CNN segment on Ted Haggard

I may add some additional comments later but I wanted to post the transcript of the Anderson Cooper CNN segment (scroll a bit over half way down the page) this evening regarding Ted Haggard’s rehabilitation.

The report was quite interesting with several points worthy of discussion. I felt Alan’s tone and responses were reasonable and quite consistent with the sexual identity paradigm. The stance of the Human Rights Campaign representative was less so in my judgment.

COOPER: Mark, you know people who have been through this kind of therapy. Some call it reparative therapy. In your experience, does it work?

SHIELDS: Again, absolutely not. Every bit of evidence we’ve seen is that it does not work. And at the Human Rights Campaign, we believe the only choice there is about being gay is, you know, whether or not you choose to be open and honest about it, if that’s how you were born.

I think that people have the choice that they can try and hide that or try and deny that piece of themselves, but ultimately, that’s not healthy for them or for their loved ones.

COOPER: But Mark, if someone is not happy being gay, as Alan clearly wasn’t as a child, what’s wrong with him trying to change?

SHIELDS: You know, again, the mental health professionals tell us that, in trying to change or fix something that’s not broken, you can actually cause a great deal of harm to yourself and ultimately to those that are around you.

You know, I wonder if Ted Haggard had been told as a child that it was OK to be gay and that he could have a rich, full life, if his life story wouldn’t have been less painful and contorted

Here is an example where the Shidlo and Schroeder study of possible harm relating to reorientation is referred to but not cited. Also, the real picture regarding research on etiology of sexual orientation and outcomes of sexual identity integration efforts is of course much more complex than depicted by Mr. Shields.

Another interesting point was the agreement between Alan and Mr. Shields that being gay does not preclude happiness. When I said this in the October, 2006 LA Times article regarding the NARTH controversies, I was the target of some conservative fire. I wonder how things will go for Alan.

40 thoughts on “CNN segment on Ted Haggard”

  1. Anon #8202 – I am not following you exactly.

    My reading of things (e.g., Laumann,et al, 1994) is that gay men as a grouphave somewhat more partners than straight men. Noting this however says nothing about why it occurs or whether there are a type of gay man that offsets the relatively boring existence of other gay men. Read the most recent post of my interview with Nick Cummings. His experience was that there is a subset of gay men that are partying big time but there is a larger group that isn’t.

    My take is that any general trend toward promiscuity is more related to the fact that gay men are men, not that they are gay. The men with a zillion partners probably have some real personality problems and this can occur for both gays and straights. If it occurs more gays and straights proportionally may relate to many things and I know of no study that has proven it is something specific to SSA.

  2. Timothy,

    I don’t claim to be perfect. Your response, however, tends to confirm my suspicion that some gay men are determined to deny that, if gay men do tend to be more promiscuous than straight men, factors inherent in the nature of homosexuality have anything to do with this.

    This may be a convenient and politically correct stance to take, but it’s not really plausible.

  3. Timothy, I appreciated your thoughtful comments. I will admit to the obvious, I am hung up on the issue of monogamy. I am well aware that it is disappearing rapidly in the straight world but it concerns me that the gay community appears to never have had it at all. I try to encourage monogamous thinking in friends both straight and gay. LOL. I just remembered a time when I was 18 and out. I picked a guy up and was having a real good time until I realized he was married. In a heartbeat, I was dressed and gone. Looks like this one runs pretty deep!

    I have several brothers. At least one of them has been with one and only one woman, his wife. The same is true of her. They are husband and wife and best friends. I’ll admit their circumstance is rare nowadays but it seems well worth aspiring to.

    I will try to look in more places for those monogamous-minded people. I will concede that they may well be out there. I just thought of a couple that I see get on the bus. It’s obvious they are partners and have been for at least a few years. Maybe they can steer me.

    BTW: This isn’t a win/lose for me. It’s not ex-gay vs gay Christian necessarily, either. I’m not in a big hurry to figure things out…and, if and when I do, it’ll be what I figure out FOR ME not necessarily for the world. I’m really just trying to make the most informed decision that I can. Hearing from both sides seems to be a good way to do that.

  4. ANON,

    You make a great many assumptions. But they seem only to be based on anti-gay stereotypes. It’s difficult to take your arguments seriously because they are based on nonsense.

    It’s like trying to have a conversation with someone who says, “but all Christians want to kill gays” or “Christians are just uneducated and superstitious”. You have to spend all your time rebutting false assumptions and never get to any substance.

  5. OK, Lou, I’ll take alcoholism out of the equation. And since I think you are talking specifically about gay men, I’ll address this from that limitation.

