- Golan Cipel probably should have known better if he wasn't into McGreevey. He at least should have called him on it sooner). And if gay folks have abusive relationships that they think could be the root of some bigger problems, then by all means they should get some help, quick!

It may be comforting for people who choose the ex-gay counseling route to believe that all gay people share some sort of abuse history. But the imposition of this incorrect generalization is extremely unhelpful to GLBT folks who don't fit such a mold and who are trying to raise their families or nurture their primary relationships free of the stressful, exclusive platforms and billowing clouds of fear coming from the Republican's "big tent" party. It is equally unfair to imply that the majority of gay people pose threats as rapists and gay recruiters, just as it would be to imply that most straight people are potentially rapists and heterosexual recruiters simply because some are.

I take heart in the fact that, like McClurkin, I once believed these generalizations were true. Fortunately I met people whose history proved otherwise. As gay people become more visible (why it is important to be out) this will be the case for many others. McClurkin is passionate about what he believes, and he truly desires to help people. One day I hope his passion and care for others meets a broader understanding of gay people who would choose to fight to preserve the innocence of children right alongside him.


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