Ex- Ex-Gay Christine Bakke in This Month’s “Glamour”

Jim Burroway

April 10th, 2007

Christine BakkeChristine Bakke, whose blog Rising Up Whole chronicles her evolving thoughts as she reclaims her life from her experiences within the ex-gay movement, is featured in this month’s Glamour magazine:

While taking the [30-week] course [at Living Waters], she left the auto parts store and took a higher-level job doing production at a small ad agency. And she used the opportunity to reinvent herself. She began introducing herself as Christine again, let her short hair grow and tried even harder to walk, talk and act like a “real” woman. “I remember being in a living room prayer meeting and this lady was praying for me, and she said, I swear, ‘Please help Christine know that she can accessorize,'” she recalls.

Christine has emerged as a public speaker and as one of the principle forces behind the recently launched Beyond Ex-Gay with Peterson Toscano and Steve Boese. Glamour tagged her story as a “must read,” which it most certainly is. Check it out.


Day Of “Truth”?

Jim Burroway

April 9th, 2007

April 18th is the annual observence of the Day of Silence, a student-run even to bring awareness to the silencing effect that anti-LGBT bullying and discrimination has in the schools. Anti-gay groups are countering that with a so-called “Day of Truth” to be held the following day. Truth Wins Out has released a brand new video featuring Ex-Gay Watch’s Daniel Gonzales which examines the “truthiness” of the “Day of Truth” web site.

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Paul Cameron’s “Scandinavian Gay Lifespan” Study Debunked

Jim Burroway

April 9th, 2007

Paul CameronIn 1993, Paul Cameron, of the Family Research Institute, began touting a paper he said he presented at the Eastern Psychological Association entitled, “The lifespan of homosexuals.” Using obituaries from various gay newspapers around the country, Cameron claimed that the average lifespan for gay men was a mere 42 years. For lesbians, the average was 44.

While that study was roundly criticized for its ridiculous methodology, those statistics have persisted as a sort of macabre urban legend among some anti-gay activists. Among them include Christopher Rosik, a California psychologist who cites Cameron’s lifespan figure as justification for sexual orientation conversion therapy.

Well, Cameron’s at it again, hijacking the Eastern Psychological Association’s reputation once again to claim that gays and lesbians in registered partnerships in Denmark and Norway experience a lifespan up to 24 years shorter than their heterosexual counterparts. His latest claims are already being picked up by anti-gay activists, conservative news organizations, blogs, and pundits. Conservative columnist Armstrong Williams commented on Cameron’s claims and asked, “Considering these statistics, do you now believe that vulnerable children should be raised in such an unstable environment?” It’s only a matter of time before these statistics make their way into the mainstream media.

Cameron’s paper, “Federal Distortion of Homosexual Footprint,” is filled with all the strange and bogus statistics we’ve come to expect from him. I examined his methods and in my latest report, “Paul Cameron’s Footprint,” I show you why the claims he makes based on data from Denmark and Norway are completely worthless. My conclusions:

Yes, Cameron is up to his same old tricks again. You can bet that this won’t be the last time we hear from him. And no matter how ridiculous his methodologies may be, he will continue to provide statistical fodder for the anti-gay lobby. But with his latest paper on the “Homosexual Footprint,” he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. This time, as always, his “footprint” is planted firmly in his mouth.

You can read my full report here.


“Love Won Out” on CNN: When Will Someone Finally Say What They Mean?

Jim Burroway

April 6th, 2007

Last night’s edition of Anderson Cooper 360 featured a segment that was filmed at the Love Won Out ex-gay conference that was held in Phoenix February 10. (The official transcript for the CNN segment is here.) I was out of town, so I couldn’t record the segment, but I did get to see it. I thought reporter Gary Tuchman did a good job. His report pretty much matched what I saw there.

(By the way, I saw the camera crew roving the grounds throughout the day. Someone mentioned CNN, but I wasn’t sure at the time if they knew who it was were if they were just speculating. The camera and microphone weren’t marked, but they were accompanied by Love Won Out volunteers everywhere they went.)