    Your point, if I understand it correctly, is that some heterosexual men abstain from sex until marriage and then only have sex with their wife. To you, this is the primary determinant to say that heterosexuality and homosexuality are unlike.

    This seems to imply that an inherent aspect of orientation is an instinct to monogamy – heterosexuals have it and homosexuals do not. (If I’m missing the point, please let me know). As best I can tell, if it could be shown to you that both monogamy and multiple parters are present in both homosexuality and heterosexuality, you would cease thinking that these two things are not alike (or at least that is the argument you have presented).

    First, lets see if monogamy is an inherent part of heterosexuality. Let’s look at some numbers from the CDC

    77.9% of men aged 15 to 44 in the category “never married, not cohabitating” have had sex with a woman.

    87.6% of all men aged 25 to 44 have had sex with more than one woman. 19.3% of men aged 20 to 24 had sex with 3 or more women in the past year and 29.2% of 25 to 44 have had sex with more than 15 women in their life.

    I think your assumption that heterosexual men wait for marriage and only have sex with one woman during their life seems to apply to a very small number of individuals. I think we can agree that monogamy is not inherent in heterosexuality.

    The second part of your assumption is more difficult to address. Unfortunately, I do not know of any good studies that give information about monogamy in gay men. There are a number of bogus “statistics” created by anti-gay activists, but no one believes that they are real.

    However, for the question as to whether monogamy is absent from homosexuality, anecdotal evidence may be adequate. (in other words, the presence of a single red sock in the drawer will not tell you how prevalent red socks are, but it will tell you they exist).

    And it is fairly easy to demonstrate that – in at least some gay men – monogamy is valued.

    I can tell you that I see it around me regularly in couples and that your assumptions about them do not match with my observations. I can tell you that there are at this time strong social pressures within the gay community to respect relationships. I can tell you of at least one person I know who was dropped by his group of friends because he cheated on his mate. But that is just my word.

    Instead, I’ll ask you to open your eyes and ears. There are plenty of gay people in the news or in your town. And while some of them are hedonistic, you will also see many who are in committed long-term monogamous relationships. If all you see are open relationships or men with massive sexual histories, then that’s probably what you are looking for.

    It may well be that gay men on average have had more sex partners than straight men. I don’t know. It may also be true that fewer have only ever had sex with one man. I think that is likely.

    But it simply isn’t true that monogamy is an aspect that is missing from homosexuality.

    I hope that you will allow this to change your perspective. Perhaps it won’t and it may be the case that you are anti-gay and this was only an argument to support a predetermined bias. But you seem sincere and I hope that isn’t the case.

  6. Rather than discuss probabilities, I think we might want to seek some research on this. I will have to check my sources but I am pretty sure Laumann found lesbians in this country to more faithful than gay men on the whole. I suspect there are exceptions but I don’t think it helps to speculate about a diverse group of people.

  7. Timothy,

    No, your response doesn’t make me happy. It’s unnecessarily defensive and doesn’t answer my point.

    Ken’s point about women being socialized into not being promiscuous is baffling – lesbians tend to be very vocal about how they reject patriarchal social conditioning. If it were really true that it’s the patriarchy that conditions women into being monogamous, wouldn’t more lesbians reject monogamy for exactly that reason?

  8. Lou – I am not the first to note that it is hard to interpret tone from these comments on the flat page. I try to keep us with a civil tone. I appreciate your participation and was quite touched by your comment on the Living Years post.

    Keep on being a pessimistic optimist.

    I am enriched from the discussions that take place here and through the repetition I have learned a lot.

  9. Timothy:

    I never made any comments associating homosexuality with alcoholism or the two behaviors that the original commenter reffered do–so I choose not to take that detour with you. I simply took exception to Michael’s generalization that “homosexuality is like heterosexuality”; I presented one area that demonstrates how unlike heterosexuality it is. I appreciated some of your observations and was sorry when you took the detour.

    Timothy and Jim:

    I presented that one area because it is the one that keeps me identifying with the ex-gay side of the fence. The bible certainly seems to emphasize monogamy, wouldn’t this apply whether gay or straight? Am I wrong to focus on monogamy? Have I misinterpreted the scriptural guidelines for sexual relationships? (BTW: I resented the ‘beam’ implication,though. Please believe me when I tell you that I am very aware of my faults in sexual areas.)

    To all:

    Like me, a number of other have begun visiting this site hoping to find discussions and answers in a more open forum than our churches or ex-gay affiliations provide; could you lighten up on the attack rhetoric just a bit?

