Give Me That Old-Time Ex-Gay Snake Oil

After losing prominent “ex-gay” mouthpieces to apology (Alan Chambers), scandal (George Rekers) or enlightenment (John Paulk), the religious right is scrambling for a new face to sell its snake oil.

Say hello to David Kyle Foster, author of a pair of books about leaving homosexuality, whose new article over at the Christian Post rehashes all the lies the right-wing loves to spout about lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

Lest you think he was never gay in the first place, his first paragraph is used to prove his queer cred: “To those who suggest that I never was homosexual, my response is, ‘Does sleeping with over 1,000 men count?’”

Actually, no, it doesn’t. Neither the number nor the gender of the people one has slept with in their life proves anything about one’s sexual orientation. What this “proof” reveals is that, indeed, Foster’s problem isn’t homosexuality, but (as the title of his most recent book alludes to) sexual addiction, and gets the most bang (sorry) for his buck out of sex with men. Perhaps he has other psychological issues centering around shame or self-hatred or body image that lead him to prefer anonymous encounters over deeper, loving relationships. Perhaps what Foster really needed was a good psychotherapist to help him work through his sexual issues so he could fully integrate his sexuality with his identity in a healthy way and remain who he most likely was (and still is, of course) … a gay man.

You see, this kind of full integration happens all the time and people give up addictions or other harmful behaviors and remain happy, healthy … and gay or straight. One’s sexual proclivities have little to do with orientation and a lot to do with how we relate to ourselves and others through intimacy and other forms of physical contact.

But, this is how the ex-gay industry wants the world to view LGBT people—as purely sexual beings. Foster’s screed is simply a long promo for a new ex-gay movie coming out, and the trailer, three-minutes of nauseating footage, centers around how each of these former homosexuals lived their lives in clubs, engaging in cheap, easy, and often public sex, or were sexually abused.

For all the claptrap the religious right yells about how they don’t want to think of us “that way,” the trailer for the film is positively voyeuristic! Let’s face it, gay sex is completely titillating to heterosexuals, especially conservative Christian heterosexuals. They can’t stop thinking about us in bed! Remind me again, who’s the perv here?

If the number of partners one has, the amount of time one spends in clubs, and what kind of sexual abuse one has suffered in their lifetime makes a person gay, then I suppose I ought to turn in my lesbian card. I can count the number of sexual partners I have had in 49 years on two hands and have some fingers left over. Not because there weren’t offers, but because, as a general rule, I like to have some sort of close relationship and trust with the person I get naked with. I plan to share something special with them, so I want to have some feelings before I fall into bed with them.

As for clubs, they were never my scene and I ditched them in my 20s. There are plenty of other ways to meet other LGBT people … church, for instance!

Certainly, many LGBT people have suffered from sexual abuse, but so have many straight people, who continue to be straight to this day, despite the horrors they may have suffered at the hands of adults when they were children. There is no excuse for anyone, gay or straight, to abuse a powerless child. But, the experts agree, sexual abuse doesn’t affect sexual orientation.

Oh, but Fisher continues:

Homosexual behavior also tears at the soul, causing much higher rates for substance abuse, suicide, depression, domestic violence, early death – even in the most gay-friendly regions of the globe. Why? Because active homosexuals are trying to find something through gay relationships that can never be found there.

I fear that Fisher mistakes symptoms for the disease here. To say that homosexuality is the cause of substance abuse, depression, violence and early death in the LGBT community is like saying being a teenager causes gangs. While gang membership may be predominantly composed of teenagers, there are societal and familial forces that bring those teens into the gangs. Gangs, aside from the violence they perpetrate, are often a replacement for the love, opportunity and sense of belonging that many teens may not be getting at home.

The same can be said for homosexuality. A sexual orientation does not cause one to become addicted, depressed, violent or die early. Instead, a society and a church that calls you abnormal, crazy, “intrinsically disordered,” and asserts that God hates you enough for who you are to send you to an eternal hell creates these kinds of behaviors.

At our core, human beings want to fit in. We want to be loved and accepted and when we aren’t, when we’re made to feel like scum and ashamed of who we are, we turn to things that make us feel better—drugs and alcohol perhaps. Being rejected by family, church and society can bring on depression or violence in acting out our frustrations. Early death, though, for our community can be caused by any of these problems … and sometimes violence from those outside our community who believe the world would be a better place without us.

So, no, LGBT people are not addicted, depressed, violent or checking out early because of who we are. What really “tears at the soul” is how we are treated by people who believe, and preach, and attempt to legislate that we are “less than” everyone else.

