Get Up to Speed on Yale’s Ex-Gay Speaker

I’m off to face down Tristyn of Eschatological Psychosis and other fine speakers tonight at the Yale Political Union’s annual Party Prize debate (though I fear the topic “Resolved: Don’t Fear the Reaper” plays to the formidable strengths of someone whose blog includes the tags “Death is the prize” “Tom Waits is the soundtrack to my life” and “Yugoslavia is just a dance party.”  Ok, maybe not that last one as much, but who knows?).  I’m definitely looking forward to her speech, and I hope she posts it (nudge nudge) after the fact, like she did after the last prize debate.  (UPDATE: she did)

While I finish my speech, I wanted to do a quick getting-up-to-speed post on the controversial “ex-gay” Christian speaker who came to campus last weekend for readers who aren’t students (or for students who weren’t following the story).  I was luckier than the approximately 50 students who were turned away by fire marshals, and got to see the talk.

I ended up disagreeing with Christian, queer, and queer Christian friends about whether Yuan was offensive and what was the appropriate way to respond to him, so I thought his visit might provide a nice lens for a series of posts on sexual ethics and debating/conversing with people of different religious convictions (a perennial favorite at this blog).

In very brief: Christopher Yuan is, in John Irving’s phrasing, a non-practising homosexual.  He was invited to give a series of talks to Yale Christian Fellowship and Yale Students for Christ, but, when word of his visit got out, LGBT groups on campus mobilized and turned up at the talk wearing ALLY stickers.  There was no protest or disruption during the presentation, and, after Yuan’s talk, several queer and Christian groups hosted a conversation after the talk.

For more details, check out any of these articles:

Controversial Minister Draws OutcryYale Daily News – Basic overview of the event and reactions

The Nonsense of Christopher Yuan: the Christian Minister Speaks at Yale about God, Gays, and HolinessBroad Recognition – Another reporting article which includes video clips from Yuan’s talk

For a More Open Religious CommunityYale Daily News – Several Christians on campus wrote an op-ed rebuking Yuan for his message.

Why We Invited Christopher YuanYale Daily News – The Christian groups that invited Yuan issue a partial explanation, partial apology.

For preaching, protests, proverbs, and proselytizingYale Daily News — A Catholic and a Jew team up to write a defense of Yuan and pitch more religious expression on campus

This is part of a series of posts which tackles sexual ethics and debating strategies (but not at the same time)

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11932634709731892125 Ben Crosby

    So, while I understand that this is just a brief summary post, I do feel that you're a bit remiss in not mentioning Mr. Yuan's ties to Exodus International – these ties were part of what caused Mr. Yuan's invitation to be received as so incredibly inflammatory in many campus communities.

  • thomas tucker

    I don't see any substantive arguments made in any of the articles that you linked to. They are basically emotional responses, and somewhat melodramatic ones at that ( when I hear someone complaining about something as being deeply hurtful, I have to roll my eyes at this rather formulaic usage from the language of today's self-styled martyrs, who are usually everything but.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16496144988509668275 Leah

    @Ben: Can you find some links on that? Chris and I were googling during his talk, and we couldn't find anything more damning than the fact he talked to them once. @Thomas: Given that there's a high rate of anti-lgbt bullying which sadly sometimes drive people to suicide, I think it's a little glib to write people off for claiming certain kinds of rhetoric are "deeply hurtful."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05377685250633624137 Tristyn Bloom

    Shameless self-indulgence: it makes me really happy that *someone* pays attention to my blog tags, since half the time they're punchlines for my posts, and I can't find a way (other than manually inserting them into the body) to get them to show up in the RSS version.As for Yuan, I read some YDN coverage of the event the other day (not the one you linked to, this one: http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2011/apr/03/ministers-message-divides-audiences/) and was really surprised, given what he was actually saying, that there was such an outcry. Is the LGBT community essentially saying that, say, Catholic speakers who want to address questions of sexuality aren't welcome on campus?…From the YDN article I linked to: “His conclusion is that all gays and lesbians should be celibate, which is extremely disrespectful.” Seriously? I don't even know where to begin. This is not how discourse works! This is not how argument works! Agh!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11932634709731892125 Ben Crosby

    I'll send links later, but:(1) He has been a regular speaker at Exodus events. (2) He co-signed a letter with Exodus International president Alan Chambers (as well as one other person from Exodus and I believe one person representing a 'Christian psychologists organization' of some sort or another.(3) He includes an endorsement by Exodus International president Alan Chambers of his most recent book on his website.(4) He has defended Exodus International via the web.(5) It is worth noting, although clearly not damning evidence, that his parents are on staff at Exodus. Given that he just co-authored a book with his mother, it seems as though they are more-or-less on the same page.So while it is clearly true that Mr. Yuan has no official ties to Exodus, as he has been careful to claim, he has quite clearly been associated with them in the past and by all accounts continues to be so.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16496144988509668275 Leah

    @Tristyn: Chris and I had a spontaneous conversation today about how much we like your blog tags. Never fear, they are well loved.@Ben: I would appreciate links, but I'm glad to see that list. While at the talk, the links to Exodus sounded dubious, especially since his message was definitely out of sync with theirs.

  • thomas tucker

    But see, that's the problem- certain kinds of rhetoric are "deeply hurtful." As in the boy who cried wolf, however, some people cry "deeply hurtful" whenever someone disagrees with their position, and even where there is no evidence of bullying, ad hominem attack, or other sorts of rhetoric at all. Here is yet another example.And I don't mean to be glib at all. I simply think that that kind of response does a disservice to people who truly are the victims of bullying and violence. Appropriating that language when someone is respectfully disagreeing with you is ultimately dishonest and has negative consequences for true victims.

  • Will

    @Tristyn Check out some of the PoMoCon tags in the back archives if you get the chance (the C11 ones are sadly lost in the ether). I frequently spent more time thinking up the right tag name than I did on the post!


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