    You don’t like NARTH; point made! You tolerate EXODUS but think it’s making political mistakes; point made! You think most (if not all) ex-gays are either frauds or deluded; point made! And, finally, you hate the term “ex-gay”; we got it! Now, can we discuss anything at all without those tiresome diatribes? I’m thinking that we can’t, but then, I’ve always been a pessimistic optimist.

  10. Incidentally, the CDC reports that of men age 18 to 44,

    9.7 have had no sex with a woman (including, undoubtedly some gay men), 12.8 have had sex with one and only one woman, and 77.5 would not meet Lou’s definition of heterosexual.

  11. “they should be very promiscuous too

    Oh, I never said that gay men are particularly promiscuious. In fact, the CDC survey suggested that gay men were not much more promiscuous than straight men. I was trying to give a real answer, not make excuses. I guess I forgot that we were all going for spin, not facts. Sorry.


    Well obviously it’s because lesbians hate men, gay men are possessed by demons, the average age of death for homosexuals is 42, no gay people are ever really monogamous, all gays are suicidal, lesbians are responsible for most domestic violence, all pedophiles are homosexuals, and … here it is… all of them homoSEXual men are promiscuous.


  12. From Anon: “All the reasons (excuses?) you give about gay men and promiscuity don’t mention lesbians. By your logic, they should be very promiscuous too, yet they usually aren’t.”

    No, because society has always had a double standard with regards towards promiscuity in men and women. Men who have a lot of sex are “studs”, women who have lots of sex are “sluts.” This socialization effect alone could account for the difference. If you take other factors (biological and social) regarding the different attitudes men and women have towards sex, it should be easy to see why Timothy’s arguments would generally only apply to males.

  13. Timothy,

    All the reasons (excuses?) you give about gay men and promiscuity don’t mention lesbians. By your logic, they should be very promiscuous too, yet they usually aren’t.

  14. Lou,

    I’m afriad that in your haste to condemn the “gay community” for all of its wanton ways, you’ve managed to set a bar that most members of the “straight community” fail to meet. This include probably more than half the straight members of my own family going all the way back to my dear, late, beloved great-grandmother. I suggest you try looking past that beam.

  15. Lou,

    I think there are cultural reasons why you haven’t seen that many gay men who have had only one partner during their life – here are three:

    1 Until quite recently there was no opportunity for gay youth to meet and date in a manner similar to their heterosexual counterparts. Most gay people became accepting of their orientation only after they acted on it and gradually came to know other gay people.

    That appears to be changing. There are increasingly gay youth who are comfortable with their orientation but who are waiting until they fall in love before acting on it. I recommend that you check out to read from some of those.

    2. There is a decreasing emphasis on heterosexual youth to save themselves for marriage.

    Ironically at just the time when insisting on heterosexuality is lifting, the emphasis on waiting for the right person is lifting. Had the one lifted without the other, you would see even more gay youth waiting for marriage (or at least in the states where it is legal).

    Which brings me to

    3. Those communities, usually religious, who do emphasize the importance of monogamy also often tell impressionable youth that homosexuality is only about sex. Thus those kids who would otherwise be inclined to treat sexuality with respect, are told that they cannot do so. Which I personally think is a significant failure of the church.

    This insistence that gay people not be allowed to formalize vows and have the community witness and insist upon these vows further plays into the social pressures for gay people not to commit.

    All of that being said, I do happen to know one couple that met at 18 – each others’ first – and have been together for … well, I went to their 25th and that was at least 5 years ago. As far as I know (I’ve never come right out and asked but I think I would know) they have never had any kind of open relationship.

    Nonetheless, your point is irrelevant. The identifiable difference between heterosexuality and alcoholism (that which would make something more like one than the other) is not monogamy or the number of sexual contacts during one’s life. That doesn’t even make sense.

    One lifetime sex partner = heterosexuality and

    multiple lifetime sex partners = alcoholism???

    By that standard the vast majority of the population is not heterosexual. But they are alcoholics.

  16. Gary Sweeten comments:

    “According to some in the psychological fields, only those with aberrant sexual habits are unable to change.”

    What the large majority in the psychological fields actually says is that homosexuality is not an aberrant sexual habit, but a natural, healthy variant in human sexual identity. For reasons not fully understood, but almost certainly including some biological factors, a minority of people experience their primary sexual attraction to individuals of the same sex. And it appears that this is true in most animal species, not just humans.

    It’s when people try to deny or hide their natural sexual orientation out of shame, guilt, and fear that a lot of destructive behavior results.

    Certainly, some people manage to live a successful heterosexual life despite a homosexual orientation. Given the bias against homosexuality that remains in society and especially in religion, they have a lot of motivation for doing so. I know from personal experience that they can also find a lot of rewards in that path, and I wish them well.