I was particularly amused by Dr. Nicolosi’s appearance on CNN. (Update: You can now see this segment on YouTube.) Here it is as it’s described in the transcript:

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Joseph Nicolosi often accuses the media of distorting his research. He was reluctant to speak with us.

(on camera): We were hoping we can talk to you when it’s over.

NICOLOSI: Yes. OK. Well, I don’t think so.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Eventually, he did agree to go on camera, but:

(on camera): You’re categorically saying that, if a father and son have a normal relationship, that child will not be gay?

NICOLOSI: Yes.

TUCHMAN: That’s a pretty strong statement, right?

NICOLOSI: You want to debate? Do you want an answer or you want to debate?

TUCHMAN: Well…

NICOLOSI: I gave you an answer.

TUCHMAN: Yes.

So, there are some stereotypes you talk about, how, you know, if a child’s effeminate, if he’s creative, he’s artistic, those are things to look out for. Is that fair to say?

NICOLOSI: Goodbye.

With that, Nicolosi stormed off. I can verify that Nicolosi did cite artistic interest as a “warning sign” in his plenary session first thing that morning — the same session that appeared in the CNN segment — as he was describing a father/mother/son dynamic. This is what that reporter heard:

…but we see here typically mother, father, son, classic triadic relationship, many, many studies support this. In the relationship between the mother and the son, over emotionally involved, strong personality, dominant personality. The father is quiet, with drawn, non-verbal, non-expressive, and/or hostile. The son is temperamentally sensitive, shy, introverted, artistic, imaginative. That temperament does not make a homosexual. That child with that temperament in a particular family dynamic will set him up gender deficit, and that gender deficit becomes compensated through homosexual activity. [Emphasis mine.]

And again, during a breakout session later that afternoon, Nicolosi not only mentions an artistic temperament, but he elaborates further:

The prehomosexual boy appears to be sensitive, introverted, artistic, timid, passive, perfectionistic, aesthetically inclined, imaginative, interested in music, art, and theater, but that does not make a homosexual. You need that predisposition plus a particular family dynamic to create gender identity deficit, which then becomes compensated or “repaired” through homosexuality. So it’s a developmental stage.

Now I assume that what Nicolosi might have meant to say was that you can be artistic and not effeminate or prehomosexual. He sort of said that, but it’s not entirely clear. But he certainly put artistic interest in the class of “things to watch out for.” Didn’t he? Or did he?

You see, that’s the whole problem I’ve been experiencing while trying to describe what I heard them say at “Love Won Out.” I mentioned earlier that I was trying to write my next post on the meaning of the word “change.” Obviously I haven’t finished it yet. And part of the problem is in trying to nail down exactly what people mean when they use that word. As I said before, my copy of the Oxford Universal Dictionary described “change” in just six inches of text. But for “Love Won Out,” I’ve been struggling with it for eight weeks now and still haven’t been able to get to the bottom of it. Every time I took a stab at it, the article at some point would completely break down into an incoherent mess. It was like trying to create a Remington sculpture out of Jello.

And when people like Nicolosi are as careful — and as slippery — as they are with language, I may never find a way to crack the secret code. You can even go so far as to parrot their own words sometimes, and then the next moment you may come to think you really didn’t hear them correctly because now all of the sudden they’re saying something different. But try to point that out, and you get a reaction much like reporter Gary Tuchman experienced when Nicolosi stormed off. They say what they want to say, we try to understand what it is they have to say, and somehow it’s our fault for not understanding them correctly.

Watching that segment was an epiphany for me. I don’t know why — I didn’t see anything I hadn’t seen before, but maybe it was just the way it all came together as I saw it in the hotel room last night. And I saw it when I heard Melissa Fryrear talk about her love of red-headed men and Mike Haley’s absolute assertion of his own heterosexuality. And then in the midst of all that, we find Alan Chambers, trying his best to be candid by acknowledging that sometimes he finds other men attractive:

ALAN CHAMBERS [Note: the CNN transcript incorrectly identifies him as “O’Donnell”]: Again, I don’t feel that I will ever be as though I never was. You know, certainly I’m human. I could be tempted by a homosexual thought. I could find myself-

GARY TUCHMAN: That doesn’t go away with you?