When it comes to my own sexual orientation, I know that I did not choose it. The ex-gay industry can try to revive itself by telling the same lies and trotting out the same distorted and debunked “research” all it wants. The picture they paint of LGBT lives is a sad one. They have to tell it this way because if they told the story of all the happy, healthy, boring LGBT people and their happy, healthy boring relationships, nobody would buy their lies. What’s sad is they find people, such as Fisher, who play right into their hands and parrot the words they’ve been paid to speak.

I do hope that each person, including Fisher, Rekers, and others who make their living by psychologically and spiritually destroying genuinely hurting LGBT people can sleep at night. But, people such as Chambers and Paulk show us the real truth: change is possible.

Candace Chellew-Hodge is the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008)

  • Frank2918

    Well said Mr. foster! God can indeed heal people of being a slave to sinful homosexual behavior.

  • sleepingquail

    as well as sinful heterosexual behavior and sinful religious behavior. Slavishness is the issue, not the behavior.

  • Frank2918

    Gods power is great! No one has to succumb to sinful behavior.

  • http://credendum.net/ Credendum

    EXCELLENT!

  • Andre M

    Do not succumb then, Frank! Repent of your hateful ways!

  • https://www.facebook.com/etseq97 etseq

    Is this the same old Frank under a new handle??

  • Marian L Shatto

    I do believe so. He seems to have acquired a few extra digits.

  • http://wordinmyheart.wordpress.com/ Joe

    You are just moralizing your own preferences by labelling them “healthy”. Whatever you think motivated David Kyle Foster to “leave homosexuality”, it doesn’t make any sense to claim he wasn’t actually gay because he didn’t conform to a lesbian Christian world-view.

    Some gay men (assuming they aren’t particularly religious) would think it was “sad” if a self-accepting gay person had slept with less than 10 people by the time they were 49. Maybe there are psychologically “healthy” reasons for your limited sexual history but secular GLBT folks would be inclined to interpret that history (with it’s attendant moralizing) through the lens of “religious indoctrination”, “repression”, “internalized homophobia” or simply a “low sex drive”.

  • David

    So in the midst of your attack blog you changed the name of the object of your disdain. Neat trick. I remember when gay rights was supposedly about self-determination. Now we are allowed no choice, once gay always gay it’s the law.

  • revtheodyke

    If you read the article, I never claimed he wasn’t gay. I think he still is gay. The point, which you obviously missed in your rush to try to insult or psychoanalyze me, was that no one’s sexual orientation is “proved” or “disproved” by how many sexual partners one has in life. There are plenty of promiscuous or prudish heterosexuals in the world, just as there are promiscuous or prudish LGBT people in this world. Notches on the bedpost only prove how we view sex, not our sexual orientation. Fisher was using his promiscuity to “prove” his homosexuality, which is ridiculous. However, the “ex-gay” industry has to reduce us to sexual objects to sell their snake oil instead of seeing sexuality as simply part of our lives just as it’s simply a part of “normal” heterosexual lives.

  • niteshade

    Question is can he heal a troll.

  • http://wordinmyheart.wordpress.com/ Joe

    I haven’t psychoanalyzed you. I don’t know you. I’m just saying other people could just as easily argue that “psychological issues” explain why you do and say the things you do.

  • joeyj1220

    Yep… ol’ Cranky Franky is back for more.

  • Wendy Johnson

    As with any sin, don’t you have to want to be healed?

  • pennyjane

    not a neat trick, an old one. conflating a “truth” with a “law”. right wingers have a real dessonate relationship with truth, but law is something you can sink your teeth into.

  • Frank2918

    There is no love in supporting sinful behavior.

  • Andre M

    Doesn’t appear to be much love in you, Frank.

  • Frank2918

    If you support sinful behavior and you think that’s love you are In no position to define love in anyone else. You obviously have no idea what real love is.

  • Andre M

    No, you Frank. No, you.

    That’s what discussions you hold are going to amount to. The only reason you can give for anything is “BECAUSE GOD SAID SO,” but no one here who already doesn’t agree with you is going to agree with your basic premises: 1) That God said that same-sex love is not “real” love 2) That same sex love is sinful 3) That the correct interpretation of what God said happens to be your interpretation. Your argument really comes down to, “BECAUSE I SAID SO.” And no one gives a shit what you think or have to say. So what are you trying to accomplish, Frank? You don’t have the tools at your disposal to make a real argument about anything. You’re just confirming in people’s minds a perception that conservative Christians are assholes. If you are serious about changing people’s minds, then you need to reconsider your entire approach. In the mean time, just shut up.