    But as one who was involved in a number of ex-gay ministries over 11 years, I have to say that I did not personally meet many success stories–and I’m defining success in the same terms as ANON2 in his post above, when he speaks of his last couple of years. I was generally the most successful “ex-gay” in any of my groups, judged in terms of what I’d achieved in my marriage, family, career, etc–and I was getting to be pretty much a mess.

    In the five years since I’ve come out again, I’ve met many, many more people who’ve achieved healthy, stable, productive lives and relationships by accepting who they are and living as openly gay. So yes, if I was advising someone who was just coming to terms with his homosexual orientation on which path to take, I would advise him–strongly–to live as gay.

  17. Michael said, “Homosexuality is like heterosexuality, not like gluttony or adultery.” I diagree. I’ve met heterosexuals who have only ever had one sex partner–their spouse. But, despite years of looking, I’m still searching for even one gay couple who NEVER had sex with anyone beside their partner. Even when I hear talk of ‘being in a monogamous relationship’, I find that one or both ‘played around’ before settling down, that it wasn’t their first committed relationship or that they had some form of ‘open’ relationship. In any case, until I see the biblical pattern of “one and only one partner” and ” ’til death do us part” in the gay community*, I’ll conclude that Michael is simply wrong.

    Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s all society’s fault.

    *I’ve been reading a lot of posts on this site so I’m ready for you all to purposely miss my point and facetiously ask directions to the gay community center, what I’d really like is directions to even one gay couple whose “one and only” has truly been their one and ONLY.

  18. Anon2

    I’m very happy that you are avoiding the habits of a destructive lifestyle. If you were listening to negative voices and had garbage that was causing destructive behavior, then it’s nice that your group is helping you manage your lust and stop cheating on your wife.

    Of course, that has nothing to do with the lives of the overwhelming vast majority of gay people who are not sexually addictive or living vile lives of dispicable secretive behavior. And fortunately, fewer same-sex attracted persons are feeling pressured to enter into opposite-sex marriages where the lack of a fulfilling relationship can lead to such strong pressures to cheat and deceive their spouse.

    But in your particular instance, I’m glad you found a way to stop your evil ways. And it seems, to me anyway, that living a life that is not consistent with your orientation is a small price to pay to keep you from living a life of secrets and betrayal.

  19. Also: it is “not a bit much” to say an expert is either sloppy or a liar when they refer only to a poorly designed research as typifying the research on change in SSA. It is especially sloppy and dishonest when they don’t talk about the limitations of that research.

    David, sometimes I wonder whether you carefully read my comments before you respond to them. If so, some of your responses are perplexing.

    AGAIN I say: It is also possible to say that “the mental health professionals tell us that, in trying to change or fix something that’s not broken, you can actually cause a great deal of harm to yourself and ultimately to those that are around you” without referring to Shidlo and Schroeder. I really doubt that Shields has read Shidlo and Schroeder and it is far more likely that he was speaking in general terms. As was Alan.

    Shields was not referring to a poorly designed research, ergo there are no limitations to discuss.

    He simply stated that “mental health professionals tell us” which I’m sure that you can understand is not the same thing as “Shidlo and Schroeder tell us” or even “research tells us”.

    He also said “trying to change or fix something that’s not broken, you can actually cause a great deal of harm” which is not the same thing as “reorientation therapy is always harmful” or even “reorientation therapy is sometimes harmful”.

    Further, I don’t think Shields presented himself as a researcher, social scientist, or even the rather vague term “expert”. He’s a spokesman for an advocacy group. HRC is not the gay equivalent of the “scientific” group NARTH nor is there any expectation that they are familiar with the methodology of studies that they are NOT even quoting.

    You are choosing, or so it seems, to read into Shields’ statements something that isn’t there just so you can have a complaint against him. And that’s just tacky, David, and unlike you.

  20. I agree with Michael.

    I gave up sexual relationships for twenty years. Five years ago I also changed my eating habits and lost 50 pounds. I’ve maintained my healthy diet since then and I”ve stayed at my “fighting weight.” So you see, I’ve done both and franky there’s just no comparison, at least not in my experience.

    I’ll echo Michael’s statement: The only real analogy to homosexuality is heterosexuality. I’ve seen a lot of other people try to make analogies with a lot of different vices, but those analogies just don’t jive with my experience, because I don’t experience homosexuality itself as a vice.

    What I see a lot is that many people couple their homosexuality with other vices or poor life choices. And when they give up their sexuality they also work on those other problems as well. Their stories often are two-fold: leaving homosexuality and giving up drugs; leaving homosexuality and giving pornography; leaving homosexuality and working on their sexual addictions or self-image issues, etc. That seems to be a recurring theme, at least as I observe it in other’s stories. If so, God bless them and good for them.