CHAMBERS: It hasn’t gone away 100% with me.

So you see? I can’t give you a coherent description of “change” because they didn’t give me a coherent description of “change.” And you know what? That’s not my problem. It’s theirs.

So with that out of the way, I’m re-writing what I started to write. I’m not going to try to explain “change.” I’ll just let them do it in their own words. If they insist on using the word “change,” then I’ll just tell you what they said and I’ll let you be the judge of what “change” means. Because frankly, it’s their word. And if they insist on using it, it’s their responsibility to explain it. Not mine.

And if it turns out that you can’t make heads or tails out of it either, then as far as I’m concerned, you’re in good company.


A Rare Slip Of The Tongue

Jim Burroway

April 5th, 2007

I’ve talked before how careful everyone at Exodus and Focus on the Family is about the words they choose when describing homosexuality. Part of Exodus’ and Focus’ success can be attributed to their incredible message discipline in getting across the idea that “change is possible.” So it’s hard to know what to make of this slip of the tongue:

“The average age right now for a student to identify themselves as gay is around 13,” [Scott Davis, youth manager of Exodus International] said, “long before their sexual identity is really set in stone.[Emphasis mine]

“Set in stone.” With all of the difficulty Exodus has in convincing the general public that “people can change,” language like that will leave Exodus between a rock and a hard place.


Advocate/PlanetOut Errs In Report On Cameron

Jim Burroway

April 4th, 2007

The Advocate (via PlanetOut) got some facts wrong about Paul Cameron’s study that was presented at the Eastern Psychological Association last month. The unnamed reporter writes:

In fact, he did not present and was not on the agenda at this meeting. Cameron was neither a registered speaker nor a member of the convention faculty. If he “told” anybody of his latest research, it was likely to have been uninvited and interrupted by the listener’s swift departure.

Unfortunately, Cameron really was at the conference. He presented his paper at a “Poster Session” on March 23. Sixty-six papers were presented at that session. I don’t know exactly how a Poster Session works, but if he had a chance to speak he wouldn’t have had much more than a minute to do so. But it looks like he really was there.


Indiana’s Proposed Marriage Ban Defeated

Jim Burroway

April 4th, 2007

The proposed amendment to Indiana’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage failed to make it out of the House Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee, which effectively kills it for the year. As with Arizona’s defeat of a similar measure, the hangup was with the second part of the proposed amendment which would have effectively banned other forms of partnerships or recognitions similar to marriage — including many protections enjoyed by unmarried heterosexual couples.

We’ve seen clauses similar to this used in attempts to overturn domestic violence laws in Ohio, strip Michigan employees of health insurance, and more recently, to try to deny hospital visitation rights to unmarried couples in Minnesota.


Joe Murray on Hate Crimes Legislation

Jim Burroway

April 4th, 2007

If you haven’t already, you really should read both interviews between Pam Spaulding and Joe Murray. Murray’s a former lawyer and columnist for the American Family Association, and he has now publicly repudiated the AFA’s campaign against gays and lesbians. In a recent column in The Bulletin he goes after the Family “Research” Council’s distortion of proposed hate crimes legislation:

The Family Research Council (FRC), one of the largest pro-family groups in the district, has already declared war on “homosexual activists” via an Internet Web site dedicated to stopping the expansion of the hate crimes law.

Decrying hate crimes as “thought crimes,” Tony Perkins, FRC president, hints that the hate crimes law will lead to the criminalization of Christianity – an argument he supports with Swiss cheese evidence.

Murray tears apart the FRC’s arguments, echoing the same points I’ve made about the deliberate distortions anti-gay groups have been making about the bill. Murray’s points are well worth reading.