  • Frank2918

    I don’t say so, God does. You can choose to accept it or reject it but it won’t change it.

  • Andre M

    Aren’t you called to be an Ambassador for Christ? Isn’t that what you believe? Do you know what ambassadors do? They communicate with people tactfully.

    Frank, you are no ambassador. You’re one of God’s Goons.

  • Frank2918

    You are the one who has rejected Gods Word in this area. Nothing about being an ambassador means lying or deceiving people.

  • Andre M

    I wasn’t talking about me or lying or deceiving. I was talking about you communicating with people with tact. You’re a bully. Go away.

  • Frank2918

    I simply counter the lies and deceptions with the truth. Feel free to ignore me but I am not going anywhere.

  • Andre M

    And I’m sure you could never imagine yourself being wrong about anything. You’re a prideful man, Frank.

    To quote Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, “If you’ve been redeemed, I wouldn’t want to be.”

  • Frank2918

    I am wrong about many things that’s why I trust God.

  • sleepingquail

    “lustful certainty is probably a sin.” (no attribution but a near quote)

  • fiona64

    I think you make a whole helluva lot of assumptions that have no basis in reality whatsoever …

  • fiona64

    Frank obsesses an awful lot about teh gay secks for an allegedly straight dude … at least, that’s been my observation over time.

  • fiona64

    There is no love in you, period.

  • fiona64

    As always, Frank, since you fail to comprehend the exegesis I provided that shows your interpretation of the Bible is incorrect, I find myself asking this question: how many of the other Levitical laws are you following?

  • fiona64

    Going back into the closet doesn’t mean someone is no longer gay.

  • David

    screw the closet, you folk rely so much on cliche bull. People have the GOD given right to choose the course of their lives. It’s not up to you or pennyjane or the author of this blog. We don’t need your permission or approval. You make a total lie of gay civil rights when you condemn, harass, mock and basically spit on those who do not want to play the gay and proud charade. If you want to live your lives the way you choose then STFUP about those who make different decisions. You are as evil as those who hate LGBT folk and mistreat them. There is NO DIFFERENCE

  • http://wordinmyheart.wordpress.com/ Joe

    And those assumptions would be?

  • revtheodyke

    People are free to live how they wish. If Fisher or any other person chooses to be a celibate gay person, that’s fine, just don’t claim that everyone should be ex-gay or repress their sexual orientation, and don’t paint all gay life as promiscuous or victims of sexual abuse. All I’m asking is the “ex-gay” industry tell the truth that there are many LGBT people who have reconciled their faith and sexuality and are living happy, God-blessed lives. I choose to be who God made me to be and others can choose how they wish to live, just don’t tell me I’m going to hell for living as I feel God has created me or try to legislate my rights away.

  • David

    I totally agree that LGBT people should not be the focus of legal discrimination. I don’t see much difference between those on the ex-gay side claiming that all must turn or burn and those LGBT activists who say that all with same-sex attractions must admit they are gay forever.. Both are forcing their views on others. It’s the gay activist side that is pushing for laws outlawing therapy for unwanted same sex feelings. Absolutely those who use damaging methods should be shut down but to totally outlaw it has has happened in 2(?) states is obscene. If some are painting all gay life as promiscuous or the result of abuse they are simply reflecting their experience. Anything beyond that is misrepresentation. I gotta say though in my 40 some years in and out of the gay male communities I found that there was little in the way of self-respect, commitment or sexual self-control even in the congregation of a major LGBT denomination I was part of. It was there that I became totally disillusioned with LGBT politics and spirituality and gay life in general. But I would never claim that is how all live. I see the fight for LGBT rights deteriorating into a bully brigade trying to force everyone else into submission.

  • fiona64

    You know what? You’re really funny … for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is your asinine belief that anyone who stands up for LGBT equality must, perforce, be LGBT.

    I’m straight, sonny-boy.

    I’m sorry that you decided to be one of those self-loathing folks (I base this on your post below). You are free to live that way, and I am free to pity you.

  • fiona64

    Pretty much everything you wrote …

  • Lamont Cranston

    You’re kinda stupid. Wanna get a drink?

  • http://wordinmyheart.wordpress.com/ Joe

    Oh I see

  • David

    ain’t you a sweet talker!

  • David

    I have to admit I’ve always had trouble conversing with people who hallucinate so I’ll save any further response.

  • RexTIII

    The lies … the same old lies continue, but, it’s nice to see articles like this providing insightful words of wisdom.

  • craig

    A superb calling-out of Foster et al.’s bovine excrement. Thanks!