    I’ll keep eating carrots and avoid cheesecake. But there are some things in life that are just too precious to give up. I love cheesecake — you don’t know what a sacrifice that is — but it’s nothing, not even a quibble, compared to a meaningful relationship.

    And on another point, I guess many of us have a “sexual orientation” for many partners. Again, I don’t quite see the analogy. There is nothing particular about homosexuality that precludes monogamy. It’s all about choices and commitment, and as individuals we are all responsible for those by virtue of our free will.

    To me, the only analogy would be if someone were to say that even though he was sexually attracted to women, he remained committed to remaining faithful to his boyfriend. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be) I’ve never heard anyone with a testamony like that.

  21. I am happy that Gary is remaining fit and faithful, but the implied analogy is off the mark. Homoesexuality is like hetersosexuality, not like gluttony or adultery.

  22. Hey Gary – Nice to hear from you my friend!

    I am honored that you have come out of the closet on the young and beautiful thing on my blog. I was hoping all of that would go away but you seem to be telling me something different 🙂

  23. Those of you who get discouraged by the difficulties of making a total change in habits to read Prochaska’s book, Change for Good or my book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.

    There are definitely different stages each of us goes through in making changes in our lives whether it is eating, sex or smoking. “Do not grow weary in doing well” says Paul. We in America want immediate and total change without lapses or relapses but that rarely happens.

    I have lost 20 pounds but I yearn for fatty and salty foods that would put all 20 plus more on my body in a few months. Dieting is a lifestyle as is sexual acting. I am an adulterer by nature.

    My sexual orientation is to have many women all young and beautiful but I have not touched another woman for over 45 years. However, my drives and orientation remain the same.

    Do not give up. Fight the good fight.

  24. I am one of those who spent many years of my marriage living a double life. I was in no way proud of what I was doing and I wanted more than anything to stop and be faithful to my wife, however, everywhere I looked for help around that time there was always someone right there to tell me there is nothing that can be done. You cannot change. You are only kidding yourself.

    Now after 2.5 years away from that I am beginning to reallize that there was much that I could have done to break my awful habit. The first thing I found helpful was to stop listening to the negative voices. Then to stop the acting out behaviour. This was very difficult and the pain and struggle of this took about a full year of sobriety. The interesting thing is that I could feel the change in my physical and emotional health. I got back the control of my life or should I properly say that I gave over the control to those that were able to help me stay free of a very destructive lifestyle.

    I am being very open here because I cannot listen to the voices that say you cannot do anything to change. Who cares if there is a lingering attraction? Lust is the last thing to go. What matters is that I have stopped acting on that and I have a support group and a loving wife to help me find my way through the rest of the garbage that led me into the behaviour in the first place.

    I do understand what you are saying Michael, but just because something is very difficult to do does not mean we should discourage others from trying. On the other hand if your support group is telling you that all you have to to is pray and everything will be gone they are not telling you the truth. For me the biggest freedom was when I started looking more deeply at the “science” behind this and the way the human mind works and then comparing that with what my faith had been saying.

    You will not find any success if you think just by giving up the behavior all else will be gone. My concerns are not for myself at this time but for those who are still finding themselves caught up this very destructive behaviour. The judgements that I hear on this site are not in anyway helping them get out of that pattern nor are the self righteous attitudes of some Christians. For me, it was addiction, not something that will go away instantly, but given the proper help and encouragement the behaviour can be stopped.

  25. Nick C (and Tim too),

    Thanks for your feedback. I really respect your decisions, your marriage and your frank appraisal of not so helpful “making progress” comments by those thinking they were helping you and those similar to you.

    Regarding your “shock:” there is more to Haggard than his sex with a male prostitute and his use of meth. If we cannot agree to that, then we are really willing to see people as only as fragments and use such fragments as weapons to reinforce our opinions and agendas.

    This goes for Tim too…Haggard’s troubles are real, but the disclosure about those struggles was in a powerful political context. To see Haggard only in that political process is simplistic. I say again, his life is much more than his infidelity and his drug abuse.

    I don’t think that is hard to agree upon.

    That being the case…what was the rest of his life? What is the rest of his life?

    He is a father and a husband. He worked for a number of years in ministry. I suppose he raised money for worthy causes. Counseled effectively in areas of forgiveness, loving one’s neighbor. He worked with co-workers a number of years with ever greater responsibility…

    He struggled incompletely and ineffectively with SSA. That discredits to a large degree any comments or positions he has taken around same-sex attraction. Does it discredit all of his life?