Paul Cameron’s Latest “Lifespan Study”

Jim Burroway

April 4th, 2007

Paul CameronPaul Cameron is at it again with a new “Lifespan Study.” Here in the US, we know what Paul Cameron is all about. In Britain, he’s a lesser-known quantity, so his brand of “science” is sometimes mistaken for the real thing.

Apparently that’s what happened when the U.K.’s Pink News published an uncritical article today with the title “American scientist: gays die younger than smokers,” apparently with little awareness of his standing as a “scientist.” Fortunately, Pink News followed up with an analysis of who Paul Cameron really is.

I am working on a more thorough analysis of his latest “Lifespan Study.” Part of it is based on the same ludicrous methodologies used in his earlier “Lifespan Study.” The rest, well you’ll have to wait a few days for that. But rest assured, it’s forthcoming. Friday possibly, Monday at the latest.


Former AFA Lawyer Joe Murray’s Second Interview

Jim Burroway

April 3rd, 2007

Pam Spaulding has published a second interview with Joe Murray, a former staff attorney for the American Family Association. Murray has shown a remarkable change of heart in these interviews. Where he once wrote, “The Sodomy Squadron has been flying high, for the Supreme Court has deemed sodomy a fundamental right,” He now says this:

Look, there is no need to see gays as the enemies; such a view is not healthy. I used to believe that gays were part of a grand cultural conspiracy, out to replace the Christian culture, but found this to be untrue.

For the most part, gays want exactly what I want — a family, respect, happiness, the right to follow their dreams. Is this too much to ask? Would granting these rights shred our cultural fabric? Surely not.

Pam and her readers asked Joe Murray several questions on a wide range of topics.

On what motivates anti-gay activists, some of whom seem to exhibit a single-minded obsesion:

I cannot and will not speak to the character of someone’s heart. I will, however, make on observation.

I have found that when individuals have such high levels of obsession with an issue and completely allow a single issue to take over, there are either some subconscious issues at play or it is just basic fear. This statement is not geared towards Miss Schlafly, but human beings in general. Until one comes to terms with his subconscious or fears, the obsession continues. At least that is what I have learned over my short life.

On anti-gay activists’ fundamental dishonesty in how they lobby against hate crime legislation:

As for hate crimes, I am absolutely sickened by the propaganda campaign that has found its way onto the political landscape. FRC, AFA, and TVC are already scaring supporters into thinking that the hate crimes law will result in preachers leaving the pulpit and checking into prison. This is absurd.

Now, I do not know the motivations of these folks, and I will not say what is in their hearts, but how can trained professionals really think that the hate crimes bill will shred the First Amendment?

Further, just read Conyers’ bill – it does not punish thoughts, it punishes actions that were the product of hateful thoughts. In other words, just thinking or stating a thought will not place you in a paddy wagon.

On his own change of heart, and lessons that gays and lesbians can draw from it:

I would also caution gay folks from channeling their understandable anger towards the Church. Gay Americans (and Christians) have every reason to be upset with the way they have been treated over the years. They have been treated like second class citizens, and there is not justification for such behavior.

But when some gays lash out against the Church, they lash out against something held dear by many people and take the bait of those seeking to portray all gays as anti-Christian at heart. And whether such anger is reasonable becomes moot as the images plastered in action alerts shape the minds of Main Street Americans.

…images of radical folks bashing the church, dressing as nuns and mocking key tenets of my faith did not help my turnabout. But it was my internal restlessness that caused me to open my eyes, and my heart, to the possibility I missed something.

And this admonition for the Church:

…There is no doubt in my mind that anytime an entire group of individuals are singled out and demonized because of a trait they have no control over such persecution must be resisted at every level.

One would think that spokespeople of a faith whose early pioneers were fed to the lions would be a little more conscientious of this fact.

Another great, informative interview. And you can read the first part of that interview here.