    I don’t think so.

    But I certainly don’t think he should be a counselor working with those with SSA.

    Also: it is “not a bit much” to say an expert is either sloppy or a liar when they refer only to a poorly designed research as typifying the research on change in SSA. It is especially sloppy and dishonest when they don’t talk about the limitations of that research. Warren and I have critiqued either the limitations of Spitzer and the problems with NARTH. I look for that same critique against Shields irrepsonsibility. As psycholgoists we are ethically bound to thoughtfully represent the data to a naive public. I think Shields fails that test rather clearly.

  26. It is easy to get off on rabbit trails, especially when we are watching ten second sound bites on CNN. The key for me is the fact that many people can change from homosexual activities to heterosexual activities. I have seen them and I have been involved in those changes. We ought not imply such changes are easy but nor is change from any habit easy. I believe that addicts can change. that depressed peopel can change; that OCD people can change. I would leave the profession if I thought otherwise and if that were the bottom line of psychology and psychiatry those professions would be an oxymoron. According to some in the psychological fields, only those with aberrant sexual habits are unable to change. The Boston Legal program last night was a story of how this debate is being framed as one of gross discrimination and greed by Christians not as one of love and hope for change. Every testimony of legitimate caring and change puts a lie to those attacks.

  27. I have to say I’m shocked by David Blakeslee’s “You may not like Haggard’s choices, but until recently, they worked pretty well for him. Wife, family, career. Very successful.”

    Here’s someone who has been secretly engaging in behavior totally in contradiction of his personal and professional standards. An evangelical pastor who upholds one set of ideals to his family, congregation, and the world, but privately indulges himself with a male prostitute and meth? Someone who is living a double life? THAT’S “very successful”?

    I frequently say myself that I had a very successful marriage, even though my homosexual orientation never changed. Obviously, I need to be clearer: I consider my marriage very successful for the twenty-some years that I remained faithful to my wife and lived a personal life in harmony with my professed ideals.

    That doesn’t mean that I was sinless, and in fact, my sins even included one incident of sex with a man. (To be clear, I view as sinful the fact I was cheating on my wife, not that it was sex with a man.) But I was not living a double life, and I could deal with even my sins in a way consistent with my overall values.

    During the last few years of my marriage, I did begin “acting out”–if you want to use that euphemism so popular in ex-gay groups. More bluntly, I was having sex with men and hiding the fact from my wife. The truth would come out, I would repent and promise to change my behavior, and a few months later I would be right back at it.

    I don’t think I was “very successful” during those years. I wasn’t successful by the standards I set for myself, by what my wife rightfully expected, and by the image of myelf I projected to my children, coworkers, and friends. What finally led me to leave my marriage was the realization that I was NOT making our relationship work and I was NOT successful in my professed “ex-gay” identity.

    Looking back at my experience in ex-gay groups and with Christian therapists, one thing that continually astonishes me is the attitude toward actual sexual behavior. I’m not talking about continued homosexual attractions. I’m talking about people who are still going out and having gay sex–a lot of sex–while professing to be “ex-gay.” No one ever seemed to see continued sexual activity as maybe just a small indication that the “reparative therapy” wasn’t working.

    I still remember one small group discussion in my Exodus group, in which a long-term participant, also a married man, was describing the last time he had sex with someone in a park on his lunch break (two days before). He had realized that he didn’t really want to have sex with the guy–he wanted to talk with him! Of course, he went ahead and had sex anyway, but he “didn’t really want to.”

    And how did the group respond? “Boy, you’re really making progress!” “Wow, you’ve come so far!” There were hugs and practically tears all around for this breakthrough. The guy wasn’t planning to stop going to the park; no one expected that he wouldn’t be back the next week with another story of another encounter. But the fact that he’d had sex without really wanting to was considered a big victory.

    I’m sorry, but that’s not a definition of progress or success that I can accept any more. But apparently David Blakeslee can.

  28. By the way, Linda, I would be encouraging EXODUS to be politically neutral and to distance themselves from NARTH even if I was still involved in EXODUS and still believed that homosexual behavior was always sin and that sexual re-orientation was possible. I just think these are SERIOUS public relations mistakes:

    (1) Being “officially” political clouds EXODUS’s Christian message and gives the impression that one has to be agree with EXODUS politics to be right with God. I would like to see them adopt something similar to the “10th Tradition of A.A.. Paraphrasing: ” EXODUS has no opinion on outside issues; hence the EXODUS name ought never be drawn into public controversy.” That would keep the focus on ministry and conveying God’s love and hope for all His children.

    (2) Continued affiliation with NARTH makes EXODUS look just as though it agrees with NARTH’s outrageous views. (It’s a simple case of guilt by association — silence implies agreement.)

    I think it is also a huge mistake for EXODUS to not post a strong anti-discrimination/anti-violence/anit-hate statement TODAY. EXODUS has had 30 years to do this. Alan, as head of EXODUS could take the lead here. What is he waiting for?

  29. Linda: Please understand. I am not saying that Alan has no right to be politicallty active. OF course he does. I just don’t think it is wise for EXODUS to be officially political. It was intially, and I believe still should be, politically NEUTRAL — Like A.A. I am not attacking Alan. I agree that he seems to be a very nice person. We intended for EXODUS to stay out of politics and I still think that is the WISE thing to do.

    Regarding EXODUS’s affiliation with NARTH, I think EXODUS is making a HUGE public relations mistake. NARTH is the organization that defended Schoenewolf’s comments about “slaves being better off” and people who disagree with NARTH being intellectually stunted “Marxists”. They also failed to take any strong action when Berger advocated bullying and teasing gender variant kids. NARTH has repeatedly made very bigotted and unscientific comments about gays — and I think EXODUS and Alan should avoid NARTH like the PLAGUE. Even Dr. Throckmorton and Dabid Blakeslee dropped NARTH. I would not be surprised if Alan and EXODUS cut the ties to NARTH this year.

    Finally, it has been my experience that people who are preoccupied with what “causes” homosexuality are the same people who think we are sick, sinful, disordered and destined for hell. Typically, people who ask the “cause” question are them SAME people who think it should be “fixed” They don’t seem at ALL curious about what “causes: heterosexuality — and we don’t know the answer to either question. Of couirse, there are folks who ask simply out of intellectual curiousity — but in my experience, most of them have a particular religious axe to grind and are looking for “proof” to support their prejudice.

  30. Linda,

    Regarding change, knowing that the homosexual drive is stronger in some and only slight in others , it makes sense that change would follow along those lines, with some experienceing a complete change, some slight change and some no change.

    I’m still waiting to meet that person who has experienced “complete change”. So far, the total number of people making such a claim is limited to Stephen Bennett, Ted Haggard, and (depending on who he’s talking to) Alan Chambers.

  31. Warren, David,

    I think you are applying an unequal standard.

    It would have been fair to criticize Alan for refering to Spitzer had he done so. He did not. It is possible to say that “there are thousands of people just like me — who choose to live beyond their feelings” without referencing Spitzer.

    It is also possible to say that “the mental health professionals tell us that, in trying to change or fix something that’s not broken, you can actually cause a great deal of harm to yourself and ultimately to those that are around you” without referring to Shidlo and Schroeder. I really doubt that Shields has read Shidlo and Schroeder and it is far more likely that he was speaking in general terms. As was Alan.

    To claim that Shield was citing research and “is either a sloppy researcher or a liar” is nonsense and irresponsible. We all fall victim to our own bias and preconceptions, but this really is a bit much.

  32. Cooper never asked Shields to comment on the claims that therapy can be helpful even if conversion doesn’t occur

    I don’t know the mind of Anderson Cooper, but I suspect his education on the whole ex-gay thing was probably very brief and recent. I don’t think this was evidence of bias on his part.

    His producer posted on the AC360 blog yesterday that he had never talked to an ex-gay until earlier that day when they filmed Melissa Fryrear’s comments. And this may come as a surprise here, but I find that people in the general population know next to nothing about Exodus, and this is true for gays and straights alike. When I was in Palm Springs for the LWO conference there, I was surprised at the number of gay people I talked to who knew nothing about it or what it was all about. This was despite considerable publicity and controversey.

    I assume Anderson didn’t ask the question because it didn’t occur to him. It’s not part of the larger public dialog, such as it is. We may know the ins and outs of all the angles in these discussions, but we’re talking inside football here.

  33. You may not like Haggard’s choices, but until recently, they worked pretty well for him. Wife, family, career. Very successful.

    David, you left out “male prostitute, meth”

    And this is for the past three years that we know of. I really don’t know how well his choices worked for him before that time but evidently not well enough to avoid the more recent choices.

    I certainly hope that in the future he will be able to maintain his life in accordance with his values. But if he’s convinced himself (or been convinced by his restoration team) that he is 100% heterosexual, this may leave him ill equiped to face the struggles that are undoubtedly going to occur.

    I think that this is understood by all of us here to be true and Alan was correct in placing doubt on that claim.

  34. Ken said: Cooper never asked Shields to comment on the claims that therapy can be helpful even if conversion doesn’t occur.