Fred Phelps On BBC 2

Jim Burroway

April 3rd, 2007

The BBC’s Louis Theroux spent three weeks with the Fred Phelps clan, with a BBC camera crew in tow. The resulting documentary aired on BBC 2 last Sunday. Theroux told BBC Magazine why he wanted to do this documentary:

What we’re trying to do in the documentary is look at an activity that is so antisocial, so strange, so futile and at its worst, so cruel, and we’re saying ‘Why? Why do that?’, especially when you seem to be, for the most part, kind and sensitive people. We’re exploring what is cruelty, trying to explain how something that really does very often just amount to cruelty could be perpetuated and passed down in a family. Why would nice people do such horrible things?

Here are the results:

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Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference

Jim Burroway

April 2nd, 2007

The ex-gay ministry Exodus will be holding its annual Freedom Conference this year on the grounds of Concordia University in Irvine California June 26 through July 1.

Soulforce and Beyond Ex-Gay will gather just down the road at the University of California – Irvine for the Beyond Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference June 29 through July 1.

The cost for the 6-day Exodus Freedom Conference is $395. The Beyond Ex-Gay Survivor’s Conference is only $40. That’s not just a simple bargain for your budget, but it’s also a far more reliable guarantee of “freedom” for your heart. Twice the value at one-tenth the price.

I’ll see you there.


Gay Unicorns On Noah’s Ark

Jim Burroway

April 2nd, 2007

Yes, I know. I discovered this a day late.


Beyond Ex-Gay

Jim Burroway

April 2nd, 2007

Ex- ex-gay performance artist Peterson Toscano has been hinting about some really BIG news for quite some time on his blog. I was let in on his big secret not long ago, and yes, it’s a BIG one. But now the secret’s out.

Peterson, Christine Bakke, and Steve Boese have teamed up to put together a great new web site. And here it is. Are you ready?

Beyond Ex-Gay

As I toured Beyond Ex-Gay for the first time, I couldn’t help but contrast the joyfulness of what I found there with the ex-gay language I heard at Love Won Out. For the past six weeks, my mind swirled with all of the particular phrases I heard there — how they constantly described gay people as “struggling with homosexuality” or “affected by homosexuality.” I thought about the unspeakable grief and self-recrimination that many parents and other relatives felt for their gay and lesbian loved ones. There was a sense of unmitigated tragedy that filled the air, as everyone fervently hoped and prayed that their lived ones would finally, some day, “find freedom.”

Do you really want to know where to look to find that freedom?

Right here. Look at the faces of those who once struggled but have now found freedom, right there where it was all along — within themselves. They walked away from “ex-gay” to become something else, something beyond ex-gay.

Beyond Ex-Gay is an exhilarating witness to freedom. While Exodus promises “freedom,” these men and women are living it. And ironically, they experienced “change” as well. What sort of change? I think Christine Bakke’s haiku describes it perfectly:

as i am right now
is when i learn to love me–
my heart unclenches


Gay In A Red Square State

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2007

Whenever Chris and I go to visit friends in San Francisco, one of his friends badgers him about how awful it must be to live in Arizona. And while I love San Francisco, Chris’ friend reinforces what my great grandmother used to tell me: “You can be from some mighty fancy places and still be a hick.” And if by hick you mean someone who doesn’t get out much and doesn’t know much about the larger world around us, then San Francisco has about as many hicks as anywhere else you can imagine. And not to pick on San Francisco necessarily, I’ll go ahead and throw in New York, D.C., and Los Angeles in there as well.

Okay, kvetch among yourselves. And while you’re at it, ask yourselves this: Which state is the only one to have defeated an anti-marriage amendment? I thought so.

Anyway, The Advocate knows what I’m talking. They recently included Tucson, Arizona as one of the top ten gay-friendly cities in the United States. I was reminded of that when I saw an item in Sunday’s Arizona Daily Star about a poll they did called “The Choices Tucsonans Make.” I found this item (under “Family”) to be especially interesting:

  • I would encourage my gay son/daughter’s partner to attend a family dinner: Yes: 85%, no: 15%.

That number was consistent regardless of age group, even among the 55-and-olders. HRC, take note. The future is not inside the beltway. The future is where we live.


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