    Good point and an indication that the debate is poorly framed as “can gays change?” Change what? For what purpose? With what aim in mind? are necessary follow up questions.

  35. My comment is in regard to Michael Bussee’s comments.

    I agree with Michael and Alan on both points that the feelings and desires associated with homosexuality are not chosen. I think this fact is widely know today. I also agree that homosexuality is multi-causal. I was “born this way” is too simple an explanation and even flippant sometimes in any discussion regarding the causes of homosexuality. Most studies in recent years point to a combination of several causes and contributing factors. Regarding change, knowing that the homosexual drive is stronger in some and only slight in others , it makes sense that change would follow along those lines, with some experienceing a complete change, some slight change and some no change. To conclude otherwise is intolerant of some individuals and discounts their own personal experience. A free American citizen can be involved in politics to any degree he wishes, as may you and I. I don’t know of any reason that Alan Chambers can’t or shouldn’t, do you? As for his association with NARTH, that seems like a perfectly logical organization for him to support given his personal life experience. I have met Mr. Chambers and heard him speak 4 times. I haven’t heard anything from him that was anything but very loving and kind, helpful, and certainly not violent. Let us know if you have heard him speak or behave otherwise? Linda

  36. Shield’s citation of the “research” is painfully agenda driven and fear-mongering. You may not like Haggard’s choices, but until recently, they worked pretty well for him. Wife, family, career. Very successful.

    A fraud?

    Only if you take a very narrow view. Much of his life was quite adaptive, some would say altruistic. Sure he was paid. Sure, an important fragment of his life was unintegrated and undermined him. But a failure? We don’t have the scorecard in yet…time will tell.

    Would we say the same about Gavin Newsome (sp)? Is he trying to repress his inner polygamist? Does his betrayal of his friend and affair color all who he is as a politcian. Not in this short-sighted culture. And in general, God does not see us only through our failures…He does not egage in the psychological defenses of splitting, devaluing and idealization.

    So the citing of Shields of the research in such a “splitting ” fashion is pathologically driven by a splitting defense. It serves neither gays nor ex-gays to distort the facts for a political agenda.

    He should know better and he is either a sloppy researcher or a liar. But he is no expert.

  37. Hi Warren,

    With regards to your statement that Mr. Shields comments about Haggard being told bein gay was ok as a child, was reference to Shidlo and Schroeder, I saw that comment completely differently.

    Mr. Shields never said nor implied that Haggard had a negative experience in reorientation therapy. I read that comment to say that maybe if Haggard had been told being gay was ok, he would have had the opportunity to be openly gay, rather than closeted, therefore not getting married and later ending up going acting out sexually in an affair with another man.

  38. Well, Well. Alan Chambers is sounding more like me all the time. Here are some points of agreement:

    First, (several months ago) he tells me that the term “ex-gay” should be done away with because it is “more negative than anything” and doesn’t really describe the “change” he is talking about. I agree.

    Second, he goes on record that homosexuality is “multi-causal.” I agree.

    Third, he recently acknlowledges that “freedom from homosexuality” does not necessarily mean a change in basic sexual orientation and that people we used to call “ex-gay” may NEVER become heterosexual. I agree.

    Fourth. in this CNN interview, he admits: “I didn’t choose my feelings, no, and I don’t think anyone does choose their homosexual feelings.” I agree.

    Fifth, in the same CNN interview, he states that it IS possible to be both gay and Christian and that he knows many gay Christians. I agree. (Of course, He still believes it is wrong for them to ever act on the gay feelings. I disagree here.)

    Sixth, also in this interview, he acknowledges that the change he is talking about is a change in behavior, values and “identity” — not necessarily a change from homosexual orientation to heterosexual orientation. I agree.

    Now if we can only (1) get Alan to issue a strong anti-hate/anti-dsicrimination/anti-violence statement on the EXODUS webpage (2) disavow any association with NARTH and (3) get out of politics…

  39. “Here is an example where the Shidlo and Schroeder study of possible harm relating to reorientation is referred to but not cited.”

    Why does it matter that it wasn’t cited in the interview? Are you trying to claim the statement he actually made: “mental health professionals tell us ….” (note he doesn’t cite research here merely unnamed professionals) isn’t true? As I recall from the Love In Action/Refuge program that made the press 2 summers ago, even you, Warren, were on record as saying this program (Refuge) could cause harm.

    While Shields’ comments are one-sided (he was there to present the opposing view after all) I believe the problem had more to do with Cooper not asking the right questions. Cooper never asked Shields to comment on the claims that therapy can be helpful even if conversion doesn’t occur.

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